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on 16 September 2013
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"The key questions will be: Are you good at working with intelligent machines or not? Are your skills a complement to the skills of the computer, or is the computer doing better without you? Worst of all, are you competing against the computer?"

If you were paired with a machine to do a task, could together you do better than the machine alone? For Cowen, the answer matters more than you might think - with intelligent machines, he believes, lies the answer to The Great Stagnation he has worried about in the past.

There are two types of people in the world, he argues; those who can increase the productivity of machines, and those who will be replaced by them. One group will earn increasingly higher wages and rewards; the other will earn relatively less and less. Average is over, and though machines won't replace human labour entirely, as the Luddites feared, they will completely change how labour is allocated.

This is not to say that computer programmers are the only ones who will make money, of course. Rather, Cowen thinks of working with machines more broadly; using the automatic checkouts in supermarkets, for example, or adapting your smartphone to improve workflow. It is these teams of humans and machines, he argues, that can really make our productivity soar. This is true of life in general, he says, not just the workplace, whether it be relationships, hobbies, or education.

It's a provocative idea, particularly in light of today's concerns over inequality. The Economist this week, for example, quotes Daimler as describing their employees as "robot farming" because the workers are there to shepherd the robots as they do the work; presumably the ratio of sheep to shepherds is diminishing. Cowen has a point; the highest payoff activities in life will always be those that cannot be done by another person or machine.

The rest of the book is largely reiterating this core point, giving different applications and extensions. Those who find it interesting will likely read the rest with interest, while others may find some of the chapters repetitive. Nevertheless, Cowen makes and interesting - and important - point, regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum.
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on 21 January 2016
This book raises some interesting and valid points about the current progression of technology. I think this a good read for anyone interested in the future of their workplace, however the material is a little dry in places and not an easy read.

I found myself having to implement a strange rule to get through this book - if I could see the work "chess" at any point on the page I immediately skipped 2 pages. This may seem odd but you will understand. The author seemed to find an excuse to leap from any subject into a chess-playing robot metaphor which by the 5th time became unbearable. There is apparently a limit to how much chess I can read about because I know real life and the workplace is fundamentally... not chess.
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on 7 October 2014
Well researched with some fascinating insights on the global economy trends. A great read for people starting out in their career
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on 22 September 2013
The skill of working with computers becoming more important the example chess where best performers work with computers may reflect how in the future many employment or activity reflects to how well people can use the computers .the skill of using the computer also how access to information and education be more available allowing more mobility on merit
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on 3 November 2013
Unconvincing and overweight to examples from chess. Some good points and a great writing style. But overall not the best book I have read.
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on 4 March 2014
Its a good book for people like myself who dont know much about economy but are interested in the social and political impact of it.
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on 14 July 2015
Thank you
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