The Second Machine Age

The Second Machine Age

Erik Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson’s book ” The Second Machine Age ” reflects the challenges of present and future technologies ‘s ,on jobs and growing inequality. These authors are researchers at the MIT Center for Digital Business focusing on the impact of the Internet on business. They believe that the human race is on the verge of another such revolution—a second “machine age”. The book provides some anecdotal evidence to support their thoughts.

A combination of exponential growth in computing power and the increasing digitization of all our data is propelling the amazing advances in technology. Although the book was created for the American audiences it has relevance to all audiences in this age of globalization.

 In this optimistic book Brynjolfsson and McAfee clearly explain the bounty that awaits us from intelligent machines. But they argue that creating the bounty depends on finding ways to race along with the machine rather than racing against the machine. This simply means people need to build machines that are easy to master and use. Ultimately, those who embrace the new technologies will be the ones who benefit most.—Rodney Brooks, chairman and CTO of Rethink Robotics, Inc.


A must read for parents and young adults to understand the digital economy and the increasing cognitive abilities of the computer augmented systems which can replace most of human labor. Indeed, The book is an eye opener which will help one to chart ones learning for this age.  Some 200 years ago, the invention of the steam engine sparked massive amounts of mechanical power. Only to drive factories and mass production in the first machine age.

Now, computers and other digital advances are providing such a vast and unprecedented boost to mental power. Technologies once found only in science fiction are becoming everyday realities. In the book the authors describe the large differences that are already apparent among people in both income and wealth. They explain how individuals can improve their skills to maintain healthy wage and job prospects. “Our generation has inherited more opportunities to transform the world than any other,” they write. “That’s a cause for optimism, but only if we’re mindful of our choices.”

The Second Machine Age

Machine learning has long powered many products we interact with daily from intelligent to recommendation engines like Amazon’s that suggest new products to buy, to the ad ranking systems used by Google and Facebook. 

Andrew McAffee and Erik Brynjolfsson begin their book The Second Machine Age with a simple question: what innovation has had the greatest impact on human history? Why has the progress here been so sudden in the past several years? One plausible, specific answer for many of these advances goes unmentioned: developments in neural networks and deep learning. McAffee and Brynjolfsson focus on the higher-level explanations. Digitized information is so powerful because it can be reproduced without cost and therefore used in innumerable applications.


Although, Technological progress will definitely leave some people behind the progress; the challenges behind a digitized progress cannot be met. What we will have to do according to the author is to discuss the negative outcome at first. The book brings out three broad inferences:

  • A combination of the growth in computing power and the increasing digitization of the data is propelling the advances in technology.
  • No clear measure of these advances can be made earlier.
  • This age of second machine will have economic inequality in various aspects.



The book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity is a Time of Brilliant Technologies jointly by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. However it is about their greater efforts to update our skills, organizations and institutions more rapidly. Erik Brynjolfsson (born 1962) is an American academic. He is a senior fellow and professor at Stanford University .

Andrew Paul McAfee  a principal research scientist at MIT, is cofounder and co director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economyat the MIT Sloan School of Management. McAfee’s first book, Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges, brings together case studies. Along with examples with key concepts from economics, sociology, computer science, consumer psychology, and management studies. And how leading organizations are incorporating the web’s novel tools and philosophies.

Brynjolfsson’s research interests focus on the economic impacts of information technology. Also on productivity at both the level of the firm and the economy. McAfee co wrote two books with Brynjolfsson, titled The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and is Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant.

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