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Rise of the Robots

Sports journalism. Radiology. Paralegal research. These are just a few of the fields where automation may eventually make the worker obsolete, as Martin Ford documents in Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.

For a long time, automation has been displacing industrial workers. What’s different now, according to Ford, is that information technology is developing systems that can do the work of even highly educated professionals. And automation of low-skilled work such as fast-food prep is already being tested.

These trends upend conventional wisdom about employability: “more training/education” may no longer mean improved job prospects if highly skilled work becomes automated, and the unskilled may face an even bleaker future than was thought.

Ford is not the only writer to address this problem, as well as the broader issue of how information technology is transforming society in ways we couldn’t have foreseen. Read his book, and check out some of the other titles listed below to find out more.


Amazon Says: Winner of the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award A New York Times Bestseller Top Business Book of 2015 at Forbes One of NBCNews.com 12 more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award A New York Times Bestseller Top Business Book of 2015 at Forbes One of NBCNews.com 12 Notable Science and Technology Books of 2015 What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? We might imagine—and hope—that today's industrial revolution will unfold like the last: even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new innovations of a new era. In Rise of the Robots, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries—education and health care—that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself. In Rise of the Robots, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren't going to work, and we must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects—not to mention those of their children—as well as for society as a whole. less...
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Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller A revolution is under way. In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s more...
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller A revolution is under way. In recent years, Google’s autonomous cars have logged thousands of miles on American highways and IBM’s Watson trounced the best human Jeopardy! players. Digital technologies―with hardware, software, and networks at their core―will in the near future diagnose diseases more accurately than doctors can, apply enormous data sets to transform retailing, and accomplish many tasks once considered uniquely human. In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee―two thinkers at the forefront of their field―reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds―from lawyers to truck drivers―will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will alter how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress. less...
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Amazon Says: Leading innovation expert Alec Ross explains what’s next for the world: the advances and stumbling blocks that will emerge in the next ten years, and how we can navigate the more...
Amazon Says: Leading innovation expert Alec Ross explains what’s next for the world: the advances and stumbling blocks that will emerge in the next ten years, and how we can navigate them. While Alec Ross was working as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, he traveled to forty-one countries, exploring the latest advances coming out of every continent. From startup hubs in Kenya to R&D labs in South Korea, Ross has seen what the future holds. In The Industries of the Future, Ross shows us what changes are coming in the next ten years, highlighting the best opportunities for progress and explaining why countries thrive or sputter. He examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics, cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data, and the coming impact of digital technology on money and markets. In each of these realms, Ross addresses the toughest questions: How will we adapt to the changing nature of work? Is the prospect of cyberwar sparking the next arms race? How can the world’s rising nations hope to match Silicon Valley in creating their own innovation hotspots? And what can today’s parents do to prepare their children for tomorrow? Ross blends storytelling and economic analysis to give a vivid and informed perspective on how sweeping global trends are affecting the ways we live. Incorporating the insights of leaders ranging from tech moguls to defense experts, The Industries of the Future takes the intimidating, complex topics that many of us know to be important and boils them down into clear, plainspoken language. This is an essential book for understanding how the world works—now and tomorrow—and a must-read for businesspeople in every sector, from every country. less...
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Amazon Says: In today's volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. It is no longer possible-or even desirable-to learn one set of job skills and t more...
Amazon Says: In today's volatile business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever. It is no longer possible-or even desirable-to learn one set of job skills and to work your way up the ladder. At the same time, entrepreneurs with great ideas for new products or technologies that could change the world often struggle to capture the attention of venture capital firms and incubators; finding the funding necessary to launch a start-up can feel impossible. The business leaders of our future must anticipate change to create their own opportunities for personal satisfaction and professional success. In Disrupt You!, Jay Samit, a digital media expert who has launched, grown, and sold start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike, describes the unique method he has used to invent new markets and expand established businesses. Samit has been at the helm of businesses in the ecommerce, digital video, social media, mobile communications, and software industries, helping to navigate them through turbulent economic times and guide them through necessary transformation so that they stay ahead of the curve. In Disrupt You!, he reveals how specific strategies that help companies flourish can be applied at an individual level to help anyone can achieve success and lasting prosperity-without needing to raise funds from outside investors. Incorporating stories from his own experience and anecdotes from other innovators and disruptive businesses-including Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, YouTube, Circ du Soleil, Odor Eaters, Iams, Silly Putty, and many more-Samit shows how personal transformation can reap entrepreneurial and professional rewards. Disrupt You! offers clear and empowering advice for anyone looking to break through; for anyone with a big idea but with no idea how to apply it; and for anyone worried about being made irrelevant in an era of technological transformation. This engaging, perspective-shifting book demystifies the mechanics of disruption for individuals and businesses alike. less...
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Amazon Says: Game-changing trends are coming in business, technology, workforce, economy, security, and environment. Climate change, energy demand, and population growth will redefine glob more...
Amazon Says: Game-changing trends are coming in business, technology, workforce, economy, security, and environment. Climate change, energy demand, and population growth will redefine global risk and power. Exponential new technologies will emerge in digital money, mobile commerce, and big data. An explosive new middle class of over one billion consumers will enter the marketplace. Every nation, job, business, and person will be transformed. To thrive in this future you have to become predictive, adaptive, and agile—to become Future Smart. Dr. James Canton, a renowned global futurist and visionary business advisor, illuminates the pivotal forces and global power shifts that everyone must understand today to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape: Regenerative medicine will extend our lifetimes and rebuild our bodies Robots and drones will drive our cars, teach our kids, and fight our wars Smart machines will design, manage, and service 40% of all global businesses—energy, commerce, finance, and manufacturing—without humans Digital consumers who live always connected will challenge every business to change its strategy Climate change wars will redefine security and resources Most of us are not prepared to meet the challenges the future will bring, but these changes are coming fast. Armed with knowledge, those who are Future Smart can take action to reinvent themselves, their businesses, and their world. less...
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Amazon Says: At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage will change the way you think about the tools you use every day. In The Glass Cage, best-sel more...
Amazon Says: At once a celebration of technology and a warning about its misuse, The Glass Cage will change the way you think about the tools you use every day. In The Glass Cage, best-selling author Nicholas Carr digs behind the headlines about factory robots and self-driving cars, wearable computers and digitized medicine, as he explores the hidden costs of granting software dominion over our work and our leisure. Even as they bring ease to our lives, these programs are stealing something essential from us. Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing hard work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented.From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, The Glass Cage explores the impact of automation from a deeply human perspective, examining the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers.With a characteristic blend of history and philosophy, poetry and science, Carr takes us on a journey from the work and early theory of Adam Smith and Alfred North Whitehead to the latest research into human attention, memory, and happiness, culminating in a moving meditation on how we can use technology to expand the human experience. less...
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Amazon Says: An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future. We live in a world defined by urbanization and digital ubiquity, where mobile broadba more...
Amazon Says: An unflinching look at the aspiring city-builders of our smart, mobile, connected future. We live in a world defined by urbanization and digital ubiquity, where mobile broadband connections outnumber fixed ones, machines dominate a new "internet of things," and more people live in cities than in the countryside. In Smart Cities, urbanist and technology expert Anthony Townsend takes a broad historical look at the forces that have shaped the planning and design of cities and information technologies from the rise of the great industrial cities of the nineteenth century to the present. A century ago, the telegraph and the mechanical tabulator were used to tame cities of millions. Today, cellular networks and cloud computing tie together the complex choreography of mega-regions of tens of millions of people.In response, cities worldwide are deploying technology to address both the timeless challenges of government and the mounting problems posed by human settlements of previously unimaginable size and complexity. In Chicago, GPS sensors on snow plows feed a real-time "plow tracker" map that everyone can access. In Zaragoza, Spain, a "citizen card" can get you on the free city-wide Wi-Fi network, unlock a bike share, check a book out of the library, and pay for your bus ride home. In New York, a guerrilla group of citizen-scientists installed sensors in local sewers to alert you when stormwater runoff overwhelms the system, dumping waste into local waterways.As technology barons, entrepreneurs, mayors, and an emerging vanguard of civic hackers are trying to shape this new frontier, Smart Cities considers the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings of them all while offering a new civics to guide our efforts as we build the future together, one click at a time. less...
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Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
Amazon Says: THE DAZZLING NEW MASTERWORK FROM THE PROPHET OF SILICON VALLEY Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. more...
Amazon Says: THE DAZZLING NEW MASTERWORK FROM THE PROPHET OF SILICON VALLEY Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks. Lanier has predicted how technology will transform our humanity for decades, and his insight has never been more urgently needed. He shows how Siren Servers, which exploit big data and the free sharing of information, led our economy into recession, imperiled personal privacy, and hollowed out the middle class. The networks that define our world—including social media, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies—now threaten to destroy it. But there is an alternative. In this provocative, poetic, and deeply humane book, Lanier charts a path toward a brighter future: an information economy that rewards ordinary people for what they do and share on the web. less...
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Amazon Says: The New York Times bestselling author of Get Rich Click! delivers cutting-edge advice for consumers and marketers on how to get the most from today’s technology. more...
Amazon Says: The New York Times bestselling author of Get Rich Click! delivers cutting-edge advice for consumers and marketers on how to get the most from today’s technology. Gain a competitive edge— get the most from today’s technology! Technology changes so fast that it’s easy to be intimidated by it. Our personal choices and business decisions are increasingly driven by digital “word of mouse”— and it’s essential to our success and satisfaction to take control of the gadgets, apps, and trends that are shaping our world. Bestselling author and trend watcher Marc Ostrofsky is here to help. In this groundbreaking new book, Ostrofsky reveals the ways that new technologies implant themselves in our daily lives and how we can easily take advantage of them to live, learn, buy, sell, work, play, communicate, and socialize better. Covering diverse topics from how the Internet affects our health to how we can become bargain-hunting pros, Ostrofsky’s book could come at no better time. The Internet’s presence is only growing, and new technologies are sprouting up every day. We must learn how to cultivate these new tools so that we can remain competitive and live happier, healthier lives. Word of Mouse gives you the tools you need to conquer information overload—and puts you in the driver’s seat of the world’s most potent technologies. less...
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Amazon Says: The rapid emergence of China and India as prime locations for low-cost manufacturing has led some analysts to conclude that manufacturers in the "old economies"—the U.S., U. more...
Amazon Says: The rapid emergence of China and India as prime locations for low-cost manufacturing has led some analysts to conclude that manufacturers in the "old economies"—the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Japan—are being edged out of a profitable future. But if countries that historically have been at the forefront of events in manufacturing can adapt adroitly, opportunities are by no means over, says the author of this timely book. Peter Marsh explores 250 years in the history of manufacturing, then examines the characteristics of the industrial revolution that is taking place right now.The driving forces that influence what types of goods are made and who makes them are little understood, Marsh observes. He discusses the key changes in what is happening in manufacturing today, including advances in technology, a greater focus on tailor-made goods aimed at specific individuals and industry users, participation of many more countries in world manufacturing, and the growing importance of sustainable forms of production. With broad historical sweep and dozens of engaging examples, Marsh explains these changes and their import both for consumers making purchase choices and for manufacturers assessing how to participate successfully in the new industrial era. less...
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Amazon Says: Why has median income stopped rising in the US? Why is the share of population that is working falling so rapidly? Why are our economy and society are becoming more unequal? more...
Amazon Says: Why has median income stopped rising in the US? Why is the share of population that is working falling so rapidly? Why are our economy and society are becoming more unequal? A popular explanation right now is that the root cause underlying these symptoms is technological stagnation-- a slowdown in the kinds of ideas and inventions that bring progress and prosperity. In Race Against the Machine, MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee present a very different explanation. Drawing on research by their team at the Center for Digital Business, they show that there's been no stagnation in technology -- in fact, the digital revolution is accelerating. Recent advances are the stuff of science fiction: computers now drive cars in traffic, translate between human languages effectively, and beat the best human Jeopardy! players. As these examples show, digital technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone. This phenomenon is both broad and deep, and has profound economic implications. Many of these implications are positive; digital innovation increases productivity, reduces prices (sometimes to zero), and grows the overall economic pie. But digital innovation has also changed how the economic pie is distributed, and here the news is not good for the median worker. As technology races ahead, it can leave many people behind. Workers whose skills have been mastered by computers have less to offer the job market, and see their wages and prospects shrink. Entrepreneurial business models, new organizational structures and different institutions are needed to ensure that the average worker is not left behind by cutting-edge machines. In Race Against the Machine Brynjolfsson and McAfee bring together a range of statistics, examples, and arguments to show that technological progress is accelerating, and that this trend has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. The book makes the case that employment prospects are grim for many today not because there's been technology has stagnated, but instead because we humans and our organizations aren't keeping up. less...
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Amazon Says: Deindustrialization in the United States has triggered record-setting joblessness in manufacturing centers from Detroit to Baltimore. At the same time, global competition and more...
Amazon Says: Deindustrialization in the United States has triggered record-setting joblessness in manufacturing centers from Detroit to Baltimore. At the same time, global competition and technological change have actually stimulated both new businesses and new jobs. The jury is still out, however, on how many of these positions represent a significant source of long-term job quality and security. Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? addresses the most pressing questions for today's workers: whether the U.S. labor market can still produce jobs with good pay and benefits for the majority of workers and whether these jobs can remain stable over time. What constitutes a "good" job, who gets them, and are they becoming more or less secure? Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? examines U.S. job quality and volatility from the perspectives of both workers and employers. The authors analyze the Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics (LEHD) data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, and the book covers data for twelve states during twelve years, 1992–2003, resulting in an unprecedented examination of workers and firms in several industries over time. Counter to conventional wisdom, the authors find that good jobs are not disappearing, but their character and location have changed. The market produces fewer good jobs in manufacturing and more in professional services and finance. Not surprisingly, the best jobs with the highest pay still go to the most educated workers. The most vulnerable workers―older, low-income, and low-skilled―work in the most insecure environments where they can be easily downsized or displaced by a fickle labor market. A higher federal minimum wage and increased unionization can contribute to the creation of well paying jobs. So can economic strategies that help smaller metropolitan areas support new businesses. These efforts, however, must function in tandem with policies that prepare workers for available positions, such as improving general educational attainment and providing career education. Where Are All the Good Jobs Going? makes clear that future policies will need to address not only how to produce good jobs but how to produce good workers. This cohesive study takes the necessary first steps with a sensible approach to the needs of workers and the firms that hire them. less...
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