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Power and progress : our thousand-year struggle over technology and prosperity

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First edition.

"Two bestselling authors overturn conventional wisdom about how economies work, revealing the untold story of who wins and who loses the rewards of prosperity, in a work that fundamentally transforms how we look at and understand the world"--
Artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies won't guarantee a rising standard of living for workers, according to this lucid manifesto. MIT economists Acemoglu and Johnson explore historical instances of new technology failing to pay off for workers: improved agricultural practices and equipment in medieval Europe conferred few benefits on peasants while lords and churchmen expropriated the increased output; the first century of the Industrial Revolution brought no income gain to laborers; recent advances in digital technology have yielded stagnant working-class wages while tech moguls make fortunes. But another path of broadly shared prosperity is possible, the authors contend, citing the post-WWII era when strong unions, government regulations, and relatively enlightened corporate management ensured that workplace automation, rather than deskilling and discarding workers, improved their marginal productivity and wages and created plenty of higher-skilled jobs. Acemoglu and Johnson give an incisive analysis of the economics of labor and technology, along with a trenchant critique of the "techno-optimism" of corporate visionaries, though their own ideas about what a truly worker-friendly artificial intelligence might look like remain hazy. Still, this is a stimulating call for social and political action to ensure the rising tide of innovation lifts all boats.

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Livonia Public Library 303.48 ACE (Text)
Adult New

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