Artificial Intelligence - Who Is Erik Brynjolfsson?


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Initiative on the Digital Economy is directed by Erik Brynjolfsson (1962–).

He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School (NBER).

Brynjolfsson's research and writing focuses on the relationship between information technology productivity and labor and innovation.

Brynjolfsson's work has long been at the focus of debates concerning how technology affects economic relationships.

His early research focused on the link between information technology and productivity, particularly the "productivity conundrum." Brynjolfsson discovered "large negative associations between economywide productivity and information worker productivity," according to his findings (Brynjolfs son 1993, 67).

He proposed that the paradox may be explained by effect mismeasurement, a lag between initial cost and final benefits, private benefits accumulating at the expense of the collective benefit, or blatant mismanagement.

However, multiple empirical studies by Brynjolfsson and associates demonstrate that investing in information technology has increased productivity significantly—at least since 1991.

Information technology, notably electronic communication networks, enhances multitasking, according to Brynjolfsson.

Multitasking, in turn, boosts productivity, knowledge network growth, and worker performance.

More than a simple causal connection, the relationship between IT and productivity constitutes a "virtuous cycle": as performance improves, users are motivated to embrace knowledge networks that boost productivity and operational performance.

In the era of artificial intelligence, the productivity paradox has resurfaced as a topic of discussion.

The digital economy faces a new set of difficulties as the battle between human and artificial labor heats up.

Brynjolfsson discusses the phenomenon of frictionless commerce, a trait brought about by internet activities such as smart shopbots' rapid pricing comparison.

Retailers like Amazon have redesigned their supply chains and distribution tactics to reflect how online marketplaces function in the age of AI.

This restructuring of internet commerce has changed the way we think about efficiency.

Price and quality comparisons may be made by covert human consumers in the brick-and-mortar economy.

This procedure may be time-consuming and expensive.

Consumers (and web-scraping bots) may now effortlessly navigate from one website to another, thereby lowering the cost of obtaining various types of internet information to zero.

Brynjolfsson and coauthor Andrew McAfee discuss the impact of technology on employment, the economy, and productivity development in their best-selling book Race Against the Machine (2011).

They're particularly interested in the process of creative destruction, which economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized in his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942).

While technology is a beneficial asset for the economy as a whole, Brynjolfsson and McAfee illustrate that it does not always benefit everyone in society.

In reality, the advantages of technical advancements may be uneven, benefiting small groups of innovators and investors who control digital marketplaces.

The key conclusion reached by Brynjolfsson and McAfee is that humans should collaborate with machines rather than compete with them.

When people learn skills to participate in the new age of smart machines, innovation and human capital improve.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee expanded on this topic in The Second Machine Age (2014), evaluating the significance of data in the digital economy and the growing prominence of artificial intelligence.

Data-driven intelligent devices, according to the authors, are a key component of online business.

Artificial intelligence brings us a world of new possibilities in terms of services and features.

They suggest that these changes have an impact on productivity indices as well as our understanding of what it means to participate in capitalist business.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee both have a lot to say on the disruptive effects of a widening gap between internet billionaires and regular people.

The authors are particularly concerned about the effects of artificial intelligence and smart robots on employment.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee reaffirm in Second Machine Age that there should be no race against technology, but rather purposeful cohabitation with it in order to develop a better global economy and society.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue in Machine, Platform, Crowd (2017) that the human mind will have to learn to cohabit with clever computers in the future.

The big difficulty is figuring out how society will utilize technology and how to nurture the beneficial features of data-driven innovation and artificial intelligence while weeding out the undesirable aspects.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee envision a future in which labor is not only suppressed by efficient machines and the disruptive effects of platforms, but also in which new matchmaking businesses govern intricate economic structures and large enthusiastic online crowds, and vast amounts of human knowledge and expertise are used to strengthen supply chains and economic processes.

Machines, platforms, and the crowd, according to Brynjolfsson and McAfee, may be employed in a variety of ways, either to concentrate power or to disperse decision-making and wealth.

They come to the conclusion that individuals do not have to be passively reliant on previous technological trends; instead, they may modify technology to make it more productive and socially good.

Brynjolfsson's current research interests include productivity, inequality, labor, and welfare, and he continues to work on artificial intelligence and the digital economy.

He graduated from Harvard University with degrees in Applied Mathematics and Decision Sciences.

In 1991, he received his doctorate in Managerial Economics from the MIT Sloan School.

"Information Technology and the Reorganization of Work: Theory and Evidence," was the title of his dissertation.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Artificial Intelligence here.

See also: 

Ford, Martin; Workplace Automation.

Further Reading

Aral, Sinan, Erik Brynjolfsson, and Marshall Van Alstyne. 2012. “Information, Technology, and Information Worker Productivity.” Information Systems Research 23, no. 3, pt. 2 (September): 849–67.

Brynjolfsson, Erik. 1993. “The Productivity Paradox of Information Technology.” Com￾munications of the ACM 36, no. 12 (December): 67–77.

Brynjolfsson, Erik, Yu Hu, and Duncan Simester. 2011. “Goodbye Pareto Principle, Hello Long Tail: The Effect of Search Costs on the Concentration of Product Sales.” Management Science 57, no. 8 (August): 1373–86.

Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. 2012. Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. Lexington, MA: Digital Frontier Press.

Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Andrew McAfee. 2016. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. New York: W. W. Norton.

Brynjolfsson, Erik, and Adam Saunders. 2013. Wired for Innovation: How Information Technology Is Reshaping the Economy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

McAfee, Andrew, and Erik Brynjolfsson. 2017. Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future. New York: W. W. Norton.

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