Showing posts with label Erik Brynjolfsson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Erik Brynjolfsson. Show all posts

Artificial Intelligence - Who Is Martin Ford?


Martin Ford (active from 2009 until the present) is a futurist and author who focuses on artificial intelligence, automation, and the future of employment.

Rise of the Robots, his 2015 book, was named the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year, as well as a New York Times bestseller.

Artificial intelligence, according to Ford, is the "next killer app" in the American economy.

Ford highlights in his writings that most economic sectors in the United States are becoming more mechanized.

  • The transportation business is being turned upside down by self-driving vehicles and trucks.
  • Self-checkout is transforming the retail industry.
  • The hotel business is being transformed by food preparation robots.

According to him, each of these developments will have a significant influence on the American workforce.

Not only will robots disrupt blue-collar labor, but they will also pose a danger to white-collar employees and professionals in fields such as medicine, media, and finance.

  • According to Ford, the majority of this job is similarly regular and can be automated.
  • Under particular, middle management is in jeopardy.
  • According to Ford, there will be no link between human education and training and automation vulnerability in the future, just as worker productivity and remuneration have become unrelated phenomena.

Artificial intelligence will alter knowledge and information work as sophisticated algorithms, machine-learning tools, and clever virtual assistants are incorporated into operating systems, business software, and databases.

Ford’s viewpoint has been strengthened by a 2013 research by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of the Oxford University Martin Program on the Impacts of Future Technology and the Oxford University Engineering Sciences Department.

Frey and Osborne’s study, done with the assistance of machine-learning algorithms, indicated that over half of 702 various types of American employment may be automated in the next 10 to twenty years.

Ford points out that when automation precipitates primary job losses in areas susceptible to computerization, it will also cause a secondary wave of job destruction in sectors that are sustained by them, even if they are themselves automation resistant.

  • Ford suggests that capitalism will not go away in the process, but it will need to adapt if it is to survive.
  • Job losses will not be immediately staunched by new technology jobs in the highly automated future.

Ford has advocated a universal basic income—or “citizens dividend”—as one way to help American workers transition to the economy of the future.

  • Without consumers making wages, he asserts, there simply won’t be markets for the abundant goods and services that robots will produce.
  • And those displaced workers would no longer have access to home owner ship or a college education.
  • A universal basic income could be guaranteed by placing value added taxes on automated industries.
  • The wealthy owners in these industries would agree to this tax out of necessity and survival.

Further financial incentives, he argues, should be targeted at individuals who are working to enhance human culture, values, and wisdom, engaged in earning new credentials or innovating outside the mainstream automated economy.

  • Political and sociocultural changes will be necessary as well.
  • Automation and artificial intelligence, he says, have exacerbated economic inequality and given extraordinary power to special interest groups in places like the Silicon Valley.
  • He also suggests that Americans will need to rethink the purpose of employment as they are automated out of jobs.

Work, Ford believes, will not primarily be about earning a living, but rather about finding purpose and meaning and community.

  • Education will also need to change.
  • As the number of high-skill jobs is depleted, fewer and fewer highly educated students will find work after graduation.

Ford has been criticized for assuming that hardly any job will remain untouched by computerization and robotics.

  • It may be that some occupational categories are particularly resistant to automation, for instance, the visual and performing arts, counseling psychology, politics and governance, and teaching.
  • It may also be the case that human energies currently focused on manufacture and service will be replaced by work pursuits related to entrepreneurship, creativity, research, and innovation.

Ford speculates that it will not be possible for all of the employed Americans in the manufacturing and service economy to retool and move to what is likely to be a smaller, shallower pool of jobs.

In The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future (2009), Ford introduced the metaphor of “lights in a tunnel” to describe consumer purchasing power in the mass market.

A billion individual consumers are represented as points of light that vary in intensity corresponding to purchasing power.

An overwhelming number of lights are of middle intensity, corresponding to the middle classes around the world.

  • Companies form the tunnel. Five billion other people, mostly poor, exist outside the tunnel.
  • In Ford’s view, automation technologies threaten to dim the lights and collapse the tunnel.
  • Automation poses dangers to markets, manufacturing, capitalist economics, and national security.

In Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (2015), Ford focused on the differences between the current wave of automation and prior waves.

  • He also commented on disruptive effects of information technology in higher education, white-collar jobs, and the health-care industry.
  • He made a case for a new economic paradigm grounded in the basic income, incentive structures for risk-taking, and environmental sensitivity, and he described scenarios where inaction might lead to economic catastrophe or techno-feudalism.

Ford’s book Architects of Intelligence: The Truth about AI from the People Building It (2018) includes interviews and conversations with two dozen leading artificial intelligence researchers and entrepreneurs.

  • The focus of the book is the future of artificial general intelligence and predictions about how and when human-level machine intelligence will be achieved.

Ford holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.

He earned an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

He is the founder and chief executive officer of the software development company Solution-Soft located in Santa Clara, California.

Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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

See also: 

Brynjolfsson, Erik; Workplace Automation.

Further Reading:

Ford, Martin. 2009. The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future. Charleston, SC: Acculant.

Ford, Martin. 2013. “Could Artificial Intelligence Create an Unemployment Crisis?” Communications of the ACM 56 7 (July): 37–39.

Ford, Martin. 2016. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. New York: Basic Books.

Ford, Martin. 2018. Architects of Intelligence: The Truth about AI from the People Build￾ing It. Birmingham, UK: Packt Publishing

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.

What Is Artificial General Intelligence?

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is defined as the software representation of generalized human cognitive capacities that enables the ...