Andrew McAfee at the Lisbon Web Summit: what lies beyond the second machine age?

Andrew McAfee, Research Scientist at MIT, and author of a number of works on the future of technology, was live at the 2016 Lisbon Web Summit.

30746916832_11b789be05_oIn this interesting talk he referred to the fact that, despite all advances in science that took place over the last millennia, neither population size nor quality of life did improve significantly until the advent of the industrial revolution. The radical takeoff in quality of life and in population size, which can be seen in one of his slides, below, only took place when man managed to use steam and electrical power to replace human labor.

graphic

The author (together with  Erik Brynjolfsson) of The Second Machine Age pointed out that we are in the brim of a second machine revolution of comparable consequences.

second-machine-age

Artificial intelligence and new information technology applications are already creating a new society, with different values and requirements. New technologies are already decreasing the spending of raw materials in the US, and are contributing to create a more efficient and compassionate society.

However, these changes will not all be easy to integrate in our current model of society. For instance, global warming remains a serious problem for the planet, and new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, will lead to systems that may replace humans in the majority of cognitive tasks. This may lead to a society where full employment will no longer be the rule, or even desirable, creating the need for the adoption of alternative income redistribution strategies, such as the adoption of universal basic income.

Youtube features a longer talk, by Andrew McAfee, which covers many of the same issues he presented at the Web Summit.

 

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