There’s a new e-book “Race Against the Machine” out by Erik Brynjoffson and Andrew McAffee, both of MIT. Looks very interesting and one of the first times that I’ve seen academic economists talking the job automation issue seriously.  The NY Times has a review
A good article on Siri, the new AI-powered voice system in the iPhone 4S. I think technologies like this will start appearing all over the place in the near future.
Declining wages for college graduates.    As I posted previously, I think the impact of IT on knowledge work is an important part of the explanation for this.
Too good to be true?  Interesting (but unlikely) news about a cold fusion-like technology from an inventor in Italy:

3 thoughts on “Links

  1. I love the first few articles. The ones on college education and cost I’m not as strongly behind, mainly because I think it emphasizes a moot point. The reality is that the whole labor market is in trouble. That is what “Rise of the Machines” points out. Pinning the problem on any level of education or style of education doesn’t add much more IMO. When the whole ship is going down, you can pick any part and show there is a problem, but that doesn’t address the real issue.

    This also doesn’t address choices of majors by students. The plot lumps together all areas, but not all degrees have an equal ROI. ( The way our education system works, students pick their majors, not colleges. My CS students today are in HOT demand. I literally have several local companies that are climbing over one another trying battle for people. Part of that is because so few students pick CS, but it feeds into the broader issue that if students are picking humanities for their only major, they make a choice that limits their ability to recover their investment. (

    I will say this, college costs need to level off or decline. They can’t keep going the way they have for that last 20 years. However, I see technology leading to a big shake-up of the whole education field: I think this fits in with your idea of having people paid for going things like educating themselves.

    On that note, instead of the “automation tax” you propose in the book, how about a tax on revenues, minus ordinary wages (with inevitable adjustments). Make it so that said tax can also replace current payroll taxes and you help push companies toward hiring humans for a while longer.

  2. Lots of good stuff in the Brynjolfsson/McAfee ebook. I found their proposed solutions a bit weak, but they admit “These suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg of a broader transformation that we need to support…” They’re getting a great dialog going as evidenced by their tweets and blog posts linked at

    Some links I’ve found very worthwhile over the past few months: Douglas Rushkov’s “Are Jobs Obsolete?” (, Mohamad Tarifi’s “A Better System of Economics” (, Paul Fernhout’s knol “Beyond a Jobless Recovery” (, and Bertrand Russell’s 1932 seminal “In Praise of Idleness” (

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