Winning the Race With Ever-Smarter Machines

Innovation and Economic Growth

Article Snapshot


Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee


MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 53:2, pp. 53-60, 2012


This article makes predictions about the ways that more-capable computers will transform businesses in the near future.

Policy Relevance

Emerging technologies will have major effects on the workplace; policymakers can anticipate these disruptions and craft policies to deal with them in advance.

Main Points

  • Computers are getting much better at signal processing tasks that humans previously dominated.


    • For example, in 2004 automated cars were totally incapable of completing a course, but by 2010 Google had a functional self-driving fleet.
    • This sort of feat requires huge quantities of input, and the hardware and software to process it.
  • Advances in the abilities of computers build on one another, and will probably continue rapidly and unpredictably.


    • Impending transformational technologies include inexpensive industrial robots, voice recognition software, automated response systems, and autonomous vehicles.
  • Humans are unlikely to be able to compete against computers and other machines; instead, they should learn to compete against one another, using computers.


    • Humans tend to be creative, but we are slow to process repetitive tasks, and bad at knowing whether our ideas are any good. Computers can help us overcome these problems.
  • In addition to providing an edge over other humans, computers and other information technologies can connect people over space, and spread ideas and processes quickly and precisely.


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