Do what the robots tell you, and you’ll succeed. That’s one of the messages of Average is Over, the latest book from TAI board member Tyler Cowen. The book explores how America’s economy, culture, and politics will be transformed in age in which computers and robots can increasingly do a lot of traditional human tasks. Cowen has a piece in the Times adapted from the book, as well as a great interview with TechCrunch, explaining more.
The Times article breaks people down into two categories: those who will do well in the “machine economy,” and those who won’t. One of the categories here especially caught our attention:
There will be a lot more wealth in this brave new world, but it won’t be very evenly distributed because a lot of human labor won’t seem like a special or scarce resource. Capturing the attention of customers with just the right human touch will command an increasing premium. Don’t forget that Mark Zuckerberg was a psychology major in addition to being a tech genius. Sheer technical skill can be done by the machines, but integrating the tech side with an attention-grabbing innovation is a lot harder
What Cowen calls “the marketing touch” jibes with what we’ve been saying about the service jobs of the future. Cowen is right that technology will increase income inequality, which will leave the 99 percent with two choices: to “club” the money out of the one percent, or “charm” it out of them by offering services presented with a marketing flair. Like Cowen, we think the charmers will do the best in the new economy, and ultimately their success will improve quality of life for everyone.
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