Among the Techonomists

I’m headed today to Techonomy, which bills itself as “not a tech conference. It’s a conference about how tech is changing everything else.” I attended last year, and can vouch that that’s pretty accurate. Organizers David Kirkpatrick, Simone Ross, and Michael Federle have put together another great lineup that includes both thinkers and doers. I’ll use my technology platforms to broadcast my highlights and commentary.

I know I’ll have a lot to say about two Techonomy sessions. The first is a debate between my co-author Erik Brynjolfsson and Tyler Cowen. The title is “Can Technology Be Society’s Economic Engine,” which is not quite right. I’m sure that Tyler and Erik agree (as does everyone else at the conference) that tech can be a prime economic engine. The more pointed question is is technology serving that role at present? In his 2010 ebook The Great Stagnation Cowen argued that it’s not. In our 2011 ebook Race Against the Machine we argue that it is —  that technological innovation is going great guns at present — and that our labor force woes are due primarily to tech progress, not stagnation.

I’ll be in Erik’s corner for the debate, playing Burgess Meredith to his Sylvester Stallone; Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch will be the moderator / referee. It’ll be great geek fun, and it’ll be streamed, so you don’t have to be at Techonomy to watch it live. Tune in here to watch the intellectual “to-and-fro-a in Arizona” (best I can do on a tight deadline and not much sleep) Monday at 10:20 EST on Monday, November 14.

The second event (unfortunately not livesteamed) will be a breakfast discussion of Race Against… led by me and Erik on Tuesday. I’ll report back here on what we talk about.