Even If Grandma Embraces Her Robot, Should We Fear It?

July 29, 2014

Zeynep Tufekci‘s recent piece “Failing the Third Machine Age: When Robots Come for Grandma” has been getting some attention. It’s a polemic against the prospect of using advanced technologies to provide elder care, embedded within a larger diatribe about technological progress, automation, and capitalism. I don’t want to take on her big argument here. If you […]

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When Regulators Attack: Cambridge and Uber

June 19, 2014

I’m on the brink of making a big real estate commitment in Cambridge, the idiosyncratic New England city I’ve called home since 1994. But a set of proposed regulations discussed at a License Commission meeting last night are so bad and so dumb they’re causing me to rethink whether or not I really want to live […]

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The New Millennium’s Downward Ramp of Jobs

June 13, 2014

Recent research continues to shed light on the big trends in the US labor market. Unfortunately, many if not most of them are bad news. As Thomas Edsall describes well in his latest New York Times column, it looks like demand has slowed down for even the most cognitively demanding jobs (in other words, the highest skilled […]

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If There Was Already an Ocean of Data in 2007, How Much is there Now?

June 2, 2014

  I’ve been trying to figure out how to convey the scale of the ‘Big Data‘ phenomenon — the recent worldwide explosion of the volume of data encoded in digital form. Inspiration came from Randall Munroe’s fantastic “What if?” comics, which provide “Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.” (check out his 2o14 TED talk and pre-order […]

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Even Sweatshops are Getting Automated. So What’s Left?

May 22, 2014

Comparison of Nike’s successive sustainability reports reveals that the company used 106,000 fewer contract employees around the world in 2013 than 2012 (a greater than 9% drop), even as both profits and revenues increased by 16% and 5%, respectively. A story in the International Business Times states that this is because the company is “shift[ing] […]

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Why Is Customer Service Still So Lousy? Monopolist (i.e. Comcast) Edition

April 24, 2014

Every so often I have an experience as a consumer so bad that I have to write about it. The latest were the interactions I had with Comcast to get a new TiVo box working properly at my Mom’s house in Chicago and then (having, I thought, learned from that one) ordering a Comcast DVR […]

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On Monday, April 21: Talking with Walter Isaacson About The Second Machine Age

April 16, 2014

Next Monday morning at Noon I’m talking with king of all media Walter Isaacson about The Second Machine Age at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC. I give Walter that title because in addition to editing Time and being CEO of CNN, he’s also written runaway bestsellers (about Steve Jobs) and Pulitzer Prize nominees (about Henry Kissinger). In […]

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The Second Machine Age Comes to DC This Week

April 10, 2014

Just a quick note to let Washingtonians know about two happenings in their city this week. I find them interesting not because I’m speaking at them, but rather because of the people I’m speaking with. Tonight from 5:30 to 7 I’m sitting down to talk with Prof. Amitai Etzioni at George Washington University about “the […]

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The Second Machine Age Comes to New York this Friday

March 31, 2014

Just a quick note to let New Yorkers know that the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy is coming to your city this Friday, April 4. MIT Sloan faculty, alums, and other digital movers and shakers will come together from Noon to 7 pm on Friday at the TimesCenter (I haven’t been inside the facility […]

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Event: FWD.us in New York on Wednesday, March 26

March 25, 2014

Just a quick note to let New Yorkers know that I’ll be in Manhattan tomorrow (Wednesday, March 26) participating in a very worthwhile event: a discussion and reception sponsored by tech industry advocacy group FWD.us on technology, the middle class, and the American dream. It takes place at AOL headquarters at 770 Broadway. I’m not sure […]

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