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Power and Progress

Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity

Daron Acemoglu author Simon Johnson author


Publisher:John Murray Press

Published:18th May '23

Should be back in stock very soon

Power and Progress cover

Throughout history, technological change - whether in the form of agricultural improvements in the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution, or today's artificial intelligence - has been viewed as a main driver of prosperity, working in the public interest. The reality, though, is that technology is shaped by what powerful people want and believe, generating riches, social respect, cultural prominence, and further political voice for those already powerful. For most of the rest of us, there is the illusion of progress.

Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson debunk modern techno-optimism through a dazzling, original account of how technological choices have changed the course of history. From vivid stories of how the economic surplus of the Middle Ages was appropriated by an ecclesiastical elite to build cathedrals while the peasants starved, to the making of vast fortunes from digital technologies today as millions are pushed towards poverty, we see how the path of technology is determined and who influences its trajectory.

To achieve the true potential of innovation, we need to ensure technology is creating new jobs and opportunities rather than marginalizing most people, through automated work and political passivity. We need to use the tremendous digital advances of the last half century to create useful and empowering tools, rather than "so-so" technologies that replace workers but fail to improve productivity, seizing back control from a small elite of hubristic, messianic tech leaders pursuing their own interests.

With their breakthrough economic theory and manifesto for building a better society, Acemoglu and Johnson provide the understanding and vision to reimagine and reshape the path of technology and create true shared prosperity.

If you are not already an addict of Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson's previous books, Power and Progress is guaranteed to make you one. It offers their addictive hallmarks: sparkling writing and a big question that affects our lives . . . Read, enjoy, and then choose your lifestyle! -- Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL
In this brilliant, sweeping review of technological change past and present, Acemoglu and Johnson mean to grab us by the shoulders and shake us awake before today's winner-take-all technologies impose more violence on global society and the democratic prospect. This vital book is a necessary antidote to the poisonous rhetoric of tech inevitability . . . Power and Progress is the blueprint we need for the challenges ahead -- Shoshana Zuboff, author of THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM
One powerful thread runs through this breathtaking tour of the history and future of technology, from the Neolithic agricultural revolution to the ascent of artificial intelligence: Technology is not destiny, nothing is pre-ordained . . . In this age of relentless automation and seemingly unstoppable consolidation of power and wealth, Power and Progress is an essential reminder that we can, and must, take back control -- Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 2019 Nobel laureates in Economics
A sweeping history of more than a thousand years of technical change . . . An important book that is long overdue -- Sir Angus Deaton, 2015 Nobel laureate in economics
A book you must read: compelling, beautifully written, and tightly argued, it addresses a crucially important problem with powerful solutions -- Rebecca Henderson, author of REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE
Acemoglu and Johnson would like a word with the mighty tech lords before they turn over the entire world economy to artificial intelligence. The lesson of economic history is technological advances such as AI won't automatically lead to broad-based prosperity-they may end up benefiting only a wealthy elite . . . it's a bracing wake-up call for the rest of us -- Niall Ferguson, author of THE SQUARE AND THE TOWER
This singular book elevated my understanding of the present confluence of society, economics, and technology. Here we have a synthesis of history and analysis coupled with specific ideas about how the future can be improved. It pulls no punches but also inspires optimism -- Jaron Lanier, author of TEN ARGUMENTS FOR DELETING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS RIGHT NOW
The technology of artificial intelligence is moving fast and likely to accelerate. This powerful book shows we now need to make some careful choices to really share the benefits and reduce unintended, adverse consequences. Technology is too important to leave to the billionaires. Everyone everywhere should read Acemoglu and Johnson - and try to get a seat at the decision-making table -- Ro Khanna, Silicon Valley member of Congress
A remarkable analysis of the current drama of technology evolution versus human dignity . . . Acemoglu and Johnson offer a fresh vision of how this drama unfolds by highlighting human capabilities and social skills. They are deeply informed, masters at synthesis, and passionate about shaping a better future where innovation supports equality -- Ben Schneiderman, author of HUMAN-CENTERED AI
Will the AI revolution increase the average worker's productivity while recusing their drudgery, or will it simply create more exploitative and heavily surveilled workplaces run by robotic overlords? That is the right question, and luckily Acemoglu and Johnson have set out to answer it, giving it profound historical context, combing through the economic incentives, and lighting a better path forward -- Cathy O’Neil, author of WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION and THE SHAME MACHINE
Renowned MIT economists Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson explain in their important and lucid book how the transformation of work could make life even worse for most people, or, possibly, much better - depending on the political and social and technological choices we make starting now . . . With revealing, relevant stories from throughout economic history and sensible ideas for systemic reform, this is an essential guide for this crucial battle in the 'one-thousand-year struggle' between the powerful and everyone else -- Kurt Anderson, author of EVIL GENIUSES
Two of the best economists alive today are taking a closer look at the economics of technological progress in history. Their findings are as surprising as they are disturbing. This beautifully written and richly documented book marks a new beginning in our thinking about the political economy of innovation -- Joel Mokyr, professor of economics and history, Northwestern University
Technology is upending our world - automating jobs, deepening inequality, and creating tools of surveillance and misinformation that threaten democracy. But Acemoglu and Johnson show it doesn't have to be this way. The direction of technology is not, like the direction of the wind, a force of nature beyond human control. It's up to us. This humane and hopeful book shows how we can steer technology to promote the public good. Required reading for everyone who cares about the fate of democracy in a digital age -- Michael J. Sandel, author of THE TYRANNY OF MERIT
Here, from two of the greatest economists of our time, we have the definitive refutation of the techno-determinist story that has held us back from building a better future for the last four decades. With a bit of luck, we may look back at this as a turning point where we collectively once again took responsibility for defining the world we want technology to empower us to live in together -- E. Glen Weyl, research lead and founder, Decentralized Social Technology Collaboratory, Microsoft Research Special Projects

ISBN: 9781399804462

Dimensions: 234mm x 152mm x 46mm

Weight: 720g

560 pages