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Positive Futures

Can the impending digital revolution work out for everyone? Two of MIT Sloan’s leading thinkers want to ensure it does.

By Zach Church

Positive Futures

Imagining a future where computers can do almost anything can sometimes be more Nineteen Eighty-Four than The Jetsons. The march of technology has been awe inspiring. But it also has been disconcerting, with millions losing their jobs to automation, global power structures being redrawn, and, in the United States, an eroding middle-class economy that gave rise to collective anger on both ends of the political spectrum.

The story isn’t new to anyone familiar with the basic gripe behind both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. Spurred on by incredible advancements in technology, the U.S. economy has grown in both productivity and gross domestic product. Meanwhile, employment and median income have stagnated, and jobs and money are increasingly harder to come by due to population growth. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, authors of Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, expect that this “great decoupling,” underway for two decades, will only become larger.

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