Byron Reese, author of the new book “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity,” organizes human history so far by framing it around three main inventions. We entered the first age when we learned to harness fire and language, the second when we mastered agriculture, and the third came with the invention of writing and the wheel. Now we are on the verge of a fourth age, thanks to developments in artificial intelligence, and to hear Reese tell it, this fourth age promises to be just as transformative as its predecessors.

Byron Reese is the CEO and publisher of the technology research company Gigaom, and the founder of several high-tech companies.

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There is 1 comment.

  1. Taras Coolidge

    Especially worth listening to:

    At 16:00+, Reese points out that, in spite of the enormous technological changes over the past 250 years, the unemployment rate in the United States has remained between 4% and 10%.* That if you graph out unemployment for that period, you can’t even see a blip where, say, the assembly line was introduced, or steam power came in.

    Reese estimates that the half-life of a job is 50 years; that is, every 50 years, half of the jobs disappear — yet unemployment doesn’t go up.

    As high skill jobs appear, and low skill jobs disappear, it’s not that low skilled people leap into the high skill jobs. Instead, everybody moves up a notch. 

    *With the exception of the Great Depression, which was not technological unemployment but bad policy. 

    • #1
    • November 20, 2018, at 7:50 AM PDT
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