Just as Isaac Asimov predicted, the next step in human evolution will be the integration of artificial intelligence into daily life. But in order for this process to occur in a gradual and meticulous manner, we must prepare ourselves for the greatest transformation since the days of the Industrial Revolution. This is the opinion of two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, the authors of Machine, Platform,
Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future. For McAfee and Brynjolfsson, the key to understanding and managing the emerging challenges is for humanity to become aware of them.

Imagine how much time you spend interacting with a digital assistant on your smartphone without even realising it. When typing something into a search engine, you will often find a prediction about what you were writing, and that prediction is made by artificial intelligence. The same concept can be transposed to your home thermostat, which is capable of being regulated via smartphone. Technically, it is a robotic digital assistant. It acts through a network created by you (the Wi-Fi that you have at home), which enables you to communicate with it. This interaction is set to become increasingly intense. But can we prevent robots from taking human jobs? Yes, according to McAfee and Brynjolfsson, but only if (as Asimov also claimed) there are clear rules for robotics. The robots must exist to serve us and not vice versa. This is the danger that the two researchers want us to understand.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

by Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson, 416 pp.,

W. W. Norton & Company


To keep reading, purchase the pdf file of this issue

To subscribe to the magazine please access our subscription page here