Human/Machine Book Summary - Human/Machine Book explained in key points
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Human/Machine summary

Daniel Newman and Olivier Blanchard

The Future of Our Partnership With Machines

4.1 (79 ratings)
22 mins
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    Machines will continue to boost our efficiency and enable us to fulfill ourselves as human beings.

    Throughout history, working with tools has almost always improved our lives.

    Think back to the cave dwellers. The firestones that enabled them to light and warm up their humble abodes at night radically changed their daily lives for the better. Fireplaces became social gathering places and brought people together. Other tools, like spears and shovels, allowed our prehistoric ancestors to hunt and farm.

    Ever since those early days of our species, we’ve continued to invent tools that make our lives better.  Often they work by making us more efficient at accomplishing our goals. That’s especially been true of our machines. For example, trains enabled us to commute comfortably between home and work, and telephones allowed us to connect with colleagues across the globe.

    The ability of our tools and machines to make us more efficient continues to the present. It’s especially true since the advent of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence. Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, for example, partnered with University College London and Google’s Deep Mind to develop AI to diagnose eye diseases. Instead of tedious scans, doctors can now rely on a perfectly trained assistant – an algorithm. That’s just one application of technology in medicine; thousands more are probably being developed at this moment.

    Technology has a track record of making us better at what we do. That’s the first reason to be optimistic about the ways in which it will impact the future. The second one is that tools have often made lives more worthwhile by enabling us to express ourselves as human beings. By nature, we’re a creative species that thrives on new inventions and our ability to express feelings. We’re a species with a to-do list coded into our DNA – we’re constantly solving problems and thinking of more efficient ways to do so. Tools are our natural partners. Whether it’s a paintbrush or a computer, tools help us to invent new things and express ourselves.

    As long as we stay human, there’s little reason to believe that we’ll stop coming up with new ideas. And for the foreseeable future, machines will help us to turn them into reality.

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    What is Human/Machine about?

    Human/Machine (2019) argues that machines will continue to empower us, instead of stealing our jobs. At the workplace and at home, automation will free up time that we can use to do the things that fulfill us as human beings. However, tech giants will need to ensure that their technology benefits society – otherwise, the delicate balance between humans and machines might tip.

    Best quote from Human/Machine

    Automation doesnt have to be a job Armageddon. In fact, it shouldnt be.

    —Daniel Newman and Olivier Blanchard
    example alt text

    Who should read Human/Machine?

    • Employees who fear that a robot might take their jobs
    • Managers steering big and small companies through innovation processes
    • Parents who wonder whether AI will soon teach their children

    About the Author

    Daniel Newman and Olivier Blanchard work as Principal and Senior Analyst at Futurum Research, a firm that researches how efficient companies work. Together, they wrote Building Dragons (2016) and Futureproof (2017), which explore how firms should adapt to technological innovation.


    © Daniel Newman & Olivier Blanchard, 2016. This Summary of Human/Machine is published by arrangement with Kogan Page.

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