Andrew McAfee

Inquire About This Speaker

Innovation and Technology Expert; Scientist Investigating the Sources of Progress and Competitive Differentiation; Evidence-driven Optimist; New York Times Best-Selling Author; Co-founder and Co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; Principal Research Scientist, MIT Sloan School of Management

Biography

Are digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots going to take all the jobs and leave us worse off? Absolutely not, says Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT and co-founder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. On the contrary, he argues, they have been enhancing our lives and continue to unveil countless opportunities for business, economic and individual growth and, most importantly, solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

A highly sought-after speaker and advisor, McAfee studies the effects of technology on industries, sectors and countries, and offers data-driven insights into existing and emerging trends. His work is particularly valuable to decision makers at financial institutions, health care organizations and government agencies, and to firms interested in emerging technologies that can streamline operations, enhance innovation and offer a competitive edge. Since much of McAfee’s work looks at ways technology can help solve larger societal problems, he is also an excellent resource for corporate social responsibility leaders and organizations interested in balancing profit with purpose.

“We are living through exciting times right now, something that happens maybe every 100 years,” says McAfee, whose optimistic pro-growth, pro-market, pro-innovation and pro-technology views are tempered with healthy levels of practicality and caution. “New technologies and a new breed of leaders are coming together to create unprecedented levels of value – and disruption. Incumbents in every industry will be challenged and a lot of them won’t be able to respond effectively.

“When it comes to our relationship with the planet we all live on, we are seeing ways we can invest to improve both the human condition and the state of nature, and how technology can help solve larger world problems around hunger, housing, jobs, climate change and even COVID-19, while also contributing to economic growth,” he adds.

McAfee has been shining a bright light on the far-reaching impact of technology since 2011 when he and co-author Erik Brynjolfsson released their paradigm-shifting book “Race Against the Machine.” Their next two books, The New York Times bestseller “The Second Machine Age“ (2014) and “Machine | Platform | Crowd“ (2017) expanded on this theme. In 2019, McAfee went solo with his pessimist-defying book “More from Less” in which he shares profound examples of economic and environmental progress driven by a combination of powerful technologies, economic freedom and smart regulation and policy.

McAfee and his MIT team have ample evidence showing how technology is allowing societies to progressively decouple economic growth from planetary harms. His findings are counterintuitive, but encouraging: we now have the playbook for growing our populations and prosperity while decreasing energy use, natural resource extraction and pollution.

In addition to being a data-driven optimist, however, McAfee is also a realist who acknowledges some of the downsides of technological progress, such as people and communities left behind and technology races ahead. But he is also quick to offer practical ways businesses and policymakers can address such problems with smart investments, regulations and reforms. He further points out that humans and machines often end up working together, with technology reducing drudgery and opening up opportunities for creativity and empathy.

“Geek Leadership,” McAfee’s next book, starts out by noting that Netflix, Amazon, and Bridgewater all have extraordinary track records of sustained performance, and also strange corporate cultures that are strange in the same ways – which he views as no coincidence. The three companies are the most prominent examples of a fundamentally new way of running and growing companies, as different from today’s standard practices as electricity was from steam power. The book describes this rapidly spreading new paradigm, demystifies its lexicon – agile development, scrums and sprints, minimum viable product, radical candor and transparency, disagree and commit, day one, fail fast, and so on – and explains why it works as well as it does.

“Technological progress is what allows us to continue this amazing run where output goes up, prices go down and volume and quality continue to explode,” says McAfee. “Some call this shallow materialism but that is the wrong way to look at it. This is abundance, which is exactly what we want our economic system to provide.”

# # #

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the co-founder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. He studies how technology is changing the world — economies, business models, work and the environment.

McAfee’s 2014 bestseller “The Second Machine Age,” co-authored with Erik Brynjolfsson, was hailed by The Economist as “a striking attempt to wrestle with the massive management changes that will result from autonomous machines” and “the most influential recent business book.” Their follow-up book, “Machine | Platform | Crowd,” was praised by the same publication as “an astute romp through important digital trends… [that] is hard to beat.” And McAfee’s own 2019 book “More from Less” –  which explains how technology and capitalism have combined in recent years to let us tread more lightly on the earth – was praised by Steven Pinker as an “exhilarating book… fascinating, enjoyable to read, and tremendously empowering” and by Marc Andreessen as “an urgently needed and clear-eyed view of how to have our technological cake and eat it too.”

McAfee has written for publications including Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He’s talked about his work on CNN and 60 Minutes, at the World Economic Forum, TED, the Aspen Ideas Festival, with Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria and Andrew Ross Sorkin, and in front of many international and domestic audiences. He and Brynjolfsson are the only people named to both the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top management thinkers and the Politico 50 group of people transforming American politics.

Andrew McAfee is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

More From Less

(Scribner, October 2019)

Machine, Platform, Crowd

(WW Norton, June 2017)

Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation

(Harvard Business Review Press, October 2014)

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

(WW Norton, January 2014)

Race Against The Machine

(Digital Frontier Press, October 2011)

Enterprise 2.0

(Harvard Business Review Press, November 2009)

A-Z Name

McAfee, Andrew

Biography

Are digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots going to take all the jobs and leave us worse off? Absolutely not, says Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT and co-founder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. On the contrary, he argues, they have been enhancing our lives and continue to unveil countless opportunities for business, economic and individual growth and, most importantly, solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

A highly sought-after speaker and advisor, McAfee studies the effects of technology on industries, sectors and countries, and offers data-driven insights into existing and emerging trends. His work is particularly valuable to decision makers at financial institutions, health care organizations and government agencies, and to firms interested in emerging technologies that can streamline operations, enhance innovation and offer a competitive edge. Since much of McAfee’s work looks at ways technology can help solve larger societal problems, he is also an excellent resource for corporate social responsibility leaders and organizations interested in balancing profit with purpose.

“We are living through exciting times right now, something that happens maybe every 100 years,” says McAfee, whose optimistic pro-growth, pro-market, pro-innovation and pro-technology views are tempered with healthy levels of practicality and caution. “New technologies and a new breed of leaders are coming together to create unprecedented levels of value – and disruption. Incumbents in every industry will be challenged and a lot of them won’t be able to respond effectively.

“When it comes to our relationship with the planet we all live on, we are seeing ways we can invest to improve both the human condition and the state of nature, and how technology can help solve larger world problems around hunger, housing, jobs, climate change and even COVID-19, while also contributing to economic growth,” he adds.

McAfee has been shining a bright light on the far-reaching impact of technology since 2011 when he and co-author Erik Brynjolfsson released their paradigm-shifting book “Race Against the Machine.” Their next two books, The New York Times bestseller “The Second Machine Age“ (2014) and “Machine | Platform | Crowd“ (2017) expanded on this theme. In 2019, McAfee went solo with his pessimist-defying book “More from Less” in which he shares profound examples of economic and environmental progress driven by a combination of powerful technologies, economic freedom and smart regulation and policy.

McAfee and his MIT team have ample evidence showing how technology is allowing societies to progressively decouple economic growth from planetary harms. His findings are counterintuitive, but encouraging: we now have the playbook for growing our populations and prosperity while decreasing energy use, natural resource extraction and pollution.

In addition to being a data-driven optimist, however, McAfee is also a realist who acknowledges some of the downsides of technological progress, such as people and communities left behind and technology races ahead. But he is also quick to offer practical ways businesses and policymakers can address such problems with smart investments, regulations and reforms. He further points out that humans and machines often end up working together, with technology reducing drudgery and opening up opportunities for creativity and empathy.

“Geek Leadership,” McAfee’s next book, starts out by noting that Netflix, Amazon, and Bridgewater all have extraordinary track records of sustained performance, and also strange corporate cultures that are strange in the same ways – which he views as no coincidence. The three companies are the most prominent examples of a fundamentally new way of running and growing companies, as different from today’s standard practices as electricity was from steam power. The book describes this rapidly spreading new paradigm, demystifies its lexicon – agile development, scrums and sprints, minimum viable product, radical candor and transparency, disagree and commit, day one, fail fast, and so on – and explains why it works as well as it does.

“Technological progress is what allows us to continue this amazing run where output goes up, prices go down and volume and quality continue to explode,” says McAfee. “Some call this shallow materialism but that is the wrong way to look at it. This is abundance, which is exactly what we want our economic system to provide.”

# # #

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the co-founder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. He studies how technology is changing the world — economies, business models, work and the environment.

McAfee’s 2014 bestseller “The Second Machine Age,” co-authored with Erik Brynjolfsson, was hailed by The Economist as “a striking attempt to wrestle with the massive management changes that will result from autonomous machines” and “the most influential recent business book.” Their follow-up book, “Machine | Platform | Crowd,” was praised by the same publication as “an astute romp through important digital trends… [that] is hard to beat.” And McAfee’s own 2019 book “More from Less” –  which explains how technology and capitalism have combined in recent years to let us tread more lightly on the earth – was praised by Steven Pinker as an “exhilarating book… fascinating, enjoyable to read, and tremendously empowering” and by Marc Andreessen as “an urgently needed and clear-eyed view of how to have our technological cake and eat it too.”

McAfee has written for publications including Foreign Affairs, Harvard Business Review, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He’s talked about his work on CNN and 60 Minutes, at the World Economic Forum, TED, the Aspen Ideas Festival, with Tom Friedman, Fareed Zakaria and Andrew Ross Sorkin, and in front of many international and domestic audiences. He and Brynjolfsson are the only people named to both the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top management thinkers and the Politico 50 group of people transforming American politics.

Andrew McAfee is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Opportunities Inside the Pandemic

Even in the age of COVID-19, MIT principal scientist and digital economist Andrew McAfee sees ways technology can lead us out of the desert and, as a researcher, he continues to identify trends and mine solutions. During this talk, McAfee will explain why and how the pandemic is unveiling opportunities by showing us what society can do without, what it needs, and outlining ways business and government can conscientiously and purposefully move forward.

Uncovering Corporate Dysfunction: What Smart Companies Are Doing Differently

Why do some businesses fail? What factors within your organization are creating bad habits and how do you break them? Do stock values reflect the real value of a company? MIT principal scientist and digital economist Andrew McAfee studies such dynamics within organizations, economies and industries and uses his research to help leaders identify and fix problems. In this talk, he shows participants how to leave behind inefficient and outdated systems and how to shape new business models that can leverage emerging opportunities for growth.

Building Business While Minding the Environment

Growth does not have to happen at the expense of the environment, says MIT principal scientist and digital economist Andrew McAfee. He and his research team have collected massive amounts of data showing how technology has contributed to increased economic growth and decreased use of energy and natural resources since the 1970s. In this talk, he shares that data and offers up smart strategies for driving profits while taking less from the earth. In the process, participants get a sneak peek at emerging trends and technologies that will help them strike a balance between profit and purpose going forward. They also learn how to understand and address systemic problems within an organization or at the public policy level with solutions McAfee continues to uncover in his research.

Humans, Machines and Jobs: The Economic Upside

While AI and machines are replacing some human jobs, more often than not they are working in tandem with humans to make their jobs easier. And now that machines, robots and AI have recently graduated to a place where they can speak, listen, write, understand and even empathize, such technologies are offering up profound opportunities for growth, understanding and problem solving, creating efficiencies in systems across sectors, industries and even languages. In this talk, MIT principal scientist and digital economist Andrew McAfee helps participants identify ways they can leverage AI and machines while still addressing the problem of human job losses with upskilling, retraining, incentive programs and other humanistic solutions.

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

Praise for “More From Less”

— Christine Lagarde, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

“Yet another magnificent contribution from Andrew McAfee. Along with his prior works, ‘More from Less’ will help us navigate society’s future in profound ways.”

— Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

“Riveting . . . By subverting our common perceptions of capitalism and technology as enemies of progress and environmental preservation, McAfee offers all of us a clear-eyed source of optimism and hope. Critically, he also makes the case for what comes next—offering up vital lessons that have the potential to make the world both more prosperous and more just.”

—Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation

“Andrew McAfee’s optimistic and humane book documents a profoundly important and under-appreciated megatrend—the dematerialization of our economy.  In a world where there is much to worry about his analytical optimism is very welcome. Anyone who worries about the future will have their fears allayed and hopes raised by reading this important book.”

— Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury and Director of the National Economic Council

“This book is the best kind of surprise. It tells us something about our relationship with our planet that is both unexpected and hopeful. The evidence Andy presents is convincing: we have at last learned how to tread more lightly on the Earth. ‘More from Less’ shows how we accomplished this, and tells us how to keep it ”

— Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google

In ‘More from Less,’ Andrew McAfee conclusively demonstrates how environmentalism requires more technology and capitalism, not less. Our modern technologies actually dematerialize our consumption, giving us higher human welfare with lower material inputs. This is an urgently needed and clear-eyed view of how to have our technological cake and eat it too.”

— Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz

“From the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller ‘The Second Machine Age,’ a compelling argument—masterfully researched and brilliantly articulated—that we have at last learned how to increase human prosperity while treading more lightly on our planet.”

— Amazon

Praise for “Machine Platform Crowd”

“A clear and crisply written account of machine intelligence, big data and the sharing economy. But McAfee and Brynjolfsson also wisely acknowledge the limitations of their futurology and avoid over-simplification.”

— Financial Times

“A book for managers whose companies sit well back from the edge and who would like a digestible introduction to technology trends that may not have reached their doorstep―yet.”

— Wall Street Journal

“The story is warmly and richly told.… This book is in many senses a primer, a thorough grounding for the digital warrior in the driving forces of the 21st-century economy.”

— Times Higher Education

“Even Silicon Valley is surprised by the speed and scope of change today. The best way to stay on top of it is to understand the principles that will endure even as so much gets disrupted. This book is the best explanation of those principles out there.”

— Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and former executive chairman of Alphabet Inc.

“The digital revolution we’re entering can be unsettling, but McAfee and Brynjolfsson show how these incredibly powerful technologies will make our choices more important than ever. Machine | Platform | Crowd is a road map for leaders to make wise choices as they navigate this new world.”

— Arianna Huffington, former president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, author of Thrive and The Sleep Revolution

Praise for “The Second Machine Age”

“A New York Times Bestseller. A ‘fascinating’ look at how digital technology is transforming our work and our lives.”

— Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

“McAfee is the coauthor, along with fellow Stern speaker Erik Brynjolfsson, of the 2014 bestseller The Second Machine Age, which the The Economist called ‘A striking attempt to wrestle with the massive management changes that will result from autonomous machines” and “the most influential recent business book.’ Their follow-up book, Machine | Platform | Crowd was praised by the same publication as ‘an astute romp through important digital trends… [that] is hard to beat.'”

—The Economist

“Erik and Andy have lived on the cutting edge, and now, with this book, they are taking us there with them. A brilliant look at the future that technology is bringing to our economic and social lives. Read The Second Machine Age if you want to prepare yourself and your children for the world of work ahead.”

— Zoë Baird, president, Markle Foundation

“The Second Machine Age offers important insights into how digital technologies are transforming our economy, a process that has only just begun. Erik and Andrew’s thesis: As massive technological innovation radically reshapes our world, we need to develop new business models, new technologies, and new policies that amplify our human capabilities, so every person can stay economically viable in an age of increasing automation. I couldn’t agree more.”
— Reid Hoffman, co-founder/chairman of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Start-up of You

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