Erik Brynjolfsson

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Foremost Authority on Technology’s Effect on Business Strategy, Productivity and Performance; New York Times Best-selling Co-Author, “The Second Machine Age” and “Machine, Platform, Crowd”; Director, Stanford Digital Economy Lab at the Institute for Human-Centered AI

Biography

As technology transforms, and takes on more jobs, what will it take for humans to survive – and grow? Race with the machines, urges Erik Brynjolfsson, renowned Stanford University professor and New York Times bestselling author. Digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are at the center of a revolution that will be more extraordinary, more disruptive and more world-changing than any other period in history. Embrace the opportunity.

A global expert on the effects of information technology (IT) and AI on business strategy, productivity and performance, Professor Brynjolfsson sees a bright future where machines serve as powerful tools and partners. But he says we can only shape this future if we keep up with the pace of innovation. Through his work as Director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab at the Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI), Brynjolfsson is helping companies and economies decipher, prepare for and capitalize on the technological changes that will impact everything from employment and healthcare to education and socio-economic mobility.

These are themes Professor Brynjolfsson passionately and expertly explores in his research, teaching and keynotes, helping his audiences envision how people and businesses will work, interact and prosper in this era of profound transformation. His writing digs in even deeper: Brynjolfsson is co-author of New York Times best-seller “The Second Machine Age” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014) and “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2017), and he co-chaired the recent report by the United States National Academies of Science on “Information Technologies and the Workforce.”

Professor Brynjolfsson’s current research explores understanding what parts of the economy machine learning will affect the most, how AI and other technologies will drive productivity growth over the next few years, and how we can measure the benefits of digital goods and new goods that are largely invisible from traditional GDP and productivity accounting. He was among the first researchers to measure the productivity contributions of IT and the complementary role of organizational capital and other intangibles.

Brynjolfsson is the Ralph Landau Senior Fellow in Economic Growth at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), a Senior Research Fellow at HAI, and Professor, by courtesy, of Economics, a Professor, by courtesy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Prior to joining Stanford, Brynjolfsson was the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University in applied mathematics and decision sciences and earned his doctorate in managerial economics from MIT. One of the most cited researchers on IT and economics, his work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the John DC Little Award for best paper in marketing, the Herbert Simon Award for Information economics, and five patents.

Erik Brynjolfsson 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

Media

AI and Automation are Creating a Hybrid Workforce

October 31, 2020

Working with Robots in a Post-Pandemic World

September 16, 2020

CNBC logo

Why Amazon Warehouses and Tesla Auto Plants Will Not Go 100% Robot Any Time Soon (Video)

September 16, 2020

Is Remote Work Here to Stay?

June 30, 2020

How Work Will Change Following the Pandemic

June 24, 2020

What If Working From Home Goes On... Forever?

June 9, 2020

Companies Are Firing the Wrong People

April 14, 2020

American Enterprise Institute logo

How Will Technological Change Affect the Economy?

February 27, 2020

MIT Professors Sound Alarm on US Falling Behind on AI

January 22, 2020

How Should We Measure the Digital Economy?

November-December 2019

Will AI Stimulate The Cooling Economy? Not Any Time Soon

October 30, 2019

Wired logo

The Robots Want To Steal (The Boring Parts Of) Your Job

April 22, 2019

Baystate Business: Schmidt and Moynihan (Audio)

November 12, 2018

Wall Street Journal

Awaiting the AI-Enabled Revolution, Experts Put in a Good Word for Humans

November 12, 2018

CNBC logo

Cybersecurity Isn't Being Taken Seriously Enough: MIT Professor

October 9, 2018

Washington Post logo

Artificial Intelligence Can Transform the Economy

September 18, 2018

How Machine Learning Can Break Down Language and Trade Barriers

September 12, 2018

Artificial Intelligence Will Replace Tasks, Not Jobs

August 14, 2018

Financial Times logo

Machine Learning Will Be the Engine of Global Growth ($)

July 26, 2018

Wall Street Journal logo

To Scale AI, Rethink Business Processes: MIT’s Brynjolfsson

January 3, 2018

The Robot Revolution Is Coming. Just Be Patient.

November 16, 2017

Wired logo

Worried About Robots Taking Your Job? Learn Spreadsheets

November 15, 2017

How AI is Redefining the Relationship Between the Human Mind and the Machine

October 7, 2017

Minds and Machines

July 26, 2017

How AI Is Already Changing Business (Audio)

July 20, 2017

What's Driving The Machine Learning Explosion?

July 18, 2017

The Economist logo

What Will Business Technology Look Like Tomorrow?

July 13, 2017

The Business of Artificial Intelligence

July 2017

The Rise of Data-Driven Decision Making Is Real but Uneven

February 3, 2017

Where Computers Defeat Humans, and Where They Can’t

March 16, 2016

Why The Middle Class Is Shrinking

November 5, 2015

The Digitization of Just About Everything

September 1, 2015

The Great Decoupling: An Interview with Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew

June 2015

A-Z Name

Brynjolfsson, Erik

Biography

As technology transforms, and takes on more jobs, what will it take for humans to survive – and grow? Race with the machines, urges Erik Brynjolfsson, renowned Stanford University professor and New York Times bestselling author. Digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are at the center of a revolution that will be more extraordinary, more disruptive and more world-changing than any other period in history. Embrace the opportunity.

A global expert on the effects of information technology (IT) and AI on business strategy, productivity and performance, Professor Brynjolfsson sees a bright future where machines serve as powerful tools and partners. But he says we can only shape this future if we keep up with the pace of innovation. Through his work as Director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab at the Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI), Brynjolfsson is helping companies and economies decipher, prepare for and capitalize on the technological changes that will impact everything from employment and healthcare to education and socio-economic mobility.

These are themes Professor Brynjolfsson passionately and expertly explores in his research, teaching and keynotes, helping his audiences envision how people and businesses will work, interact and prosper in this era of profound transformation. His writing digs in even deeper: Brynjolfsson is co-author of New York Times best-seller “The Second Machine Age” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014) and “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future” (W. W. Norton & Company, 2017), and he co-chaired the recent report by the United States National Academies of Science on “Information Technologies and the Workforce.”

Professor Brynjolfsson’s current research explores understanding what parts of the economy machine learning will affect the most, how AI and other technologies will drive productivity growth over the next few years, and how we can measure the benefits of digital goods and new goods that are largely invisible from traditional GDP and productivity accounting. He was among the first researchers to measure the productivity contributions of IT and the complementary role of organizational capital and other intangibles.

Brynjolfsson is the Ralph Landau Senior Fellow in Economic Growth at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), a Senior Research Fellow at HAI, and Professor, by courtesy, of Economics, a Professor, by courtesy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Prior to joining Stanford, Brynjolfsson was the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University in applied mathematics and decision sciences and earned his doctorate in managerial economics from MIT. One of the most cited researchers on IT and economics, his work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the John DC Little Award for best paper in marketing, the Herbert Simon Award for Information economics, and five patents.

Erik Brynjolfsson 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

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

We are in the early stages of not one, but three fundamental revolutions, each driven by profound advances in technology. Machines are now transforming the role of human decision-making, digital platforms allow products and services of others to be sold and brokered, and there’s a proliferation of an almost-magical effectiveness for obtaining ideas from the general public – the crowd – rather than from the experts at the core of the business. Erik Brynjolfsson explains what has changed since the dawn of the digital age and how organizations can evolve with the times by rebalancing from mind toward machine, from product toward platform and from the core toward the crowd.

In this presentation, Brynjolfsson combines his earlier thesis on the advent of the second machine age with further research on the effects of digital platforms and a limitless abundance of data to paint a full picture of the “new economy,” and how to harness its power rather than be sunk by change. He explains how the technologies that will evolve our abilities is already here and will radically accelerate in the next few years. But, just as businesses were slow to adapt to new technologies like electricity, many leaders today are trapped by outdated assumptions, processes and strategies.

Management in the Second Machine Age

If you were managing a business just over a century ago, you would have had to address the fact that a wave of technological change was about to transform the way you did everything. The internal combustion engine would rearrange every aspect of society and long-term plans that ignored this development would become worthless. Today’s business managers find themselves in the same predicament, except the new technology is artificial intelligence (AI) and we, as a people, are entering the second phase of the second machine age.

According to Erik Brynjolfsson, the world’s foremost expert on how rapid advances in technology will impact businesses and the economy, machine learning (ML) has evolved to the point at which intelligent agents, autonomous robots and other devices can learn to do things on their own, with little or no need for human programming. This will have radical consequences, as advancements in AI over the next decade will far exceed all the developments of the past.

This talk builds on his best-selling book, “The Second Machine Age,” but also goes well beyond it, drawing on recent advances in machine learning. Brynjolfsson focuses on how entrepreneurs and business managers must address and react to this new wave of technology.

How Technology is Reshaping the Economy, Society, and the Future of Work

At many stages in human history, rapid and far-reaching technological change has prompted social upheaval and the need for an overhaul of political and social systems. We are now in the midst of one such stage, according to Erik Brynjolfsson. Machine learning has taken artificial intelligence (AI) to a new level, one in which machines can learn complicated tasks on their own rather than relying on human programmers. The impact on society has only just begun, with humans being displaced in industries across the board – even technology jobs are under threat due to devices’ ability to program themselves. The second wave of the second machine age, as Brynjolfsson calls it, poses a dilemma for policymakers: if the old model based on a general availability of work at all skill levels is quickly becoming antiquated, what will replace it?

There are, in fact, immense opportunities for human betterment inherent in this technological revolution. Policymakers must harness these positives while minimizing the negatives:

  • Governments and trade organizations must develop a different approach to managing unemployment that involves constant training and re-training
  • Healthcare reform must take advantage of advances in AI that cut costs and widen provisions
  • Education must be fundamentally transformed so that students are taught the human attributes that robots and computers can not easily replicate, namely creativity and interpersonal skills

Brynjolfsson outlines how people with influence must anticipate the oncoming challenges of AI. Given the fundamental changes already taking place, managing this revolution will be the most important political and social endeavors of the next century.

Media

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

Praise for “Machine, Platform, Crowd”

“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

“On their own, AI, platforms, and crowds are all transformative forces. That they’re evolving in parallel means we’re beginning to experience a new era of networked disruption, where productive but disorienting change becomes the status quo. For citizens, entrepreneurs, companies, and governments who want to successfully navigate this new world, the first step lies in finding reliable and prescient guides. Andrew and Erik are two of the best.”

— Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock Partners and co-founder of LinkedIn

“The authors aptly illustrate how the extraordinary progress of technology is reshaping our lives, and they share powerful ideas relevant to world leaders.… The book is a must-read for policymakers who seek a road map for how to combine the strengths of humanity and technology to build a better future for their citizens.”

— Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund

“The authors explain the whys and hows soberly, answering just about every question on AI you could ask: which channels it will colonise next, whether we’ll still need physical products in a virtual world and how Bitcoin will change commerce, among others. Throughout, they are eloquent and informed. They don’t think humans will be obsolete, but they also don’t pretend the solutions are simple.”

— People Management

“Written… with real human intelligence, concern, feeling, and values. [Machine | Platform | Crowd] is a big, intense, always interesting, and almost intimidating book―and well worth the effort.”

— Dylan Schleicher, Porchlight Book Company (formerly 800-CEO-READ)

“[McAfee and Brynjolfsson] have done us all a great service in explaining some of the powerful trends that will shape our future.”

— Mark Cliffe, chief economist of the ING Group

“McAfee and Brynjolfsson are thoughtful observers of the emerging technological revolution which they described in their earlier The Second Machine Age.… They write clearly and are at their most devastating in analyzing how the various elements of the new age combine, wiping out large sectors of media, retail and music industries as they have gone.”

— Roger Smith, New Law Journal

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