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Summary

How the history of technological revolutions can help us better understand economic and political polarization in the age of automation

From the Industrial Revolution to the age of artificial intelligence, The Technology Trap takes a sweeping look at the history of technological progress and how it has radically shifted the distribution of economic and political power among society’s members. As Carl Benedikt Frey reveals, the Industrial Revolution created unprecedented wealth and prosperity over the long run, but the immediate consequences of mechanization were devastating for large swaths of the population. Middle-income jobs withered, wages stagnated, the labor share of income fell, profits surged, and economic inequality skyrocketed. These trends, Frey documents, broadly mirror those in our current age of automation, which began with the Computer Revolution. 

Just as the Industrial Revolution eventually brought about extraordinary benefits for society, artificial intelligence systems have the potential to do the same. But Frey argues that this depends on how the short term is managed. In the 19th century, workers violently expressed their concerns over machines taking their jobs. The Luddite uprisings joined a long wave of machinery riots that swept across Europe and China. Today’s despairing middle class has not resorted to physical force, but their frustration has led to rising populism and the increasing fragmentation of society. As middle-class jobs continue to come under pressure, there’s no assurance that positive attitudes to technology will persist. 

The Industrial Revolution was a defining moment in history, but few grasped its enormous consequences at the time. The Technology Trap demonstrates that in the midst of another technological revolution, the lessons of the past can help us to more effectively face the present.

©2019 Carl Benedikt Frey (P)2019 Princeton University Press

What listeners say about The Technology Trap

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    4 out of 5 stars

Thorough, analytical, v. detailed

interesting book with very detailed socio economic analysis of the impact of technology on political economy. historical detail is instructive. at times a bit repetitive and feels like some aspects are a tad labourered bit generally fantastic and having that level of detail adds to the author's credibility. Did at times mean I tuned out a bit though but overall very much recommended.

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  • Brad
  • 04-07-19

Very good

Excellent, balanced book on the impacts of technology on the economy. Very well researched and argued.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-04-20

One of the best books I have ever read

This is a must read. Wonderful content, very important points to remember from the history. One of the best books I have ever read, and I read a lot.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Wise Guy
  • 18-11-19

Interesting and current topic explained

Perhaps a bit "over explained", but explained nonetheless. He makes several valid points, but then keeps making them over and over. I kept thinking, "move on". Overall I'm glad I listened to this and plan to re-listen to selected chapters.

2 people found this helpful

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  • William J Brown
  • 02-10-19

Liked but not loved

I'm not sure if it was organization of the story, the narration, or both, but I had a particularly hard time concentrating on much of this content, and it doesn't seem particularly well suited for audio book treatment. I enjoyed the second half much more than the first, and its difficult to argue with some of the conclusions.

2 people found this helpful

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  • R. Dumont
  • 17-02-21

The good and the bad...

The good first:

1. Objective: looks at both the positive and negtive influence of technology on human labor, productivity and economic development.
2. Plenty of historical references to compare and contrast with the present and near future
3. Las part of the book is filled with interesting and perceptive conclusions on what lies ahead regarding AI and the future of humanity.

Now the bad:
1. Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive
2. Requires a whole lot of editing
3. Book could be half the length and transmit the same message

Rating: 3.5

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  • Tahir Jawaid
  • 27-12-20

future of work

loved the book, brilliantly lays down the history and various eras of technological change effected the limits of people, lays out current issues in a very succinct manner from all angels, socioeconomic political etc. must read

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  • je
  • 26-07-20

Long and dry

Good listen for those intrigued by Andrew Yang's campaign, even if not in full agreement

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  • J. Hugunin
  • 29-09-19

Good look at today in historical context

Takes a while to make its point, but does so thru presentation of lots of data. Conclusions seen sound.