Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future. Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson. W. W. Norton & Company.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future Book Cover Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future
Andrew McAfee, Erik Brynjolfsson
W. W. Norton & Company
June 27, 2017

We live in strange times: AI breakthroughs that beat the human champions of the strategy game Go also run modern data centers more efficiently than ever before. Excellent smart phones are no longer enough to ensure electronics manufacturers healthy profits in many markets; instead, platform builders like Apple and Google capture the lion’s share of the value. In competition after competition, and newbies outthink the acknowledged experts in everything from computational biology to quantitative investing.

What’s going on? In Machine, Platform, Crowd, New York Times best-selling authors Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfsson have identified the three essential aspects of the modern digital revolution: the rebalancing of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the emphasis is shifting to the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our businesses and live our lives.

Digital machines, in the form of everything from self-driving cars to drones to 3D printers to neural networks, are blowing past their previous limitations and assuming new roles.

Online platforms are changing cost structures, improving how supply meets demand, and creating formidable new competitors in industries ranging from recorded music to urban transportation to computer hardware to group exercise.

Crowds that assemble on the Internet have built operating systems and encyclopedias, repeatedly beat the experts in their own fields, provided funding for many projects, and even reinvented money.

Machine, Platform, Crowd is full of examples of science-fiction technologies that become real and stories of fascinating startups that have become global powerhouses. But it’s not just an overview of what’s new. It’s an explanation of the fundamental principles at work behind all the innovation and disruption of today and tomorrow. These principles are grounded in economics and other disciplines, and are being harnessed by insightful organizations of all sizes, all around the world.

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist and Eric Brynjolfsson a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. They are widely recognized as leading authorities on how technological progress reshapes business and economics.