Robot coming for your job? Then listen to this

The consumer Internet is nearly 25 years old, and it has spawned giant new companies such as Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), Google (GOOGL) and Uber that have changed the way we work and live.

But you haven’t seen anything yet.

That’s the assessment of MIT researchers Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson in their new book “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future,” which they discuss with me in a new podcast you can download from iTunes or listen to in the player above. Most of the digital age, so far, has been about the transfer of computing power from humans to machines. And that has already disrupted the economy, along with millions of workers. What’s coming next is even more transformative: The ability of computers to learn and intuit, leapfrogging capabilities that until now have been exclusively human.

Andrew McAfee, left, and Erik Brynjolfsson

Some technologists foresee a dystopian future in which machines and the few elites who control them lord it over everybody else. But not McAfee and Brynjolfsson. Instead, they argue that all technology, no matter how advanced, is merely a tool for humans to exploit; it’s up to us what we choose with these tools. In their book, and in the podcast, they explain what people must do to harness what’s coming, stay relevant, and thrive. It helps to have the right education and some entrepreneurial zeal. But there are also important people skills computers won’t have any time soon, and some relatively easy ways to cash in on the intensifying tech revolution. Start by checking out the podcast.

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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman

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