Digital disruption coming to every industry

Author: Erik Brynjolfsson, James Kirk (

Categories: digital warm up acts
We're at the dawn of a second machine age, which is augmenting our brains, our mental capacity.  We think that the effects of the second machine age will be at least as big as those of the industrial revolution. The steam engine was an amazing breakthrough.  We did some research, we found that it doubled in power about every 70 years.  Four times as much efficiency in 140 years.  We all know that Moore's Law is a lot faster than that, computer power doubles about every 18 to 24 months, and digitisation is becoming much  more pervasive. In the past decade we've seen some just remarkable breakthroughs, from self-driving cars, to telephones you can talk to and they'll carry out your instructions, basic instructions, we have machines that will write news stories and sports stories, diagnose cancer, and in some cases, better than human doctors.  It's just been amazing.  But these are not the crowning achievements of the second machine age.  These are just the warm-up acts.  These are just the early stages of an even bigger revolution that we have ahead of us. So we hear from some of the executives, boards of directors, that their industry's different, that it can never be vulnerable to digitisation, that's what the folks at Kodak undoubtedly thought, in fact they developed some of the first digital photography equipment it turns out.  But they decided that it just wasn't that important, and they didn't want to cannibalise their existing business.  Well they went bankrupt the same year that Instagram was sold for a billion dollars.  Instagram, a company with a dozen employees. I don't think there's any industry that's not vulnerable.      
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