What is Martin Ford’s book ‘The Rise of The Robots’ about? Read the book review and summary of Ford’s book on GreatBooks&Coffee !
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Book Review & Summary:
‘The Rise of the Robots – Technology and the Threat of Mass Employment’ – Martin Ford.
‘The Rise of the Robots‘ by Martin Ford explores the robotization and automation trends that come along with today and tomorrow’s innovation and technological progress. I’d say that although the book is dense at times, it is worth a read if you are interested in that matter. Here is my book review, keep reading!
I had one of those interesting talks the other day, at lunchtime, about what the future will be made of.
There were five people around the table, most of them fully convinced that globalization together with finance and technology would one day or another be the end of us.
Of course, when my analytical brain tried to go a little bit beyond what people say and think out-loud, no one had a clue. None of them had tried to find out more. So I opted for more and got into a little bit of research, with the hope to get some proper food for thought on the technology-will-kill-us discussion.
I found three books on the topic and read the first two in a raw.
The first one was ‘The Rise of the Robots, Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment‘ by Martin Ford. The second was ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by Klaus Schwab (the book review is available here). The third one is still on my reading list, but I’ll update this post with a review as soon as it is ready.
So ‘The Rise of the Robots’ came up first.
It is 285-page long best seller book (Paperback) and, those guys would have loved it, it shows the worst-case scenario on technological progress.
The book is not fictional but it is far from being a crazy invention either!
Martin Ford is actually a very serious and respected thought leader in the field. He knows the topic very well since he is the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm, and he has written two books on the topic, ‘The Lights In the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future’ (2009), and this one.
Simply put, the author knows what he talks about and he is on the skeptical side of the technology discussion. His book ‘The Rise of the Robots – Technology and the Threat of Mass Employment’ reflects just that: expertise, extraordinary thinking and absolute thought leadership.
What you get in this book review:
- An introduction to Martin Ford’s book ‘The Rise of the Robots’.
- A book review which includes in-depth comments on the main themes, questions and conclusions.
- Insights to help you put the book in context.
- My take on the book and why it could be worth your time and money!
A brief book review, for starters…
‘The Rise of the Robots – Technology and the Threat of Mass Employment’, by Martin Ford, explores the robotisation and automation trends that come along with today and tomorrow’s innovation and technological progress.
In contrast with other books on the topic (The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab in particular), ‘The Rise of the Robots’ shows the dark side of the debates. An absolute must-read.
The book discusses innovation and the impact on our modern (and future) societies of the various developments that have started to take place, in particular as a result of automation.
The style is accessible because the book has been written for a large public, but the book is challenging. In other words? The book is an absolute must-read but is not easy to read. It is very well written, the author’s writing is fluid and pushes you further, further, and further, it is full of very practical cases which make the subject matter extremely real. It is extremely well and extensively researched, packed with relevant information, full of very illustrative examples. Clearly, that makes a lot of sense and you will want to know what’s coming next… Having said that, all the above also makes a very dense book, a lot of ideas to process and sleep on.
Now. How about a more comprehensive book review?
Martin Ford explores the idea that we are currently living a new revolution.
The previous revolutions brought progress to the world and have led to a golden age. The jobs created by new technologies were often better for the workers and overall improved their way of life, brought them higher salaries. Hence, the last revolution was characterized by a ‘symbiosis’ between technological evolutions and worker’s welfare. Nowadays, in contrast, technologies lead to creating machines that are not mere tools anymore: nowadays machines turn into workers. In the future, they will replace workers. Thus, disruptive technologies have the power to “devastate” entire industries and our entire system.
The book is divided in ten chapters which tend to develop three main discussions.
First, ‘The Rise of Robots’ provides a detailed background on innovation, technology and automation that any reader interested in the topic should take a look at. The second main topic in ‘The Rise of Robots’ deals with the various impacts of the ongoing revolution. The Third topic in ‘The Rise of Robots’ deals with identifying forthcoming challenges.
Having said that, and as usual on my GreatBooks&Coffee book reviews, I will only look at the first theme here but for more insights on the other themes please have a look at my book summary of Martin Ford’s ‘The Rise of the Robots’ – which you can get for just $3.99 with your 20% member discount! Isn’t that beautiful?
So, ‘The Rise of Robots’ starts with a detailed background on innovation, technology and automation that any reader interested in the topic should take a look at.
This part of Ford’s thinking is mainly developed in Chapter 1 of the book, where the author describes the current state of technological development and introduces the idea that ‘industrial perception robots’ can already replace basic jobs which normally consist in handling, packaging and expediting finished products.
For those jobs that entail logistics, in other words, most workers are expendable and will be replaced because automated robots – despite being ‘blind’ – do master abilities such as visual perception and special dexterity and can operate in semi or full autonomy.
This trend, in Ford’s opinion, particularly developed with the creation of modern games involving spacial cognition technologies (such as the Microsoft Kinect) and which, when democratized, have made technological progress cheap and adaptable to business needs.
Soon, the author explains, this will be applied to increase the efficiency of offshore production lines, and will be adapted to numerous sectors, including fast food chains (automated burger production for example) and the services industry.
Of course, automation must also be related to cloud robotics, i.e. the development of centralized machine intelligence that will allow ‘machine learning’, a smart word which in reality describes the ability of machines to learn from data contained, analyzed and interpreted by a centralized network.
I would say that ‘The Rise of the Robots’ is extremely relevant if you are interested in new technologies, economics and future developments.
First, Martin Ford asks a lot of essential questions that most people are completely unable to answer (or even discuss).
For instance, when will machines stop being tools and become a replacement for workers on a generalized scale? Is the technological revolution different from the previous revolutions and, if yes, in what sense, with what impacts? What are the consequences of ‘machine learning’?
(In case you wondered, machine learning basically is a smart word that describes the ability of computers and machines to collect data, interpret data, and learn from the data analysis that has been produced as part of the process.)
Oh, and of course, what are the chances of seeing a certain form of collaboration between continuously progressing machines and human being?
Second, Ford does more than asking questions, he actually answers them with his own perspective and takes a very clear position on the subject matter. In case you wondered about his perspective, let me remind you the book’s title: ‘The Rise of the Robots -Technology and the Threat of Mass Employment’. There you go…
Innovation has become a trendy topic lately and everybody talks about it because it is promising, at the heart of many debates on how Artificial Intelligence and data will revolutionize business and disrupt industries, particularly in the manufacturing, financial or healthcare sectors to cite but three.
Some discuss innovation in very positive and thinking-forward terms. See, for instance Klaus Schwab’s book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which I have reviewed already on the GreatBooks&Coffee book reviews blog.
But innovation also has a dark side that very few people mention.
Of course, science fiction books have done a lot on this, with authors such as Asimov or more recently Allan Jay writing fascinating stories about how robots will one day stop serve men and take control, either to protect humankind from its own self, or to preserve artificial being from scared humans willing to move backwards from excessive automation.
“The Rise of the Robots -Technology and the Threat of Mass Employment”, by Martin Ford is exactly about that. The dark side of technological progress.
Except this is not science-fiction.
Ford gives numerous examples to support his arguments, makes sure that the questions he asks don’t merely remain questions. This book is not an essay; it is a genuine manifesto on the future of mankind and technology.
THAT’S IT FOR NOW!
That’s it for now, but don’t stop here! The next step for you is to move on and learn something!
As always, I hope you enjoyed this book review! Please let me know what you think with the comment box down the page, especially if you read the book, if you feel like buying it, or if you read my summary!
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