MIT’s Andrew McAfee and the Incredible Rate of Change

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Interop ITX keynoter Andrew McAfee will explore the ways technology is changing the way companies do business, and how more changes will happen at supersonic speed.

Humans have had interesting relationships with machines for more than a century. We love our cars. We love our new TVs. Machines, in turn, have changed how we live and do business. Railroads opened the West. Automated switching on telephone networks opened up new forms of communication. Jet aircraft made us a global society. Computers changed everything.

In the 19th and 20th centuries such changes occurred over the course of decades. Today, machine-driven changes seem to take place almost overnight. In an era of artificial intelligence, the Web, and smart phones machines don’t just carry out our requests but actually shape our decisions, our thinking.

One of today’s thought leaders in the human/machine relationship is Andrew McAfee, (@amcafee), a principal research scientist at MIT. McAfee and his associate at MIT Erik Brynjoffsson have co-authored three books on how we use machines and the impact that those machines have on our lives, our work, and our businesses. In 2016 they published The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

Their latest work, Machine Platform Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future is due to be available in June. That work will form the basis for McAfee’s keynote address at Interop ITX on Thursday, May 18, Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing the Digital Revolution.

While much of the marketing noise and industry commentary seems to focus on what machines — think Alexa and autonomous cars — mean in our personal lives, McAfee is talking business in this book and in his Interop ITX address. “The book is mainly intended as a resource for running a business,” he said in a recent interview, noting that people ask, “How do I think differently?”

Think in terms of how business decisions get made, the relationship between companies and their partners, the connections between company and customer, and how technology changes the workplace and the workday. Technology often changes the very nature of the company.

His session description notes, “We live in strange times. A machine plays the strategy game Go better than any human; upstarts like Apple and Google destroy industry stalwarts such as Nokia; strangers on the Internet are repeatedly more innovative than corporate research labs. And these are not the crowning achievements of the second machine age; they’re the warmup acts. Over the next 10 years, tech progress will bring more business change and disruption than we’ve seen in the past 50. Andrew will discuss what enterprises and technology leaders need to be thinking about, as well as provide tangible recommendations about how to prepare for this change and disruption.”

McAfee will be speaking at approximately 9:30 am PDT on Thursday, May 19. Check the InformationWeek home page for details on viewing the livestream, as well as other video highlights of Interop ITX.