Elephant In The Room – MWT-3


At the feet of the "hammering man"

At the feet of the “hammering man”

Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee laid out the basics of the “Race Against The Machines” in their book by the same title in 2011. They noted the accelerating advancement of technology, and outlined many of the factors at work today as we push ahead toward Machine World.

On a daily basis now, articles, and videos are published about this general topic. Many people are at least aware that we are approaching a future that we don’t fully understand. I was driving by the Hammering Man sculpture in front of the Seattle Art Museum the other day, and the sight of tiny humans walking around examining and photographing the giant sculpture made me think about where we are in our awareness and understanding of the elephant in the room, and MWT-3 (Remember the elephant.) came to me.

We are in a darkened arena with an elephant. Most of the people in the arena have heard the beast from time to time. Those closest can smell the beast, and feel it’s breath. A growing number of curious souls have come to explore the beast. There are experts on the trunk and the tail and the ears, and they are eagerly debating each discovery in light of the last time we discovered a beast in our midst. Meanwhile, there is an elephant in the room.

Technological Unemployment threatens not only our jobs, and our economy, but our way of life. We are in a race with machines for the future, and they are improving their capabilities at an ever increasing, and astonishing rate. There is an elephant in the room.

We face an unprecedented challenge. Just consider the advance of computers over a relatively short time period, and ask yourself how can humans compete?


“Computer scientist Martin Grotdchel analyzed the speed with which a standard optimization problem could be solved by computers over the period 1988-2003. He documented a 43 million fold improvement, which he broke down into two factors: faster processors and better algorithms embedded in software.”  – Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee  “Race Against The Machines”

This race is happening now, in our classrooms, on our farms, in processing plants, service businesses, hospitals and clinics, retail stores, warehouses – the challenge is pervasive.

I wonder: Are we even in the starting blocks?

Remember the elephant..  is in the room.



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