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Average Is Over: Why the Market for Great Jobs Is Changing Forever

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There are two types of people: those who can work with computers, and everyone else.

Think we’re ages away from machines doing amazing things? Do you remember the New York Times Story that illustrated how Target, through algorithms, knew a teenage girl was pregnant before her father.

In an age of machine intelligence, where will most of the benefits go?

To put the question in the bluntest possible way, let’s say that machine intelligence helps us make a lot more things more cheaply, as indeed it is doing. Where will most of the benefits go? In accord with economic reasoning, they will go to that which is scarce.

In today’s global economy here is what is scarce:

1. Quality land and natural resources2. Intellectual property, or good ideas about what should be produced.3. Quality labor with unique skills

Here is what is not scarce these days:

1. Unskilled labor, as more countries join the global economy2. Money in the bank or held in government securities, which you can think of as simple capital, not attached to any special ownership rights (we know there is a lot of it because it has been earning zero or negative real rates of return)

As machines become more powerful, the people who benefit will be the people who are “adept at working with computers and with related devices for communications and information processing.” The way to earn well will be to augment the value of tech, even if only by a small bit.

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