Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson, "Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity" (PublicAffairs, 2023)


Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity (PublicAffairs, 2023) is a groundbreaking work by bestselling authors Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson, in which they challenge conventional wisdom about the role of technology in driving prosperity. The authors argue that technology is not a neutral force working in the public interest but is shaped by the interests and beliefs of the powerful. Those who control technology are the ones who benefit from it, leaving the rest of society with the illusion of progress.

The authors provide a historical account of how technological choices have shaped the course of history, from the appropriation of the economic surplus of the Middle Ages by an ecclesiastical elite to the making of vast fortunes from digital technologies today, while millions of people are pushed towards poverty. The authors emphasize that technological progress can either serve the narrow interests of an elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity.

The book presents a manifesto for building a better society by using the tremendous digital advances of the last half century to create useful and empowering tools, rather than marginalizing most people through automated work and political passivity. The authors argue that to achieve the true potential of innovation, we need to ensure that technology is creating new jobs and opportunities for everyone. The book offers a vision to reimagine and reshape the path of technology, ensuring that it leads to true shared prosperity.

Power and Progress offers a fresh perspective on how technology shapes our lives and highlights the need for a more democratic approach to technological progress. The book provides a compelling argument that the path of technology is not predetermined but can be brought under control to ensure that it benefits everyone, not just a few powerful individuals or corporations. The authors provide an insightful analysis of the power dynamics that underlie technological progress, and their manifesto for a better society is a call to action for policymakers, business leaders, and individuals alike.

Javier Mejia is an economist at Stanford University who specializes in the intersection of social networks and economic history. His research interests also include entrepreneurship and political economy, with a particular focus on Latin America and the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Los Andes University. Mejia has previously been a Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer at New York University-Abu Dhabi and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Bordeaux. He is also a frequent contributor to various news outlets, currently serving as an op-ed columnist for Forbes Magazine.

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Javier Mejia

Javier Mejia is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Science Department at Stanford University.

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