How to get more innovation and more equality.
Is economic inequality the price we pay for innovation? The amazing technological advances of the last two decades—in such areas as artificial intelligence, genetics, and materials—have benefited society collectively and rewarded innovators handsomely: we get cool smartphones and technology moguls become billionaires. This contributes to a growing wealth gap; in the United States; the wealth controlled by the top 0.1 percent of households equals that of the bottom ninety percent. Is this the inevitable cost of an innovation-driven economy? Economist Joshua Gans and policy maker Andrew Leigh make the case that pursuing innovation does not mean giving up on equality—precisely the opposite. In this book, they outline ways that society can become both more entrepreneurial and more egalitarian.
All innovation entails uncertainty; there's no way to predict which new technologies will catch on. Therefore, Gans and Leigh argue, rather than betting on the future of particular professions, we should consider policies that embrace uncertainty and protect people from unfavorable outcomes. To this end, they suggest policies that promote both innovation and equality. If we encourage innovation in the right way, our future can look more like the cheerful techno-utopia of Star Trek than the dark techno-dystopia of The Terminator.
Joshua Gans is Professor of Strategic Management and holds the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. He is the author of The Disruption Dilemma (MIT Press), Prediction Machines, and other books.
Andrew Leigh is a Member of the Australian House of Representatives, a former economics professor, and author of Battlers and Billionaires, Randomistas and other books.
Lawrence H. Summers is Charles W. Eliot Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. He served as Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration and as Director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration.
So much government policy is developed through a myopic view that people only do things for profit and that the more profit they can make the more likely they will be to pursue innovation. Gans and Leigh provide a strong counter to this, arguing that while innovation is a key to driving productivity, the improvements in living standards that should flow as a result can only come if governments pursue policies that aim 'to boost both innovation and equality.'—The Guardian—
Gans and Leigh are alarmed by the winner-take-most phenomenon that characterises many parts of the tech industry. They call for a wide range of reforms, from banning non-compete clauses in work contracts and easing the process for university loans, to reducing sexual harassment in the workplace to boost the number of women in tech
Written in a snappy style leavened with pop culture references, this is not just a book for policy wonks.
—Sydney Morning Herald—