An ability to work with machines will separate the wildly successful from the merely average, writes Tyler Cowen in Average is Over, as reviewed by Philip Delves Broughton in The Wall Street Journal (10/3/13). By Tyler’s estimation, the gulf will be a wide one, with just 10% to 15% of Americans "whose self-motivation and mastery of technology will allow them to roar away into the future." The rest will be consigned to "an underfunded future of lower economic expectations, shantytowns and an endless diet of beans."
To avoid such a fate, Tyler advocates encouraging children to play "freestyle chess, in which humans play alongside machines, rather than against them." Future success, he argues, is in collaborations between the computer’s ability to calculate and the human’s ability to read "character and emotion." In any case, many of us already have trained ourselves "to be complements to our machines," for example, updating our smartphone operating systems to take full advantage of its latest features. So, we need not all be programmers, but we do need to know how to get the most out of everyday technologies.
Tyler also sees a great divide in the educational system, with the "haves" continuing to pay big bucks to attend traditional universities, and everyone else going online to get their education. He sees a world where going to college "is like a gym membership, with trainers to help you make the most of the machines around you." These trainers will be "part drill sergeant and part yoga instructor, able to inspire and put the fear of God into students." In sum, says Tyler, people "will be expected to fend for themselves much more than they do now … It will be dazzling at the top, and ‘meh’ to miserable for the rest."