Image - speaker photo
Image - speaker photo

Simon Johnson: The History of Technology and Prosperity

In the 21st century, technology dominates all aspects of our lives. With the advent of artificial intelligence, some believe we are at a critical moment with our ability to control the very technology that humans built. And the decisions we make now will likely shape our society's progress on a range of variables in the future.

According to economist and global thinker Simon Johnson, a thousand years of historical and contemporary evidence makes one thing clear: societal progress for all depends on the choices we make about technology.

In his new book Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity, Johnson explores the history and economics of major technological transformations up to and including the latest developments in artificial Intelligence. He finds that new ways of organizing production and communication can either serve the narrow interests of the elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity for society.

Johnson demonstrates that the path of technology was once—and may again be—brought under control if we make the right choices. The tremendous computing advances of the last half century can become empowering and democratizing tools, but not if all major decisions remain in the hands of a few tech leaders, which characterizes much of the world of technology today. 

Will this change, and what is our role? Hear more as Johnson addresses these critical questions about the power of technology and its influence on societal progress.


This program is generously supported by the Jackson Square Partners Foundation.

Image - Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson

Ronald A. Kurtz Professor Entrepreneurship in the Sloan School at MIT; Co-author, Power and Progress: Our 1000-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity

Image - Paul Saffo

Paul Saffo

Futurist; Consulting Associate Professor, Stanford University—Moderator