Humans Are Underrated by Geoff Colvin – First Impressions

Kyle Reese tries to explain – “you can’t stop him”

“You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her _______ heart out!”
Kyle Reese, The Terminator


Humans Are UnderratedI am well into my book for the October 2 First Friday Book Synopsis, Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin. I’m already ready to state this about this book: this is a superior “explainer” book.

I’ve read, and presented, many books about the changing world brought about by technological advances. Among the best, so far, have been The Second Machine Age and Exponential Organizations. (I presented synopses of both of these at the First Friday Book Synopsis. You can purchase my synopsis — audio recording + handout — at our companion site, And, by the way, I’ve presented a synopsis of an earlier book by Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated, and that synopsis is available on our site).

I’m no longer sure what I learned where – I’ve read a number of books on the issue. But this new book certainly may be adding another dimension to our understanding.

You know about Moore’s Law —   Moore’s law” is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.” But, what Moore’s Law really means is that computers and technology are getting a lot better, doubling in capability, while shrinking in size and price, at a never-slowing-down pace of double-good every 18-24 months.

So, here are some excerpts from Colvin’s latest that help us see this relentless technological advance:

To imagine that technology won’t keep advancing at a blistering pace seems unwise.
What gets doubled every two years is everything that has been achieved in the history of computing power up to that point.
…means literally more than we can imagine.
Pretty soon, most of us are as good as we’re going to get. We can certainly keep improving through devoted practice, but each advance is typically a bit smaller than the one before.
While people get more skilled by ever smaller increments, computers get more capable by ever larger ones.

I’m not yet to the chapters of the book with his “this is what humans can do, and should do” counsel. But this much is ever more clear – the arrival of ever greater capacity in modern technology keeps speeding up; and it will not slow down.

Whatever else our job is right now, it is certainly this: it is our job to figure out how to survive this, and even take advantage of this — not be bypassed or viewed as obsolete because of this. That’s what I hope this book is going to help me, and all of us, with.


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