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MIT’s Andy McAfee to Deliver Keynote at RoboBusiness 2014
McAfee will discuss both the great promise and thorny challenges of the world we're creating as we deploy digital technologies that are the stuff of science fiction.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Jul 17, 2014


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That the organizers of RoboBusiness 2014 - on the tenth anniversary of this annual robotics event - sought to have MIT's Andy McAfee keynote at the upcoming venue (October 15-17, 2014) is a perfect fit for the audience that he will address.

Actually, he's more than just a keynoter, rather, he's the simpatico spokesman for all those in the robotics industry laboring to push their brilliant machines onto the world's stage as well as for the investment community looking to fund potential winners among them.

Andy McAfee, a Sloan School economist and co-founder of MIT's Center for Digital Business, is superbly facile at vividly articulating the future machine age that’s inexorably rumbling toward us all. He gets it, and that resonates well with his audiences.

And his audiences are more than plentiful. Like a Rock Star, he could easily whip up his own YouTube channel sporting thousands of admiring followers. Having appeared on TED Talks, Xconomy, Aspen Institute, IBM Social Business, Oracle Videos, The CapGemini Group, The Forum Network, GE Reports, numerous TV news segments, and of course, his memorable 60 Minutes appearance in January of 2013, he is sought after because he's very good at what he does … and he's a showman. 

It also helps that McAfee is keenly knowledgeable on economics, history and technology, and can effortlessly swing through each as his builds his case for a digital tomorrow.


His arguments, both pro and con on a slew of topics from our present condition to what the future of technology might hold, are always superbly well-wrought, well researched and well delivered. He leaves no stone unturned in his pursuit of digging out the potential drivers of technological success or failure.

Cooly self-assured, but passionate and vital, he wraps his onstage and on-camera moments into a stylishly effective rat-a-tat-tat barrage of financial stats, economic theories, high-tech history and visionary broad jumps that seem always to land him smack dab into the middle of future-botics.

As he famously chirped about the potential clash between human jobs and the machines that covet them to Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes' March of the Machines segment: "We ain't seen nothn' yet!" which jacked Kroft's eyebrows up a few notches.

Yes, McAfee is provocative as well, which only serves to enhance his story lines. 

Those who can innovate

In the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, McAfee and his writing buddy, Erik Brynjolfsson, along with Michael Spence from NYU's Stern School of Business, put out an essay called New World Order. Three paragraphs down, they hot-stamp their grand driving force into the essay:

"Machines are substituting for more types of human labor than ever before. As they replicate themselves, they are also creating more capital. This means that the real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models."

That third group of "those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models" is exactly the RoboBusiness audience, and has been for ten years.

Whenever McAfee addresses an audience, live or on paper, and no matter how rat-a-tat-tat he gets, he's always circling high above a single word: innovation.

Innovation to him is the magic sauce that enables productivity, and productivity is the way out of the human/robot dilemma.

He believes, as economist and Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman that "Productivity isn't everything, but in the long run it is almost everything." In fact, McAfee and Brynjolfsson use that Krugman quote in their extraordinary new book, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

At the center of productivity, contend McAfee and Brynjolfsson, is the pulse of innovation. If it's beating, we’re all good; if not, God help us.

They also cite fellow economist, Bob Gordon, in their Second Machine Age, who believes that productivity in the U.S. began to slow after 1970, and that the reason for the slowdown was a waning of innovation. Like a bad heart, it happens bit by bit, unnoticeably, until it cripples you completely.

Is that where we are now? they ask their readers.

Invariably, McAfee seems always to come down on the side of people brilliantly innovating technology to advance humankind. History makes a good case for it, he says.

Come October at RoboBusiness Boston

Come October, sitting before him at RoboBusiness 2014, will be the very people that he and Brynjolfsson have cast in the roles of change agents and new paradigm creators for this second machine age.

The builders of McAfee's "brilliant technologies" are hanging out at RoboBusiness for its three-day run.

They hail from around the globe; and they religiously follow the event: Boston this year; Silicon Valley last, and Pittsburgh the year before; or they stop by RoboBusiness Europe events: Genoa; Billund (Denmark), and then Milan for 2015.

The workshops, programs, conference tracks and papers from RoboBusiness are like a giant extension of McAfee's thesis on "work, progress and prosperity."

RoboBusiness is all innovation all the time. Check out the sessions and speakers that the faithful have come to hear. For both Andy McAfee and RoboBusiness, it's an extraordinary match.

For Andy McAfee and the RoboBusiness crowd, his keynote should be a very special encounter. And the Q&A after the keynote could be quite cool as well.

Advice for attendees: get there early and get down front.

Deals & Discounts Throught July 21st

Deal #1: A RoboBusiness Super Early Bird Special:

Register now to receive VIP status at the event. Now through July 21 you’ll receive the following as part of your registration!

  • Reserved seating at conference sessions
  • VIP designation on your name badge
  • Free 6-month membership to Robotics Business Review (a $500 value)

VIP Early Bird: $995 now through July 21 Onsite:  $1,595 THAT’S A SAVINGS OF $600!


Deal #2: Special for Members of Robotics Business Review:

RoboBusiness discount $300 off the Super Early Bird Special now through July 21. That’s $695 for the RoboBusiness 2014 3-day event. RBR members will receive the discount code in upcoming members-only emails.

BECOME A NEW MEMBER TODAY! In addition, we’re offering $200 off a full-year’s membership to Robotics Business Review (premium edition). This membership will entitle you to the RoboBusiness Super Early Bird Discount (see above for details).

RoboBusiness Registration:

RBR Member VIP Price: $695 now through July 21st VIP Early Bird: $995 Onsite: $1,595

Robotics Business Review Membership

Now Through July 21: $795 Regular Price: $995   Please use Promo Code:ROBO200



TOTAL ROBOBUSINESS AND ROBOTICS BUSINESS REVIEW SPECIAL:  $1,490! That’s less than the RoboBusiness onsite registration fee alone!

Both deals, which ever you select, come with an hour’s worth of Andy.

But hurry! It all ends on July 21.

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