The proliferation of smart tech creates three fundamental questions: What is the nature of study? What does it truly mean to be human? And–let’s face it–how can you make a buck off this? Those with the third question in thinker knows where to find a lot to like in the most recent book by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, who became famous with a self-published e-book called in 2011 and even more famous after in 2014.

( W.W. Norton& Co ., $28.95) is the most practical of the authors’ jaunts yet. It’s written for senior executives and entrepreneurs trying to making such a route in this brave new world of driverless autoes and hackathons. Understanding machines, platforms, and crowds” is the key to success in the economy today ,” they government in what might be called their value proposition.” Our goal with this volume is to help you with this important job .”

The rise of smart machines, the topic of their previous books, is just one of the three armies they now recognize operating on business. The other two: platforms, such as Facebook,, and Airbnb, which connect people in various ways; and the crowd, which is the collective intelligence of everyone who doesn’t work for your company. The writers’ message is that if you don’t find a way to harness all three, you’ll is just like the factory owners who stuck with steam locomotives after they were rendered obsolete by electric motors.

Each of the new forces has a counterpart from the past. For the machine, it’s the flaw but sometimes still useful human thinker. For the platform, it’s products.( For example, Uber Engineering Inc. is the highly valuable platform; a journey is the inexpensive product it offers .) For the crowd, the counterpart is the core, which signifies the resources inside the four walls of the organization. The new forces-out don’t solely displace the age-old ones in the authors’ vision–management’s goal is to use each where it’s best suited.

wouldn’t be a McAfee and Brynjolfsson book if it weren’t filled with narratives from the bleeding margin that leave you feeling partly enthralled and partly queasy. argued that creativity is uniquely human, but now the authors say ” machines are getting quite good at coming up with powerful new ideas on their own .” Machines are also elbowing aside people in chores that would seem to requirement human opinion, like hiring: Google Inc. realized its interviewers were doing a bad job choosing the best applicants, so it handed the decision-making over to software. People still set a smiling face on the system by speaking with applicants, but now they fill out reports that are submitted to the expert system, which uses them and other data to hire.

Platforms are just as revolutionary as machines, as any executive trying to compete with Amazon or Facebook can tell you. Steve Jobs originally insisted that Apple Inc. would make all the apps for the iPhone; becoming it into a platform for others to build on was one of his best decisions. McAfee and Brynjolfsson quote an analyst who calculated that during one one-quarter last year, Apple built 103.9 percentage of the total operating profits of all mobile machine manufacturers. Samsung Group attained 0.9 percentage, and all the remainder lost money.

To explain the power of crowds, the authors recount how researchers applied crowdsourcing to be submitted with a faster algorithm for sequencing the genomes of large numbers of white blood cell. They posted current challenges along with some test data on Topcoder, an online platform. In a tournament lasting two weeks, people from 69 countries submitted algorithms. Most were useless, but a few were outstanding. The three best operated 180 times as fast as the top one from before the race. It’s apparently common for foreigners to know more than insiders. One explanation: The chance is very small that the people already working for your corporation when a new realm emerges will simply happen to be the best in “the worlds” at it.

Both writers work at MIT, where they co-direct the Initiative on the Digital Economy. McAfee is a scientist and Brynjolfsson an economist. The authors share the can-do stance of data geeks, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, absorbing their ideas and exuding them back in publication and speeches. They’re not here to philosophize, at least not in this book. Briefly elevating the question of whether personal computers could ever be conscious, they write,” this is not the place to have a discussion of what’ consciousness’ is–many lives and libraries have been devoted to that suitcase term .”

Although the authors insist that” is not a how-to volume ,” it’s easy to see bosses handing out transcripts to the remaining human being on their personnel. Each section ends with a bullet-point summing-up and a series of questions that are likely to bother less business-minded readers, such as:” Are you systematically and rigorously tracking the implementation of its over time of your decisions, decisions, and forecasts made by people and algorithms in your organization ?”

is not machine-made; it’s clearly a product of the human brain. But as the third book in a popular series that’s produced TED Talks and visits to Davos, it’s most definitely a platform. And judging from the extensive acceptances, which credit everyone from Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos, it’s also a product of the wise of crowds. McAfee and Brynjolfsson are already following their own advice.