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Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson at the Brattle Theatre

May 16, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

 |  $6


May 16, 2023
6:00 pm
Event Categories:


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States


Harvard Book Store
(617) 661-1515


Power and Progress:
Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity

in conversation with ROBERT KUTTNER

Power and Progress

Harvard Book Store welcomes DARON ACEMOGLU—Institute Professor of Economics at MIT—and SIMON JOHNSON—Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Sloan School at MIT—for a discussion of their new book Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity. They will be joined in conversation by co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and the Economic Policy Institute and former columnist for the Boston Globe, ROBERT KUTTNER.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Brattle Theatre events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the venue. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth. At venues where refreshments are served, attendees may briefly unmask when actively eating or drinking.
  • For the time being, we will not be holding author signings at these events, in order to limit close contact. When possible, we will have pre-signed books available for purchase on-site.


There are two ticket options available for this event.

Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one hardcover copy of Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity.

Admission-Only Ticket: Includes admission for one.

About Power and Progress

A thousand years of history and contemporary evidence make one thing clear. Progress depends on the choices we make about technology. New ways of organizing production and communication can either serve the narrow interests of an elite or become the foundation for widespread prosperity.

The wealth generated by technological improvements in agriculture during the European Middle Ages was captured by the nobility and used to build grand cathedrals while peasants remained on the edge of starvation. The first hundred years of industrialization in England delivered stagnant incomes for working people. And throughout the world today, digital technologies and artificial intelligence undermine jobs and democracy through excessive automation, massive data collection, and intrusive surveillance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Power and Progress demonstrates that the path of technology was once—and may again be—brought under control. 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 hubristic tech leaders.

With their breakthrough economic theory and manifesto for a better society, Acemoglu and Johnson provide the vision needed to reshape how we innovate and who really gains from technological advances.

Praise for Power and Progress

“A book you must read: compelling, beautifully written, and tightly argued, it addresses a crucially important problem with powerful solutions. Drawing on both historical examples and a deep dive into the ways in which artificial intelligence and social media depress wages and undermine democracy, Acemoglu and Johnson argue for a revolution in the way we manage and control technology. Throughout history, it has only been when elites have been forced to share power that technology has served the common good. Acemoglu and Johnson show us what this would look like today.” —Rebecca Henderson, John and Natty McArthur University Professor, Harvard University, and author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire

“This singular book elevated my understanding of the present confluence of society, economics, and technology. Here we have a synthesis of history and analysis coupled with specific ideas about how the future can be improved. It pulls no punches but also inspires optimism.” —Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now

“One powerful thread runs through this breathtaking tour of the history and future of technology, from the Neolithic agricultural revolution to the ascent of artificial intelligence: Technology is not destiny, nothing is pre-ordained. Humans, despite their imperfect institutions and often-contradictory impulses, remain in the driver’s seat. It is still our job to determine whether the vehicles we build are heading toward justice or down the cliff. In this age of relentless automation and seemingly unstoppable consolidation of power and wealth, Power and Progress is an essential reminder that we can, and must, take back control.” —Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 2019 Nobel laureates in economics and authors of Poor Economics and Good Economics for Hard Times

“Acemoglu and Johnson have written a sweeping history of more than a thousand years of technical change. They take aim at economists’ mindless enthusiasm for technical change and their crippling neglect of power. An important book that is long overdue.” —Sir Angus Deaton, 2015 Nobel laureate in economics and coauthor of Deaths of Despair