Publication Date



The final book talk for the Fall 2015 semester features James Bessen’s recent book Learning by Doing: The Real Connection between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth (Yale 2015). James Bessen is an economist who studies technology and innovation policy. He was founder and CEO of a software company that developed the first desktop publishing program. Currently, Mr. Bessen is a Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law. His work has been widely cited in the press as well as by the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, judges at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Learning by Doing examines history to understand how new technologies currently affect wages and skills. Today’s great paradox is that we feel the impact of technology everywhere except in our paychecks. In the past, technological advancements dramatically increased wages, but during the last three decades, the median wage has remained stagnant. Machines have taken over much of the work for humans, destroying old jobs while increasing profits for business owners. The threat of ever-widening economic inequality loom, but Bessen argues that this is not inevitable. Workers can benefit by acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to implement rapidly evolving technologies. He notes, however, that this can take years…possibly even decades.

The BookIT IP Series is co-sponsored by the IP Program and the Center for Empirical Studies in Intellectual Property.

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