Code is the "how" of human productive activity. The creation, implementation, and refinement of code have been the infrastructure of human progress from Neolithic simplicity to modern complexity. In a sweeping narrative that takes readers from the production of Stone Age axes, to the invention of chocolate chip cookies, to the experience of Burning Man, Philip Auerswald argues that the key driver of human history is the advance of code. At each major stage in the advance of code over the span of centuries, shifts in the structure of society have challenged we human beings to reinvent not only how we work, but who we are. We are at one of those stages now. The Code Economy offers an indispensible guide to the future, based on a narrative stretching forty-thousand years into the past.
Code is modern alchemy — transmuting thought into action, labor into capital. As computers saturate our world and code runs everywhere, this book offers a history of how we got here and a glimpse into our highly interesting future.
— Marc Andreessen, cofounder Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
By showing how human civilization has advanced over centuries through the creation and improvement of what we now call “code,” Philip Auerswald recounts an amazing history that helps us understand how we will live and work in the future.
— Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and The Innovators; president and CEO of the Aspen Institute
Philip Auerswald weaves a compelling metaphor for a socio-economic ecosystem whose “code” determines its behavior in sometimes subtle ways. These ideas help us make sense of long- and short-term phenomena that we encounter as we try to understand, and even to predict, some of the vicissitudes of our 21st Century lives. — Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer
The Code Economy is a strikingly interesting and important book. Much of economic thought focuses on consumption. Auerswald focuses instead on the history of production, recounting the evolution of code as “recipes” from the origin of writing to the development of the Internet; from the culinary creations of Julia Child to the manufacture of airplanes. Read it.
— Stuart Kauffman, author of At Home in the Universe and The Origins of Order
The genius of The Code Economy is putting innovation, automation, and artificial intelligence in historical context — telling the story of technology from the dawn of humanity to present. It should be required reading for anyone in the tech industry.
— Kristin Sharp, Executive Director of the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology, New America
“Phil Auerswald looks at the economy as an ever-changing, ever-evolving set of arrangements, procedures and recipes — a “code economy.” The result is a delightful account of how human activities have gathered power and complexity over centuries. Original, interesting, and thought-provoking.”
— W. Brian Arthur, author of Complexity and the Economy
The end of the industrial era also means the of "organization man" — the phenomenon of people shaping themselves into institutional puzzle pieces in order to earn a livelihood. Philip Auerswald understands this. With engaging story-telling combined with insightful analysis, Auerswald recounts the history of work over the span of centuries. In so doing. he helps us understand that the social era in which we find ourselves is one filled not only with uncertainties and risks, but also with abundant and unprecendented personal possibilities.
— Nilofer Merchant, author The Social Era
In a time where most people are feeling deep anxiety about the future of work, Philip Auerswald provides a much more positive vision. By separating "work," which brings us meaning, from "jobs," which deliver a paycheck, Auerswald provides companies, policymakers, and society with a roadmap for where our economy can actually go in coming decades.
— Ross Baird, Chief Executive Officer, Village Capital