Philip Auerswald

Co-founder, The National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (NCEI)
Author, The Code Economy and The Coming Prosperity

The 21st century isn't just full of challenges. It's full of opportunity.

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Philip Auerswald believes we're living in the most exciting period of human history. Over the next quarter century, three billion people will join the global economy — the most dramatic transformation in all civilisation. While most thinkers today see the century ahead as a time of disasters and challenges, Phil sees it as a time of great opportunity. The real story of the 21st century isn't a dark story of scarcity. It's a thrilling adventure in prosperity and growth. It's the story of his book, The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs are Transforming the Global Economy.

"Philip Auerswald shows the role that innovators must play if we are to create 'The Coming Prosperity.' In this important book, he reminds us that challenging the status quo is the inescapable first step toward building the future of our dreams."
— President Bill Clinton

His new book, The Code Economy, offers an indispensable guide to the future, based on a narrative stretching forty-thousand years into the past.

Phil sees opportunity where others see despair. His work in Beijing and in Seoul, watching men and women jump ahead centuries' worth of technological progress in a single generation, has filled him with hope for a dynamic and profitable age, in the U.S. and abroad. He speaks about the power of entrepreneurship and innovation, fueled by the growth of the world economy, to increase living standards around the world, open new technological horizons, and even address the problems of energy and environment that do lie ahead. It's an inspiring message that touches all of us, whether our focus is innovation, entrepreneurship, the economy, technology, or the future.

Philip Auerswald is an Economist at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation. He is the founding board chair of the National Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He co-founded and co-edits Innovations, a quarterly journal from MIT Press about entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges. He is an associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and a former lecturer and assistant director at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He has served as a consultant to the National Academies of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and as an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative. His other books include Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability and Taking Technical Risk: How Innovators, Executives, and Investors Manage High-Tech Risks.


The Code Economy

A Forty-Thousand Year History

Philip Auerswald

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.

OUP USA (1 Mar. 2017)


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

The Coming Prosperity

How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy

Philip Auerswald

Ours is the most dynamic era in human history. The benefits of four centuries of technological and organizational change are at last reaching a previously excluded global majority. This transformation will create large-scale opportunities in richer countries like the United States just as it has in poorer countries now in the ascent.

In The Coming Prosperity, Philip E. Auerswald argues that it is time to overcome the outdated narratives of fear that dominate public discourse and to grasp the powerful momentum of progress. Acknowledging the gravity of today's greatest global challenges--like climate change, water scarcity, and rapid urbanization--Auerswald emphasizes that the choices we make today will determine the extent and reach of the coming prosperity. To make the most of this epochal transition, he writes, the key is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs introduce new products and services, expand the range of global knowledge networks, and, most importantly, challenge established business interests, maintaining the vitality of mature capitalist economies and enhancing the viability of emerging ones. Auerswald frames narratives of inspiring entrepreneurs within the sweep of human history. The book's deft analysis of economic trends is enlivened by stories of entrepreneurs making an outsize difference in their communities and the world--people like Karim Khoja, who led the creation of the first mobile phone company in Afghanistan; Leila Janah, who is bringing digital-age opportunity to talented people trapped in refugee camps; and Victoria Hale, whose non-profit pharmaceutical company turned an orphan drug into a cure for black fever.

Engagingly written and bracingly realistic about the prospects of our historical moment, The Coming Prosperity disarms the current narratives of fear and brings to light the vast new opportunities in the expanding global economy.

Oxford University Press, USA (26 Apr 2012)

Book Reviews

Techno-Optimists Beware — Stanford Social Innovation Review
Dr. BoomCity Journal


"Philip Auerswald shows the role that innovators must play if we are to create 'The Coming Prosperity.' In this important book, he reminds us that challenging the status quo is the inescapable first step toward building the future of our dreams."
— President Bill Clinton, Founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States

"With compelling writing, Auerswald offers an enjoyable and thought-provoking read."
Publishers Weekly


Philip tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

The Coming Prosperity


An Interview — The Coming Prosperity


An advertising consulting group:
I wanted to let you know how terrific Phil was at our speaking engagement. He was dynamic, enlightening and all the things we had hoped he would be. A ringing endorsement.