Summary of Only Humans Need Apply

Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines

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Only Humans Need Apply book summary
How to ensure your relevance in the age of smart machines.


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The automation of tasks is now a threat to all jobs, from menial work to “knowledge work.” Business experts Thomas Davenport and Julia Kirby present the challenges facing employees, today and in future generations. They encourage workers at all levels to prepare. They offer startling predictions about the speed at which smart machines will take over tasks that now require employees with extensive experience and education. This practical guide to remaining relevant in the years ahead proves to be a smart, important read for career planning. getAbstract encourages employees, managers and executives to take heed.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How machines will replace “knowledge work” and professional work,
  • What work roles human workers will perform and
  • Why the rise of automation has far-ranging impact.


Three Eras of Automation
Early automation transferred dangerous work to machines, thus improving safety. These technologies introduced more jobs, albeit different ones. In the next stage, automation took over boring and repetitive tasks and allowed human work to become more interesting...
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About the Authors

Thomas H. Davenport, a fellow of MIT’s Center for Digital Business, co-founded the International Institute for Analytics and is a professor at renowned business schools. He has written 17 books. Julia Kirby is a contributing editor at The Harvard Business Review.

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