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Poster for Harvard Book Store presents Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson

Harvard Book Store presents Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson

Coming on May 16

Run Time: 90 min.

Harvard Book Store Presents:

Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson


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

in conversation with ROBERT KUTTNER

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 Progressis 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

photo of Daron AcemogluDaron Acemoglu

Daron Acemoglu is Institute Professor of Economics at MIT, the university’s highest faculty honor. For the last twenty-five years, he has been researching the historical origins of prosperity, poverty, and the effects of new technologies on economic growth, employment, and inequality. Acemoglu is the recipient of several awards and honors, including the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to economists under forty judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge (2005); the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in economics, finance, and management for his lifetime contributions (2016), and the Kiel Institute’s Global Economy Prize in economics (2019). He is author (with James Robinson) of The Narrow Corridor and the New York Timesbestseller Why Nations Fail.

Photo credit: Cody O’Loughlin


photo of Robert KuttnerRobert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect and the Economic Policy Institute and former columnist for both Business Week and the Boston Globe. The author of Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? and Going Big (The New Press), he holds the Ida and Meyer Kirstein Chair at Brandeis University and lives in Boston.



photo of Simon JohnsonSimon Johnson

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Sloan School at MIT, where he is also head of the Global Economics and Management group. Previously chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, he has worked on global economic crises and recoveries for thirty years. Johnson has published more than 300 high-impact pieces in leading publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Financial Times. He is author (with Jon Gruber) of Jump-Starting America, and (with James Kwak) of White House Burning and the national bestseller 13 Bankers. He works with entrepreneurs, elected officials, and civil society organizations around the world.

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