Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley – Making AI Serve Us All

Physical Copy:


By: Kevin Scott

Rating: A

I have spent some time in a bunch of emerging tech books. There is a lot of hype and excitement about the future. But I always go back to “so what?”. Most of these books are written by Silicon Valley guys that worship at the altar of Technology. What do these innovations mean for me, my family, and my business? What do people actually want and value?

The author, Kevin Scott, is the CTO at Microsoft. A Silicon Valley disciple that also happens to have grown up around tobacco farms in rural Virginia. 

The book explains the benefits that artificial intelligence will bring to the everyday American. He does a great job of describing what AI is and is not. Spoiler. It isn’t Skynet.

AI or machine learning is simply a tool. It will be able to do very specific, narrow tasks that allow us to be more productive in other ways. When the industrial revolution came, machines “replaced” many jobs. The countries that invested in the new technology thrived. Those that did not are now what give us the world view of developed and undeveloped countries.

Is AI going to take my job?

We hear constantly that AI is coming for our jobs. But that may not be true. My favorite illustration from the book had to do with Cardiologists. New smartwatches can now act as an EKG machine. Your phone connects that data to the cloud where AI interprets the data and notifies you when you have issues.

The argument goes, “If AI can do away with doctors, what chance does my industry have?” But after closer examination, there is more to the story. AI is a tool. This data allows more people to be aware of potential adverse conditions. Many of those that die of heart attacks at home will now be notified by their phone to go see the doctor before the issue arises. The phone acts as a low cost salesman for the Cardiologist performing surgery and rendering care. They in turn see more patients and spend less time diagnosing and more time treating.

Rural America

Tractors are becoming more and more integrated with technology. The education required to be a farm and rancher has and will continue to change. In the future, coding and diagnosing errors in software will be a common need on the farm.

Innovation needs local and expert knowledge. Meaning that the local rural talent needs to be leading the R&D and innovation efforts applying tech to their industries. Again, education needs to change.

So what?

The current minimum viable size of a farm is 1,000 – 1,500 acres (varies by the crop) according to the author. Innovation will allow the minimum viable size to decrease drastically, meaning that smaller farms can make a living.

Also, with the kinds of jobs needed in rural America, they will now keep and even attract talent and youth to stay and work there.

5G and Vacant TV Waves

Much of the issue with developing tech and education in rural America is access to reliable high-speed internet. This problem is being addressed from several angles. From the new 5G to using unused television waves to deliver better service to the unreached areas.


In the near future, every industry will be changed by emerging technology. We must continue to learn and lead our industries, communities, and schools into the future of changing needs.

Super interesting read! Recommended.

Next Action:

What is one area that machine learning is being used in your industry that your business is not using yet?

How can you take a step closer to it?

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