Booklist #4: Tech + Innovation
Technology has been reshaping the way we work since the dawn of humanity. Today, however, we live in a time of especially rapid and dramatic transformation, where tech is shaping more of our lives than ever. Different thinkers (and some of the authors on this list) refer to our era in different ways: The Second Machine Age, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, etc. I call it The Emergent Era.
Whatever your name for it, the implications are the same: business and industry, in their role as drivers of new technology, are on the forefront of this change.
This week, I’m sharing some books that explore the impact of technology on how we’ll live in the future
The Second Machine Age + Machine Platform Crowd — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
You’ll be hard pressed to find a book about the future of digital technology and industry as insightful, comprehensive, and inspiring as The Second Machine Age. Brynjolfsson and McAfee lay out a convincing map of the transformations ahead in the next ten years.
From The Second Machine Age: “Computers and other digital advances are doing for mental power — the ability to use our brains to understand and shape our environments — what the steam engine and its descendants did for muscle power.”
Plus, Machine Platform Crowd, their sequel, looks at the growing importance of online platforms and ability to tap into a global intellect of minds and machines.
From Machine Platform Crowd: “In all industries, machine, platform, and crowd have counterparts. For machine intelligence, the counterpart is the human mind.”
Abundance — Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler make a convincing and fundamentally simple argument: as technology enables us to produce more, we have a promising opportunity to meet the needs of more people than ever before.
From Abundance: “When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible.”
Rise of the Robots — Martin Ford
Ford’s book is a hard-hitting but sweeping take on automation’s potential to transform labor as we know it across every industry. It’s an argument for a whole new type of economic system.
From Rise of the Robots: “Continued progress depends on a vibrant market for future innovations — and that, in turn, requires a reasonable distribution of purchasing power.”
The Industries of the Future — Alec Ross
Alec Ross, former Senior Adviser on Innovation in the US State Department, has travelled all over the world seeing how new technology is reshaping labor. His book has an unmatched global perspective on this issue.
From The Industries of the Future: “Big data is transitioning from a tool primarily for targeted advertising to an instrument with profound applications for diverse corporate sectors and for addressing chronic social problems.”
The Box — Marc Levinson
Here’s an eccentric look at a technology — because the box is a technology — that many might overlook: the shipping container. Levinson’s book is a rare insight into how an old innovation continues to shape our present.
From The Box: “The economic benefits arise not from innovation itself, but from the entrepreneurs who eventually discover ways to put innovations to practical use.”
The Singularity is Near — Ray Kurzweil
A look at forces shaping the moment when super intelligence might be overtaking human intelligence. Some view this as inevitable. Others, like me, believe that human creativity — deep, unpredictable human brain power — will always be essentially different from the artificial kind.
Kurzweil has had a deep influence on Silicon Valley and many entrepreneurs and future thinkers, including Peter Diamandis, above, who together with Kurzweil, founded Singularity University. (One of my discovery “musts” is to follow Singularity U on social and via their excellent newsletter.)
Information Anxiety by Richard Saul Wurman
This book is as relevant — if not more so — than it was when published in 1989. It is a good look at making sense of the explosion of information. Wurman is a designer, architect, founder of TED and soothsayer.
From Information Anxiety: “The most common definition of [the word information] is: “the action of informing; formation or molding of the mind or character, training, instruction, teaching; communication of instructive knowledge.”
And this is my main read for August: Scale by Geoffrey West. All about the “hidden math” of civilizations — from cities to companies (yes, we are civilized…mostly) Looking forward to sharing insights.
Be on the lookout for my next Booklist here on Medium. Next up are great books about personal narrative — individuals whose stories inspire the way we live and work.