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Futurology


The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age

The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age Lowest new price: $16.20
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Author: James Dale Davidson
Brand: Brand: Touchstone

Two renowned investment advisors and authors of the bestseller The Great Reckoning bring to light both currents of disaster and the potential for prosperity and renewal in the face of radical changes in human history as we move into the next century. The Sovereign Individual details strategies necessary for adapting financially to the next phase of Western civilization.
Few observers of the late twentieth century have their fingers so presciently on the pulse of the global political and economic realignment ushering in the new millennium as do James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg. Their bold prediction of disaster on Wall Street in Blood in the Streets was borne out by Black Tuesday. In their ensuing bestsellar, The Great Reckoning, published just weeks before the coup attempt against Gorbachev, they analyzed the pending collapse of the Soviet Union and foretold the civil war in Yugoslavia and other events that have proved to be among the most searing developments of the past few years.
In The Sovereign Individual, Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries -- the shift from an industrial to an information-based society. This transition, which they have termed "the fourth stage of human society," will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of government. This outstanding book will replace false hopes and fictions with new understanding and clarified values.

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The Post-American World: Release 2.0

The Post-American World: Release 2.0 Lowest new price: $3.99
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Author: Fareed Zakaria
Brand: W W Norton Company

“A relentlessly intelligent book.” ―Joseph Joffe, New York Times Book Review

“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s blockbuster on the United States in the twenty-first century, and the trends he identifies have proceeded faster than anyone anticipated. How might the nation continue to thrive in a truly global era? In this fully updated 2.0 edition, Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.

Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer: Author One-to-One
In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together authors Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer and asked them to interview each other.

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, the world's leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and other publications, and his books include Every Nation for Itself, The End of the Free Market, and The J Curve. Read on to see Ian Bremmer's questions for Fareed Zakaria, or turn the tables to see what Zakaria asked Bremmer.

Ian Bremmer: You made clear from the opening sentence of The Post-American World that you do not believe that America faces some kind of inevitable, irreversible decline. But how can U.S. policymakers ensure that the rise of the rest actually strengthens the United States?

Fareed Zakaria: If more countries thrive in the existing global system, it means a larger world economy--more consumers and producers, investors and inventors. That’s great for America. As Europe boomed after World War II, America boomed with it. The rise of Japan and Korea and Taiwan has not meant the decline of America. But the key has been that we have to be able to adjust and adapt. The US economy was enormously productive in the 1950s and 1960s--leading the world in almost every way, from technology to infrastructure to mass education. Our problem is that we no longer lead the world on many of these dimensions-- think of infrastructure or K-12 education--and the rest of the world has been hard at work catching up. So, the fault lies not in our competitors but in ourselves. The good news is, if we can rectify these mistakes, we should still do well in the emerging world.

Ian Bremmer

Bremmer: Given everything that has happened since 2008--the financial market meltdown, the Eurozone crisis, the Arab Spring--have you become more confident or less that the United States can successfully transition from its previous role as global hegemon to a new role as the most powerful among other powerful countries?

Zakaria: There are two distinct (though related) challenges for Washington in a Post-American World. The first is economic, which I outline above. The second is political. Here the structural challenge might seem daunting. Political power is not like economic power. In economics, others can grow and that can be good for you--win, win. In politics, power is relative. As China and India and Brazil and Turkey all prosper and gain strength and confidence, whose dominant influence are they cutting into? The U.S. But even here, the picture is actually quite hopeful for America. The truth is, only America has power along all dimensions – economic, military, political, cultural. And that gives it great strength, particularly as an agenda-setter. Also, the rise of these other countries creates uncertainty and anxiety in the international system. If the United States plays its cards well, it can be the crucial stabilizing force in the system. You can see that dynamic at work in Asia where China’s rise has unsettled many Asian countries and they look to America to play a stabilizing role. It’s a new diplomatic challenge for America, to be more of a catalyst and broker than hegemon and arbiter. It emphasizes brains more than brawn. Let’s hope we’re up to it.

Bremmer: How can policymakers overcome the polarization of American politics to get this right?

Zakaria: That’s the trillion-dollar question. America’s economy and society remain dynamic. It’s political system is broken. First, recognize the problem. Stop mouthing slogans about how we have the world’s greatest democracy. Our system is now highly dysfunctional and corrupt. We need to fix it.

Bremmer: Among rising states, which do you think have the most staying power and why? Will some of the rest be left behind?

Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria: China is in a league apart from every other rising power. It has the scale--in terms of sheer numbers--to have a huge global impact. It is also run by a competent elite, technocrats who plan for the long term and are moving China up the value chain. They are making huge investments in education and infrastructure, which will pay off over the long run. I agree with you that China continues to have a long-term political challenge, how to combine a vigorous and open economy with a closed and bureaucratic political system. But so far they have managed to balance it--I think they will need to make much larger political changes in the next decade than they have in the last decade.

Bremmer: How well do you think America is responding to China’s continued rise?

Zakaria: American business has been responding well to China’s rise, helping it but also benefitting from it. American society is more closed and parochial than American business and so there has been little contact, which is a pity because we can always learn from others. Washington, at a foreign policy level, has actually done quite well in its handling of China. It has encouraged the integration of China into the global economy, it has tried to get China to be more rule-based and more committed to producing (rather than consuming) global public goods. And it has carefully and systematically shored up its alliances with key Asian countries, from India to Japan to South Korea to Australia, which is an important hedge against Chinese expansion. All in all, a solid performance.

Bremmer: You devote a chapter to India’s growing prominence. Are you optimistic that India’s government will help spur the country toward the next stage of its economic development? Or is this still a country where progress will come mainly in spite of government?

Zakaria: China grows because of its government, and India grows in spite of its government. I don’t expect much improvement in India’s public policy. The infrastructure will continue to lag, the education system will be poor, the government will keep doling out subsidies, and tax and regulatory policy will be uncompetitive. But Indian businesses are world class. They manage under very difficult conditions to perform amazingly well. They manage capital efficiently, understand global markets and brands, and have high quality management. India has good demographics, with lots of young consumers. India’s story is a bottom-up story, rather than China’s top-down story. But don’t kid yourself. Ultimately, you need good government policy to go to the next stage. Unless there is massive and intelligent investment in human and physical capital, India will lag behind China substantially. Whether in India or America, bad government will be a huge limiting factor on a country’s success, no matter how dynamic the society and the economy.

Photo of Ian Bremmer © Marc Bryan Brown

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The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century Lowest new price: $6.99
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Author: George Friedman
Brand: Anchor

China fragments, a new Cold War with Russia, Mexcio challenges U.S., the new great powers Turkey, Poland and JapanThe Next 100 Years is a fascinating, eye-opening and often shocking look at what lies ahead for the U.S. and the world from one of our most incisive futurists.
 
In his thought-provoking new book, George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR—the preeminent private intelligence and forecasting firm—focuses on what he knows best, the future. Positing that civilization is at the dawn of a new era, he offers a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century all based on his own thorough analysis and research. For example, The U.S.-Jihadist war will be replaced by a new cold war with Russia; China’s role as a world power will diminish; Mexico will become an important force on the geopolitical stage; and new technologies and cultural trends will radically alter the way we live (and fight wars). Riveting reading from first to last, The Next 100 Years is a fascinating exploration of what the future holds for all of us.

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Future Shock

Future Shock Lowest new price: $6.34
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Author: Alvin Toffler

"The best study of our times that I know. . . . Of all the books that I have read in the last 20 years, it is by far the one that has taught me the most."—Le Figaro

Future Shock
is about the present. Future Shock is about what is happening today to people and groups who are overwhelmed by change. Change affects our products, communities, organizations—even our patterns of friendship and love.

Future Shock vividly describes the emerging global civilization: tomorrow’s family life, the rise of new businesses, subcultures, life-styles, and human relationships—all of them temporary.
 
Future Shock illuminates the world of tomorrow by exploding countless clichés about today.
 
Future Shock will intrigue, provoke, frighten, encourage, and, above all, change everyone who reads it.
 
Praise for Future Shock
 
“Explosive . . . brilliantly formulated.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“A spectacular outcrop of a formidable, organized intellectual effort.”Manchester Guardian
 
“Revealing, exciting, encouraging, brilliant.”The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Immensely readable.”Newsweek
 
“Alvin Toffler has sent something of a shock-wave through Western society.”London Daily Express
 
“To the elite . . . who often get committed to age-old institutions or material goals alone, let Toffler’s Future Shock be a lesson and a warning.”The Times of India

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The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings (TED Books)

The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings (TED Books) Lowest new price: $3.78
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Author: Marc Kushner
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The founder of Architizer.com and practicing architect draws on his unique position at the crossroads of architecture and social media to highlight 100 important buildings that embody the future of architecture.

We’re asking more of architecture than ever before; the response will define our future.

A pavilion made from paper. A building that eats smog. An inflatable concert hall. A research lab that can walk through snow. We’re entering a new age in architecture—one where we expect our buildings to deliver far more than just shelter. We want buildings that inspire us while helping the environment; buildings that delight our senses while serving the needs of a community; buildings made possible both by new technology and repurposed materials.

Like an architectural cabinet of wonders, this book collects the most innovative buildings of today and tomorrow. The buildings hail from all seven continents (to say nothing of other planets), offering a truly global perspective on what lies ahead. Each page captures the soaring confidence, the thoughtful intelligence, the space-age wonder, and at times the sheer whimsy of the world’s most inspired buildings—and the questions they provoke: Can a building breathe? Can a skyscraper be built in a day? Can we 3D-print a house? Can we live on the moon?

Filled with gorgeous imagery and witty insight, this book is an essential and delightful guide to the future being built around us—a future that matters more, and to more of us, than ever.

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Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction Lowest new price: $45.00
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Author: John Storey
Brand: Taylor Francis

In this 7th edition of his award-winning Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction, John Storey has extensively revised the text throughout. As before, the book presents a clear and critical survey of competing theories of and various approaches to popular culture. Its breadth and theoretical unity, exemplified through popular culture, means that it can be flexibly and relevantly applied across a number of disciplines. Also retaining the accessible approach of previous editions, and using appropriate examples from the texts and practices of popular culture, this new edition remains a key introduction to the area.

New to this edition:

• Extensively revised, rewritten and updated

• Improved and expanded content throughout

• A new section on ‘The Contextuality of Meaning’ that explores how context impacts meaning

• A brand new chapter on ‘The Materiality of Popular Culture’ that examines popular culture as material culture

• Extensive updates to the companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/storey, which includes practice questions, extension activities and interactive quizzes, links to relevant websites and further reading, and a glossary of key terms.

The new edition remains essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students of cultural studies, media studies, communication studies, the sociology of culture, popular culture and other related subjects.

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The Great Work: Our Way into the Future

The Great Work: Our Way into the Future Lowest new price: $5.00
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Author: Thomas Berry
Brand: Berry, Thomas Mary

Thomas Berry is one of the most eminent cultural historians of our time. Here he presents the culmination of his ideas and urges us to move from being a disrupting force on the Earth to a benign presence. This transition is the Great Work -- the most necessary and most ennobling work we will ever undertake. Berry's message is not one of doom but of hope. He reminds society of its function, particularly the universities and other educational institutions whose role is to guide students into an appreciation rather than an exploitation of the world around them. Berry is the leading spokesperson for the Earth, and his profound ecological insight illuminates the path we need to take in the realms of ethics, politics, economics, and education if both we and the planet are to survive.

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Who Owns the Future?

Who Owns the Future? Lowest new price: $6.34
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Author: Jaron Lanier
Brand: Simon Schuster

The “brilliant” and “daringly original” (The New York Times) critique of digital networks from the “David Foster Wallace of tech” (London Evening Standard)—asserting that to fix our economy, we must fix our information economy.

Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks.

Lanier has predicted how technology will transform our humanity for decades, and his insight has never been more urgently needed. He shows how Siren Servers, which exploit big data and the free sharing of information, led our economy into recession, imperiled personal privacy, and hollowed out the middle class. The networks that define our world—including social media, financial institutions, and intelligence agencies—now threaten to destroy it.

But there is an alternative. In this provocative, poetic, and deeply humane book, Lanier charts a path toward a brighter future: an information economy that rewards ordinary people for what they do and share on the web.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013: Jaron Lanier's last book, You Are Not a Gadget, was an influential criticism of Web 2.0's crowd-sourced backbone. In Who Owns the Future?, Lanier is interested in how network technologies affect our culture, economy, and collective soul. Lanier is talking about pretty heady stuff--the monopolistic power of big tech companies (dubbed "Siren Servers"), the flattening of the middle class, the obscuring of humanity--but he has a gift for explaining sophisticated concepts with clarity. In fact, what separates Lanier from a lot of techno-futurists is his emphasis on the maintaining humanism and accessibility in technology. In the most ambitious part of the book, Lanier expresses what he believes to be the ideal version of the networked future--one that is built on two-way connections instead of one-way relationships, allowing content, media, and other innovations to be more easily attributed (including a system of micro-payments that lead back to its creator). Is the two-way networked vision of the internet proposed in Who Owns the Future quixotic? Even Lanier seems unsure, but his goal here is to establish a foundation for which we should strive. At one point, Lanier jokingly asks sci-fi author William Gibson to write something that doesn't depict technology as so menacing. Gibson replies, "Jaron, I tried. But it's coming out dark." Lanier is able to conjure a future that's much brighter, and hopefully in his imagination, we are moving closer to that. --Kevin Nguyen

Q&A with Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier

Q. Years ago, in the early days of networking, you and your friends asserted that information should be free. What made you change your tune?

A. In the big picture, a great new technology that makes the world more efficient should result in waves of new opportunity. That’s what happened with, say, electricity, telephones, cars, plumbing, fertilizers, vaccinations, and many other examples. Why on earth have the early years of the network revolution been associated with recessions, austerity, jobless recoveries, and loss of social mobility? Something has clearly gone wrong.

The old ideas about information being free in the information age ended up screwing over everybody except the owners of the very biggest computers. The biggest computers turned into spying and behavior modification operations, which concentrated wealth and power.

Sharing information freely, without traditional rewards like royalties or paychecks, was supposed to create opportunities for brave, creative individuals. Instead, I have watched each successive generation of young journalists, artists, musicians, photographers, and writers face harsher and harsher odds. The perverse effect of opening up information has been that the status of a young person’s parents matters more and more, since it’s so hard to make one’s way.

Q. Throughout history, technological revolutions have caused unemployment but also brought about new types of jobs to replace the old ones. What’s different today?

A. Cars can now drive themselves, and cloud services can translate passages between languages well enough to be of practical use. But the role of people in these technologies turned out to be a surprise.

Back in the 1950s, the fantasy in the computer science world was that smart scientists would achieve machine intelligence and profound levels of automation, but that never worked. Instead, vast amounts of “big data” gathered from real people is rehashed to create automation. There are many, many real people behind the curtain.

This should be great news for the future of employment! Multitudes of people are needed in order for robots to speak, drive cars, or perform operations. The only problem is that as the information age is dawning, the ideology of bright young people and newfangled plutocrats alike holds that information should be free.

Q. Who does own the future? What’s up for grabs that will affect our future livelihoods?

A. The answer is indeed up for grabs. If we keep on doing things as we are, the answer is clear: The future will be narrowly owned by the people who run the biggest, best connected computers, which will usually be found in giant, remote cloud computing farms.

The answer I am promoting instead is that the future should be owned broadly by everyone who contributes data to the cloud, as robots and other machines animated by cloud software start to drive our vehicles, care for us when we’re sick, mine our natural resources, create the physical objects we use, and so on, as the 21st century progresses.

Right now, most people are only gaining informal benefits from advances in technology, like free internet services, while those who own the biggest computers are concentrating formal benefits to an unsustainable degree.

Q. What is a “Siren Server” and how does it function?

A. I needed a broad name for the gargantuan cloud computer services that are concentrating wealth and influence in our era. They go by so many names! There are national intelligence agencies, the famous Silicon Valley companies with nursery school names, the stealthy high finance schemes, and others.

All these schemes are quite similar. The biggest computers can predictably calculate wealth and clout on a broad, statistical level. For instance, an insurance company might use massive amounts of data to only insure people who are unlikely to get sick. The problem is that the risk and loss that can be avoided by having the biggest computer still exist. Everyone else must pay for the risk and loss that the Siren Server can avoid.

The interesting thing about the original Homeric Sirens was that they didn’t actually attack sailors. The fatal peril was that sailors volunteered to grant the sirens control of the interaction. That’s what we’re all doing with the biggest computing schemes.

Q. As a solution to the economic problems caused by digital networks, you assert that each one of us should be paid for what we do and share online. How would that work?

A. We’ve all contributed to the fortunes of big Silicon Valley schemes, big finance schemes, and all manner of other schemes which are driven by computation over a network. But our contributions were deliberately forgotten. This is partly due to the ideology of copying without a trace that my friends and I mistakenly thought would lead to a fairer world, back in the day.

The error we made was simple: Not all computers are created equal.

What is clear is that networks could remember where the value actually came from, which is from a very broad range of people. I sketch a way that universal micropayments might solve the problem, though I am not attempting to present a utopian solution. Instead I hope to deprogram people from the “open” ideal to think about networks more broadly. I am certain that once the conversation escapes the bounds of what has become an orthodoxy, better ideas will come about.

Q. Who Owns the Future seems like two books in one. Does it seem that way to you?

A. If all I wanted was sympathy and popularity, I am sure that a critique by itself—without a proposal for a solution—would have been more effective.

It’s true that the fixes put forward in Who Owns the Future are ambitious, but they are presented within an explicitly modest wrapping. I am hoping to make the world safer for diverse ideas about the future. Our times are terribly conformist. For instance, one is either “red” or “blue,” or is accepted by the “open culture” crowd or not. I seek to bust open such orthodoxies by showing that other ideas are possible. So I present an intentionally rough sketch of an alternate future that doesn’t match up with any of the present orthodoxies.

A reality-based, compassionate world is one in which criticism is okay. I dish it out, but I also lay my tender neck out before you.

Q. You’re a musician in addition to being a computer scientist. What insight has that given you?

A. In the 1990s I was signed to a big label, but as a minor artist. I had to compete in an esoteric niche market, as an experimental classical/jazz high prestige sort of artist. That world was highly competitive and professional, and inspired an intense level of effort from me.

I assumed that losing the moneyed side of the recording business would not make all that much of a difference, but I was wrong. I no longer bother to release music. The reason is that it now feels like a vanity market. Self-promotion has become the primary activity of many of my musician friends. Yuk.

When the music is heard, it’s often in the context of automatically generated streams from some cloud service, so the listener doesn’t even know it’s you. Successful music tends to be quite conformist to some pre-existing category, because that way it fits better into the automatic streaming schemes. I miss competing in the intense NYC music scene. Who keeps you honest when the world is drowning in insincere flattery?

So here I am writing books. Hello book critics!

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Refiguring the Archive

Refiguring the Archive Lowest new price: $192.00
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Refiguring the Archive at once expresses cutting-edge debates on `the archive' in South Africa and internationally, and pushes the boundaries of those debates. It brings together prominent thinkers from a range of disciplines, mainly South Africans but a number from other countries. Traditionally archives have been seen as preserving memory and as holding the past. The contributors to this book question this orthodoxy, unfolding the ways in which archives construct, sanctify, and bury pasts. In his contribution, Jacques Derrida (an instantly recognisable name in intellectual discourse worldwide) shows how remembering can never be separated from forgetting, and argues that the archive is about the future rather than the past. Collectively the contributors demonstrate the degree to which thinking about archives is embracing new realities and new possibilities. The book expresses a confidence in claiming for archival discourse previously unentered terrains. It serves as an early manual for a time that has already begun.

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Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future Lowest new price: $6.51
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Author: Peter M. Senge
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Presence is an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning. In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.
 
Drawing on the wisdom and experience of 150 scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, including Brian Arthur, Rupert Sheldrake, Buckminster Fuller, Lao Tzu, and Carl Jung, Presence is both revolutionary in its exploration and hopeful in its message. This astonishing and completely original work goes on to define the capabilities that underlie our ability to see, sense, and realize new possibilities—in ourselves, in our institutions and organizations, and in society itself.

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