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Futurology


How to Fix the Future

How to Fix the Future Lowest new price: $6.00
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Author: Andrew Keen
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Former Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen was among the earliest to write about the dangers that the Internet poses to our culture and society. His 2007 book The Cult of the Amateur was critical in helping advance the conversation around the Internet, which has now morphed from a tool providing efficiencies and opportunities for consumers and business to an elemental force that is profoundly reshaping our societies and our world.


In his new book, How to Fix the Future, Keen focuses on what we can do about this seemingly intractable situation. Looking to the past to learn how we might change our future, he describes how societies tamed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution, which, like its digital counterpart, demolished long-standing models of living, ruined harmonious environments, and altered the business world beyond recognition. Traveling the world to interview experts in a wide variety of fields, from EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, whose recent €2.4 billion fine to Google made headlines around the world, to successful venture capitalists who nonetheless see the tide turning, to CEOs of companies including The New York Times, Keen unearths approaches to tackling our digital future.


There are five key tools that Keen identifies: regulation, competitive innovation, social responsibility, worker and consumer choice, and education. His journey to discover how these tools are being put into practice around the globe takes him from digital-oriented Estonia, where Skype was founded and where every citizen can access whatever data the government holds on them by logging in to an online database, and where a “e-residency” program allows the country to expand beyond its narrow borders, to Singapore, where a large part of the higher education sector consists in professional courses in coding and website design, to India, Germany, China, Russia, and, of course, Silicon Valley.


Powerful, urgent, and deeply engaging, How to Fix the Future vividly depicts what we must do if we are to try to preserve human values in an increasingly digital world and what steps we might take as societies and individuals to make the future something we can again look forward to.

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Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction

Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction Lowest new price: $36.81
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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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Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (Jacobin)

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (Jacobin) Lowest new price: $9.21
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Author: Peter Frase
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Capitalism is going to end

Peter Frase argues that increasing automation and a growing scarcity of resources, thanks to climate change, will bring it all tumbling down. In Four Futures, Frase imagines how this post-capitalist world might look, deploying the tools of both social science and speculative fiction to explore what communism, rentism, socialism and exterminism might actually entail.

Could the current rise of real-life robocops usher in a world that resembles Ender’s Game? And sure, communism will bring an end to material scarcities and inequalities of wealth—but there’s no guarantee that social hierarchies, governed by an economy of “likes,” wouldn’t rise to take their place. A whirlwind tour through science fiction, social theory and the new technologies already shaping our lives, Four Futures is a balance sheet of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if those movements fail.

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Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World Lowest new price: $15.36
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Author: Rutger Bregman
Brand: LITTLE BROWN

Universal basic income. A 15-hour workweek. Open borders. Does it sound too good to be true? One of Europe's leading young thinkers shows how we can build an ideal world today.

After working all day at jobs we often dislike, we buy things we don't need. Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian, reminds us it needn't be this way-and in some places it isn't.

Rutger Bregman's TED Talk about universal basic income seemed impossibly radical when he delivered it in 2014. His April 2017 talk continues to make the provocative case, detailing the idea's 500-year history and even its brief success in a forgotten trial in Manitoba in the 1970s. Nearly a million views later, guaranteed basic income is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders the world over. It's just one of the many utopian ideas that Bregman proves is possible today.


Utopia for Realists is one of those rare books that takes you by surprise and challenges what you think can happen. From a Canadian city that once completely eradicated poverty, to Richard Nixon's near implementation of a basic income for millions of Americans, Bregman takes us on a journey through history, and beyond the traditional left-right divides, as he champions ideas whose time have come.

Every progressive milestone of civilization-from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy-was once considered a utopian fantasy. Bregman's book, both challenging and bracing, demonstrates that new utopian ideas, like the elimination of poverty and the creation of the fifteen-hour workweek, can become a reality in our lifetime. Being unrealistic and unreasonable can in fact make the impossible inevitable, and it is the only way to build the ideal world.

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Who Owns the Future?

Who Owns the Future? Lowest new price: $5.85
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Author: Jaron Lanier
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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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Inventing the Future (revised and updated edition): Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

Inventing the Future (revised and updated edition): Postcapitalism and a World Without Work Lowest new price: $10.12
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Author: Nick SRNICEK
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A major new manifesto for the end of capitalism

Neoliberalism isn’t working. Austerity is forcing millions into poverty and many more into precarious work, while the left remains trapped in stagnant political practices that offer no respite.

Inventing the Future is a bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tech world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed. Instead of running from a complex future, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams demand a postcapitalist economy capable of advancing standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies that expand our freedoms.

This new edition includes a new chapter where they respond to their various critics.

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The Future (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)

The Future (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series) Lowest new price: $8.16
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Author: Nick Montfort

How the future has been imagined and made, through the work of writers, artists, inventors, and designers.

The future is like an unwritten book. It is not something we see in a crystal ball, or can only hope to predict, like the weather. In this volume of the MIT Press's Essential Knowledge series, Nick Montfort argues that the future is something to be made, not predicted. Montfort offers what he considers essential knowledge about the future, as seen in the work of writers, artists, inventors, and designers (mainly in Western culture) who developed and described the core components of the futures they envisioned. Montfort's approach is not that of futurology or scenario planning; instead, he reports on the work of making the future -- the thinkers who devoted themselves to writing pages in the unwritten book. Douglas Engelbart, Alan Kay, and Ted Nelson didn't predict the future of computing, for instance. They were three of the people who made it.

Montfort focuses on how the development of technologies -- with an emphasis on digital technologies -- has been bound up with ideas about the future. Readers learn about kitchens of the future and the vision behind them; literary utopias, from Plato's Republic to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland; the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair; and what led up to Tim Berners-Lee's invention of the World Wide Web. Montfort describes the notebook computer as a human-centered alterative to the idea of the computer as a room-sized "giant brain"; speculative practice in design and science fiction; and, throughout, the best ways to imagine and build the future.

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Homo Deus / Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Spanish Edition)

Homo Deus / Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Spanish Edition) Lowest new price: $10.92
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Author: Yuval Noah Harari
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Tras el éxito de Sapiens. De animales a dioses, Yuval Noah Harari vuelve su mirada al futuro para ver hacia dónde nos dirigimos.

La guerra es algo obsoleto. Es más probable quitarse la vida que morir en un conflicto bélico.

La hambruna está desapareciendo. Es más habitual sufrir obesidad que pasar hambre.

La muerte es solo un problema técnico. Adiós igualdad. Hola inmortalidad. ¿Qué nos depara el futuro?

Yuval Noah Harari, autor bestseller de Sapiens. De animales a dioses, augura un mundo no tan lejano en el cual nos veremos enfrentados a una nueva serie de retos. Homo Deus explora los proyectos, los sueños y las pesadillas que irán moldeando el siglo XXI -desde superar la muerte hasta la creación de la inteligencia artificial.

- Cuando tu Smartphone te conozca mejor de lo que te conoces a ti mismo,¿seguirás escogiendo tu trabajo, a tu pareja y a tu presidente?

- Cuando la inteligencia artificial nos desmarque del mercado laboral,¿encontrarán los millones de desempleados algún tipo de significado en las drogas o los juegos virtuales?

- Cuando los cuerpos y cerebros sean productos de diseño,¿cederá la selección natural el paso al diseño inteligente? Esto es el futuro de la evolución. Esto es Homo Deus.

ENGLISH DESCRIPTIONWith the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.

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The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future

The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future Lowest new price: $4.25
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Author: Steve Case
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The #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller from Steve Case—the co-founder of AOL—presents “a compelling roadmap for the future…that can help us make sense of the technological changes reshaping our economy and the world. A fascinating read” (Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of LeanIn.org).

Steve Case—a pioneer who made the Internet part of everyday life—was on the leading edge of a revolution in 1985 when he co-founded AOL, the first Internet company to go public and the most successful business of the 1990s. Back then Case was an entrepreneur in an industry that hadn’t really been invented yet, but he had a sense how dramatically the Internet would transform business and society. In The Third Wave, he uses his insights garnered from nearly four decades of working as an innovator, investor, and businessman to argue the importance of entrepreneurship and to chart a path for future innovators.

We are entering, as Case explains, the “Third Wave” of the Internet. The first wave saw AOL and other companies lay the foundation for consumers to connect to the Internet. The second wave saw companies like Google and Facebook build on top of the Internet to create search and social networking capabilities, while apps like Snapchat and Instagram leveraged the smartphone revolution. Now, Case argues, we’re entering the Third Wave: a period in which entrepreneurs will vastly transform major “real world” sectors such as health, education, transportation, energy, and food—and in the process change the way we live our daily lives.

Part memoir, part manifesto, and part playbook for the future, The Third Wave explains the ways in which newly emerging technology companies will have to rethink their relationships with customers, with competitors, and with governments; and offers advice for how entrepreneurs can make winning business decisions and strategies—and how all of us can make sense of this ever-changing digital age.

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The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools

The Art of Critical Pedagogy: Possibilities for Moving from Theory to Practice in Urban Schools Lowest new price: $25.00
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Author: Jeffrey M. Duncan-Andrade

This book furthers the discussion concerning critical pedagogy and its practical applications for urban contexts. It addresses two looming, yet under-explored questions that have emerged with the ascendancy of critical pedagogy in the educational discourse: (1) What does critical pedagogy look like in work with urban youth? and (2) How can a systematic investigation of critical work enacted in urban contexts simultaneously draw upon and push the core tenets of critical pedagogy? Addressing the tensions inherent in enacting critical pedagogy – between working to disrupt and to successfully navigate oppressive institutionalized structures, and between the practice of critical pedagogy and the current standards-driven climate – The Art of Critical Pedagogy seeks to generate authentic internal and external dialogues among educators in search of texts that offer guidance for teaching for a more socially just world.

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