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Futurology


Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe

Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe Lowest new price: $10.30
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Author: George Friedman
Brand: Friedman George

New York Times bestselling author and geopolitical forecaster George Friedman delivers a fascinating portrait of modern-day Europe, with special focus on significant political, cultural, and geographical flashpoints where the conflicts of the past are smoldering once again.

For the past five hundred years, Europe has been the nexus of global culture and power. But throughout most of that history, most European countries have also been volatile and unstable—some even ground zero for catastrophic wars. As Friedman explores the continent’s history region by region, he examines the centuries-long struggles for power and territory among the empires of Spain, Britain, Germany, and Russia that have led to present-day crises: economic instability in Greece; breakaway states threatening the status quo in Spain, Belgium, and the United Kingdom; and a rising tide of migrants disrupting social order in many EU countries. Readers will gain a new understanding of the current and historical forces at work—and a new appreciation of how valuable and fragile peace can be.

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  • Flashpoints The Emerging Crisis in Europe

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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: $9.43
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Author: Nick SRNICEK
Brand: imusti

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.

Features:

  • Verso

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Who Owns the Future?

Who Owns the Future? Lowest new price: $6.65
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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!

Features:

  • Simon Schuster

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Don't Give Guns to Robots: Choosing Our Future Before It Chooses Us

Don't Give Guns to Robots: Choosing Our Future Before It Chooses Us Lowest new price: $25.65
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Author: Adam Savage

Adam Savage, Mythbuster and editor-in-chief of Tested.com, and pioneering tech disrupter Drew Curtis explore what happens after the next tidal wave of innovations changes the world as we know it: what are the big surprises, threats, and challenges we will face, and how can we make flying cars a reality instead of robot overlords?

In Don’t Give Guns to Robots, Adam Savage and Drew Curtis use seven of the biggest imminent technological changes that our society will face over the next twenty to thirty years—from driverless cars, asteroid mining and immortality to organic computers that can cure cancer from inside our bodies—as a jumping off place to discuss what our near and not-so-distant future may look like. They delve into all the possible paths the future may take—some good, some bad, and some that sound like the plot of a really wild sci-fi novel, helping us prepare for the massive changes that will affect our lives.

What is going to happen in the near future? What should we fear and what can we stop worrying about? How can we prepare for it? And most importantly, what can and should be done right this instant to mitigate unintended consequences?

Weaving together interviews from the most innovative and brilliant thought leaders of our generation including Stewart Brand, Peter Diamandis, Astro Teller, Sheryl Connelly, and James Cameron, Don't Give Guns to Robots explores many of the possible unanticipated repercussions of technological innovations and is an illuminating, entertaining, and illustrated guide for preparing ourselves for tomorrow.

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Future Shock

Future Shock Lowest new price: $5.49
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Author: Alvin Toffler
Brand: Bantam

"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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  • Great product!

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Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future

Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future Lowest new price: $4.90
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Author: Roy H. Williams
Brand: Brand: Vanguard Press

Politics, manners, humor, sexuality, wealth, even our definitions of success are periodically renegotiated based on the new values society chooses
to use as a lens to judge what is acceptable.


Are these new values randomly chosen or is there a pattern?

Pendulum chronicles the stuttering history of western society; that endless back-and-forth swing between one excess and another, always reminded of what we left behind.

There is a pattern and it is 40 years: 2003 was a fulcrum year, as was 1963, its opposite.

Pendulum explains where we have been as a society, how we got here, and where we are headed. If you would benefit from a peek into the future,
you would do well to read this book.

 

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The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future Lowest new price: $6.90
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Author: Naomi Oreskes
Brand: Naomi Oreskes Erik M Conway

The year is 2393, and the world is almost unrecognizable. Clear warnings of climate catastrophe went ignored for decades, leading to soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, widespread drought and―finally―the disaster now known as the Great Collapse of 2093, when the disintegration of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet led to mass migration and a complete reshuffling of the global order. Writing from the Second People's Republic of China on the 300th anniversary of the Great Collapse, a senior scholar presents a gripping and deeply disturbing account of how the children of the Enlightenment―the political and economic elites of the so-called advanced industrial societies―failed to act, and so brought about the collapse of Western civilization.

In this haunting, provocative work of science-based fiction, Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway imagine a world devastated by climate change. Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder. Based on sound scholarship and yet unafraid to speak boldly, this book provides a welcome moment of clarity amid the cacophony of climate change literature.

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  • The Collapse of Western Civilization A View from 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: $24.35
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Author: Yuval Noah Harari

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 DESCRIPTION

With 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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Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future Lowest new price: $7.65
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Author: Peter M. Senge
Brand: Peter M Senge

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.

Presence can be read as a both a guide and a challenge to leaders in business, education, and government to transform their institutions into powerful agents of change in a world increasingly out of balance. Since business is the most powerful institution in the world today, the authors argue, it must play a key role in solving global societal problems. Yet so many institutions seem to run people rather than the other way around. In this illuminating book, the authors seek to understand why people don't change systems and institutions even when they pose a threat to society, and examine why institutional change is so difficult to attain.

The authors view large institutions such as global corporations as a new species that are affecting nearly all other life forms on the planet. Rather than look at these systems as merely the extension of a few hyper-powerful individuals, they see them as a dynamic organisms with the potential to learn, grow, and evolve--but only if people exert control over them and actively eliminate their destructive aspects. "But until that potential is activated," they write, "industrial age institutions will continue to expand blindly, unaware of their part in a larger whole or of the consequences of their growth." For global institutions to be recreated in positive ways, there must be individual and collective levels of awareness, followed by direct action. Raising this awareness is what Presence seeks to achieve. Drawing on the insights gleaned from interviews with over 150 leading scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, the authors emphasize what they call the "courage to see freshly"--the ability to view familiar problems from a new perspective in order to better understand how parts and wholes are interrelated.

This is not a typical business book. Mainly theoretical, it does not offer specific tips that organizational managers or directors can apply immediately; rather, it offers powerful tools and ideas for changing the mindset of leaders and unlocking the latent potential to "develop awareness commensurate with our impact, wisdom in balance with our power." --Shawn Carkonen

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When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order: Second Edition

When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order: Second Edition Lowest new price: $9.95
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Author: Martin Jacques
Brand: Martin Jacques

Greatly revised and expanded, with a new afterword, this update to Martin Jacques’s global bestseller is an essential guide to understanding a world increasingly shaped by Chinese power

Soon, China will rule the world. But in doing so, it will not become more Western.

Since the first publication of When China Rules the World, the landscape of world power has shifted dramatically. In the three years since the first edition was published, When China Rules the World has proved to be a remarkably prescient book, transforming the nature of the debate on China.

Now, in this greatly expanded and fully updated edition, boasting nearly 300 pages of new material, and backed up by the latest statistical data, Martin Jacques renews his assault on conventional thinking about China’s ascendancy, showing how its impact will be as much political and cultural as economic, changing the world as we know it.

First published in 2009 to widespread critical acclaim - and controversy - When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order has sold a quarter of a million copies, been translated into eleven languages, nominated for two major literary awards, and is the subject of an immensely popular TED talk.

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