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Seven Books About the Future and The Digital Economy

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  • Friday, 28 Oct, 2022
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Seven books about the future and the Digital Economy

New apps and software are constantly being developed to improve the functionality of our gadgets and the connectivity between people and places. These eleven books, all released within the last few months, may be both fun and informative if you want to take a step back and look at the digital economy and its influence on all sectors of society from a broader perspective.

1. Future Crimes. More than Science Fiction, it’s Almost a Horror Story

Over the course of nearly eight hundred pages, Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for Our Connected World (2015), examines a wide range of security dangers, both individual and societal, posed by the emergence of new technical resources. Weapons can now be 3D printed, drug trafficking drones can be used, and pacemakers can be hacked.

Marc Goodman, the book's author, advises the United Nations, NATO, and the American government on matters of cyberterrorism, cybercrime, and internet security. He portrays a bleak scenario in which skilled hackers and cybercriminals prey on unsuspecting consumers who install dubious applications, unwittingly give their personal information to companies like Google, or put too much faith in social media. According to him, hackers breaking into our homes or even our bodies is only the beginning.

2. Wild Ride: Is Uber Going too Fast?

As told in "Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Dominance," the history of one of the most recognisable brands of the Internet Age is laid out. The ride-sharing firm, founded in 2009, is a model of success, so much so that it is usual to predict that a new startup in any field will become the "Uber" of that industry. Unfortunately, the Uber tale isn't without its share of blemishes. Wild Ride investigates these issues and, in particular, the controversial figure of the company's founder, Travis Kalanick, who was removed from management in 2017 at least temporarily due to a number of scandals involving his conduct and Uber's corporate culture.

Fortune magazine (which published a substantial extract from the book) journalist Adam Lashinsky had previously authored a book about Apple. To learn more about Uber, Lashinsky spent three months working as a driver. He spent a good deal of time talking to Kalanick, too. His analysis led him to the conclusion that "he has a complicated personality, like most developers of great technology firms."

3. The One Device: The Birth of the Iphone, the Device that Changed the World

From Uber to Apple, or more accurately to the Iphone, the revolutionary smartphone that transformed not just Apple but essentially the whole globe. The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone tells the tale of the 2007 introduction of the iPhone from two vantage points: those within Apple and those on the manufacturing line.

The author, American writer Brian Merchant, discusses how Steve Jobs' megalomaniacal, cutthroat, and, well, picky personality contributed to an atmosphere of intense secrecy throughout the development of the iPhone. His opinion carried a lot of weight inside the firm, so much so that the early stages of the iPhone were kept secret from him out of fear of his response. It was too late by the time he found out about the Iphone for it to have any real significance to him.

Aside from the company's background, the book spends a lot of time criticising the Iphone's assembly lines (in China, Bolivia, and Kenya).

4. Move Fast and Break Things: The Dark Side of Google, Facebook and Amazon

How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Captured Culture and Undermined Democracy in an Era of Breakneck Speed.

The title of the book alludes to a catchphrase used by Facebook in its infancy. Mark Zuckerberg, the company's creator, reportedly told staff to damage stuff since they weren't going fast enough if they didn't. However, in 2014, Zuckerberg instructed his engineers to be more cautious, even if it meant a reduction in speed.

One of the three main characters in the novel is Facebook, along with the aforementioned tech giants and retail giants Google and Amazon. Author Jonathan Taplin, who has worked in the film and music industries (he was Bob Dylan's manager and a producer for Martin Scorsese), describes his novel as a "declaration of war" against a trio of antagonists. According to Taplin's controversial view, the massive success of online retail giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook is largely attributable to their infringement of the economic rights of talented artists. Taplin claims that the Internet's initial intent "was hijacked by a tiny minority of right-wing extremists for whom the principles of democracy and decentralisation were anathema."

Perhaps Taplin is too harsh on the big three because he is bitter about the decline of the industry he has worked in throughout his life as a result of the development of new rivals. Despite this, Move Fast and Break Things is noteworthy since it deviates from the norm.

5. Hit Refresh: Microsoft´s New Life

Readers interested in learning about the less savoury aspects of Microsoft's history will be disappointed by 'Hit Refresh,' in contrast to books on other digital economy icons. However, it is the exact opposite: a book authored by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft since 2014, in which he explains the company's new course.

According to the author, Microsoft has been lost for the better part of a decade, particularly in light of the explosive growth of the mobile phone industry. As a result, it is now relying heavily on cloud computing and AI in an effort to catch up. Hit Refresh: The Quest to Discover Microsoft's Soul is not, however, only about the Bill Gates-created software giant. Nadella uses literary allusions and comparisons to cricket, his preferred sport, to elaborate on his thoughts on business cultures.

6. Misbehaving: A Nobel Prize Winner Explains the Origins of Behavioural Economics

Nobel Laureate and pioneer of the field of behavioural economics Richard Thaler tells his story in "Misbehaving." The fundamental assumption of liberalism, that economic actors operate rationally to fulfil their requirements and maximise their advantage, is undermined by his belief that people often make errors with their financial management.

In this new book, Thaler once again demonstrates the skill that shaped his previous bestseller, "Nudge." He uses sarcasm, humour, and stories to create a story out of his life's events. As an example, he talks about his disagreement with the economist Robert Barro: The agents in his model were believed to be as intelligent as he is, whereas in mine they were meant to be as naive as I am, which is why our models ended out so differently.

7. Thank You for Being Late: Welcome to a New World

"When I graduated from college, I had to find a job. Now, my daughters have to create one for themselves," writes Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The World Is Flat. This quote captures a common worry about the effects of digitalization today. One of the main ideas in his collection of essays titled "Thank You for Being Late" is that disruption is "what occurs when someone accomplishes something brilliant that renders you or your organisation absolutely outdated."

Reflecting on the need of self-motivation for thriving in new cultures that become abruptly hostile, Friedman offers recommendations and actively seeks inspiration. The subtitle, "An optimist's guide to living in the age of accelerations," hints at the upbeat tone of his message.

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