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About the Book
WHAT DO SELF-DRIVING CARS, ON-DEMAND SERVICES, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, AND INCOME INEQUALITY HAVE IN COMMON? THEY ARE TELLING US, LOUD AND CLEAR, THAT WE ARE HEADING PELL-MELL TOWARD A WORLD SHAPED BY TECHNOLOGY IN WAYS THAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND AND HAVE MANY REASONS TO FEAR.
Tim O’Reilly, one of the most prescient observers of emerging technology, dubbed “the Oracle of Silicon Valley” by Inc. magazine and “the trend spotter” by Wired, explores the burning question of how to master the technologies we create before they master us. How do we make choices today that will result in a world we want to live in? O’Reilly applies techniques his pioneering company has used to predict and make sense of past innovation waves to provide a framework for thinking about what he calls the “WTF technologies” of the twenty-first century. How are these technologies changing the nature of business, education, government, financial markets, and the economy as a whole, and how can we shape those changes?
In this powerful combination of memoir, business-strategy guide, and rallying cry, O’Reilly draws on lessons from networked platforms, including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft, to show how our economy and financial markets have become increasingly managed by algorithms. He believes a world ruled by machines that are hostile to humanity is not a distant possibility, and that the systems we are building today are already shaping that future.
O’Reilly makes the case that income inequality, declining upward mobility, and job loss due to technology are all the result of design choices we have made in the algorithms that manage our markets and our companies. Just as Google constantly updates its algorithms in pursuit of relevant search and ad results, and as Facebook wrestles with how to rethink its algorithms for user engagement in response to fake news, O’Reilly believes we must rewrite our economic algorithms if we wish to create a more human-centered future. It’s up to all of us, he argues, to ensure that the new technologies that shape tomorrow are cause not for worry, but for wonder.
“O’Reilly has an uncanny knack for charting what’s ahead. In WTF?, he shows us know he does it. At a time of sweeping change, it is a bracing and an exhilarating read.” —Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America
“WTF? is a book about technology as it was, as it is, and as it could be. It is told from the perspective of someone who has been personally present at the most important moments in the fast-paced history of tech, and who played a significant role in those moments. It’s a rare and important piece of criticism that inspires even as it dissects. Please do read this book.” —Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“No one is better at understanding the future than Tim O’Reilly. He has an intuitive feel and a deep knowledge of technology. This book makes sense of the astonishing transformations that are happening around us and is an indispensable guidebook to tomorrow.” —Walter Isaacson, President & CEO, The Aspen Institute
“Tim has been an astute observer of both the successes and the excesses of Silicon Valley. This provocative book distills the lessons he has learned about the power of technology to shape our economy and our lives.” —Hal Varian, Google chief economist
“Tim O’Reilly’s creative insights and moral clarity have made him the trusted guide to waves of technology now sweeping the planet. If you want a better future, don’t just read this book, but make sure your friends do, too.” —Erik Brynjolfsson, Director MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and Co-author of The Second Machine Age
“[a] punchy and provocative book… What’s the Future is an insightful and heartfelt plea, daring us to reimagine a better economy and society… a jaunty read with a compelling narrative of how technology interweaves with the real world. If it can cajole even a few tech titans to dwell on the social and political impact of what they do then it will have served a useful purpose.” —Financial Times
“For anyone who wants to know how to prepare for the future – and how we might shape that future in ways that broadly benefit society, not just technological or entrepreneurial elites—WTF? is an indispensable guide.” —Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age
“So many insights, so much history, so much of our future by the consummate insider who is as much a part of the story as the people and ideas he writes about - I was learning something on more or less every page.” —Dr. James Manyika, director, McKinsey Global Institute