Christmas, five books on future and innovation to put under the tree

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10:13 am

21 December 2018

There is no better Christmas gift. A book embodies culture and knowledge. This year, you could put books under the tree that open the doors to the most innovative present and to the future. Here are five books chosen and recommended by Tendercapital.

 

Stephen Hawking – Brief Answers to the Big Questions

This has to be the most highly recommended book for Christmas, especially for young people. “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.” These are his words contained in this volume, which brings together some of his spiritual heritage. Hawking’s prediction, or rather his fear, is that scientific progress, sooner or later, will inevitably lead to the development of artificial intelligence and that when machines are capable of thinking autonomously, man will not be able to manipulate them: “In short, the advent of super-intelligent AI would be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence,” explains Hawking. This book contains a collection of answers to all big questions about our whole universe, through prose that is understandable to everyone. Why did the universe go to such trouble to exist? What is its nature? Why is the universe as we see it? What is our place in it? Is there a creator?

 

Ellen K. Pao – Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change

The Pao Effect: this is how the impact of this book on society has been defined. Ellen’s story is one of sacrifice and hard work, of dreams and hopes that threatened to shatter against a wall of discrimination and a code of silence. Her book is the story of a woman who, after achieving great academic success, entered the glitzy world of Silicon Valley and discovered that belonging to the female gender and an ethnic minority excluded her from every professional scenario, from invitations to work dinners to decision-making processes at the highest levels of the hierarchy. Included among the books of the year by both the Financial Times and Elle, this book is the story of a fierce legal and political battle with no holds barred, a story of injustice and courage and an indictment denouncing the still-open wound of workplace discrimination, which is still a reality for millions of people around the world.

 

Mark O’Connell – To Be a Machine

This is the account of a 2016 trip to America on the trail of the transhumanists, a group who, in different forms and ways, believe in overcoming death through the aid of advanced technology. But the book is also and above all an immersion in the world of the Big Tech companies scattered through Silicon Valley, shedding light on the deep connections between security devices, technological platforms and the financial world. At Alcor, for 200,000 dollars, you can conserve your body in a dewar, “gigantic thermoses filled with liquid nitrogen”, or, for less money (80,000 dollars), your head. The bodies – or heads – are considered to be in limbo, in an intermediate state between life and death. Although O’Connell politely disagrees, according to Max More, president of Alcor, a transhumanist and advocate of extropianism, the oldest man in the world is located in Scottsdale: James Bedford, PhD, born in 1893, aged 125. La Alcor it is the physical manifestation of the conceptual core on which transhumanism is based. According to O’Connell, it is a “a liberation movement advocating nothing less than a total emancipation from biology itself. There is another way of seeing this, an equal and opposite interpretation, which is that this apparent liberation would in reality be nothing less than a final and total enslavement to technology.”

 

Alec Ross – The Industries of the Future

It is not new, but it is a true innovation manual. It is easy to forget how much the world has changed in the last decades, since we live immersed in the present. And it is even easier not to think about how much the world will change in the coming years, since often its transformation is unpredictable, unstoppable and risky. Alec Ross, Advisor for Innovation to the Obama administration and a professor at Columbia University, has worked for years at the frontier of change, traveling all over the world, visiting start-ups in Kenya and ​research laboratories in South Korea that are like something out of science fiction, to understand technological developments in real time. A true “futurist”, Ross wrote this book with a very specific purpose: to tell everyone about the future that awaits us and to help us find our place in the new world: “Twenty years ago, I would have wanted to read a book able to predict the internet revolution. Today I tried to write it myself: from the computer code to the genetic code.” Ranging from detailed economic analysis to the fascinating tale of true stories from the four corners of the planet, Ross tackles all the hottest topics relating to innovation – from genetic research to cybersecurity to the Big Data revolution – highlighting its impact on the decisions that each of us it will have to take in the next twenty years.

 

Rachel Botsman – Who can you trust?

Her TED Talks are among the most viewed on YouTube and she has been listed among the best 20 speakers in the world. This is no surprise: Rachel Botsman manages to talk and write in a captivating way about the relationship between trust and technology. Why, if we are all disenchanted with politics, companies and the media, do millions of people lend their homes to complete strangers, exchange digital currencies and trust robots? Botsman calls it “distributed trust”, a new paradigm, made possible by technology, which is rewriting the way we live, work and consume. Today, trust has passed from institutions to individuals, including strangers. In the future, institutions, companies and governments will have to recover it. According to the author, they will find a way of doing so.

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