The way we act and think seems to be an attempt to figure out what will happen next. For example, we go to college in the hope that getting a degree will help us get a better job. We also get a policy on our car in case someone is crazy enough to hit it from the side.
It’s just that we don’t have a crystal ball; our abilities to predict aren’t very good. So, if we want to look into the future, why not ask some of the best minds in the world? It’s a good idea to check out the seven brilliant, farsighted books below if you want to know where the world is going.
Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity By Scott Galloway
You don’t have to look far to find out how the coronavirus pandemic will affect everything. During his wide-ranging talk about the world COVID will leave us, NYU professor Scott Galloway gives a piercing look at technology, education, and government. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation By Kevin Roose
There are many ways that humans can stay alive in the future, but technology columnist Kevin Roose has an optimistic and practical vision for how we can do it. When technology changes, he tells us how to keep our own futures safe. He shares the secrets of people and businesses that have thrived during these changes. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World By Amanda Little
Amanda Little, a Vanderbilt professor, interviews farmers, scientists, activists, and engineers to learn about new and old ways to grow food. She also tracks the growth of a movement that could change the way we think about sustainable food on a huge scale. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything By Mauro F. Guillén
Wharton professor Mauro F. Guillén has come up with a new analysis of the global trends that will shape the future, as well as an analysis of how COVID-19 will amplify and speed up each of these dramatic, often surprising changes. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
Humankind: A Hopeful History By Rutger Bregman
He says that human nature is not evil, but kind and cooperative. Rutger Bregman is an expert on history. He also shows how prison systems and economic policy are shaped by the opposite assumption—and how, when we shift to a more realistic view of human nature, we can build a better, more just world. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human RaceBy Walter Isaacson
They started a revolution that will let us cure diseases, fight off viruses, and have better babies. This is the story of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her team did it. Check out our “Book Bite” Summary to see what we think about the book.
A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload By Cal Newport
Cal Newport, an author and computer science professor, makes the case that our current way of working isn’t working, and then lays out a set of principles and concrete steps for how to fix it. View A summary of our “Book Bite” summary is shown here.
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson – 2012
I’m going to start this list by breaking the 10,000-year rule because 2312 feels like a long time in the future. In this book, author Robinson comes up with wacky and creative technology. It’s fun to follow the characters around the solar system with him!
People on the planets where the characters come from seem to have a lot in common with each other. This is the only thing I don’t like about this book. Because the character from Mercury is very mercurial, and the character from one of Saturn’s moons is very Saturnine (slow, steady, gloomy, which gets boring). If there’s a lot of drama between people, it’s good. I thought they were a little one-dimensional and predictable, though.
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge – 1992
People from many different races live in a universe where the potential of each person’s mind is limited by where he or she is in space, from the super-intelligent people in the Transcend to the simple creatures and technology that can only live in the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can live. When the warring Straumli realms use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an enormous power that destroys thousands of worlds and takes over all natural and artificial intelligence. Nobody knows what kind of force split space into these “regions of thought.” They flee the threat, but the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, kidnap them and use them as pawns in a power struggle. They use the scientists as “pawns.” People from other planets will be on a rescue mission to save the children and a secret that could save the rest of humanity.
Accelerando by Charles Stross – 2005
A new age has come, and it is called the posthuman era. Artificial intelligences have gone beyond the limits of human thought. Biotechnological creatures have almost killed off people. Molecule nanotechnology is all over the place. It can make and change itself at any time. Extraterrestrial contact is becoming more and more likely with each new day that goes by. The Macx family is made up of three generations: Manfred, an entrepreneur who sells intelligence-amplification technology; Amber, who is on the run from her domineering mother and wants to be an astronaut; and Sirhan, Amber’s son, who finds his destiny linked to the fate of all humanity. They are all struggling to stay alive and thrive in this accelerated world.
When it comes to the title: in Italian, accelerando means “speeding up,” and it’s used in musical notation to show how fast a piece moves. This word is used in a book by Stross. It refers to how quickly humanity as a whole and/or the characters in the book are moving toward the technological singularity. “The Memory of Whiteness” and “Mars Trilogy” were both written by Kim Stanley Robinson in 1985. The term was used in both of these books in this way.
Blindsight by Peter Watts – 2006
A space probe that hasn’t been used for a long time hears whispers from a faraway comet. We don’t hear anything out there. To meet the alien, who should we send?
People with multiple personalities and a biologist who’s been spliced with machines so he can’t feel his own flesh should be sent to the party. Send a pacifist warrior and a vampire that has been brought back from the dead by the voodoo of paleogenetics, and they will help you. Send a man who hasn’t thought since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system and pray that you can trust these weird and scary people with the fate of a whole world. As long as you knew what they were going to find, you would give anything to see them find it.