by Anthony M. Townsend ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2020
An astute and cautiously encouraging overview of the driverless technology revolution.
A deep dive into “the driverless revolution to come.”
Townsend, president of urban forecasting initiative Star City Group, focuses on the seamless integration of automated vehicles (AV) into a society that he feels is ready for them. However, he also evenhandedly addresses the pitfalls. The text features an erudite analysis of the AV industry’s social and financial benefits and the finer points where the industry has already fallen short of expectations, and the author engagingly explores the facts behind the hype and weighs opinions from both sides of the spectrum. Townsend splits the narrative into three relevant “stories,” examining the specialization, the materialization, and the financialization of the driverless revolution, touting its benefits and debunking common myths about its future. In the first section, the author explores the transformative advancements in AV history and the “species” of innovations, and he enthusiastically promotes the eventualities of the “taxibot takeover” and the “push-button supercommute.” One of the areas to be affected most will be taxis. “Most market analysts agree,” writes the author, “that all taxis in the industrialized nations will be automated by 2030.” Then Townsend moves on to scrutinizes the steep demand of deliverables facing the e-commerce industry and the ways automation and “robofreight” could simplify these processes. Finally, Townsend warns of a potential regulatory crisis as corporations begin jockeying for power when lucrative autonomous markets proliferate. This convincing and balanced report also contains six “big mobility” codes of conduct, which will allow readers to apply specialized rules to personally maximize the autonomous experience. A natural follow-up to Townsend’s Smart Cities (2013), this well-researched, smoothly written book will appeal most to urban planners and those in the AV and related industries. Still, general readers will appreciate the author’s optimistic yet cautionary assessment of a technology that remains as elusive and unpredictable as it is awe-inspiring.An astute and cautiously encouraging overview of the driverless technology revolution. (17 illustrations)
Pub Date: June 9, 2020
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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