Kelly’s arguments ring true, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Readers will enjoy the ride provided they forget that he has...

THE INEVITABLE

UNDERSTANDING THE 12 TECHNOLOGICAL FORCES THAT WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE

That futurists have a terrible record hasn’t discouraged them, and this delightful addition to the genre does not deny that predictions have been wildly off-base.

The reason that futurists are often wrong is that people assume the future will resemble the present except for improvements or decay. Three decades ago, relevant observers assumed that the Internet would become “five thousand TV channels”—paradise for the couch potato. Few saw that viewers would take over, sucking up (but rarely paying for) traditional journalism, art, and entertainment and producing their own. Unfathomable technological changes are in the works, writes Wired founding executive editor (and current “senior maverick”) Kelly (What Technology Wants, 2010, etc.), who proceeds to tell us what they will be. While readers will encounter hints of robotic doctors and clothes that give the washing machine cleaning instructions, the author’s 12 ingenious chapters eschew high-tech spectaculars in favor of their driving forces. All the chapter titles are verbs in the present participle form: flowing, cognifying, tracking, accessing, sharing, etc. “Sharing” and instant “Accessing” will make possession irrelevant. If a self-driving car appears as soon as you summon it, owning one is a hassle. “Access is so superior to ownership in many ways that it is driving the frontiers of the economy,” writes Kelly. Eventually, we will live in the world’s largest rental store. In the 19th century, inventors added electricity to tools (fans, washers, pumps, etc.); in the 21st, they will add intelligence: cognifying. “There is nothing as consequential as a dumb thing made smarter,” writes the author. “Even a very tiny amount of useful intelligence embedded into an existing process boosts its effectiveness to a whole other level.”

Kelly’s arguments ring true, and his enthusiasm is contagious. Readers will enjoy the ride provided they forget that he has disobeyed his warning against assuming that today’s trends will continue.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42808-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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BEATING THE STREET

More uncommonly sensible investment guidance from a master of the game. Drawing on his experience at Fidelity's Magellan Fund, a high- profile vehicle he quit at age 46 in 1990 after a spectacularly successful 13-year tenure as managing director, Lynch (One Up on Wall Street, 1988) makes a strong case for common stocks over bonds, CDs, or other forms of debt. In breezy, anecdotal fashion, the author also encourages individuals to go it alone in the market rather than to bank on money managers whose performance seldom justifies their generous compensation. With the caveat that there's as much art as science to picking issues with upside potential, Lynch commends legwork and observation. ``Spending more time at the mall,'' he argues, invariably is a better way to unearth appreciation candidates than relying on technical, timing, or other costly divining services prized by professionals. The author provides detailed briefings on how he researches industries, special situations, and mutual funds. Particularly instructive are his candid discussions of where he went wrong as well as right in his search for undervalued securities. Throughout the genial text, Lynch offers wry, on-target advisories under the rubric of ``Peter's Principles.'' Commenting on the profits that have accrued to those acquiring shares in enterprises privatized by the British government, he notes: ``Whatever the Queen is selling, buy it.'' In praise of corporate parsimony, the author suggests that, ``all else being equal, invest in the company with the fewest photos in the annual report.'' Another bull's-eye for a consummate pro, with appeal for market veterans and rookies alike. (Charts and tabular material— not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-75915-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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