An encouraging, unflinching look at the tech changes to come.

HUMANITY REIMAGINED

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

Fiore charts the rise of world-changing technologies in this nonfiction debut.

Whether we like it or not, technology is changing every aspect of human life. It isn’t just the way we work and eat, but increasingly the ways we conceive, age, and even think. “Where earlier innovations impacted workforce policies, social interaction, and lifestyle options,” writes Fiore in his introduction, “many future changes will involve internal tweaking in the form of edited genetic code, installation of organ implants, and monitoring systems to guide our diets, fitness regimens, and mental activities.” For Fiore, this is a cause for optimism. These innovations have the power to improve human life in myriad ways if they are employed responsibly and with the proper foresight. In short, innovators across society must remember, in Fiore’s parlance, to “put people first.” The book addresses some of these emerging technologies, including vertical farms, brain-computer interface systems that can restore sight to the blind, 3-D printed buildings, and sensors that monitor our health as part of a system of 24/7 telemedicine. Fiore analyzes the forces propelling these innovations, including the rise of automated systems, empowered consumers, and an evolving culture of corporate responsibility while also discussing the organizations charged with considering the possible societal outcomes for these shifts. Fiore’s people-first perspective covers everything from which skills will become obsolete or more valuable in the near future to the necessity of sharing new technologies evenly across the globe. As the author notes, there is no single person or committee responsible for policing technological innovation. He argues that it’s incumbent on all of us to educate ourselves about what is coming so that we can, as a society, innovate mindfully, beneficially, and equally.

Fiore is essentially a professional technology explainer, keeping abreast of new developments in order to advise people and companies on the future of work. His prose is clean and cheery, though he writes in a kind of motivational corporate-speak that may be alien, or simply annoying, to some readers: “Even as smart machines get better at task performance, we will need intelligent, thoughtful, well trained, and highly motivated people to draw on their domain knowledge, to innovate, to make sound ethical decisions, and to ask the right questions at this pivotal time for business, society, and humanity.” While the book describes some new technologies in detail, it’s mostly about the phenomenon of technological disruption. While technologies themselves are always going out of date, our relationship to innovation remains relatively fixed, even if innovation speeds up over time. Fiore succeeds in communicating this idea, offering a kind of “what to expect” for those stressed about the future. Specific changes are difficult to predict with certainty, but the author’s identification of certain trends, particularly regarding the nature of work and health care, are persuasive, and he contextualizes them in a way that makes them exciting rather than scary. For those looking for a glimpse at the future, this book isn’t a bad place to start.

An encouraging, unflinching look at the tech changes to come.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953943-06-4

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Rivertowns Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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