Early 2018 Reading List

Update January 22nd: I am adding a book just released to this short list – Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution

I’m often asked for book recommendations that aid with future thinking exercises. A good source in 2018 for this type of exercise is Fast Future Publishing, whose goal is to profile the latest thinking of established and emerging futurists, foresight researchers and future thinkers from around the world, and to make that thinking accessible to the widest possible audience. Their innovative publishing model bypasses most traditional publishing channels and accelerates time to market. Two books that I’d recommend for early 2018 are described below, and a new book due out in the spring is also included.

Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity

The first book in the Fast Future series explores critical emerging issues arising from the rapid pace of development in artificial intelligence (AI). The authors argue for a forward looking and conscious approach to the development and deployment of AI to ensure that it genuinely serves humanity’s best interest. Through a series of articles they present a compelling case to get beyond the genuine stupidity of narrow, short-term, and alarmist thinking and look at AI from a long-term holistic perspective. The reality is that AI will impact current sectors and jobs—and hopefully enable new ones. A smart approach requires us to think about and experiment with strategies for adopting and absorbing the impacts of AI—encompassing education systems, re-skilling the workforce, unemployment and guaranteed basic incomes, robot taxes, job creation, encouraging new ventures, research and development to enable tomorrow’s industries, and dealing with the mental health impacts. The book explores the potential impacts on sectors ranging from healthcare and automotive to legal and education. The implications for business itself are also examined from leadership and HR to sales and business ethics.

The Future Reinvented – Reimagining Life, Society, and Business

The second book in the Fast Future series, The Future Reinvented, explores how our notions of the future are themselves being reinvented. The authors challenge us to reimagine how life, society, key industries, and the conduct of business could be transformed by a combination of radical technological, scientific, social, and economic developments shaping the decade ahead. The Future Reinvented offers unique snapshots of different aspects of a future in which the very tenets of reality are undergoing deep and vital transformations. The book is organized into three sections covering transformations in life and society, industries, and business, and presents holistic future scenarios that encourage strategic thinking about what lies beyond the hype.

Using a futurist perspective, The Future Reinvented offers glimpses of the future across a range of business sectors such as legal, automotive, and sales as well as in different areas of everyday life including retirement, education, and health. Readers are presented with vivid imagery which brings to life a number of different possible futures. These include workplace scenarios of people performing side by side with artificial intelligence or robotic colleagues; humans obtaining physical enhancements to become smarter, stronger, or more psychologically resilient; and strategies for how we might live in a “post-jobs world.” The book provides a powerful foundation for futures thinking and scenario planning in both a personal and organizational context. The authors identify early warning signals and signposts of critical emerging changes and developments on the horizon that could shape the next future.

Available Early Spring:

50:50 – Scenarios for the Next 50 Years Every year

On March 1st, citizens across the planet celebrate World Future Day and explore the possibilities of changes on the horizon. Fast Future is taking this opportunity of World Future Day 2018 to explore scenarios for the next 50 years by publishing 50 perspectives on possible futures from 50 different future thinkers around the world. The book is designed to have the broadest possible scope.

2 thoughts on “Early 2018 Reading List

  1. Mr. Frank shared this review of The Future Reinvented….

    “The Future Reinvented, explores how our notions of the future are themselves being reinvented. The authors challenge us to reimagine how life, society, key industries, and the conduct of business could be transformed by a combination of radical technological, scientific, social, and economic developments shaping the decade ahead. ”

    But, um, our notions of the future are not being reinvented. We are instead simply projecting the past in to the future. We’ve always used the “more is better” relationship with knowledge in the past, and so it is blindly assumed without examination that we will always continue to do so. There have been social changes in society over the last few hundred years, and so it blindly assumed without examination that this will continue, should continue, presumably without end.

    Futurist commentators love to use words like “radical”, “revolutionary”, “transformation”. But there is no rapid radical revolutionary transformation underway. We are instead thinking what we’ve always thought, and doing what we’ve always done.

    The knowledge explosion is creating a revolutionary new environment, true, but we’re not meeting that new environment with anything new. We’re meeting the 21st century with 19th century thinking.

    Revolutionary thinking would involve an examination of longstanding core assumptions such as our “more is better” relationship with knowledge and power. “Revolutionary” typically means some process of overturning the existing group consensus status quo, and the power structures that are built upon it.

    To use economics as an example, tweaking the tax code in a capitalism based political system is not revolutionary, because all the foundational assumptions of that system remain in place. A communist take over of that capitalism based political system would be revolutionary, because in that case the philosophical foundations of capitalism have been examined, rejected, and replaced.

    So let’s see what applying revolutionary thinking to futurism would look like.

    1) The “more is better” relationship with knowledge was an excellent philosophy in a era characterized by knowledge scarcity.

    2) We no longer live in an era characterized by knowledge scarcity, but rather by a knowledge explosion.

    3) A revolutionary new situation, requiring revolutionary new thinking, not more 19th century thinking.

    We aren’t reinventing the future. We’re trying to relive the past.


    PS: In other news, the fake nuclear attack false alarm in Hawaii is fascinating, eh? The gods are smiling upon us this week, giving us fair warning of what is coming if we don’t adapt, and doing so without anybody getting hurt. The bozo who hit the wrong button is a saint, but probably an unemployed one by now.

    Revolutionary Idea: Institute a regular pattern of fake nuke attack warnings (THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!) to randomly selected communities around the nation to provide the body politic at large with a real life vision of what the future will be like if we fail to learn revolutionary thinking.

    Make it real, without anybody getting hurt. Something to, um, shoot for.


  2. Wait, hold on a sec, this just hit me.

    What if the fake nuke warning in Hawaii wasn’t a mistake?

    What if somebody in the Hawaiian emergency broadcast system observed the escalating junior high school level nuclear penis shaking contest between Trump (my button is bigger than your button, nana nana na na!) and the North Korea despot, and took it upon themselves to provide the nation with a reality check?

    Wow, we can dream, maybe there _are_ revolutionary thinkers among us already!


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