by JESSICA MIZZI, September 19, 2017, first appearing on Signature Reads
Where do you see the world in ten years? Twenty? Fifty?
With change around every corner, it’s hard to gauge what will happen. The everlasting development of new technology has altered the nature of the way we live. Our advancements in military technology have made it possible to wipe out entire groups of people with one hasty decision, and our obsession with the internet only continues to grow. With nuclear weapons, crazed leaders, corporate control, and an undying hunger for power, who knows where we’ll land in the coming decades? The future is laced with fear, and everything could dwindle away in dust and ashes if we move in the wrong direction.
With the world around us constantly evolving, we need to be educated and prepared for what comes next. The best way to brace yourself for where we’re to go is to know where we are, and the list of books below can help you do just that. Spanning all topics, from artificial intelligence to nuclear bombs and cyberculture, you’ll be sure to walk away from these reads with more knowledge and understanding than you ever thought possible.
Thomas J. Brennan & Finbarr O’Reilly
War takes an emotional toll on those who fight it, and soldiers suffer injuries that go well beyond physical afflictions. This joint memoir, written by a U.S. Marine and a conflict photographer, demonstrates that psychological wounds run deep and can’t be ignored. Readers of Shooting Ghosts will witness an important relationship develop between these two men as they help each other to make peace with their haunting pasts. This book makes known the reverberations that last long after combatants and civilians have returned home, a particularly poignant point as we approach the fifteenth year of continuous battle in the Middle East.
Robert H. Latiff
Robert H. Latiff devoted his life to researching and developing new combat technologies, making him a leading expert on the place of technology in war and intelligence. He has also calculated the cost of our innovation, weighing the benefits against the consequences. In Future War, Latiff explains the ways in which war has changed, and discusses the new weapons we will use to fight and how the skills of a soldier will continue to adapt. What are the new rules of war? Latiff addresses exactly that.
In his book Almighty, Washington Post reporter Dan Zak examines America’s complex relationship with the nuclear bomb. He takes a look at the arms race and World War II, when we dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Zak’s book is of particular importance now, as our current world sees nations like Iran and North Korea experimenting with deadly missiles. Zak’s reporting showcases a diverse set of beliefs on the issue of nuclear bombs, featuring points of view from the biophysicist who first exposed atomic energy to the world, the prophet who predicted the creation of Oak Ridge, generations of activists, and Washington bureaucrats and diplomats.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change everything about life as we know it, more so than any other technology. The rise of AI can affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and, perhaps most importantly, our sense of humanity. Many books and movies have been centered on the development of AI gone wrong, making the topic all the more frightening. Max Tegmark – an MIT professor who’s helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial – takes an unbiased approach in his book by exposing a variety of viewpoints on the matter, and examines the meaning of life as it is now, and how it’ll change in the future.
The Hacking of the American Mind
Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
It turns out the American mind isn’t such a happy place. Robert Lustig believes that our culture has been ravaged by addiction and depression, suffering irreparable damage. Neuromarketing has enabled corporate America to brainwash consumers (all of us consumers), creating an endless cycle of desire and consumption. In The Hacking of the American Mind, Lustig reveals why we enter this state of consciousness, and calls to the conversation the big-name corporations that helped create this mess and the members of government who allowed it to happen. But don’t worry too much – Lustig also offers solutions we can all use in our daily lives to pursue happiness.
World Without Mind
World Without Mind traces the history of computer science and exposes the corporate ambitions of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. In the book, author Franklin Foer argues that these four companies are a huge threat to our identities and decision-making abilities, with a great impact on intellectual property and privacy. To effectively save our individuality and change the course of the future, we must reclaim our private authority and alter the way that we engage with the corporate world.
The Friendly Orange Glow
The Friendly Orange Glow documents the astounding, untold story of PLATO: the 1960s computer program that marked the beginning of cyberculture. PLATO engineers made notable hardware breakthroughs with plasma displays and touch screens, and are responsible for countless software innovations including chat rooms, instant messaging, message boards, screen savers, multiplayer games, online newspapers, interactive fiction, and emoticons – all things that we couldn’t imagine living without today.
Surely you’ll recognize the logos hiding on this book cover. They represent the four largest and most powerful corporations in the world today: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Almost all of us use services provided by “the Four” on a regular basis, and will continue to do so without question. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself: How did they infiltrate our lives so completely that they’re almost impossible to avoid? How many smaller companies have they crushed to get where they are today? And what will the future bring? Galloway, one of the world’s most celebrated business professors, analyzes the strategies of the Four, and demonstrates how they manipulate us every single day.
Kelly and Zach Weinersmith
Renowned cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and well-known researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith join forces in Soonish to give readers a comic glimpse of the future, and the technologies that’ll likely transform our lives – robot swarms, space elevators, and nuclear fusion powered-toasters, to name a few. The Weinersmiths combined their own research with that of the scientists to investigate why these cool technologies are needed, how they would work, and how we can achieve them in the nearish future.
Wired for War
P. W. Singer
Military expert P.W. Singer reveals how science fiction is becoming reality on the battlefield, quickly and constantly modifying how wars are being fought. He looks at the way politics, economics, law, and ethics have changed in conjunction with technological advancements, and combines historical evidence with first-person accounts to prove that when technologies multiply, life on the front lines and at home are altered. We are continuously replacing men with machines, and though taking humans off the battlefield makes wars easier to start, it leads to more complications than ever before.