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Informative and Accessible
on April 15, 2016
The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
“The Industries of the Future” is an informative and accessible book about the next economy and how this next wave of innovation will affect our societies. Leading expert on innovation and former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross, explores the industries that will drive the next 20 years of change. This 320-page insightful book includes the following six chapters: 1. Here Come the Robots, 2. The Future of the Human Machine, 3. The Code-ification of Money, Markets, and Trust, 4. The Weaponization of Code, 5. Data: The Raw Material of the Information Age, and 6. The Geography of Future Markets.
1. A well-researched, well-written book.
2. An interesting topic in the hands of a gifted author: the industries of the future that will transform our societies in the next 20 years.
3. A good format. The book includes six chapters each covering topics of interest such as: robotics, advanced life sciences, the code-ification of money, cybersecurity, and big data.
4. Factoids abound throughout this book. “About 70 percent of total robot sales take place in Japan, China, the United States, South Korea, and Germany—known as the “big five” in robotics.” “With 78 organs, 206 bones, and 640 muscles, not to mention up to 25,000 genes, our bodies are complicated machines.”
5. A fascinating look at robots and where there are more likely to emerge.
6. Concepts worth discussing, singularity. “Within the robotics community, the future of technology is wrapped up in the concept of singularity, the theoretical point in time when artificial intelligence will match or surpass human intelligence.”
7. Cool technology for the near future. “There is ample reason to think that robodrivers will be safer than we are now. Accidents are caused by the four Ds: distraction, drowsiness, drunkenness, and driver error.”
8. The future of genomics. “Genomics is going to have a bigger impact on our health than any single innovation…”
9. The dark side of genomics, designer babies.
10. Insightful information on coded money. “He views Square as a product that can help these struggling areas incubate new businesses. “The part I think Square plays is making commerce easy,” Jack says. “Not payments but commerce, so that anyone can make a start and then easily run and then easily grow.” It’s a commerce company for the little guy.”
11. The impact of mobile phones. “In 2002, only 3 percent of Africans used mobile phones. Today that number is over 80 percent and growing at a faster rate than any other region of the world.”
12. Cyberattacks, the Wild West. “There are three main types of cyberattacks today: attacks on a network’s confidentiality, availability, and integrity.” “
13. The impact of digitization. “The digitization of nearly everything is poised to be one of the most consequential economic developments of the next ten years.” “Gosler’s is not a lone voice. James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, warned Congress in February 2015 that cyberattacks pose a greater long-term threat to national security than terrorism.”
14. The future careers with the most demand, cybersecurity. Find out why.
15. The role of big data for the future. “Even more impressive, though, is the role that big data might be able to serve in significantly reducing hunger, probably the longest-running challenge for humanity.” “Precision agriculture also offers the promise of a major reduction in pollution.”
16. In the final chapter, Ross talks about what it will take to compete and succeed in the industries of the future.
17. Cities as innovation hubs. “An important aspect of what makes major cities thrive is infrastructure, along with the analytics programs that allow people to use that infrastructure more efficiently.”
18. The clash between open and closed societies. “The principal political binary of the last half of the 20th century was communism versus capitalism. In the 21st century, it is open versus closed.”
19. The empowerment of women. “In 2013, China led the world in the percentage of women in senior management positions—51 percent. Half of the world’s wealthiest female billionaires live in China.” “It turns out that Rwanda is the only country in the world with a democratically elected parliamentary body that is majority female.”
20. A solid conclusion section that brings it all together.
1. Notes not linked or referenced.
2. No formal bibliography.
3. A minor technical error, genomics will have the biggest impact in the 21st century not the 20th.
4. Lack of charts and diagrams to complement the solid narrative.
5. There is nothing really new or earthshattering in this book.
6. It’s intended for the masses so it will come at the price of technical depth.
In summary, it’s always fun to take a peek into the future. Ross does a good job of covering the most noteworthy technologies of the future and explaining the implications to our society. The book would have been better served by complementing the narrative with diagrams and charts. Lacks technical depth but for the layperson this is a worthwhile book to read, I recommend it.
Further recommendations: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” by Klaus Schwab, “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, “Race Against the Machine” by the same authors, “Rise of the Robots” by Martin Ford, “Our Final Invention” by James Barrat, “Tomorrowland” by Steven Kotler, “Singularity Is Near” by Ray Kurzwell, “The Price of Inequality” by Joseph Stiglitz, “Why Nations Fail” by Daron Acemoglu, and “Saving Capitalism” by Robert B. Reich.