Great Foresight Books (GFB) - Sites, Lists, and Selections
In Top, STEEPCOP, and Fiction Categories
Place them in alpha order under each category, please.
Science, Evolution, and Development
Technology (Engineering, Infotech, Sociotech, Cognotech, Biomedtech)
Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources
Economics, Capitalism, Finance, Globalization, and Innovation Infrastructure
Politics, Security, Democracy, Rights, Health Care, and Sustainability Infrastructure
Culture: Society, Ethics, Media, Art, Design, Education, Religion
Organizations: Org. Leadership, Mgmt, Innovation, Entrep, Sustain & Development
Personal: Family, Relationships, Careers, and Lifestyle
Fiction: Realistic Future Fiction
Top Foresight Books - Sites
Global Foresight Books
Michael Marien's very impressive collection of foresight books. Michael compiled the famous Future Survey review of top new foresight books for the World Future Society from 1979-2008, and he has moved his work work to this website. Enjoy!
Top Foresight Books - Lists
150 Great Foresight Books (ASF, 2008)
Covered in UAT's 15-week Foresight Development undergraduate course
Top 50 and Top 500 Books on Accelerating Change (ASF, 2005)
Recommended titles for your futurist bookshelf.
Top Foresight Books - Selections
50 Facts That Should Change the World, Jessica Williams, 2004
Perhaps 35 of these 50 stats are offensive or angering to varying degrees. The stats and their associated commentary make you motivated to change them. The other third (things like plastic surgery rates) are offensive or not depending in your values and political persuasion. Many of these problems will very likely be greatly improved in coming decades. Thanks to Disinformation.com for this cool book!
A Brief History of the Future, Oona Strathern, 2007
A fast-reading, excellent overview of the history of foresight and prediction in human civilization, from the Oracles at Delphi 800 BCE to the modern foresight professional. As both a journalist and a successful female professional futurist working in a European futures agency, Oona has created a very well written book and brings a much-needed female and European perspective to the history and prospects of the foresight profession.
CIA World Factbook 2008, Central Intelligence Agency, 2007
Great source of country information. Also available online for free.
Science and Human Values, Jacob Bronowski, 1990
Science today is largely silent on human values, a subject it remains a long way from understanding. Religion, tradition, and ideology powerfully fill this void today, speaking to issues of great value and importance to each of us. Yet science is a profoundly humanizing enterprise, and has been central to the elevation of human culture. Bronowski helps us understand both left-brained logic and right-brained creativity, both subjective introspection and objective science as complementary habits of truth.
2012 State of the Future, The Millennium Project, 2012
An annual report (since 1994) of The Millennium Project, a nonprofit foresight think tank with affiliates in 46 countries, analyzes and evaluates possible global prospects for humanity. Lists fifteen global challenges, and is one of the best introductions available to major global foresight issues and long-term solutions. Great scenarios across the STEEPS categories.
The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria, 2008
Great portrayal of "the rise of the rest." The most powerful global political and economic trends are not that America is slipping into ruin, but that it's finally many parts of the less developed world's turn to make the great strides we made earlier. The US is saddled with a 'do-nothing' political system, controlled by corporate interests that have been more economically powerful than governments since the 1950's, while the best of the rest of the world, China in particular, India to a lesser degree, and a number of other developing nations are seeing double digit economic growth, and will likely continue to for the next few decades, as they become innovators in the global economy. There is much we could do to improve our own state, but much that will continue to get better in spite of us as well. It's time to recognize the great power shift taking place, and recognize that for the most part, this is creating a stronger and far less American global economic network, though corporate globalization still is significantly less socially responsible and accountable than it must be in coming generations.
Science, Evolution, and Development Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, 1988
This popular science book explains a wide range of topics in cosmology and modern physics. Although it is mainly a book about the "present", it also discusses the future of the field of physics and how it might affect humanity as a whole.
Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos, Roger Lewin, 2000
Global Brain: Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, Howard Bloom, 2001
Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed, Jim Al-Khalili, 2004
Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain and How it Changed the World, Carl Zimmer, 2005
How the theory of mind has slowly progressed from immaterial, residing in the heart, to material, residing in the embodied nervous system. A fantastic story, ranging from Aristotle to the present day. It centers around the work of 17th century anatomist and early scientist Thomas Willis.
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings and Hidden Dimensions, Brian Greene, 2000
The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot, 1991
What if all the separate images we see virtually every moment of our waking lives were actually part of the same whole? What if every mind was connected and inseparable from every other mind? And what if the universe were a projection of our consciousness? Psychological synchronicities and previously inexplicable phenomena would be easier to understand, the findings of quantum physicists and mystics would begin to merge, and the world would be a less forbidding and lonely place. Michael Talbot argues for the idea that what we see in our limited three-dimensional view is actually a hologram created by interactions occurring in a broader set of dimensions (in the multiverse). Talbot bases much of his thesis on David Bohm's life work in quantum physics, but draws also on the work of psychiatrist Stanislav Grof and neuroscientist Karl Pribram (who believes that the human mind is a holographic construct of the brain). This book bridges the worlds of science and metaphysics and offers at least some plausible hypotheses. Popular with those who believe in the reality of at least some weak paranormal phenomena.
The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century, David Salsburg, 2002
Great intro to the way statistics and probability math and models have led to great leaps in the search for scientific truth over the last hundred years. These mathematical methods are nothing less than humanities first great successful effort at building a "prediction science." Discovering and verifying probability distributions in complex systems is an excellent way to discover hidden order in the universe. The actuarial industry is just one of many that have been able to use these tools, approximate as they are, to very effectively manage the future in our partially chaotic world.
The Three Cultures: Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Humanities in the 21st Century, Jerome Kagan, 2008
Updates C.P. Snow's famous 1959 lecture on the "Two Cultures" of the 20th century, the sciences vs. arts and humanities, and the great divide between them. Since then social complexity has grown and a true third culture, the social sciences, has emerged. This culture is comprised of fields such as sociology, political science, economics, psychology, anthropology and yes, futures studies (foresight). Kagan summarizes the contributions of the social sciences and humanities to our understanding of human nature and questions the popular belief that biological processes are the main determinant of variation in human behavior. The world gets more complex every decade, doesn't it? Fascinating.
Technology (Engineering, Infotech, Sociotech, Cognotech, Biomedtech) Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Progressives, Pete Shanks, 2005
A nice intro to the many limits of biotech, and the social values that limit its adoption as well.
Love+Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, David Levy, 2008.
Reports on the very long history and possible future of human-robot relationships. Fascinating. As robots get smarter and smarter, will more people have more relationships with them? Old people and kids already have robot pets today. Will human-to-human relationships suffer or get better as a result? Will people eventually be allowed to marry their robots, when they get sentient enough? What else might happen that we need to think about?
Massive Change and the Institute without Boundaries, Bruce Mau, 2004
Somewhat utopian but inspiring and very nicely illustrated manifesto on how better design can fundamentally improve our world.
Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies, US National Academies, 2009
Important new work on the forecasting of emergent technologies. From the Preface: "Technological innovations are key causal agents of surprise and disruption. These innovations, and the disruption they produce, have the potential to affect people and societies and therefore government policy, especially policy related to national security. To aid in the development of forecasting methodologies and strategies, the Committee on Forecasting Future Disruptive Technologies of the National Research Council (NRC) was funded by the Director, Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Defense Warning Office (DWO) to provide an analysis of disruptive technologies."
Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind, Hans Moravec, 1998
For more on the long history and possible future of human-robot relationships, read the fascinating Love+Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, David Levy, 2008.
The Future of Technology, Tom Standage, Ed., 2005
Insightful but circumscribed survey of the 10-year future of consumer, info, nano, and biotech, from an insightful editor at The Economist.
The Spike: Impact of Rapidly Advancing Technologies, Damien Broderick, 2002
Visions of Technology: A Century of Debate about Machines, Richard Rhodes, 2000
What Will Be: How Information Will Change Our Lives, Michael Dertouzos, 1997
Why Things Bite Back: Unintended Consequences of Tech, Edward Tenner, 1997
How technology trades big life-threatening problems with slower-acting, more complex ones.
The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, Marcia Angell, 2004
Brilliant expose of the largest 'nanotechnology' companies on the planet today, the pharmaceutical companies. Want to know how big they really are? In 2002, the total profits of the ten drug companies on the U.S. Fortune 500, $36 billion, was more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses on the list, combined ($34 billion). Read this book to understand how technology, in well defined applications (in this case, for human consumption for medical purposes) can be entirely captured, controlled, and stifled by big business. Fortunately the governments of some countries, particularly in Europe, are too strong to be captured by the drug companies. Unfortunately that hasn't been true here since the 1970's. The irony is that the biggest of these companies are based in Europe. But in 2002 they made half ($200B) of their their total world revenues off the U.S. consumer, who is bombarded daily by drug-pushing ads in all the media, unlike in most European countries, where marketing regulations are far more protective of the unwashed consumer, and where the citizenry are much more skeptical of drugmakers claims.
Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming, Al Gore, 2006
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, Bjorn Lomborg, 2007
Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction, Mark Maslin, 2004
Quick and very brief intro to the complexities of global warming forecasts, and the political positions involved.
Limits To Growth, Meadows, Meadows and Randers, 1979
Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update, Meadows and Randers, 2004
Silent Spring (Special Edition), Rachel Carson, 1974/2002
The 2030 Spike: Countdown to Global Catastrophe, Colin Mason, 2003
The Bottomless Well: Why We Will Never Run out of Energy, Huber and Mills, 2006
The Long Emergency: Surviving the Catastrophes of the 21st Century, James Kunstler, 2006
Economics, Capitalism, Finance, Globalization, and Innovation Infrastructure Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, Niall Ferguson, 2008
Brilliant analysis that "follows the money" behind so many of the major events of Western civilization. Helps you understand the US's present debt-slavery to China, the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, and our loss of national manufacturing and technical productivity capacity. All these things are consequences of the rise of an unregulated corporate class that captured US government in the mid 20th century and created vast wealth for those at the top (for time) but far less for the country as a whole (and greater rich poor divide, unlike other developed nations). Until we use government to reprioritize the country to technical capacity increase rather than GDP increase, and rationalize the rich-poor divide, we can expect more of the same. Fortunately New Asia and Old Europe aren't following our sad script. (John Smart)
Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons, Peter Barnes, 2006
Development as Freedom, Amartya Sen, 2000
Globalization and its Discontents, Joseph Stiglitz, 2003
Miniatlas of Global Development, World Bank, 2004
Very small handbook of goals and progress in global development per the World Bank.
Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, Thomas K. McCraw, 2007
Schumpeter is perhaps our greatest economist to date in the area of innovation studies. He understands deeply why a healthy economy needs what he calls "creative destruction," or the ability of the large companies to regularly fail, be downsized, merge, or otherwise lose their primacy, and for the most innovative small and midsize companies to move up the ranks. This process seems messy but only economies that are healthy enough to allow a good degree of creative destruction will thrive in the long run. Many are not, as big business has both the economic means and a big economic incentive (it makes more money for the executives and the shareholders, in the short term) to eliminate competition, and slow down innovation, and change the rules in their favor, wherever possible.
The City in 2050: Creating Blueprints for Change, Urban Land Institute, 2008
ULI is the world's leading land development organization. A rare and fascinating, very long-range look at the changes facing metropolitan areas, illustrated with interesting facts and forward-looking charts on topics such as the impact of capital markets, climate change, sustainability, transportation and infrastructure needs, demographic trends, housing, retail, and technology.
The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, Yergin and Stanislaw, 1999
Epic account of the 20th century battle between governmental control and the free marketplace.
The Long Boom: A Vision for the Coming Age of Prosperity, Peter Schwartz, 2001
A leading futurist gives his rationale for why it's reasonable to expect unrivaled economic expansion all over the planet over the next 20 years. This scenario seems reasonable for New Asia, but is quite optimistic for the US given trends in recent decades.
The Future of Money, Benjamin Cohen, 2006
Chronicles the steadily decreasing number of global currencies. Like languages, weaker national currencies have been progressively disappearing, tying their monetary supplies to stronger currencies (dollar, euro, yen, etc.) as globalization advances, or "dollarizing" them (pegging their currency to one of these global currencies in fixed ratios). Cohen proposes this trend may soon reverse, but I think he's wrong. He notes that the internet economy will enable many new corporate e-currencies, and nations and ethnic groups will seek to maintain and expand their currencies for emotional and independence reasons. James Dorn of the Cato Institute makes a similar prediction in The Future of Money in the Information Age, 1997. If such predictions came true they would be an example of internet-aided global pluralism. I would like to believe them, except that when you want to make a new currency (if you are a corporation) or just keep your own (if you are a small country) you are competing against the global banking infrastructure and central banks of leading governments. Money must be both a reliable store of value and a trusted medium of exchange. New money can be easily created as a store of value by corporations (Linden Dollars in Second Life, Ithaca Hours in NY, or any corporate scrip), but it needs to develop widespread trust, and be able to police counterfeiters, before it can become a major medium of exchange. The world's leading banks and countries won't sit by as other competing online currencies emerge.. It is true that countries from the US to Russia to China implicitly tax (take value from) their citizens every year through inflating their national money supplies, at rates like 11% (US), 19% (China) and even 50% (Russia) a year, and always at a rate that exceeds the annual GDP growth of the country in question (in the examples above, US 3%, China 10%, Russia 6%). But how onerous to the citizens is this "money supply tax" in a world of accelerating productivity, automation, sci-tech development, and deflation in all information-related global goods? Libertarians eloquently describe the undemocratic nature of this, yet democracy isn't all people care about, unfortunately. As long as the global financial system doesn't melt down too badly, and our standard of living goes up more years than it goes down, we will continue to allow this implicit tax. Today we have more choices for what currencies and investments we keep our deposits in than ever before, but only a few keep our assets in the most fiscally responsible national currencies or inflation-proof commodities at any point in time. We just don't care enough, at present. In a future where citizens are significantly more educated (eventually, by their AI digital assistants), and as banking, credit and microcredit become increasingly democratized, we will see both more banking and currency choice. But if rapid economic growth continues, the continued centralization of our main currencies also seems inevitable, and democratic control over our global monetary and financial systems will remain underdeveloped for decades to come. (John Smart)
The Future of Work: The New Order of Business, Tom Malone, 2004
Explores how networks are flattening, distributing, and virtualizing business, and implications.
The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and Economics, Eric Beinhocker, 2006
Masterful look at the economics ofchange and innovation, in the tradition of Joseph Schumpeter.
The World Economy: Historical Statistics, DCS, Angus Maddison, 2003
Thousand-year estimates on global economic growth, around the world. Amazing topsight on the accelerating engine of change, since 1850, that is capitalism. Angus Maddison isa rare expert in this topic.
Politics, Security, Democracy, Rights, Health Care, and Sustainability Infrastructure Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Deception: Pakistan, the US, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons, Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007
Dynamics of Nonviolent Action, Gene Sharp, 1985
Great book on nonviolent resistance campaigns. "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mohandas Ghandi. Sharp's book and US State Dept aid were used by Optor in their successful student-led voter rebellion against Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosovec.
Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense, David Kay Johnston, 2007
Excellent investigative journalism by a talented investigative reporter on the way the wealthiest leaders of industry use federal, state, and local governments to shift major costs and risks to the taxpayer. Documents the ways that competition is not a level playing field in the modern US democracy. How do we fix this problem? By caring about it, counting it, making it transparent, and then generating a consensus for action. It may take a generation or two before the average US citizen knows enough and cares enough about these issues to vote for a freer, fairer, and more competitive nation. If we had to continue to depend on human beings in our decaying educational institutions to educate the voters of tomorrow, the future of our democracy might be grim. But if our internet keeps getting smarter at an accelerating rate, there will come a time, probably within this next generation, where every one of us will have artificial intelligence advising us on our vote, and on how to spend our money, in ways that best reflect our values (the "Valucosm"). In that kind of superempowered world, democracy seems likely to swing back to serving the citizens more than it does today.
Human Security Brief 2006, Human Security Report Project, 2007
Independent tracking of interstate and intrastate conflict and organized violence against civilians. Documents the steadily decreasing incidence rates of global violence in the last decade, anomalous and well-publicized outliers like the global Salafi jihad and the second Iraq War notwithstanding. Develops the concept of "human security" (security of individuals) as a complementary goal to national security (security of the state).
Making a Killing: The Business of War, Center for Public Integrity (CPI), 2002
Two year, $600K 11 part investigation by the CPI's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) into the business of war, arms trade, defense contracting, and other forms of monetized conflict. The ICIJ found that "a handful of individuals and companies with connections to governments, multinational corporations and, sometimes, criminal syndicates in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East have profited from this war commerce – a growth industry whose bottom line never takes into account the lives it destroys."
Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, Bruno Latour, Peter Weibel, 2005
"An astonishing anthology of highbrow meditations on culture and politics by world-class writers and intellectuals such as Richard Powers, Peter Sloterdijk and Richard Rorty, complete with lavish art." MTP looks at politics as operating "in the realm of things." Many kinds of assemblies "gather a public around things -- scientific laboratories, supermarkets, churches," and politics also involves disputes around natural resources like rivers, landscapes, and air. Authors examine the "technologies, interfaces, platforms, networks, and mediations that allow things to be made public."
No Place for Amateurs: How Political Consultants are Reshaping American Democracy, Dennis Johnson, 2007
Details the massive growth in special interest lobbies in US politics in the last two generations. A ratio of 150 lobbyists to one politician, cushy jobs for politicians in these firms and on big business boards afterward and other examples of institutionalized corruption that are legal in our current environment pretty much ensures plutocratic politics. Essential reading.
Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now, Mark Satin, 2004
The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post-Cold War, Robert Kaplan, 2001
Great book on how democracy comes slowly in the developing world, and how the best thing in many emerging nations may be to support "enlightened dictators" as long as they are engaged in economic liberalization and are publicly committed to slow but obvious political liberalization. Kaplan also notes that unless we deal now with the problems of the developing world, we will see new forms of global resistance, possibly worse than Al Qaeda.
The End of History and the Last Man, Francis Fukuyama, 2006
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow: A Treasury of Cartoons, Tom Tomorrow, 2003
The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Benjamin Friedman, 2005
Analysis of the value of economic growth to creating a healthy democracy. Individuals and societies are more trusting, more inclusive, more open to change when they see their and their children's futures as both progressing and secure. During economic stagnation and downturns, democratic institutions suffer. Average full-time incomes for Americans have fallen 15% in real terms since 1975, and Friedman sees this as one key reason our democracy and communities have weakened over this period.
The One-Hour Activist: Fifteen Ways to Fight for Your Issues, Christopher Kush, 2004
Quick grassroots actions that persuade lawmakers to listen. There's no good reason to be passive in the networked society. Find others, make change.
What If’s? Of American History, Robert Crowley, 2004
Culture: Society, Ethics, Media, Art, Design, Education, Religion Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
A Brief History of Everything, Ken Wilber, 2007
"A series of original views on many topics of current controversy, including gender wars, multiculturalism, modern liberation movements, and the conflict between various approaches to spirituality." Includes a valuable systems theory of human philosophy of thought (the Four Quadrants/Integral theory).
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, John de Graaf, 2005
Great book on the cultural excesses of American society: consumption overload, debt, waste, anxiety, self-indulgence, and apathy for the non-self.
America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future, Educational Testing Service, 2007
A forecast that in the US, several long term forces 1) declining and uncompetitive math and reading skills, 2) increasing need for literacy and higher education to compete in the information economy, 3) major demographic shifts (legal and illegal immigration), and 4) a widening rich-poor divide are all converging to create a "perfect storm" of greatly declining US educational effectiveness, greatly lower workforce competitiveness, and increasing class inequity in coming years. The report says that unless we change course America will have a highly stratified society in the next generation: a well-educated, well paid top tier, a small and shrinking middle class, and a large uncompetitive and marginally literate underclass.
Copyrights and Copywrongs: Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity, Siva Vaidhyanathan, 2003
The history and evolution of copyright, how it came to be corporate controlled, and strategies and solutions for improving its public service.
Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, Christopher Lasch, 1979/1991
Classic futurist work that addressed then-new and now-major trends in the failure of the family as an institution, state paternalism and the erosion of individual authority, the culture of celebrity, conformity, consumerism, self-indulgence, and apathy. Lasch's thesis is that narcissism and consumerism are a reaction to the fear of being nothing in a world of increasing complexity [and we might add, velocity of change]. Fortunately, though they may be the easiest reaction, other options are available. What are Nasch's solutions? A return to self-reliance, the family, cultivated friendships, nature, the community, and the work ethic.
Feed: A Modern Dystopia, MT Anderson, 2004
Kids as consumer robots talking Orwellian newspeak due to 24/7 corporate internet feeds. Chilling dystopian fiction that seems all too likelyfor some increasingly manipulated and disenfranchised segment of our future society, even as we recognize these feeds will be delivered not via some improbable "neurojack" but rather by our ubiquitous wearable and embedded computing devices.
Innovation and its Discontents: How our Broken Patent System Endangers Innovation, and What to Do About It, Adam Jaffee, 2004
Eloquent look at the problems of the current patent system, particularly the changes in U.S. patent law that began in 1984, in favor of large corporations, and what can be done to improve patent quality and accountability to the public, which grants them in the first place.
Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, Mark Penn, 2007
An insightful look, in the tradition of Megatrends and The Tipping Point, at the many social stratification trends occurring in our modern freedom- and individuality-oriented culture, and the social shifts and business opportunities they represent.
Scanning the Future: 20 Important Thinkers on the World of Tomorrow, Yorick Blumenfeld, 1999
Interviews with eminent scientists, engineers, statesmen and others. Thoughts on how to build a better future for ourselves and the planet.
The Assault on Reason: The Challenge to American Democracy, Al Gore, 2007
How media monopolies and government opportunism have weakened democracy, and a number of ideas for change.
The Meme Machine: Imitation and Social Intelligence, Susan Blackmore, 2000
Agood start at exploring the idea that self-replicating ideas, which jump from brain to brain in our highly imitative human culture, are another level of evolutionary development on top of self-replicating genes, which jump from cell to cell to create life and its biological imperatives. Memes (good ideas that are worthy of imitation) have a "life of their own" in culture. Memeplexes like "the self" are really just one special collection of such ideas. Fascinating way to rethink who you are.
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell, 2002
Treats ideas like epidemics. Discusses social roles (connectors, mavens, salesmen) and the dynamics of behavior change.
Virtual Charter Schools and Home Schooling, Carol Klein, 2006
Explores the virtual charter school, which allows the socialization of home schooled peers who are all educated under the same "charter," whatever that may be. Is a virtual class of 30 empathetic high-achievers adequate socialization? If so, will virtual charter micro-schools be increasingly realistic options for educating self-reliant and innovative youth inside a larger culture of narcissism and apathy?
Organizations: Org. Leadership, Management, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & Development Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Business Planning for Turbulent Times: New Methods for Applying Scenarios (Science in Society Series), Rafael Ramírez (Editor), John W. Selsky (Editor), Kees van der Heijden (Editor), 2008
Conquering Uncertainty: Understanding Corporate Cycles, Theodore Modis, 1998Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, Rajendra S. Sisodia, 2007
Read this book for more on the vanguard of corporate social responsibility. People want to work for corporations that follow triple bottom line accounting, maximizing not only financial benefits, but environmental and social benefits as well. Europe is leading the way in environmental benefits accounting,and the US is following. Europe is also leading the way in the transparency of financial accounting, while US financial accounting standards serve more to obfucscate and allow corporations to hide their actual financial status. No one is yet leading the way in social benefits accounting, as the world is not yet quantified enough, our digital and reputation systems aren't yet intelligent enough. But they will be. Meanwhile, companies like those Sisodia describes are showing that socially responsible corporations that declare and strive for higher values, and define their stakeholders in the broadest possible terms, are gaining mindshare and heartshare, and are leading the transformation of of the organization.
Seeing What's Next: Using Innovation to Predict Industry Change, Clay Christensen, 2004
The Art of Action: Leadership that Closes the Gap Between Plans, Actions, and Results, Stephen Bungay, 2011
Solid advice from a military strategist and management consultant on how to maintain a learning organization.The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Patrick M. Lencioni, 2002
The Logic of Failure: Avoiding Error in Complex Situations, Dietrich Dorner, 1997
How our mental habits can set us up for error, and how to guard against it in management.
Personal: Family, Relationships, Careers, and Lifestyle Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture, Juliet B. Schor, 2005
Outlines the incredibly sophisticated and relentless marketing manipulation of kids, and the resulting passivity, commercialism, and alienation from authentic values and passions that emerges. Amazing stats like the average 10 year old has memorized about 400 brands (but still knows virtually none of the countries or cultures of the world), that R-rated movies are marketed to 9-year-olds, that the target readership of Seventeen magazine is now preteens. Ideas for ways parents (primarily), educators and govt (very secondarily), and advertisers (least likely) can lessen these problems.
Goals!, Brian Tracy, 2004
Twenty one proven strategies for clarifying your beliefs, values, Major Life Purpose, goals, and plans, and for taking action on them every day. Excellent personal futures book for anyone who needs help improving their goalsetting routines.
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, Susan Jeffers, 2006
Excellent practical techniques for overcoming fear, indecision, anger, and self-image problems to get to personal action and growth. Very often faulty thinking is at the root of our fear. We need to learn to "do first those most important things that scare us" and watch ourselves as we confront them. Courage can be learned, and this book is a great introduction to how to do that.
Happier: Learn the Secrets of Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, Tal Ben-Shahar, 2007
Workbook for one of the most popular courses (positive psychology) at Harvard U. Dr. Ben-Shahar discusses the blend of reason and emotion, short and long-term orientation, here-and-now vs. big picture, path and destination thinking, that leads to happier, more meaningful, more productive lives.
How We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: 7 Lang. for Transform., Kegan & Lahey, 2002
You have as much control over the way you speak to others as you do over your attitude. Use it!
Insurance for Dummies, Jack Hungelmann, 2001
A good overview of how to manage risk by purchasing insurance, a key futures planning tool. The kind of people who purchase insurance and do investing have strong personal foresight. When we overcome our fears and get good with these topics, we become foresighted as well. The key with insurance is to understand, and learn how to minimize your real level of risk, and to purchase only the amount of insurance you really need. As your personal assets grow, you can self-insure more. Whether car, home, health, life, liability, event, or other insurance, this book is a good place to start.
Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Mind, V.S. Ramachandran, 1999
By looking at people with damaged brains, a neuroscientist looks at the way past experience, emotion, and our unconscious and conscious mind construct meaning about the world. Fascinating insights for gaining self-awareness and improving your mental "influence" over your own behaviors.
Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer, Saul Alinsky, 1989
Classic text on how to live with an activist's mindset. Change is always painful to people. Sometimes you need to be an irritant to others to get the social change that is needed. Alinsky gives lots of examples from history of effective "radicals."
Simple Living Guide, Janet Luhrs, 1997
Tips on thriving with less clutter, consumption, and expense in all facets of your life, by the editor of the Simple Living Journal.
Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life, Nathaniel Branden, 1997.
A great book about how to accept responsibility for one's actions and manage one's own self-esteem, improving your self-awareness and ability to create and discover the kind of relationships, job, and life that you want. You don't have to agree with Branden's political beliefs to get value from this book. Branden is a libertarian (someone who's political philosophy is minimal government, and who would not advocate social assistance programs). Libertarians make up only a tiny fraction of political parties in all governments around the world. They are going against the dominant trend of increasing social assistance in the developed world. But while the state may provide increasing safety nets, the self-reliant individual has every right not to take advantage of them, but to make their own future.
The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell, 2007
Key traits like character, courage, focus, generosity, listening, passion, that inspire leadership.
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Don Miguel Ruiz, 2001
Be impeccable with your words. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. Ruiz illuminates these four simple habits, and the tremendous personal empowerment that flows from them, if you do the hard work of internalizing them and living by them. This brief book gets New-Agey, preachy, and hyperbolic in its ancillary claims, but discerning readers can look beyond this to glean the essential wisdom within.
The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Judith Rich Harris, 1999
Excellent evidence and argument by the self-taught author of a college textbook on child development why parental upbringing has such a small effect on child development. Increasingly we find it is the nature of the peer group that is the primary influencer. Implications of this are not only the obvious, to get one's child into a "better school," but profound: if a child is raised around a special subset of high-standards peers (home-schooled, extracurricular, or otherwise) who have learned how to analyze both the best and the worst today's youth culture, they will take these insights to heart. Even when they rebel as young adults they will judge this rebellion by the standards of their peers, who can have levels of self-reliance and self-actualization unseen in the larger society. The more networked society becomes, the easier it is to find these islands of peer-group excellence and to influence the larger culture by the example of one's own life and the upbringing of one's children, which is perhaps the most powerful and certainly the most personal way of changing the world, in the end.
The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, Andrew Tobias, 2005
Good basic investment advice, including a great deal be-conscious-of-your-expenses and heres-how-to-spend-less common sense.
The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need, Juliet B. Schor, 1999
Portrait of the "getting and spending" culture that pushes so many of us into debt and unsatisfying consumption, and a profile of "downshifters" who find a way out. Nice thesis on the way television watching is causally correlated with overspending, particularly among youth, who are being the most aggressively manipulated these days.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz, 2005
Data and insights on the massive increase in choice and the corresponding cognitive load on today's consumers, and the lack of adequate external filters and internal inhibitions to keep us from getting stressed and unhappy in the midst of all that plenty.
The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Bounce Back from Setbacks, Al Siebert, 2005
Great followup book by the author of The Survivor Personality. Explains how to recognize and admire resiliency traits in others and how to build them in yourself.
The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance, K. Anders Ericsson, 1996
Ericsson's original work on the ease of acquiring expertise via disciplined practice, in spite of one's inherited talent or upbringing. His Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, 2006, is his followup work, and one of our great futures books.
Waking Up in Time: Inner Peace in Times of Accelerating Change, Peter Russell, 2007
Tips for finding peace, doing good, and living well in our modern ever-accelerating world.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2005
Great advice and habits for being mindful, stress-minimized, and conscious in a world that tries to take away your self-awareness at every turn.
Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, 2007
Research on the mental and physical health benefits of doing good and helping others. Affirms the adage: "Want to be happy? Make others happy."
Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes: Behavioral Econ., Belsky & Gilovich, 2000
Why do otherwise rational people act so foolishly in relation to money? Insights from the emerging science of behavioral economics.
Multidisciplinary Foresight Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Realistic Future Fiction (RFF) Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
In realistic future fiction (RFF) the substantial majority of the plot feels like it actually could happen in the future, under the right circumstances. Most fantasy and science fiction is entertaining, but not realistic foresight, except in minor parts. Judith Berman, in "Science Fiction Without the Future," 2001, noted that writing about the coming AI is so difficult (emotionally and intellectually) that most sci-fi writers, and their readers in collusion, have simply abandoned reading or thinking about realistic science fiction, turning to comfortable fantasy instead (e.g., Star Trek and other such impossible but comforting 'space operas'). Nevertheless, there are a handful of efforts that attempt to realistically describe the future, including the obvious accelerating emergence of AI, and the implications of an AI world on human beings, in at least a partially plausible way. We call such fiction RFF. Here are a few favorites:
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 1932.
This dystopian novel describes a hedonistic world where family, culture,and art are destroyed. Even though people are basically happy and healthy, everyone has lost their identity and individual control over their fate. It's a good thought-provoking book because many of the things in the book (or at least parallels) already exist in today's reality. It's somewhat frightening because it suggests that eventually we might be genetically engineered to live certain lives and to do certain jobs, made to be artificially and superficially happy by what we are assigned to do.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
Most people know this book by the movie that was made of it, directed by Ridley Scott, Blade Runner. I believe that there will be a time, when robots will be possible, and then they will also have to be kept in check. This link is to the Amazon site where the book is.
Dust, Charles R. Pellegrino, 1999
This book pulls information from the past (cataclysmic events - dinosaurs extinction, the Ice Age) to make an inference to what could happen in the future. The author is saying that it's high time another even like those happens based on the pattern of the past. It's geared more towards an environmentalist futurist in that one animal's extinction completely threw off the balance of the entire world and launched it into chaos.
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, 1980
An amazing story about a young boy who is chosen to be trained to fight for Earth. An alien race call buggers is threatening the existence of man, and Ender is chosen to go to a battle school in space. This book is fairly realistic and has some cool technologies. The story is amazing, and has the biggest surprise in any book I have ever read.
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953
This dystopian novel is set in a time when critical thought is suppresed and firemen burn books and the houses that contain them as opposed to actually stopping fires. Even today, the book effectively analyzes the growing trend of escapism in our society and the effects of the mindless, mass media entertainment that we increasingly get exposed to every day. Out of the several classical dystopias of its time, it is likely the most relevant today, especially because it deals with a future caused by society itself, not the government.
Foundation, Isaac Asimov, 1951.
If I didn't tell you this book was almost 60 years old, you might never guess. Asimov is eerily prescient in many passages. This novel (and the series that it evolved into) is based on the idea that a man has come up with a way to predict the future on a galactic scale; the model doesn't work for small groups, but only billions or trillions of people. If you enjoy science fiction in even the slightest bit, you will enjoy this book.
Jame5: A Tale of Good and Evil, Stefan Pernar, 2008
If you are willing to believe a 'hard takeoff' AI could occur, in this case, sudden emergence of greater than human intelligence via 'full scale molecular simulation' of a human, with 'all or nothing' results, Jame5 is an engaging tale of how that might occur. I think that advanced embodied AI will have to take a highly global and incremental path, involving ubiquitous robots and avatars (digital twins and digital secretaries) who are bred for domestic trustability. That pathway is at least paid lip service in The Two Faces of Tomorrow and Society of the Mind, so if that's your persuasion you might enjoy those moret. But with that caveat, Jame5 is a fun, fast read, with interesting, provocative thoughts on philosophy of mind and complexity.(John Smart)
Net Force Series,Tom Clancy and Steve R. Pieczenik, 1999
This series involves policing a new type of crime, cyber-crimes. The crimes themselves are not too futuristic, but the way the net is accessed is pretty inovative. It involves sitting in a chair and plugging in (Matrix-esque) but it can be customized however you choose, So looking for a particular piece of information could be done on the net as if you were a pirate with a treasure map. It is a very interesting series and can give a glimpse at the future of the internet and crimes associated with it. - Eric Kaplan
Society of the Mind, Eric L. Harry, 1997
A long (672 pages) but quick-reading 'cyberthriller' about a company whose robots rapidly get smarter and smarter, until the singularity is reached. Lots of fun and predictable human plot, but the rapidly improving tech is reasonably well presented as well. Major points off for the "reclusive billionaire genius" pathway to real AI, a very unlikely scenario in a world where today's AI is incrementally and very globally constructed, in a very 'soft takeoff' fashion. But a very engaging, populist read. Don't want to read? Get the unabridged audiobook for your next long drive.
Another great source on how robots will evolve. One of the short movies in it deals with robots, how they were made, and then when they got out of hand.
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1998
A thoughtful dystopia built on one big assumption: an outbreak of human sterility, and two big and at least plausible consequences: a global fundamentalist backlash, and a nuclear war. Children of Men, 2006 is very similar.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams 1979
An excellent science fiction tale that predicts many currently existing technologies, even though they are the invention of other societies in the book, and takes a satirical look at our own psychology. It even predicts a few social trends long before they crop up in society.
The Roads Must Roll, Robert A. Heinlein, 1940 in Astounding Science Fiction
This short story is a remarkably perceptive tale about how transportation becomes increasingly important to how society functions. It's a incredibly interesting and exciting story as well as proposing interesting possibilites for the future.
The Stand, Stephen King, 1978
This book carries out a story of a virus that kills most of mankind. An extreme military research problems goes wrong and widespread death follows and this book projects a possible scenario if this were to happen.
The Two Faces of Tomorrow, James Hogan, Yukinobu Hoshino, 2006
Note that this is the (most recommended) graphic novel version. For the book, which has even more interesting detail, but is getting outdated and has a poorer ending, see The Two Faces of Tomorrow, James P. Hogan, 1980. TFT is a fictional account of one of the great questions of 21C tech: How do we trust the coming AI? Hogan's answer is that the world's leading governments decide to put the first near-sentient AI on space station, with a troop of Marines guarding it (and provoking it to see if it will be 'bad') and installing a secret safeguard nuke that can be blown up in case things somehow go south. Someone needs to make a film out of this. I hope it's optioned. I consider it one of the best sci fi stories that has yet to be made into a film. Realistically speaking, I think that by the time we have robots advanced enough to build these kinds of space stations, AI will arrive on earth long before we could afford to build them. So the timing of some of these advances are off, but it's a great story nonetheless. (John Smart)
Unclassified Books - Sites, Lists, and Selections
Put below any books and book sites you recommend but can't easily classify above. Someone will classify them for you if necessary.
The Garden in the Machine --Claus Emmeche
I didn't see a section for non-fiction so I'm posting this here. This book explores the premise of artificial life, or alife. It can be a bit overcomplicated at times but it is a great read if you're interested in alife. - Brant Hestrup
On Intelligence -- Jeff Hawkins
Written by the inventor of the Palm Pilot "On Intelligence" explores artificial intelligence and what it will take for us to better implement it. It is written much better for the average reader than "The Garden in the Machine" and is an interesting read for anyone who is interested in how the brain works and artificial intelligence. - Brant Hestrup
The 2030 Spike: Countdown to Global Catastrophe
This was an interesting book to research about because unlike a lot of future books we are shown, this book is one of those "doom" volumes. It tells a tale of the end of times and 100 things we can do to change and prevent a new "dark age". It might have the impact it wants, or it might flop like so many others. Time will tell if he is right or not. -Alan Cacciamani
I Am A Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter
Very interesting book, grapplingempiricallywith the nature of consciousness. From Wikipedia:I Am a Strange Loopis a 2007 book byDouglas Hofstadter, examining in depth the concept of astrange looporiginally developed in his 1979 bookGödel, Escher, Bach. Hofstadter had previously expressed disappointment with howGödel, Escher, Bachwas received. In the preface to the twentieth-anniversary edition, Hofstadter laments that his book has been misperceived as a hodge-podge of neat things with no central theme. He states: "GEB is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter. What is a self, and how can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle?"He sought to remedy this problem inI Am a Strange Loop, by focusing on and expounding upon the central message ofGödel, Escher, Bach. He seeks to demonstrate how the properties ofself-referentialsystems, demonstrated most famously inGödel's Incompleteness Theorem, can be used to describe the unique properties ofminds.- Max Marmer
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Great book that turns conventional wisdom on its head. Brilliantly discusses randomness, complexity,unpredictabilityandubiquitoushuman fallacies. From Wikipedia:Nassim Nicholas Talebrefers to the book variously as an essay or a narrative with one single idea:"our blindness with respect to randomness, particularly large deviations".It isTaleb'squestioning of why this occurs and his explanations of it that drive the book forward.The book's layout follows "a simple logic"moving from literary subjects in the beginning to scientific and mathematical subjects in the later portions. Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2 delve intoPsychology.Talebaddresses science and business in the latter half of Part 2 and Part 3. Part 4 contains advice on how to approach the world in the face of uncertainty and still enjoy life.Talebhimself, acknowledges a contradiction in the book. He uses an exact metaphor,Black Swan Ideat o argue against the "unknown, the abstract, and imprecise uncertain--white ravens, pink elephants, or evaporating denizens of a remote planet orbiting Tau Ceti. - Max Marmer
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