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The Industries of the Future

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This book answers the question: 'What's next?' The Internet had a world-changing impact on businesses and the global community over the twenty years from 1994 to 2014. In the next ten years, change will happen even faster.

As Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor for Innovation, Alec Ross travelled nearly a million miles to forty-one countries, the equivalent of two round-trips to the moon. From refugee camps in the Congo and Syrian war zones, to visiting the world's most powerful people in business and government, Ross's travels amounted to a four-year masterclass in the changing nature of innovation.

In The Industries of the Future, Ross distils his observations on the forces that are changing the world. He highlights the best opportunities for progress and explains how countries thrive or sputter. Ross examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future over the next ten years, including robotics, artificial intelligence, the commercialization of genomics, cybercrime and the impact of digital technology.

Blending storytelling and economic analysis, he answers questions on how we will need to adapt. Ross gives readers a vivid and informed perspective on how sweeping global trends are affecting the ways we live, now and tomorrow.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

Alec J. Ross

2 books226 followers
Alec Ross is a New York Times best-selling author and Distinguished Professor at l’Universitá di Bologna

His book The Industries of the Future has been published in 24 languages and been a best-seller on 5 continents.

Speaking of Ross' new book The Raging 2020s, Adam Grant writes:

“Alec Ross fearlessly confronts one of the fundamental concerns of our time: fixing the broken social contract between people, business, and government. His book will challenge you to rethink some of your assumptions about democracy, capitalism, and globalization.”

Alec Ross is also Board Partner at Amplo, a global venture capital firm and sits on the board of directors for companies in the fields of technology, finance, education, human capital and cybersecurity.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 692 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel Bayles.
373 reviews127 followers
June 13, 2016
First, the good. These are interesting topics. It's good to be reminded of how much has changed in the last couple of decades. This is a fun read with some interesting stories. If you read the newspaper, you will find nothing new here. But getting a 10,000 foot view of the world can be a useful way to orient yourself.

He also points out the troubling aspects of what he's highlighting, and at no point in the book does he come across as being way off base. His ideas about the future are probably as valid as any popular writers.

Next, the "needs improvement." The book is peppered with cringe-worthy throwaways about who the author has hobnobbed with. It's fine that he starts off in the introduction elaborating on all he's seen and done. But then he reminds us again and again that he knows important people. When I first started reading the book, I thought the author must be in his late 20's, and that might account for him coming across as insecure. But then I read his bio and saw that he is in his 40's. I'm not saying we don't all have moments of insecurity, but for a writer to wear his on his sleeve like this is terribly offputting. Who was the editor that let him embarrass himself like this?

If you are buying this book to answer the "how do we prepare our children for the future" question, don't bother. It's the same answers you've heard before. Raise them to be technologically literate and comfortable in a multicultural world.

In reading his biography, it's clear he's done a lot of good things and his heart is most likely in the right place. Not a lot of schmucks volunteer for Teach for America or try to help the disadvantaged. But his record speaks for itself, so why the self-aggrandizement?
Profile Image for Chad.
272 reviews16 followers
June 28, 2016
If someone can invent a trustworthy robot that will stop cybercrime while taking care of grandma, they'll have the future made.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,283 reviews21.5k followers
May 7, 2018
This is an odd book – and although I think I learned many things from it, I’m not sure I could say I enjoyed it or that I would necessarily recommend it. This guy worked for Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State, and it reads a bit like something someone who worked for the US government and was keen to promote the benefits of US foreign policy might write if they were to write a book about modern technology and how it is about to impact the world.

A lot of this is much more positive than it really needed to be. Again, I put this down to his previous occupation. The industries of the future are grouped mostly into automation (mostly robots), health care (mostly genetics), coding (mostly cyber security), big data and then how different geographical regions might be impacted by future technologies. This was perhaps the most interesting part of the book, although, again, I felt perhaps ‘friends’ of America might have been treated better in this part than others – for instance, Russia is presented as a basket-case (possibly even true), but unlike Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine, where she presents the source of many of the problems Russia faces today to how capitalism was introduced, he is much more likely to look back passed this to Stalin as the cause of all of Russia’s current problems. That is, again, something decidedly influenced by his previous occupation. I’m not saying Russia isn’t a basket case, but to ignore the gross excesses imposed on the country of neoliberal economic policy encouraged wholeheartedly by the US, and to ignore the terrible impacts this had on Russia seems disingenuous at best.

The thing I will mostly remember from this book is the problem of robots. For most of the history of life on earth creatures met the changes in their local environment by the remarkably inefficient means of natural selection. I say ‘inefficient’ because virtually all species that ever existed are now extinct. Adjusting to a changing environment is costly – and the cost is often the end of one species that is then replace by another. Humans have introduced a new element to this in some ways with cultural evolution. This has meant we don’t have to wait for (or if) our genes change to meet the demands of a changing or different environment, but rather we learn from each other how to live in a changing world. With the invention of writing a new level of potential knowledge opened up to us. Today there is perhaps too much information available to us for even the advice of sages like Carl Sagan and his ‘be selective’ in what we read, all of which still leaves us completely ignorant of the vast majority of what is out there that we could potentially know.

But this is where it might become interesting to see where robots go to next. One of the chapters here mentions that robots will be connected to the cloud and that means that anything one robot learns about a particular situation will become instantly available to all other robots – basically, this is cultural evolution on steroids. The more I think about this, the more interesting it becomes. If artificial intelligence becomes a thing – then I guess the singularity (the notion that we are heading toward human/machine post-humans, I guess is the easiest way to describe it) would necessarily become our next step. I suspect that the benefits from this type of technological step would be impossible for us to not take. But, like Socrates worrying about the dangers of books (that they destroy memory and don’t allow for the question and answer technique he was rather proud of himself) ought to be considered before we jump into that future with our eyes more or less closed.

As I said, I’m not sure if I would recommend this book – but then, robots, genes, data, ICT, and coding probably are going to be among the industries of the future. Whether or not getting a degree in any of these will save you from the great job crash that is coming isn’t a channel my own crystal ball can currently tune into.
31 reviews3 followers
March 6, 2016
Fast, informative read from former Innovations advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross, who discusses five emerging industries that he predicts will dominate the next twenty years.

1. Robotics - "47% of [current] American jobs are at high risk for robot takeover, and another 19% are at medium risk," in the next twenty years. Best anecdote: China's Foxconn has made some of the most aggressive investments in robotics because, according to founder, Terry Gou: "Human beings are also animals, and to manage a million animals gives me a headache." (uh... wow!).

2. Genetics - Genetic medicine is about to become massively commercialized. "The state of genomics today can be likened to that of e-commerce in 1994, the year Amazon was founded."Cancer will be caught much earlier and treated with precision proteins (no more chemo). In next 100 years we will live 50% longer, ~115 years. Also, we can use pigs to grow human organs (no more waiting on line for kidneys), and we can bring back wooly mammoths from the dead.

3. Codified Money - Bitcoin and blockchain. Just give it time. "Blockchain will be to banking what the Internet was to media." It will dis-intermediate gratuitous layers of business and reduce friction. The "layers of business" here are bankers and lawyers who have until now acted as expensive middle men. With Blockchain, those evil 1%-ers can now be replaced by robots as well.

4. Weaponized Code - The wars of the 21st century will be fought with code, using "virtual arms." China is joyfully taking the lead here. They stole about $300 billion worth of IP from the US in 2013 via hacking - the equivalent of all the goods we export to the rest of Asia. "PLA Unit 61398" is considered to be "most advanced and best funded of the 20 cyber-military units in China." Scarier than the cold war because barriers to entry are super low.

5. Big Data - This one sort of underpins all the others and is the most obvious. Who ever owns the data, wins. Big data will give us great things like instant, universal translation (within 10 years so we can all stop making our kids learn Mandarin) but it will also enslave us, yada.
Profile Image for Petras.
71 reviews58 followers
September 16, 2016
I was disappointed by the depth of this book. It is full of name-dropping and happy rose-tinted sci-fi view of the future without the in-depth grasp of the problems that the new technologies solve and their limitations.
Profile Image for Mostafa.
110 reviews50 followers
September 29, 2018
مدت‌ها بود چنین کتابی آنچنان مرا به فکر وادار نکرده بود و به وجدم نیاورده بود.

کتاب آنقدر حاوی نکات مهم و قابل‌تامل هست که به هیچ‌وجه نمی‌توان آن را در یک ریویو خلاصه کرد.

سیاست، اقتصاد، کسب‌وکار، اجتماع، علم، حوزه سلامت، سبک زندگی در دهه‌های نه چندان دور دستخوش تغییرات حیرت‌انگیز و بزرگی خواهد شد... هرچند شاید بتوان گفت این تغییرات از مدت‌ها پیش آغاز شده!

اگر می‌خواهید از «دنیای آینده» و «جهان فردا» جا نمانید؛ اگر می‌خواهید با عواقب، اثرات، محاسن و معایبِ جهان آینده آشنا شوید؛ این کتاب دید بسیار وسیع و خوبی به شما خواهد داد.

جهان آینده سال‌ها است که آغاز شده... مراقب باشید که از «فردا» جا نمانید!
Profile Image for Undrakh.
176 reviews123 followers
October 15, 2017
This is by far the most useful, eye-opening, mind-blowing, and mildly-distressing book I’ve read this year amid the indulgence in fiction. Robots taking care of us, discoveries in genomic technology saving lives, farmers optimizing pastureland through a mobile app, and the countries entering a code war. Suddenly the seemingly far-fetched ideas are not crazy at all, in fact, technological breakthroughs are changing the way the we live while I’m sitting here and being left far behind with little idea of the changes taking place.

The part largely attributing to my illiteracy in technical language is the Mongolian primary education system that should be cultivating minds to engage in innovation and invention instead of blindly focusing on mathematics without teaching its applications. Critical thinking, analytic skills, and ways of figuring out how to be a human – things I should have started learning at age 7. I often hear people lamenting about the Government not being able to provide an economically prosperous environment for just 3 million people. Why not boost educational opportunities first? The economic prosperity will follow, for that I’m far more than certain now. It was not an easy read, but highly, VERY highly recommended.

Profile Image for Graeme Roberts.
502 reviews37 followers
May 4, 2017
I recommend this book. Alec Ross worked on technology for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, and as Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton he traveled to 41 countries and met many of the world's most accomplished and influential people. The early part of the book, talking about robotics and AI, genomics, and the coming disruption of financial markets by blockchain and computer science covered familiar ground (a little of which is already out of date). He seemed to hit his stride when he talked about cyberwarfare and cybersecurity, big data and data science, and finally a chapter entitled The Geography of Future Markets, which was intensely interesting to me, overturning many of my presumptions.

I loved his ardent support for the importance of women in entrepreneurship, technology, and the development of nations, rich and poor. He demonstrates dramatically that the many countries that have repressive, controlling regimes or which have failed to harness the vitality and energy of young people and women have fallen behind. He ends by seeking the attributes that will lead to successful employment in the coming world. He didn't really succeed because simple bromides never apply universally, but the geniuses he quotes are often inspiring and the discussion was worthwhile.
Profile Image for Melinda Flaugher.
122 reviews5 followers
June 28, 2016
I enjoyed this uplifting book about future opportunities. The author recommends looking into countries such as Africa, India, and China. Children need to learn two languages coding and a foreign language. The future will be more about adapility. The world is already breaking apart in two divisions the old world and new world full of technology and unlimited opportunities to develop ideas to help humanity.
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
April 8, 2016
This was an interesting book that looks at what fields are heading for a breakthrough and which ones are on the way out or will require less people in the future. Ross was an advisor to the State Department under Secretary Clinton. Ross traveled too many countries to learn about industrial development. Ross describes how Indonesia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Mexico are positioning themselves in the global economy. He also describes how Africa is starting to emerge as governments become more stable and civil wars are ending. I was surprised to learn about the mobile telecom companies in Africa and how that is changing people’s lives. I found the information about Estonia fascinating; children learning to code starting in grade one.

Ross identifies certain industries that are key drivers of change. The author devotes chapters to robotics, cyber warfare and advanced life sciences such as genetics. Ross states that any country that does not empower women will fall behind.

At the end of the book Ross discusses how to prepare children to enter the vastly changing workplace coming up. For the science aware person most of this in not new information but for those who are not science aware this might be new and helpful information. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Alex Ross did a good job narrating the book.
Profile Image for Diego.
95 reviews21 followers
March 5, 2017
This is easily one of my favorite books. Such a compelling read. Bought this at the airport; couldn't put it down. Author is right on target about the future of technology, even dips into parenting and what education will be optimal for children to get a leg up on these future industries. Travel, learn a second language, and code. Inspiring topics.
Profile Image for Radiantflux.
427 reviews405 followers
June 16, 2017
35th book for 2017.

Having travelled to over a hundred countries as Hillary Clinton's Senior Advisor on Innovation at the State Department, Ross has a overview and access to what's happening the world of technology that is some ways unique. His book offers an accessible account of future technological trends (robotics, AI, cyberwarfare, crypocurrencies, genomics etc) from a global perspective.

Read this book for the broad perspectives (both thematic and geographic) it offers, then find other books to dig deep into topics that strike you as interesting.

I just noticed that he is running as the democratic Governor of Maryland in 2018. Having read the book, I can only wish him luck.
Profile Image for Andrew.
655 reviews185 followers
August 12, 2016
The Industries of the Future, by Alec Ross, was an interesting book looking at upcoming industries from a fairly global perspective. Ross was a US State Department employee for many years, and as such has had much experience and connection with both US and global development programs. He talks about Robotics, Medicine, Big Data, Computer Programming and so on, all industries loudly being trumpeted in many spheres. His book is refreshing, however, because he looks at the nuances of these industries, mixing figures with anecdotal experiences and entrepreneurial personalities to give a big picture look at the industries of the future, both their positives and negatives.

Ross gives excellent detail on each of the industries mentioned, from Big Data's usefulness to the banking systems of most countries, to chip-based cryptocurrencies, to give an example. He talks about the industrial systems surrounding these ideas in certain detail, going over Silicon Valley's contribution to Big Data, for example. He also touches on the dangers of these industries, from joblessness due to labour displacement by machinery, to poverty based on project to project style living. Ross' analysis of each industry is nuanced, and fairly unbiased, which was surprising due to his political background.

Even so, the book had some flaws. Ross is clearly geared toward a certain political frame of mind. In the final chapter, on the Geography of Future Industries, he compares Estonia, Belarus and Ukraine. The clear implication of his argument is that Estonia, as a democratic nation, has achieved levels of growth and innovation that Belarus has not as an authoritarian regime, or Ukraine is just starting to in its movement away from Russia's sphere of influence. This is a very politically biased argument, as Ukraine is nowhere near a level of change that can be analyzed with such zealous conviction. The revolution in 2014 is still extremely fresh, and corruption rife in pro-EU Kiev. Rebels still control a large swathe of territory, and clashes are breaking out as this review is written. Furthermore, his analysis of democracy as the ultimate motivator of innovation is naïve at best, and flat out wrong at worst. Although democracy is my own favoured style of government as a Canadian, it is clearly wrong that countries cannot innovate under authoritarian regimes, or that democracies are the ultimate incubators of innovation and economic growth. Plenty of nations, such as Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, Malaysia and the Gulf Arab states have all achieved massive economic growth under repressive regimes. Countries like the Philippines, South Africa, parts of Central and South America etc. have experienced massive economic contractions under democratic regimes. The reverse is also true in both cases, with countries experiencing crippling economic stagnation (think North Korea) under centralized regimes and massive growth (USA, Canada etc.) in democratic regimes. Point being, no one system will work perfectly everywhere. Ross' analysis in this respect is heavily flawed. Another Park Chung-hee or Deng Xiaoping in Africa or Asia could do wonders for an impoverished country, and indeed this seems to be happening in Rwanda currently under Paul Kagame. Similarly, democracies in some countries are clearly experiencing massive stagnation of their standards of living and income (South Africa and Japan come to mind).

That aside, Ross' book is an nuanced and interesting analysis of the future of the global job market from the perspective of a few fascinating upcoming industries. Ross offers an excellent perspective on many industries that are beginning to have a huge impact on the world economy and the political situations of many nations. He offers both positive and negative viewpoints to each of the industries, and allows the reader to make many of their own reflections, something that is deeply refreshing in a book of this type. All in all, a very good read if one is interested in the direction the world seems to be moving.
Profile Image for Herve.
93 reviews207 followers
December 7, 2016
The Industries of the Future is not a very good book. Probably because it tries to talk about the future and nobody knows about it. But it has some merits that I will describe in the end… Even worse, I think it is not as precise an analysis as is The Innovation Illusion by Fredrik Erixon and Bjorn Weigel. Why do I claim such a thing? Let me just mention one example. To show the potential of robots in the future, Ross reminds us Foxconn claim in 2011 that it would have installed one million robots in by 2015. (See for example Foxconn Will Replace Workers With 1 Million Robots in 3 Years). Ross even adds that Foxconn had already installed 300’000 robots. Erixon and Weigel have different views and explain that Foxconn had not even installed 50’000 robots in 2015. So who is right? I did some search and all media mentions 40’000 robots only in 2016… (see Foxconn reaches 40,000 robots of original 1 million robot automation goal). When you want to talk about the future, you need to be precise about the present…

Now his chapter The Geography of Future Markets provides interesting food for thought. Silicon Valley has been the center of high-tech innovation for nearly 50 years. Many regions have tried to copy it, without much success. But many regions have domain expertise such as Boston for biotech, Israel for security, Japan/SouthKorea/Germany for robotics, etc. If these regions leverage the future innovations, they will continue to be leaders. If not, “twentysomething” nerds without any domain expertise but with a lot entrepreneurial drive and technical know-how will take the lead. Ross provides examples but it is sufficient to look at what Elon Musk did to the payment industry (PayPal), automotive industry (Tesla) and aerospace industry (SpaceX). Silicon Valley has extensive experience in “scale-ups” and is not losing any of it…
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,363 followers
November 25, 2017
Uma coletânea de ideias sobre o que vem pelo futuro, que misturou muito do que já li. Acabou me sendo um livro bastante redundante, porque já tinha lido sobre automação, algoritmos tomando conta, internet das coisas e por aí vai. Mas para quem nunca leu sobre e quer um bom resumo de novas ideias escrito por alguém que estava na ponta da lança do que vem por aí de tecnologia (o Ross foi Senior Advisor for Innovation da Hilary sob o Obama), é um ótimo começo. Em especial porque ele passa pelo mundo todo narrando o que encontra e para onde cada país está indo.
Profile Image for Kathleen Souder.
115 reviews4 followers
August 18, 2018
Interesting and thought provoking but you could get 80% of the value by reading 20% of the book. Entire star deducted for the author’s (over)use of the term “cyber” to cover anything related to internet or communications technology.
Profile Image for Alfonso.
91 reviews73 followers
September 21, 2016
I found it quite superficial. A lot of anecdotes and very simplistic conclusions.
Profile Image for Momina.
35 reviews10 followers
January 5, 2021
3 1/2 stars.

I found the book made a few good points but far too simplistic in generalising entire societies and economies - especially Africa and the “global frontiers”. The supposed potential of integrating these frontiers in the global marketplace fails to acknowledge the disadvantages of globalisation on indigenous knowledge systems already in practice. While the author does refer to “domain expertise” there isn’t enough emphasis on how the negative impacts seen in history will be mitigated or managed in the future.

The key industries of the future the author highlights are namely robotics, advanced life sciences, the code-ificaton of money, cyber security and big data. While some of the predictions can be seen to already be in effect (blockchain, data privacy and ownership, fintech growth, peer to peer marketplaces, targeted drugs and their use in healthcare etc.) I find that because of the fast paced nature of these industries, this book which is published in 2016 is already a bit out of date in 2021.

I also find that the authors politics informs a lot of his analysis and that he dismisses the complicated nature of global conflicts and history by only selecting and framing the issue through his opinion. For example when he references Palestine, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Finally, I feel like there is not enough mention of the ethics and morals of these new industries and the absence of legal guidelines and safeguards to protect rights and prevent exploitation especially regarding data collection and privacy, personal surveillance, national security and the commercialisation of genetic information.
The last major shift in socio-economic lifestyles i.e. industrialisation led to the legal protection of worker rights and labour laws, perhaps we should set the groundwork by anticipating the changes and being better prepared for the challenges.
13 reviews
May 9, 2021
Solid 3 stars. It was written 5 years ago so some of the topics are already out of date. It was okay, kind of interesting but some of the topics were pretty obvious.
Profile Image for Katie.
357 reviews5 followers
April 27, 2016
I don't want to give this book five stars but I think that might just be because I don't really like the future? SO UNFAIR. I guess this is the first time I've really wanted half stars on Goodreads.


This book was fascinating. None of the industries surprised me, nor did Alec Ross' picture of the future. I've been in the tech industry long enough to know crazy crap is gonna happen. If you need a primer, CCP Grey did a great (and a bit depressing) video on it called "Humans Need Not Apply."

In brief, the chapters cover robots, genomics, cryptocurrency, cyberwarfare, big data/IoT, and governmental policies that help/hinder innovation. I appreciated the examples and stories told by the author. I've seen a few reviews that said he just name dropped and the whole book was about stroking his ego (I mean, isn't that why most people write nonfiction jk but srsly), but most of the time I thought it was interesting and lent credibility to his theories about the future.

As I said, the "predictions" themselves weren't new or surprising. The stories, details, and insights Alec shares WERE. I learned so much, particularly about different countries. A bit odd, I know, but I think Americans often have a silo mentality and have no idea what's going on in innovation and the governmental role in it when it comes to China, Russia, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Rwanda, Estonia...and SO MANY MORE. I came out of this book feeling like I learned more about government and geography than all of high school. Which probably says more about how much I disliked geography than the emphasis of this book.

I was genuinely surprised by the emphasis on getting women in the workforce. This guy flat out says (in slightly less harsh words) that your country is a dummy if it's not empowering women in the workforce because they will raise your GDP. "Women are half of every nation's workforce- or potential workforce. To be a prosperous and competitive country requires access to the best-educated pool of workers. If a country is cutting off half of its potential workforce, it is taking itself out of the game."

I also loved the political insight. It's fascinating to get an inside view into what our (USA) government is doing around the world as well as what other governments are thinking and doing. The story about Estonia made me hopeful that a country can turn itself around, and the kind of effort it takes to do so. I feel like reading this book made me a lot more knowledgeable and able to vote aptly in our next election.

This book definitely put me through the wringer. At times it made me depressed (as I am wont to do), made me hopeful, and made me think...hard. It is absolutely worth the read if you plan on being in the workforce for the next 5-25 years, or know people who are, or are raising kids who will be. Just generally a good read imo.
Profile Image for Alex.
2 reviews4 followers
December 19, 2016
Taking readers from the future of robotics in Japan to genomic sequencing in China, Ross leaves readers pondering such seemingly farfetched questions as whether hackers halfway across the globe will someday use the computing power of our kitchen toasters to mine the borderless crypto-currencies of tomorrow. Drawing on a vast array of personal experiences, Ross provides a glimpse of the future built on empowering the people of today.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Golovatyi.
412 reviews32 followers
December 25, 2017
Amazing book that I read with pleasure in two last evenings. The book covers a scenic story about the most interesting and most popular technologies of the present and their impact on the future of mankind. Key theses: work and their future in industry and human life, programming of money (cryptocurrency and blockchain), cyber security and wars with software code, as well as large amounts of data as raw materials of the information age. If you are curious what awaits humanity in the near future, what are the problems on the horizon and what are the prospects for the development of human civilization in the near future, then this book is for you.
Дивовижна книга, яку я прочитав із задоволенням буквально за два вечори. Книга охоплює мальовничу розповідь про найцікавіші та найпопулярніші технологоїї сьогодення і про їх вплив на майбутнє людства. Основні тези: роботи та їх майбутньє в промисловості та житті людини, програмування грошей (криптовалюта та технологія блокчейн), кібербезпека та війнти за допомогою програмного коду, а також про великі масиви данних, як сировини інформаційної епохи. Якщо вам цікаво, що чекає найближчим часом людство, які проблеми вже на горизонті та які перспективи розвитку людської цивілізації в найближчому майбутньому, то ця книга саме для вас.

I read books on Scribd or Google Books by
Readlax Chrome Extensi
Profile Image for A Man Called Ove.
900 reviews217 followers
July 12, 2019
4.5/5 The author was a part of the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s office and drafted in to bring innovation. His travels and interactions gave him a great opportunity to make sense of where the world is heading and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands !
The industries of the future - sharing apps, A.I., robotics, genetics, medicine, big data/analytics, cybersecurity have all been discussed in some detail in a chapter each. The prevalent practices, their problems, their impact on individuals and society, the future jobs have all been given ample thought. And this has been done in a refreshing tone that is neither “see who/what I know” or the mock-serious tone that is taken by some authors talking on serious subjects.
Finally, the author gave a few examples of where the future wealth maybe generated and what nations should and shouldnt do. In this one chapter he has satisfactorily discussed and explained concepts which have been subjects of entire books.
One takeaway - Kids should learn a programming language in primary school.
And this book was recommended by a podcast. Have read a few recommended by Zakaria (CNN) and intelligence squared. Thanks and keep them coming.
Profile Image for g.lkoa.
24 reviews1 follower
September 25, 2018

Mhh… mixed bag; poorly-inspired and often general to the extent of being plainly journalistic (in the pedestrian sense). I might have - can’t remember - started this hoping it’d be more in the tunes of, idk, The Second Machine Age.

Instead. Sort-of a companion to the this, the lesson here is that given the fact of a US-centric biiig revolution now already reached, a combined effort to fully exploit the new technology is needed while simultaneously facing the broad missions to meet alongside (confidence in the future, high-skilled education, job creation, &c) – in fact, a sentiment reverberating from most of the annual kermesses at the World Economic Forum (plus extra doses of intolerably abject scraps as in 'the problem of palestinian economy is ultimately the lack of a high-speed networks').
Put along these lines, it’s definitely hard to dis/agree, and honestly is so vague that the shared feeling eventually gives way to some doubt that it’s all about an elusive ritual of well-mannered popularizing experts on innovation.

I can’t help finding it highly detestable, this whim of taking for granted even few buzzword-palatable notions of an industrial revolution (to be taken seriously!, or else to be seriously taken) in which the same list of robots, AI, 3D printing, smart farms, driverless cars (and why not blockchains&genomics) get unraveled in a neurotic mess of faux-expertise taste, with the unchallenged implying that they are just about to _radically_ transform the economy and affect the growth trend in big, big terms.

Everyone seem to know of this revolution: everyone, that is, except financial markets. Bond and share prices indeed both suggest that investors expect no such revolution. The upper tails of the technological frontier capacity, in abstract-hyped terms (and expendable trivia), may well be one thing, but then, for the good or bad… comes the market.
Ironically, thinky tanky bestselling policymaker-observer-adviser-at-large like Ross fail exactly to see that if we were to see such a revolution, we’d expect to detect high returns on capital as super-productive robots, or newer machines, replace humans and/or old tecniques on a noticeable statistical scale; as well as high investments, where the companies would strive for exploiting new technologies. This basically means high bond yields (that would be raised by high borrowing to invest, and by the fact that returns on financial assets would need to be high to compete with returns on physical assets.)

If automation/machines/robot are truly about raising productivity on the whole, or even are doing it now, this should raise long term real interest rates too. This is certainly not what the markets, investment divisions across the globe, CEOs, government, or financial intermediaries are expecting.
The US bond markets are pricing in a 10year inflation-adjusted yield of only 1.1%; while in the UK they are pricing in a 10year index related yield of -1.3% in 10 years time – not the kind of numbers, I mean, you’d see if bond markets expected a new industrial revolution.
Nor stock markets are waiting for such a thing to happen. Peter Rousseau and Boyan Jovanovic have already pointed out that companies normally express thoroughly vintages of logistic-organizational capital; it means that embryonic technologies with market usage will tend to be wholly merged into new companies, resulting in the fact that rapid technical change would see outpaced old firms just swapped by newer ones. If we were on the edge of a new industrial revolution of this kind, thus, we may now expect to see tendentially lower prices for incumbent and former monopolies/oligopolies, as to reflecting the fear that they might be supplanted by yet-unformed companies. That is just exactly what happened in the 1970s – the ‘rational expectations’ of the IT revolution indeed caused a significant undervaluing of older firms. Which is, in turn… precisely what we are not seeing now!
In the US, the cyclically-adjusted price/earnings ratio is above its long-term average; where in the UK, the dividend yield is around its long-term average. These valuations are incoherent with the fact that investors may have to fear some wave of creative destruction.
And apart from stock and bond markets, macroeconomic data mostly suggest that there’s not a revolution under way either. Investments are at the lower as a share of GDP now than in the early 2000s, productivity has been basically a flatline for a decade and more; the unemployment rate is, now, at a 42-year low.

Ross is too simple-minded here to even address seriously these topics, but at times he hastly recognizes these kind of related snags in innovation processes (discussing the lag in the use of new robots, the coy business models, the size of nano- and potential silcon valleys…low-speed networks in Palestine) so that, in the end, he seems to flirt with one free-lunch answer for why stock and bond markets are doing so, i.e. why stock and bond market are both telling us that there’ll be no great industrial revolution in the next few years –yes, the very revolution whose certified existence this book is based on. Ross assumes that shares and bonds are both overpriced, inflated by cheap money. Perhaps, or it could be that the new technologies are being overhyped? There’s, of course, plenty of precursors here (in the 1950s, for instance, it was customary among common-sensed investors that nuclear power would give us the cheapest energy one could ever imagine, and that wasn’t quite true). This is actually a non-trivial obstacle to growth, by the way. The expectations of rapid technical change are, to a vast degree, of a type that is not self reinforcing, but generally self defeating: a bad equilibrium in which no-one _on average_ will invest $10mln in robots if its rivals may be buying cheaper and better robots a few months later and thereby depreciate them.

There is room left for more interesting reasons, too. One is that high share valuations are at last legitimate as they are, because we won’t see again the sort of creative destruction of older companies we saw in the 70s. Big companies have now been building up an awful huge amount of stocks cash, which patently allows them to buy up the small oft-unquoted firms that are developing new technologies like in the shape of ‘contractors’. Google’s Alphabet (US:GOOGL), Apple (US:AAPL), the Oil Majors and pharmaceutical corps can be seen as, even in part, venture capitalists themselves. They will probably use their cash and expertise in business organization to capitalize/invest in the companies of the future.

But there’s something much more critical that people like Ross are totally unprepared to adress: that is, new technologies may probably not, in the aggregate, raise economic growth at all.
New Industries are almost by definition only a small fraction of the economy and so they’ll pay very little to the overall growth even if they grow fast. Certainly, that they won’t do in the next few years. Brynjolfsson points to a fundamental reason why they might not do so. He states that New Technologies, and ICT technology on top, often need deep organizational changes before they achieve their full potential, (e.g. although electricity became available in the late 19th century it wasn’t until the 1920s that factories rearranged production schedules to improve the workflow by giving each machine its own electric engine rather than rely upon the single power source that steam power offered).
One reason why the internet has not largely boosted productivity is that it hasn’t (yet) led to big changes in work organization.
History may be poor-guide in a wide lot of sense, but it’s worth noting that during the second industrial revolution by the late 19th and early 20th century, there were many and very substantial innovations (steel, electrification, autovehicles, petrochemicals, &c.), probably the most substantial we can think of, and all of these were accompanied by a significant rise in the share of wages in GDP, and thus by a somewhat pertinent fall in the profit share. This recaps to us that capital, apart from labor, ultimately does compete with… other capital. More-, versus less-profitable capital. Wich might be even truer in the future; Jones, Jones and Aghion, for example, speculate that a consistent model of growth with some reasonable notion of AI-technology will probably make it easier for some ‘lucky’ companies to reverse engineer their rival products in order to imitate and improve upon them. The mere fact that, like in those sketches, producers might ‘risk’ to only capture a small fraction of the uprising innovation (as they did in the early 20th century) may ultimately deter such revolution from even occurring in the first place.

This whole as outlined just above is probably, also, a good candidate-proxy to qualitatively explicate the apparent paradox: that big-talk claptrap of new technology concurs with sluggish take-up of such technology. The IFR has in fact estimated that sales of industrial robots have grown globally by ~10% per year since 2010. This is somewhat a slow rate by the standards in the category of new products; by the same time, unsurprisingly, sales of smartphones have grown more than 25% per year. These figures, of course, should not suggest that spending on robots will not likely rise in the future (as it surely will), at least for the robot density measure, but the query at stake here is that they will probably not increase output-capacity that much, in many respects because of the diminishing marginal productivity of this kind of capital (and, what is more, because of the expected automatizable tasks): some robots in a factory may of course bump productivity even a lot, but a hundred won’t do as much.
There’s a good study on robotization since the 1990s, in which Graetz and Michaels conclude that robots have, in the aggregate, raised productivity, or more exactly that they are very good at sustaining some already existing growth path, but not dramatically so; like, not to the point of leading to a newer robot-driven development in a period of general low growth.
Actually, there’s other motives why tech may not increase growth much or pave the wave to the new industries. A marxian-institutional argument can be made that if machines will ever (theoretically) truly be in the condition to replace people, then wages will fall dramatically and production won’t either gain the desiderd share of profit; and well, this will serve to employers as an incentive to create jobs for such cheap workers within marginal enterprises recollecting displaced people from manufacturing sectors, by so increasing the exploitation-rate (if this remind us of something, it’s because it is already happening with mini-jobs, gig stuff and sharing economy; but mostly because of a critical mass of workers, as the abundant factor, full-disposable who were displaced by global trade).

This may even suffice to highlight the often forgotten detail in the debate about (new) technology – namely, that economic growth and new industrial landscape is determined not by technology alone or related hype but by very specific institutional complementarities, demographics, and nontrivial policy solution. And, if you wish, also that the “barriers of capitalist production are not barriers of production generally”.
Economic growth since the 18th century doesn’t specify exactly where major innovations came from. Growth did not much exceed 1% per year until the mid-19th century, decades past the steam engine. In the end, improved sanitation policies by the early 1800s seem to have added much more to productivity growth than the very steam engine. And trend growth slowed in the late 19th and early 20thcentury, in any case, even though major new technologies such as radio, electrical energy and cars were emerging then. Political ‘events’ like the free trade in the 1800s, then WWI&WWII, post-war Keynesian social accomodation and its later demise have had more a critical impact on fluctuations in trend of economic growth than technology shocks alone. It does not mean that said growth could counterfactually come into being even without such technological development – rather, that some incentive-compatiable mechanism and social institutions truly apt to exploit technological progress are more of a key than not. In a lot of (pretty complicated) senses, the ultime function of technology may be not so much to enhance growth as to sustain it and make the whole macroeconomic scenario more resilient and ready to re-allocate factors of production. Economic growth seems, in these terms, more of a dynamical trade off between diminishing returns and technical progress; and growth is doomed to surely cease without said progress, as we would probably cross the infamous ‘stationary state’ threshold of classical economists.

Any suspect bump in equity valuations, then, because of a belief that new technologies are about to increase economic growth, is probably doomed to disappoint: the disruptive game-changing thech probably won’t do so in aggregate. We have tools to be aware that new tech is often escorted by bubbles in the stocks of companies that use them: railway stocks in the 1840s, radios in the 20s and IT in the 1990s. There’s at least some good chances we might see something ‘officially’ similar in AI, robotics and so on. And these books like Ross's maybe are just the one of the many psychopomps (These bubbles of course could make people blessed if they ride them wisely, e.g. abiding by the rule of buying when prices are above their 10-month averages and sell if they are below)

The apparent puzzle, here, is that technology has revolutionised productivity and common lives by significantly prolonging them in ways that often could not have been remotely foreknown, but it is consistent with saying that industrial conversion and large phenomena like ‘growth’ need those special junctures that made them possible be taken into account. In a sense, while revolutionizing our life on many scale, it’s likely that thechnology probably won’t much change the macroeconomic picture.
Profile Image for Ihor Kolesnyk.
386 reviews
April 17, 2020
Багато цікавого у цій книзі про інновації, нові галузі і стартапи.
Однак у мене не зникало відчуття, що автор "впарює" майбутнє, технології та візію, які не такі неминучі. Він як тонкий проповідник не піддає сумнівам свої передбачення.
Profile Image for Tulga G.
190 reviews28 followers
February 1, 2018
After reading this great book, you realize that we are living as whole new generation because of the potentials the technologies and computers provide us for better future in our daily life. We are just entering to the digital age which give us much more connectivity without any border and beyond than any historical times. Also, this book underlined the hot topics today as Uber, Airbnb and even Bitcoin which are the businesses with new model, so it is quite interesting and readable.
The crucial point was written as;
"Land was the raw material of the agricultural age.
Iron was the raw material of the industrial age.
Data is the raw material of the information age."

Profile Image for C.
1,089 reviews1,050 followers
September 10, 2021
An interesting overview of several industries that will drive the next 20 years of change to economies and societies: robotics, advanced life sciences, digital money, cybersecurity, and big data. It raises (but doesn't devote much space to) philosophical and ethical questions about how changing technology will affect our lives. The book doesn't dive as deep as I would've liked.

The author was senior advisor for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during Obama administration.

I've always been interested in tech and future tech. And I'm curious about the future intersection of business and tech. I skimmed some of the sections that were focused on politics and socioeconomics.

Here Come the Robots
Shinto religion includes belief in animism, which holds that objects and humans have spirits. So Japanese are more accepting of robots as companions than Westerners, who view robots as soulless machines. Japanese can view them as members of society, but Westerners tend to view them as tools or threats, and have a deep-seated fear of robots going back in literature and films.

In South Korea, robotic teachers are viewed positively; in Europe, they're viewed negatively. In US, question is largely avoided because immigration brings in low-cost labor. In Middle East, people are open to humanoid house-cleaning robots but not robots that perform more intimate and influential roles such as teaching.

"While weak artificial intelligence, whereby robots simply specialize in a specific function, is currently advancing exponentially, strong artificial intelligence, whereby robots demonstrate humanlike cognition and intelligence, is advancing only linearly."

Google is interested in autonomous cars so drivers have more time to use Google products.

The extent of driverless cars and delivery drones will be limited not by tech or economics but by humans accepting them. Humans accept 1 million driving deaths a year but probably wouldn't accept hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of deaths from driverless cars. Driverless cars will need to be nearly perfect before scaling.

47% of US jobs are at high risk for robot takeover; another 19% are at medium risk. Those most at risk are those who aggregate and apply info.

The Weaponization of Code
"If any college student asked me what career would most assure 50 years of steady, well-paying employment, I would respond, 'cybersecurity.'"

"[Cybersecurity] is not just an issue for one industry or one vendor to tackle. It is an issue that any connected company or individual will have to face at one point or another."

Citizens and small businesses can't pay for the expensive cybersecurity protection that governments and major corporations can.

The Geography of Future Markets
"Africa is witnessing the convergence of demographic, economic, and technological trends that hold incredible promise for its future. The combination of a young population, fast-growing economies, and rapid technology adoption is creating a dynamic engine for private sector investment."

Conclusion: The Most Important Job You Will Ever Have
Important skills for next generation: multicultural fluency (linguistic or other); fluency in a technical, programming, or scientific language; analytical skills.

You don't learn a programming language only for coding; you learn it to learn abstraction around breaking problems into small parts and solving them, around systems and their interconnection.
Profile Image for Pinar.
499 reviews22 followers
June 16, 2022
Biraz geç bir okuma oldu sanırım benim için, kitabın basımından bu yana altı yıl geçmiş. Hazırlanması da iki yıl desek..

İlginç bir takım bilgiler edinmeme rağmen (Suudi petrolünün bir kaç on yıl içinde tamamen tükeneceği ekonomisini dayandıracak başka alanlar bulma ihtiyacı vb), konuya dair fazla da yeni birşey bulamadım. Kitap bütün dünyaya biraz Amerikan merkezli olarak bakıyor, Alec Ross Amerikan devletinin bu tip raporlar hazırlamakla görevli bir memuru olarak çalışmalarını, raporlarını derlemiş toplamış, bu gözle okunursa sanıyorum daha faydalı olur.

Sağlık, genetik, robotlar, programlama, big data, syber güvenlik, cryptomoney gibi alanlara ve bölgesel bazda bu endüstrilerin gelişimine değiniyor. Rahat okunan bir kitap.
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