The main idea is to use author’s extensive experience as technological writer and editor to analyze the direction and nature of development for our increasingly computerized and digitalized civilization and present it in disassembled form of 12 specific processes with some more or less specific prognosis of future condition for each of them.
Here author defines his intent as to uncover roots of digital change and try to foresee societal impact of this change. Philosophically he defines this change as switch from products to processes and this book pretty much describes 12 high level processes or forces that he believes will form the future of humanity.
Here author uses his experience as editor of Wired to discuss continuing change in technological landscape, which is constantly upgrading unlike very stable landscape of the past. He calls this state “protopia” kind of rejection of notion of utopia and dystopia, that is condition of constant becoming but never to become some final permanent condition.
This process means adding some cognitive function implemented by using computer to practically all aspects of live from daily routine activities to entertainment and big choices of live. Practically it also includes substitution of humans by robots in all conceivable areas of activity.
This is about constant flowing of information via computer networks with clouds containing everything that could be digitalized and 3-D printing producing material goods as needed on demand.
This is kind of addition to the flowing when humans and computers constantly screen the flow of information to select what they need at any given moment. It also would include constant screening of personal health parameters and/or anything related to selected activities either productive or recreational.
Here author promotes idea that future contains dramatic switch from ownership mode of resource allocation, production, and consumption with accessing mode when goods and services provided as needed without taking ownership in order to use. Simple example: use of driverless Uber car instead of car ownership.
This is a vision of the new world overcoming self-interest via open source software, cooperation, sharing of information on Facebook, Instagram, and such. Strangely enough author believes that he was indoctrinated in free-market individualism, when, as practically all educated people in America, he was indoctrinated with collectivism, based on ideal of all powerful and all benevolent government run by unselfish expert public servants in the best interest of population, which consists of similarly unselfish, enlightened but somewhat dim people who need continuing guidance. Consequently it is not surprising that anything that smells like sharing and voluntary job without pay he celebrates as wave of the future and everything that is driven by self-interest is suspicious as retrograde and probably evil.
Here author reviews filtering processes and provides very nice and concise presentation of existing filters:
his is very interesting and important piece because filtering could be a huge tool for supporting peer to peer services by allowing use of AI to select very specific services for a person both to produce for small and precisely targeted audience and to consume from reliable source who knows one’s preferences. However it could be and actually is powerful tools for conditioning people to do whatever elite wants them do, even if it is extremely harmful.
This is another process that always existed, but at current level of computer and communication power is becoming qualitatively more effective, allowing just about everybody produce just about everything by remixing existing bits and pieces of information.
This is about interacting with computerized virtual reality. Here are trends that author expects to expand this area:
This process is expanding all the time and eventually, in author’s opinion would lead to a number of beneficial abilities:
This process already achieved significant success with Wikipedia and Google search allowing finding answers with ease not even conceivable a half century earlier. With development AI of IBM’s Watson type the level of complexity of QA becoming dramatically higher, providing support for increasingly high level of functionality. Actually the crux of human intellectual activity will move from finding answers to posing good questions and author provides a nice list to define what kind of questions are the good ones:
The final chapter kind of summarizes author’s vision of the future as one highly integrated human-computers network, albeit still saturated with barriers and monopolies either corporate or governmental. However these barriers will be breached and on the long run we’ll achieve soft singularity with AI.
MY TAKE ON IT:
I find technological ideas presented in this book quite convincing and generally consistent with my take on future technological development. However I think author significantly overestimate possibilities for cooperation and labor without compensation and all these open source kind of things, but it is relatively insignificant problem. The main point is that with all these processes humans cease to be standing alone entities and becoming self-controlling and self-directing parts of one network based on AI running everything that is required for meeting objectives defined by humans.