Mapping the world's opinions

How technology is changing the way we think: five books

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Technology has changed the way we think. How? The books below each see its impact differently. Should we view it optimistically? As something that has transformed how we remember things? Or has its most enduring impact been on our attention spans, and the way businesses are exploiting that shift?

1: The Attention Merchants - Tim Wu

“Wu is an expert on concentrations of power. An author, activist and lawyer, he is most famous for coining the phrase “net neutrality” – the idea that the oligopoly that owns our internet infrastructure shouldn’t charge differently for different kinds of data. In his new book, he targets another kind of corporate domination: the industry that monopolises our attention.”

2: The New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Futurer - James Bridle

“The incapability to understand the scale and impact of technology on the lives of human beings is not a visual problem, it is a problem of imagination. One of the significant achievements of Bridle’s book is that it challenges the idea that to participate in the conversation about technology requires prior technical knowledge.”

3: The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality - Luciano Floridi

“It is a reflection on how our society is being impacted by information and communication technologies. We have entered a new age, that Floridi defines as ‘Hyperhistory’, where human progress and welfare [have] begun to be not just related to, but mostly dependent on, the successful and efficient management of the life cycle of information.”

4: Tomorrow’s People: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Think and Feel - Susan Greenfield

“This “day in the life” becomes the launch pad for a description of the brain processes underlying her protagonist’s experiences. Greenfield’s earlier career as a pharmacologist shapes her approach, and she offers a fluent and accessible account of current research in these fields, from the effects of environments on the brain to the latest findings of sleep research.”

5: Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds For The Better - Clive Thompson

“First, Thompson wants to “accentuate the positive,” because he believes (the point is arguable) that writing about technology has been “flooded with apocalyptic warnings” about what technology is doing to us. Second, he is not concerned with questions of neuroscience and brain chemistry, because he doesn’t think there’s enough evidence yet to say for sure what the implications in this area will be.”

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 at 17:38 UTC