Surprisingly readable for a text of this sort of technical depth
Funny enough, the polemic narrative applies all the trick of typical innovation literature to promote a maintenance mindset.
The book is exactly what it tries to avoid: being just another entertaining founder story (in this case about Square).
The book’s set-up with multiple scenarios for the future works surprisingly well and is especiall concerning for European readers: Europe is almost completely irrelevant in all of Webb’s scenarios.
The best quote is not from the author: “Quality is the best business plan” (John Lasseter, director of Toy Story).
The fascinating history of Bell labs illustrates how a long-term view is essential for technological progress.
the book, written pre-Trump, pre-Brexit and pre-Cambridge Analytics, underemphasizes the risk of large-scale orchestration of fringe groups to undermine nation states; thereby making the author’s call for stronger institutions feels a bit besides the point.
The book fits neatly in the trend to call out gender inequality, but unfortunately it has limited practical solutions to offer.
The authors see AI as just a new option for the division of labor which, although it can have rather dramatic consequences, does not support apocalyptic GAI fearmongering.
When a a big tech investor like McNamee argues for stricter regulation it makes the argument more convincing.
There is a tendency in critiques of ‘big tech’ to underestimate the long-term resilliance of mankind; although that does not render the argument invalid.
Great effort to democratize AI and peel off some layers of mistique that harm public debate (althought the case against technochauvinism seems at times a bit too shallow).
The history of disc drives and mechanical excavators showcases how difficult it is for incumbents to come out on top when technological innovation hits your market.
Remember: there are many ways in which platforms can fail!
Isaacson’s narrative falacy (‘Leonardo never finishing what he starts’) is at odds with the public recognition he received in his own day and age.
Peter Thiel’s war on Gawker Media shows that money is a decisive factor in the US legal system.
Elegant guide to putting contrarian thinking into action, which tries a bit too had to show it is scientific.
Summary of how tech firms form a risk for democracy, but without a thorough assessment of how technology itself can be applied to improve the democratic process.
Decent summary of developments with some nice examples, but not sufficiently new or surprising to classify as ‘essential reading’.
More thorough and nuanced than most scary-AI-will-take-over-the-world-books, but it still suffers from the same pitfall: over-estimating the importance of superintelligence for evolutionary success (two random examples: cockroaches and Donald Trump).