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Future Studies

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  1. 9.9 hrs • 5/17/2016 • Unabridged

    The Digital Age we live in is as transformative as the Industrial Revolution, and Joshua Cooper Ramo explains how to survive. If you find yourself longing for a disconnected world where information is not always at your fingertips, you may eventually be as useful as the carriage maker post–Henry Ford. It’s practically impossible to know where the marriage of imagination and technology will take us (sorry Betamax and Kodak), and the only certainty is that in the networked world we will only become more intertwined. Is it possible to not become hopelessly tangled? Joshua Cooper Ramo, a policy expert who has advised the most powerful nations and corporations, says yes—if you are ready to ride the disruption. Drawing on examples from business, science, and politics, Ramo illuminates our transformative world. Start by imagining a near future when America’s greatest power is not its military or its economy, but its control of the Internet.

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    The Seventh Sense

    9.9 hrs • 5/17/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 8.6 hrs • 10/20/2015 • Unabridged

    The gripping and revelatory story of the dramatic race to merge the human brain with machines. Leading neuroscience researchers are racing to unlock the secrets of the mind. On the cusp of decoding brain signals that govern motor skills, they are developing miraculous technologies to enable paraplegics and wounded soldiers to move prosthetic limbs, and the rest of us to manipulate computers and other objects through thought alone. These fiercely competitive scientists are vying for Defense Department and venture capital funding, prestige, and great wealth. Part life-altering cure, part science fiction, part military dream, these cutting-edge brain-computer interfaces promise to improve lives—but also hold the potential to augment soldiers’ combat capabilities. In The Brain Electric, Malcolm Gay follows the dramatic emergence of these technologies, taking us behind the scenes into the operating rooms, start-ups, and research labs where the future is unfolding. With access to many of the field’s top scientists, Gay illuminates this extraordinary race—where science, medicine, profit, and war converge—for the first time. But this isn’t just a story about technology. At the heart of this research is a group of brave, vulnerable patient-volunteers whose lives are given new meaning through participating in these experiments. The Brain Electric asks us to rethink our relationship to technology, our bodies, even consciousness itself—challenging our assumptions about what it means to be human.

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    The Brain Electric

    8.6 hrs • 10/20/15 • Unabridged
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  3. 8.2 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Large corporations, big governments, and other centralized organizations have long determined and dominated the way we work, access healthcare, get an education, feed ourselves, and generally go about our lives. The economist Ronald Coase, in his famous 1937 paper “The Nature of the Firm,” provided an economic explanation for this: organizations lowered transaction costs, making the provision of goods and services cheap, efficient, and reliable. Today, this organizational advantage is rapidly disappearing. The Internet is lowering transaction costs—costs of connection, coordination, and trade—and pointing to a future that increasingly favors distributed sources and social solutions to some of our most immediate needs and our most intractable problems. As Silicon Valley thought-leader Marina Gorbis, head of the Institute for the Future, portrays, a thriving new relationship-driven or socialstructed economy is emerging in which individuals are harnessing the powers of new technologies to join together and provide an array of products and services. Examples of this changing economy range from BioCurious, a members-run and free-to-use bio lab, to the peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Club, to the remarkable Khan Academy, a free online-teaching service. These engaged and innovative pioneers are filling gaps and doing the seemingly impossible by reinventing business, education, medicine, banking, government, and even scientific research. Based on extensive research into current trends, she travels to a socialstructed future and depicts an exciting vision of tomorrow.

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    The Nature of the Future

    8.2 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 10.4 hrs • 1/21/2015 • Unabridged

    “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Although he was writing nearly a century ago, William Butler Yeats could just as easily be describing the United States today. The decline and fall of America’s global empire is the central feature of today’s geopolitical landscape, and the nature of our response to it will determine much of our future trajectory, with implications that reach far beyond the limits of one nation’s borders. Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America challenges the conventional wisdom of empire. Using a wealth of historical examples combined with groundbreaking original analysis, author John Michael Greer shows how the United States has backed itself into a blind corner in the pursuit of political and economic power. He also explores the inevitable consequences of imperial collapse, and proposes a renewal of democratic institutions as the only constructive way forward. By shifting the conversation from whether today’s American empire should survive to whether it can survive, and arguing persuasively that the answer to the latter question is “no,” Decline and Fall makes an invaluable contribution to the body of speculative postindustrial literature. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about the state of the union, or who believes that the time has come to reinvent the American dream.

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    Decline and Fall

    10.4 hrs • 1/21/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 13.9 hrs • 2/19/2014 • Unabridged

    John Brockman, editor of This Will Make You Smarter, presents his latest thought-provoking book, featuring insights from leading thinkers such as Steven Pinker, Lisa Randall, Matt Ridley, and Daniel C. Dennett.

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    What Should We Be Worried About?

    13.9 hrs • 2/19/14 • Unabridged
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  6. 1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
    10.0 hrs • 2/11/2014 • Unabridged

    A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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    The Sixth Extinction

    10.0 hrs • 2/11/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5 (1)
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  7. 18.0 hrs • 9/24/2013 • Unabridged

    A powerful investigation into the chances for humanity’s future from the author of the bestseller The World Without Us. In his bestselling book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman considered how the Earth could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity’s constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet—only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature. But with a million more of us every four days on a planet that’s not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than twenty countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth—and also the hardest. How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth’s ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth? Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world’s cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it’s in their own best interest to limit their growth. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful. By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.

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    Countdown

    18.0 hrs • 9/24/13 • Unabridged
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  8. 12.0 hrs • 7/16/2013 • Unabridged

    The dazzling new masterwork from the prophet of Silicon Valley Jaron Lanier is the bestselling author of You Are Not a Gadget, the father of virtual reality, and one of the most influential thinkers of our time. For decades, Lanier has drawn on his expertise and experience as a computer scientist, musician, and digital-media pioneer to predict the revolutionary ways in which technology is transforming our culture. Who Owns the Future? is a visionary reckoning with the effects network technologies have had on our economy. Lanier asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. Now, as technology flattens more and more industries—from media to medicine to manufacturing—we are facing even greater challenges to employment and personal wealth. But there is an alternative to allowing technology to own our future. In this ambitious and deeply humane book, Lanier charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow. It is time for ordinary people to be rewarded for what they do and share on the web. Insightful, original, and provocative, Who Owns the Future? is necessary reading for everyone who lives a part of their lives online.

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    Who Owns the Future?

    12.0 hrs • 7/16/13 • Unabridged
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  9. 10.3 hrs • 5/14/2013 • Unabridged

    In its 4.5 billion–year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful mega-volcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How? As a species, Homo sapiens is at a crossroads. Study of our planet’s turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference. It’s a frightening prospect, as each of the Earth’s past major disasters—from meteor strikes to bombardment by cosmic radiation—resulted in a mass extinction, where more than 75 percent of the planet’s species died out. But in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Life on Earth has come close to annihilation—humans have, more than once, narrowly avoided extinction just during the last million years—but every time a few creatures survived, evolving to adapt to the harshest of conditions. This brilliantly speculative work of popular science focuses on humanity’s long history of dodging the bullet, as well as on new threats that we may face in years to come. Most important, it explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow. From simulating tsunamis to studying central Turkey’s ancient underground cities; from cultivating cyanobacteria for “living cities” to designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective; from using math to stop pandemics to studying the remarkable survival strategies of gray whales, scientists and researchers the world over are discovering the keys to long-term resilience and learning how humans can choose life over death. Newitz’s remarkable and fascinating journey through the science of mass extinctions is a powerful argument about human ingenuity and our ability to change. In a world populated by “doomsday preppers” and media commentators obsessively forecasting our demise, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember is a compelling voice of hope. It leads us away from apocalyptic thinking into a future where we live to build a better world—on this planet and perhaps on others. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever the future holds.

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    Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

    10.3 hrs • 5/14/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 0 reviews 0 5 2 2 out of 5 stars 2/5
    11.9 hrs • 4/30/2013 • Unabridged

    K. Eric Drexler is the founding father of nanotechnology—the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment. Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things—cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops cost about the same. A provocative tour of cutting edge science and its implications by the field’s founder and master, Radical Abundance offers a mind-expanding vision of a world hurtling toward an unexpected future.

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    Radical Abundance

    11.9 hrs • 4/30/13 • Unabridged
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  11. 7.2 hrs • 12/18/2012 • Unabridged

    What if there was a secret city at work on finding answers to the survival of humanity? A city with technologies beyond your imagination. A city expanding, recruiting, and evolving, where there is no government, no money, and no bosses, institutions, cars, or roads. Age takes on new meaning. This “facity” is one big research product in and of itself, and nothing else quite like it exists on Earth. This is the city that Erwin Sharp and his family are drawn into on the fringes of a national park. They fall headfirst down the rabbit hole into a world of space probes, cancer cures, and a core myth that defies belief. They soon realize that some doors are only meant to swing one way. This is a parable of trust and hope—a flashing beacon of hope in a world hell-bent on destroying itself. It is ultimately a story of ambition, of owning up to life, of showing up and trading up. In a story that is as controversial as it is reassuring, sometimes it is possible to find something you always hoped existed, and in finding it you confront our own truth as much as that of the world you live in. What is inside the mysterious Hall 8, and what does that have to do with Erwin? How is water the mechanism of peace or destruction? Thick with adventure, revelations and twists, this story shows how what we accept is only that which we’ve been conditioned to accept—and why an ancient Mayan prophesy doesn’t actually mean what you think.

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    Utopian Frontiers

    7.2 hrs • 12/18/12 • Unabridged
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  12. 5.2 hrs • 10/15/2012 • Unabridged

    Politics, manners, humor, sexuality, wealth, even our definitions of success are periodically renegotiated based on the new values society chooses to use as a lens to judge what is acceptable. Are these new values randomly chosen, or is there a pattern? Pendulum chronicles the stuttering history of western society; that endless back-and-forth swing between one excess and another, always reminded of what we left behind. There is a pattern and it is forty years: 2003 was a fulcrum year, as was 1963, its opposite. Pendulum explains where we have been as a society, how we got here, and where we are headed. If you would benefit from a peek into the future, you would do well to listen to this book.

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    Pendulum

    5.2 hrs • 10/15/12 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 3.7 3 out of 5 stars 3.7/5
    15.7 hrs • 9/27/2012 • Unabridged

    Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. The New York Times now publishes the blog FiveThirtyEight, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future. In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science. Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise. With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are essential.

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    The Signal and the Noise

    15.7 hrs • 9/27/12 • Unabridged
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  14. 12.5 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Unabridged

    Mark Penn argues that the biggest trends in America are the Microtrends, the smaller trends that go unnoticed or ignored. One million people can create new market for a business, spark a social movement, or effect political change. In 1996, a microtrend identified by Penn ("soccer moms") was crucial in re-electing President Clinton. With years of experience as one of world's most highly regarded pollsters, Penn identifies the new microtrends sweeping the world:SINGLE WOMEN BY CHOICE: Women aren't waiting for Mr. Right. They are raising children by themselves and buying their own homes.SPLITTERS: A growing number of middle-class residents are shuttling between two homes, creating new communities and dynamics in the real estate market.SUN HATERS: Environmentalists, skin cancer survivors, and parents concerned about the sun's impact on our health.PHILO-SEMITES: A growing number of people want to date Jewish men and women.CLASSICAL MUSIC DADS: Older men who are fathers in their 40's and 50's and taking on a larger role in the nurturing of their children and becoming an important factor in consumer culture for kids.MICROTRENDS highlights everything from religion to politics, from leisure pursuits to relationships and will take the listener into the worlds of polling, targeting, and psychographic analysis, reaching tantalizing conclusions through engaging analysis.

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    Microtrends

    12.5 hrs • 7/15/12 • Unabridged
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  15. 3.5 hrs • 7/15/2012 • Abridged

    In his seminal works Megatrends and Megatrends 2000, John Naisbitt proved himself one of the most far-sighted and accurate observers of our fast-changing world. Mind Set! goes beyond that—Mind Set! discloses the secret of forecasting. John Naisbitt gives away the keys to the kingdom, opening the door to the insights that let him understand today's world and see the opportunities of tomorrow. He selected his most effective tools, 11 Mind Sets, and applies them by guiding the reader through the five forces that will dominate the next decades of the 21st century. Ilustrated by stories about Galileo and Einstein to today's icons and rebels in business, science, and sports, Mind Set! opens your eyes to see beyond media headlines, political slogans, and personal opinions, to select and judge what will form the pictures of the future. Read by Eric Conger

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    Mind Set!

    3.5 hrs • 7/15/12 • Abridged
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  16. 10.4 hrs • 3/26/2012 • Unabridged

    We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions of people. This book is an antidote to pessimism by tech-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler. Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing—fast. The authors document how four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the technophilanthropist, and the “Rising Billion”—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic road map for governments, industry, and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism. Examining human need by category—water, food, energy, health care, education, and freedom—Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area, including Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, and many, many others.

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    Abundance

    10.4 hrs • 3/26/12 • Unabridged
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