Former Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen was among the earliest to write about the dangers that the Internet poses to our culture and society. His 2007 book The Cult of the Amateur was critical in helping advance the conversation around the Internet, which has now morphed from a tool providing efficiencies and opportunities for consumers and business to an elemental force that is profoundly reshaping our societies and our world.
In his new book, How to Fix the Future, Keen focuses on what we can do about this seemingly intractable situation. Looking to the past to learn how we might change our future, he describes how societies tamed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution, which, like its digital counterpart, demolished long-standing models of living, ruined harmonious environments, and altered the business world beyond recognition. Traveling the world to interview experts in a wide variety of fields, from EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, whose recent €2.4 billion fine to Google made headlines around the world, to successful venture capitalists who nonetheless see the tide turning, to CEOs of companies including The New York Times, Keen unearths approaches to tackling our digital future.
There are five key tools that Keen identifies: regulation, competitive innovation, social responsibility, worker and consumer choice, and education. His journey to discover how these tools are being put into practice around the globe takes him from digital-oriented Estonia, where Skype was founded and where every citizen can access whatever data the government holds on them by logging in to an online database, and where a "e-residency" program allows the country to expand beyond its narrow borders, to Singapore, where a large part of the higher education sector consists in professional courses in coding and website design, to India, Germany, China, Russia, and, of course, Silicon Valley.
Powerful, urgent, and deeply engaging, How to Fix the Future vividly depicts what we must do if we are to try to preserve human values in an increasingly digital world and what steps we might take as societies and individuals to make the future something we can again look forward to.
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