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Personally, one of the bright spots of the pandemic has been that I’ve had some extra time to read. I’m not a TV watcher, and the combination of not being able to socialize, a typical Michigan winter, and the decrepit state of professional sports in Detroit gave me time to plow through a bunch of books. (I also gave up social media for Lent, so that time sink was also eliminated.) So, in this post I’m going to share some semi-relevant books I’ve been reading.
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why it’s Making the World a Weirder Place by Janelle Shane
Seeing this book on my shelf is the impetus for this post. I started reading this book in late 2019 shortly after arriving at RESA, but didn’t return to it until we were in the thick of lockdown. Janelle Shane is an AI expert who blogs at aiwierdness.com. This book is a great introduction to artificial intelligence and provides a humorous look at how AI works, what it currently can and can’t do, and how it currently plays a role in everyday life.
How to Future: Leading and Sense-Making in an Age of Hyperchange by Scott Smith
Ok, shameless plug here. Rather than say, “I’m a futurist,” (a term I particularly despise even though the statement is true) I will say that I have a degree in Foresight (see here for more about this). So, if you need any visioning work, or want a set of scenarios to present as a precursor to a strategic planning event, I’m your guy!
Or, you could just read this book and figure it out on your own. In short, futuring is about exploring potential alternative futures. Just as there are different interpretations of the past, the future can take different trajectories based on various drivers, trends, and ‘wild card’ events that may or may not develop. It is a systematic exploration rather than predictive. The goal of the futurist, ahem, foresight professional, is not to be right; rather, the goal is to not be surprised.
Ten Arguments for Deleting your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW by Jaron Lanier
Lanier is a scientist, musician, and writer who writes for Wired, which, given the title, would make you think he’s a bit of a Luddite. Quite the opposite (check his Wikipedia entry). I personally have a love/hate relationship with social media. I find it helpful to connect with people, but I can never decide if the upsides outweigh the downsides. This book might tip the scales for me. Lanier articulates ten arguments (hence, the title) on the evils of social media from the perspective of data harvesting and targeted manipulation social media companies engage in to make you miserable. He does offer insights into possible alternative business models for social media that would get him to change his mind. Unfortunately, with little progress in this change, the author’s recommendation is to quit feeding the beast and delete all of your social media accounts. We might recommend that If you must use it for work or connections with family/friends, look into tweaking your security settings on each of your social media accounts.
Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People you Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust by Adam Kahane
Kahane is a consultant who has worked with many nations to create shared visions for the future by bringing in diverse stakeholders. And by diverse, I mean bloodthirsty enemies: governments and warlords, gangs, cartels, along with NGOs and others. Some of the stories are jaw-dropping. The book discusses how to get people with competing interests to agree on some common direction even if they do not agree on means. If Kahane could pull this off with these particular audiences, the tips here should be helpful in the relatively minor disagreements you have in your organization and social circles.
How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos by David Pogue
Not related to anything we talk about, but I’d recommend.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
I’m only a few pages in, but yeah, maybe I should binge watch comedy instead…
What have you been reading?
Jason Siko is an instructional technology consultant for Wayne RESA. Learn more about the instructional technology department and how it can serve your needs at resa.net/edtech.