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A field manual to the technologies that are transforming our lives Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. A field manual to the technologies that are transforming our lives Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. It is time to re-evaluate the Silicon Valley consensus determining the future. We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our existence. We're told that innovations--from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars--will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. 3D printing promises unprecedented control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain stands to revolutionize everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organize the mundane realities of the day to day. And, all the while, fiendishly complex algorithms are operating quietly in the background, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics and even redefining what it means to be human. Having successfully colonized everyday life, these radical technologies are now conditioning the choices available to us in the years to come. How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as individuals and societies? Who benefits from their adoption? In answering these questions, Greenfield's timely guide clarifies the scale and nature of the crisis we now confront --and offers ways to reclaim our stake in the future.


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A field manual to the technologies that are transforming our lives Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. A field manual to the technologies that are transforming our lives Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. It is time to re-evaluate the Silicon Valley consensus determining the future. We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our existence. We're told that innovations--from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars--will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. 3D printing promises unprecedented control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain stands to revolutionize everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organize the mundane realities of the day to day. And, all the while, fiendishly complex algorithms are operating quietly in the background, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics and even redefining what it means to be human. Having successfully colonized everyday life, these radical technologies are now conditioning the choices available to us in the years to come. How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as individuals and societies? Who benefits from their adoption? In answering these questions, Greenfield's timely guide clarifies the scale and nature of the crisis we now confront --and offers ways to reclaim our stake in the future.

30 review for Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    If I had known that this book was published by Verso, I probably would not have bothered buying it. Buying a Verso book is like buying a book from the Ignatius Press. You pretty well know what you are going to get and it helps being a true believer to get maximum enjoyment from it. In this case, Greenfield fits the standard issue model - gloomily negative, pessimistic, striving to find some optimism of the will and 'right on' about (yawn!) feminism, Marx, environmentalism, progressivism and Occup If I had known that this book was published by Verso, I probably would not have bothered buying it. Buying a Verso book is like buying a book from the Ignatius Press. You pretty well know what you are going to get and it helps being a true believer to get maximum enjoyment from it. In this case, Greenfield fits the standard issue model - gloomily negative, pessimistic, striving to find some optimism of the will and 'right on' about (yawn!) feminism, Marx, environmentalism, progressivism and Occupy. Yawn, bloody yawn! However, to be fair, this conservatism of the Left - the prevailing ideology of our times based on a) the inability to escape the deathly hold of German Idealism and b) a class terror of radical change in the urban professional middle classes - is only occasionally irritating in this book. The bulk of the book is actually quite interesting. Greenfield raises some significant difficulties about the emergence of a whole set of radical technologies that bear consideration. The chapters on cryptocurrencies, blockchain and machine learning are particularly good. He has done us a service. My regret is that the book is underpinned by negativity about the condition of the world and what technology will do in that context. What I wanted was more direct analysis of the technologies that he describes - this is what Marx would have done. Marx did not whine. He analysed. What Greenfield does do effectively is puncture the balloon of those loopy and naive techno-optimists who seem to think that they can predict the unknowable future only in positive terms and who seem to have aspirations for humanity as ridiculous as the pessimism of the conservative Left. He is definitely right to point out that there is something definitely disturbing in what I have termed 'self-hating humans' who want to move into something 'post-human', an attitude that is deviantly as pessimist about our species as the miserabilism of the Left. Both are profoundly anti-humanist at core. One (the Left) seems to deny individual autonomy and choice. The other (the techno-optimists) seem to think that being human is some sort of disease from which we must emerge in a misreading of Nietzsche. They both show a fundamental immaturity about existence, a positively adolescent attitude to reality. They have come to feel our species is inadequate in some way when it is, in fact, perfectly adequate to its own needs. It is just taking time to grow up. There is no rushing these things. Perhaps they want perfection - either as socialists or techno-optimists - in a world that is never going to be perfect or perfectible and where the good life means improving what one can (which is a great deal incrementally) and accepting what one cannot improve. Both the market and the community State have roles to play in this incrementalist view of progress - each checks the other - so the triumph of one or the other is not to be sought. What we need is balance. This inability to hang on to incremental improvement in the human condition as a good thing in itself and to accept inconveniences like sickness and death as sometimes not resolvable leads to a psychology of futile activism, disastrous unintended consequences and constant despair or hysteria. Neither side really seems to understand how social forces operate in times of rapid technological change, nor the unknowability of things, nor how extrapolations of a condition rarely apply, nor how elites circulate and change yet are never quite the same after new means of production emerge. Both sides live in an idealistic dreamland, negative or positive, of imagined realities. Both sides deny, because they are the saddest of creatures (the intellectual in a time of change), the sheer unpredictable complexity of human responses to change and the power of individual choice. It is exciting to be human - the constant change, the aging and experience, the passions and creativities - yet being human is something only humans can do. Machines can only be machines. We may change because of machines but there is nothing intrinsically new about that. As intellectuals, Left pessimists and techno-optimists alike insist on seeing ordinary folk as mere subjects of history or innovation, creatures of huge mindless systems. They are not. They create those systems by sets of choice while elites themselves are often creatures of their own subjects. The last two chapters certainly tell us something about the insecurities of the urban professional who thinks himself entitled to a living in a safe and secure world. Verso books are written by the intellectual precariat for the intellectual precariat but the rest of us don't really need to care! Once you get past the miserabilist ideology, you have a very interesting series of chapters summarising developments in smartphone interconnectedness, the internet of things, digital fabrication, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This is where I am happy to have paid out my £18.99 even if I could have done with more of the same. Greenfield is undoubtedly highly intelligent. He has mastered some complex technologies and has broadly presented them with clarity - the blockchain chapter is certainly a noble attempt. Removing the ideological presuppositions, the case is well made that we are well into a technological revolution of awe-inspiring potential for change across a wide front and that the disruption will be considerable. We humans actually thrive on a degree of periodic disruption. The interconnectedness of things in the new world is well argued for although he probably over-estimates the degree to which people will concede ground on providing all the data that the system needs to be fool-proof. Again, he denies ordinary people awareness of their own condition. As usual in such books that are part polemical, there is far too much extrapolation and far too much assumption that the elites are in control of the situation themselves. Having said that, the chapters on machine learning and AI do present a reasonable case that no thinking process is 'safe'. He has no solutions for problems other than rhetoric based on gloom or perhaps a naive belief in collective action that is likely to disrupt the disruption, yes, but probably, like all such disruptions of disruption, merely compound the problems for the little people like us with yet more disruption. There is an argument here for greater engagement by the State in regulating conditions for innovation, ensuring that it meets core human values. My own view is that centralised libertarian socialism will become the dialectical combatant with market-driven anarcho-capitalism. Democratic libertarian 'national' socialism (conceptually problematic for the mobile urban intelligentsia) and anarcho-capitalism (conceptually problematic for everyone except anarcho-capitalists) will do a tango of eventual grace and beauty that will better our condition. It does, however, require that the Left abandons its Idealism, returning to values and sentiments as human drivers, and that anarcho-capitalists realise that they can no more buck the social system than a gambler can buck the house in Las Vegas. The energy devoted to rhetorical exhortation in this book, according to the values of the decadent conservative Left of the millenials, should have gone into exploring that dialectic - how nation states can be strengthened to manage the process of change. The trouble is that the answer is not very helpful for the graduate non-technical class that depends on state funds to engage in its well-meaning rhetoric. Resources are going to have to be shifted from this class to the population at large. This is where the Left is conservative in its own interest. The position of the urban intelligensia will be like that of priests after the Industrial Revolution - hangovers from the past who may need to be subsidised but only out of values sentiment and because of their lingering cultural power amongst still conservative establishments. Technological innovation is coming regardless of all this. Those countries that try to avoid it will be as pauperised as those that failed to industrialise in the nineteenth century. The question is how to 'nationalise' it since internationalism as a mode of resistance is a romantic pipe dream. One major whine of this liberal class (not in this book) is that populism has emerged and 'democracy has failed' - the whine of the loser! But populism, which is malign, is paradoxically progressive because it has shown just how complacent the hegemonic middle class had become. The rise of Trump and related developments should teach lessons rather than result in collective operations to return to the 'status quo ante bellum'. The main lesson has been that these new technologies should be embraced for the people. We need rulers who understand them. We certainly do not need university intellectuals running things. We certainly do not need engineers and scientists making decisions, let alone corporate executives and young geeks on the make. We need a new class of techno-proficient administrators and popular politicians. Above all, we do not need pessimism. We do not need to slow down this revolution. We simply need to be in command of it as populations. This means increased technical and political education, more courageous politicians, less lawyerdom and more powers for the democratic State. There is not one area described by Greenfield that could not bring benefits to humanity and yet each of them clearly has negative effects on human autonomy and freedom. It is here that the human arrives in the game - by reasserting human autonomy and freedom against the machines. In fact, it is not about the machines at all, it is about the humans who are behind the machines. The machines are just tools until one of them becomes sentient and then we are into a whole new ball game. Greenfield is absolutely right to look at the power relations between humans as critical. The democratic State needs to shift now away from theory and the manipulation of culture and towards the pragmatic business of containing and curtailing not the technologies but the control of technologies by special interests - which requires investment in community expertise. It needs collaboration across borders while retaining full control over what affects its own population - another positive reason for Brexit. It needs to have technology that will give people what they want and not what intellectuals beieve they should want. Sex robots if necessary. The most perfect collaboration would be between the democratic socialist community State and the anarcho-capitalist market at the expense of the hegemonics of a conservative middle class that has had a rhetoric of liberation that has liberated only their own kind. This book is not a bad primer for understanding what technologies are available in the middle of the second decade of the twenty-first century and what questions should be asked of it. What we do not need is the flaccid late Marxist Idealism of the late twentieth century getting in the way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Trevor

    I’ve been reading a lot about the future of work at the moment for a project at work – I can’t say it has made me feel all that great, to be honest. In fact, I can only hope the people making the predictions I’ve been reading are so far wrong as to make themselves look like fools in a decade or so when we can all have a bit of a laugh at their expense. There are also lots of people saying that there will be lots of new jobs created – perhaps even more than those that are about to be wiped out in I’ve been reading a lot about the future of work at the moment for a project at work – I can’t say it has made me feel all that great, to be honest. In fact, I can only hope the people making the predictions I’ve been reading are so far wrong as to make themselves look like fools in a decade or so when we can all have a bit of a laugh at their expense. There are also lots of people saying that there will be lots of new jobs created – perhaps even more than those that are about to be wiped out in the avalanche about to hit – but none of them make it all that clear just where these new jobs are likely to come from, nor what skills you might need to get them. This book covers a lot of the ground other books I’ve been reading also covers– but this really is the book to read. Not least because it explains things that most other texts take for granted. The best example here is the two chapters on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Not only does he explain these so that a guy in his mid-50s can understand them (who has next to no interest in money or accounting) but it goes on to explain why blockchain is much more interesting (and terrifying) than just some clever way to buy illicit drugs or sex. A lot of what I’ve been reading is written by the kind of people that Neil Postman used to talk about in his books on technology – the endlessly positive rose-coloured-glasses brigade. The only thing is that these people make me feel even more afraid of the future than the ones who ‘tell it like it is’. It is clear there is a lot of ‘disruption’ about to happen (disruption is the new term to sum up our new existence, it seems), it isn’t at all clear what is going to happen to ease that disruption. It is like the Trotskyists have taken over Capitalism and we are going to live in their perpetual revolution after all. It looks like the jobs that are most likely to go are going to be those from the middle of the economy (think paralegals, bookkeepers, service industry employees), which will mean those currently employed in the middle will be forced down – pushing those on the bottom right out of the economy. And given those on the bottom are the least able to adjust to this shock (they weren’t working on the bottom for the lifestyle options it provides) – and since they have the least education, the least resources, the least social and cultural capital to attempt to re-train and life-long-learn, the most likely outcome would seem to be that these people are about to become the left behind and the left out, or, what has fast become my favourite term from this book, the unneccessariat. The promise is often that the jobs that are about to disappear are the 4 Ds – dirty, dull, dangerous and demeaning. But as the author makes clear, these are precisely the jobs that people making their way up off the bottom have traditionally used as their first stepping stones. If these jobs no longer exist, and McDonalds is even in the process of getting rid of hamburger flippers and supermarkets are getting rid of check-out chicks, just what is it that people are going to do? As he says, “it seems safe to conclude that between algorithmic management and regulation, and the more than usually exploitative relations that we can see resulting from it, hard times are coming for those who have nothing to offer the economy but their muscle, their heart or their sex.” What I really liked about this book was that he started each chapter in more or less the way the rose-coloured glasses types might – giving the received view of how the world is going to improve with the promise of this next latest-and-greatest thing. But then he goes through some of the problems with the technology – and that is often enough to turn your hair to grey, or as Wodehouse would say, turn the food in your mouth to ashes. I’ve told this bit of the book to a few people already. In the olden days – oh, 10 years ago, maybe – companies that were likely to go onto the internet would have an IT department. That department would know how to do IT-like stuff, such as keep software and firmware up to date. It would know how to secure a network. It would know that buying stuff just because it is cheap isn’t always the best policy. Then suddenly, everyone was on the internet – and just as suddenly again, it wasn’t just people on the internet, but fridges and watches too. The Internet of Things became a ‘thing’ too , so much so that it even got its own three letter abbreviation – IoT – with a cute little O in the middle for the of. The only problem is that since people no longer have IT departments (that was so 90s…) when they attach their IoTs to the internet they might just keep the factory set password, or not bother with a password at all. And so, to celebrate, there is a Russian website that can give you the IP address of thousands of unsecured digital cameras that their owners probably think are just fine. As the author says, “they open onto scenes you’d imagine people would treat with far greater discretion: illegal marijuana grow ops, secure areas of bank branches, military base housing, and column after column of babies lying in their cribs, asleep or otherwise”. The Russians get a couple of goes in this book, and neither time leaves you with a warm and cosy feeling of eating borsch. The other is when he is discussing how technologies can be used for purposes that might not have been front of mind for their creators. He talks about an application called FindFace – that you can use to match someone you meet or just someone’s face you see in a crowd to those “shared to the Russian-language social network Vkontakte by its roughly 200 million users”. You know, you’re sitting on the bus and the girl in front of you is a bit cute, so you FindFace her and find out she is from Minsk and has a cat called Inga, and that she’s called Sasha, but likes to be known as Catherine… Great, aye? Except, as much fun as it is to do this, it is also a bit creepy, you know, even when used properly – but it is made 1000 times more creepy by the kinds of professional creeps who repurposed the application so they could then out sex workers. The world really is full of arseholes and nearly all of them think of themselves as morally superior, how is that? The parts of this on creditworthiness and the complications associated with this were also particularly interesting, because there was a time when we could regulate banks and other lenders to ensure that they didn’t discriminate against various groups unfairly – oh, you know, taking a completely fictional example off the top of my head, say on the basis of their skin colour. Now, people do not need to make such decisions at all – they can be left to the totally objective and ‘colour-blind’ algorithm that can then assess your creditworthiness and decide if you will get a loan or not and if so, at what rate, given your risk profile. So much more objective and fair. The only problem is that someone has to come up with the algorithm and some people, for the sake of argument and brevity, let’s call them white people, often have the most bizarre and presumably subconscious forms of racism that might just happen to get coded into the algorithm from the very start. And the problem is that it might literally be impossible to find out how or why certain groups of people – oh, let’s call them black people this time to keep it fair and give them their turn – are suffering under what sets itself out to be a completely objective means of gauging a person’s worth as a human being in our society. And speaking of which, he discusses China’s new social-credit scheme – where you get added points for being a good and moral person – you know, if you help a little old lady across the street and get captured on CCTV doing so, that’ll be ten points, or you are found to have praised Mao, 20 points, although if you post something against the party line while on-line – oh dear… This book ends with a kind of cui bono argument around the tetrapods that Japan placed around its coastline so as to stop sand erosion as a kind of metaphor. The problem was that they didn’t actually work – but Japan kept installing them anyway. The argument that is used here is that you should check who benefits from something, no matter what its original stated purpose might have been, and then you will know what its real purpose was and probably always had been. The problem with this is that it isn’t always literally true – as the FindFace example above makes clear, the programmers of that application probably had no intention of it being used to out sex workers. All the same, the ‘follow the cash’ game often proves a reasonable rule of thumb. The author provides a series of scenarios at the end of this about what might be about to happen and how we might be respond – I can’t say I finished this book with a spring in my step and a whistle on my lips. But this is an important read and I haven’t covered anything like half of what it covers. I’ll end on an amusing quote: “This (is) more or less a form of manifest Fully Automated Luxury Communism, a world of cornucopian excess for all. If this becomes possible anywhere, it will be hard to see how it can be prevented from happening everywhere. But while this scenario may stand in rebuke to the common complaint that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, it is troublingly founded on an ex machina retuning of human nature.” The meliorists will get you in the end.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    51st book for 2017. This book offers an interesting critique of a number of emerging technologies (smartphone interconnectedness; augmented reality; digital fabrication; cryptocurrencies; blockchain; automation; machine learning; artificial intelligence). The tone of the book is quite negative, which was quite tiring after a while, but the critiques are insightful (I found this especially so for the discussion of cryptocurrencies and blockchains). I guess overall I would have preferred both a ric 51st book for 2017. This book offers an interesting critique of a number of emerging technologies (smartphone interconnectedness; augmented reality; digital fabrication; cryptocurrencies; blockchain; automation; machine learning; artificial intelligence). The tone of the book is quite negative, which was quite tiring after a while, but the critiques are insightful (I found this especially so for the discussion of cryptocurrencies and blockchains). I guess overall I would have preferred both a richer analysis of the actual technologies being discussed, with a more balanced analysis of some of the outcomes that these technologies might lead to.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philippe

    This well-written book brings home an important message: capitalism is always seeking to exploit fresh resources. Now it’s our daily life that is being commodified. Our ‘digital exhaust fumes’ are sequestered, cleaned, packaged and sold for myriads of purposes we are unaware of. The risk is that this leads to an unwanted contraction of citizen’s ‘opportunity space’, as access to particular kinds of information, to employment and credit may increasingly be determined by a segmentation that is dri This well-written book brings home an important message: capitalism is always seeking to exploit fresh resources. Now it’s our daily life that is being commodified. Our ‘digital exhaust fumes’ are sequestered, cleaned, packaged and sold for myriads of purposes we are unaware of. The risk is that this leads to an unwanted contraction of citizen’s ‘opportunity space’, as access to particular kinds of information, to employment and credit may increasingly be determined by a segmentation that is driven by private, unaccountable interests. (The emerging ’social credit system’ in China is an example of a state-sanctioned development along similar lines.) Also, we can expect this 'algorithmic management of life chances' to increasingly mold the structure of our consciousness. The question then, of course, is whether other politics can be made with these digital technologies. Greenfield: "We need a better, more supply theory of technological change, more suited to a time in which our tools work as networks and distributed assemblages. That theory needs to help us understand how agency and power are distributed along the meshing nodes and links of our collective being, how to evaluate the effects on our lives of that which cannot be understood in isolation and cannot be determined in advance, and how to assemble discrete components in ensembles capable of prevailing over the recalcitrance of things and actually making change." I believe this Greenfield is making this kind of theory the subject of his next book. I look forward to it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kars

    “the purpose of a system is what it does.” When in the concluding chapter Greenfield invokes Stafford Beer with the above quote, all the preceding chapters click into place and it is marvellous. With great patience and care, Greenfield walks us through the smartphone, IoT, AR, 3D printing, cryptocurrency, the blockchain, automation, machine learning and finally, general artificial intelligence—showing how each works in great detail while steering clear of technical jargon. And more importantly, sh “the purpose of a system is what it does.” When in the concluding chapter Greenfield invokes Stafford Beer with the above quote, all the preceding chapters click into place and it is marvellous. With great patience and care, Greenfield walks us through the smartphone, IoT, AR, 3D printing, cryptocurrency, the blockchain, automation, machine learning and finally, general artificial intelligence—showing how each works in great detail while steering clear of technical jargon. And more importantly, showing how each has conditioned everyday life to become radically different from what it was before. At the very end, Greenfield insists that “people with left politics of any stripe absolutely cannot allow their eyes to glaze over when the topic of conversation turns to technology.” He is absolutely right—and this is probably the best single volume I have come across thus far that can serve as a field guide for radical technologists willing to take up his challenge.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Gasston

    Brilliant and frustrating. Really clear, concise explorations of current and near-future technologies and their potential consequences—both good and bad—let down by occasional bloody-minded negativity. I really liked parts of this book, and was intensely frustrated by other parts of it. The chapter on mobile/smartphones is almost worth the price of the book on its own, and he’s particularly strong when talking about cryptocurrency, the blockchain, and the internet of things. But other chapters cl Brilliant and frustrating. Really clear, concise explorations of current and near-future technologies and their potential consequences—both good and bad—let down by occasional bloody-minded negativity. I really liked parts of this book, and was intensely frustrated by other parts of it. The chapter on mobile/smartphones is almost worth the price of the book on its own, and he’s particularly strong when talking about cryptocurrency, the blockchain, and the internet of things. But other chapters clunk badly; in augmented reality he sees a nation of zombies addicted to the constant stimulus of a digital layer on the world, not considering that people might, you know, just not use AR glasses _all_ the time. And the chapter on artificial intelligence was the biggest let down of all; beautiful, poetic descriptions of the possibilities of enhanced human creativity, followed by ‘but none of it matters because super-intelligent computers will make us obsolete’. If you work in, or are interested by, the fields of emerging technologies, I highly recommend this book. But I wish I could recommend it unreservedly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Vuk Trifkovic

    Impeccably written, well thought-through, very impactful. It moves between the registers very well - the first 6 chapters are very practical, very detailed deconstructions of key technologies. As we move up the stack to automation and machine learning and AI, it gets less technical and more conceptual. Not many could have pulled such shift off. It is also very warm and optimistic book. The fact that the book is a rare example of writing from an unabashed leftist, humanist, but very realistic pers Impeccably written, well thought-through, very impactful. It moves between the registers very well - the first 6 chapters are very practical, very detailed deconstructions of key technologies. As we move up the stack to automation and machine learning and AI, it gets less technical and more conceptual. Not many could have pulled such shift off. It is also very warm and optimistic book. The fact that the book is a rare example of writing from an unabashed leftist, humanist, but very realistic perspective is both its great strength and indictment of the current state of the left. Finally, one sees the person behind the book in every clean, edited sentence, in every piece of fastidious research or in every statement of belief. I don't think this was an easy piece of work by Greenfield, but I am very grateful he found it in himself to bring it out. I hope there is more to come from Greenfield and look forward to following his practice in whichever medium it comes.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    An amalgam of fancy words and contradicting viewpoints that don't say much in the end. It can cause headache and I surely drifted away in the last hundred pages. For all the research that went into it, I guess it's a good reference book of contemporary technology. Or a good sum up of all the media articles written so far on these topics. An amalgam of fancy words and contradicting viewpoints that don't say much in the end. It can cause headache and I surely drifted away in the last hundred pages. For all the research that went into it, I guess it's a good reference book of contemporary technology. Or a good sum up of all the media articles written so far on these topics.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    the blockchain will kill us all

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    A terrific book that strikes a well-considered balance between the real political potential offered by new technologies on the one hand, and the many (institutional, ideological, technological) limitations they encounter when interacting both with each other and with the world around us on the other. Greenfield writes with passion, eloquence, and tremendous knowledgeability about these topics, in language that is accessible and engaging without sacrificing nuance or complexity. My only point of A terrific book that strikes a well-considered balance between the real political potential offered by new technologies on the one hand, and the many (institutional, ideological, technological) limitations they encounter when interacting both with each other and with the world around us on the other. Greenfield writes with passion, eloquence, and tremendous knowledgeability about these topics, in language that is accessible and engaging without sacrificing nuance or complexity. My only point of minor criticism is related to the book's structure, which is divided into chapters that tackle specific technologies one by one. This makes it harder for the book as a whole to build a real sense of momentum or develop a single strong argument, while also (unavoidably, I think) yielding a sense of repetitiveness on occasion. But these are minor quibbles about an important book that comes highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve Kemple

    A lucid and necessary critique of the sociopolitical ramifications of emergent technology. In particular, the chapters on blockchain, digital fabrication, and algorithmic production of knowledge are worth reading and rereading -- not only for their explanatory clarity but also for their extended insight into some bigger questions. As with most books of this nature, I'll be interested to revisit it in a few years to see how it holds up. A lucid and necessary critique of the sociopolitical ramifications of emergent technology. In particular, the chapters on blockchain, digital fabrication, and algorithmic production of knowledge are worth reading and rereading -- not only for their explanatory clarity but also for their extended insight into some bigger questions. As with most books of this nature, I'll be interested to revisit it in a few years to see how it holds up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aden Date

    Radical Technologies is an ideal jumping off point for the technologically illiterate, but culturally critical, to develop an understanding of the social and cultural impacts of Silicon Valley triumphalism and the suite of technologies they reify. Greenfield's writing is erudite yet accessible, full of narrative flourish yet balanced. Greenfield explicates and dissects a series of complex technologies, from Blockchain to Machine Learning, and then critically analyses how they function in society. Radical Technologies is an ideal jumping off point for the technologically illiterate, but culturally critical, to develop an understanding of the social and cultural impacts of Silicon Valley triumphalism and the suite of technologies they reify. Greenfield's writing is erudite yet accessible, full of narrative flourish yet balanced. Greenfield explicates and dissects a series of complex technologies, from Blockchain to Machine Learning, and then critically analyses how they function in society. That he pulled this off in a single tome is a remarkable achievement. Accusations that the book is too political or neo-Marxist and should "focus on the technology," miss the point. The thrust of the book is that technological development occurs in a delimited cultural space shaped by power and ideology. The present moment is defined by hegemonic capitalism, and in the case of tech, a cluster of vertically-integrated mega-companies all within a ten or twenty kilometre radius of each other. The book focuses on the technology only in as far as to demonstrate how the technology itself possesses no great manifest destiny. Therefore the triumphant redemptive claims from accelerationists, left and right, are pure ideology. You cannot "just focus on the technology." As Greenfield reiterates throughout the book, the purpose of a technological innovation is emergent and can only be known after the fact (and potentially after a series of mergers, acquisitions, API transfers, and foreign hacks). Greenfield offers a historical example of Dutch ID cards being repurposed by Nazi occupants to maximise the efficiency of ethnic cleansing. A more contemporary example is Chatroulette, an app that promised to "bring people together," instead primarily connecting lonely sexual exhibitionists with children. The deconstruction of each piece of technology is really just a deconstruction of the puff behind it. Technology will not save us. What goes on in Silicon Valley does not excuse us from our responsibility as citizens. It just raises the stakes. I have to disagree with Pendry below on both the account that the book is pessimistic and that it is indulging the fears of the urban left. The book is critical, not pessimistic. That is a key distinction. It is about being able to approach technology and its proponents with a weary eye. The lessons are ultimately redemptive and Greenfield acknowledges that within technology there exists potential for a more just, bountiful world. Stranger still is the idea that the book is somehow emerging from the Freudian underbelly of the self-concerned urban left. I don't deny the existence of such a sub-class, but it seems out of step with Greenfield's book as well as Greenfield himself-- a design professional who works at the nexus of theory and praxis. Indeed, I'm sure if he dropped the Marxist trappings he could be even more comfortable as yet another Smart Cities cheerleader bullying elected city officials in to billion-dollar contracts. Greenfield's putative subject or vector of concern is society at large, anyone who operates a phone or passes a CCTV camera. This effects all of us, not just the effete left. Greenfield touches on discriminated sex workers, the emerging subjects of Chinese authoritarianism, and even the ennui-filled workers of the "bullshit jobs" class. We all have good reason to be critically engaged with technology, and we all have good reason to pick up this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    Our everyday lives are more and more steered and regulated by technologies that are ultimately driven by a desire for profit, control and power. Greenfield's book stresses the need for a better understanding and more critical thought on these technologies surrounding us. He chooses today's most pervasive and innovative fields (smartphone, internet of things, augmented reality, digital fabrication, cryptocurrency, blockchain, automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence) and dedicates a Our everyday lives are more and more steered and regulated by technologies that are ultimately driven by a desire for profit, control and power. Greenfield's book stresses the need for a better understanding and more critical thought on these technologies surrounding us. He chooses today's most pervasive and innovative fields (smartphone, internet of things, augmented reality, digital fabrication, cryptocurrency, blockchain, automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence) and dedicates a chapter to each, analysing their impact on society. He extrapolates their trajectories into the future and picks apart how even the most idealistic designs would end up in thrall to political power-dynamics. His outlooks are mostly (but not exclusively) pessimistic, which makes sense considering the whole book is meant to be a big warning sign. Basically - no technology will provide us a magic solution for creating a fair, nondiscriminatory, clean, conflict-free future, and we should all learn to be more critical when new tech innovations appear promising us these utopian futures. Definitely an important and smart book. 4.5

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Great examples in each category to bring the techs into view, but I was hoping for greater range such as the open-source developments in blockchain in order to give a more robust analysis of how these techs touch us from their potential future existences.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    Useful to understand new trends (blockchain, crypto currency, automation, machine learning, internet of things, artificial intelligence) and how to deal with them in a critical way

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Smith

    If you remember the book _The World Is Flat_, this is 2.0 with a little less optimism. This is a primer to the potentials of the near future and it's just speculative and optimistic enough that it might inspire some venture capitalists to think about the future of their investments. That said, this book is an optimistic primer to potential (urban) life 5 years from now. Lots of this book already lacks rigor in that it does not entirely grasp what these technologies are beyond what someone might If you remember the book _The World Is Flat_, this is 2.0 with a little less optimism. This is a primer to the potentials of the near future and it's just speculative and optimistic enough that it might inspire some venture capitalists to think about the future of their investments. That said, this book is an optimistic primer to potential (urban) life 5 years from now. Lots of this book already lacks rigor in that it does not entirely grasp what these technologies are beyond what someone might have read in newspapers or Wired magazine. This is not an academically sound work and its criticality of these technologies and the influence of social action on them lacks severely.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    A perfect intelligble antidote to the common thriumphalism surrounding most technology. Yes, it tends to be very pessimistic, but this way it did offer another perspective, which is kind of the point.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Regret Husk

    very very good read for leftists wanting to understand the technical landscape of now and the future(s)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Rose

    Technologies that are fundamentally restructuring every day life are at hand but rarely interrogated critically. Understanding them in depth is essential if one hopes to navigate their futures. I found this book very approachable despite Greenfield's unenviable task of making plain the esoteric and intentionally obtuse world of technology. In particular, Greenfield covers smartphones; the internet of things (self, home, city); cryptocurrency; block chains; machine learning; automation; and AI. Ea Technologies that are fundamentally restructuring every day life are at hand but rarely interrogated critically. Understanding them in depth is essential if one hopes to navigate their futures. I found this book very approachable despite Greenfield's unenviable task of making plain the esoteric and intentionally obtuse world of technology. In particular, Greenfield covers smartphones; the internet of things (self, home, city); cryptocurrency; block chains; machine learning; automation; and AI. Each of these receives its own chapter, complete with a reasonably thorough analysis of the technology's material function and the more important, though only a bit as Greenfield is careful to wag the finger about the tendency to gloss over the details, social function. The book precedes from the premise that the world is being changed by these technologies. This claim is heavily qualified by the reminder that this change is not occurring either as promised or in understood ways. Lately, I have felt the 'work' that my smartphone does on me in a way that I have rarely felt the work of other sociological forces. I find myself trying to get rid of it, then reimagining my relationship to it, diving back into it, and regretting it. This cycle extends to the internet generally, but the phone is absolutely the fulcrum. In a real and visceral way, I feel how it structures my behavior and I vehemently dislike it. I know that I dislike it, yet I am unable or unwilling to divorce myself from it. It is perhaps for this reason that the book resonated so strongly with me, particularly early on. Greenfield's analysis is insightful and clear with relatively little of the drudgery often associated with the academic left. In working through it, I did not feel the overwhelming despair that I feel when I read some similar books. That is emphatically not to say that this book is in any sense positive. Greenfield vigorously criticizes the naive optimism of the transformative left, particular in the vein of Srnicek and Williams' fully automated luxury communism. His writing, while admirably clear, is nowhere near as whimsical and thoughtful as, say, Peter Frase. At no time did I feel any pull towards 'possibilities' and I suspect Greenfield would be pleased with this result. He explicitly dislikes the left-language of 'potential' and 'promise' and 'possibility' as it fails to account for reality and instead hinges on maybes. In fact, it seems that one could make the case that the central argument of this book can be represented by a point he makes frequently in various contexts: the purpose of a technology is what it does. This is to be differentiated with urgency from what it was intended to do or what it might do. At the level of each of these technologies, we can see how the intentions of theorists designers developers et al have little or no bearing on what the technologies do once deployed. Interestingly, this isn't strictly a matter of neoliberal power structures re-articulating progressive technological dreams. While that is the case in terms of automation, it is the precise opposite in the case of block chains. Where the latter saw the dissolution of the state and a sort of technolibertarian turn, what we've really seen is state power consolidated with the help of corporate cooperation. In other words, both the right and the left have ideas that are absorbed and deployed to the ends of neoliberalism. The book can run a bit long at times, but I think it's better to err on the side of inclusivity. I can only imagine how many techno priests have howled at Greenfield in the aether over his misrepresentation of some nuance or other in their technological pet project. Detail can compensate for some of that. The only reason I don't add a 5th star is because it felt as if something was ultimately missing from the project. He is careful to tell the reader that it isn't hopeless or hopeful, and maybe that's what's missing. The conclusion was essentially an admonishment to pay attention to technology, but that doesn't feel like a conclusion worthy of a work of this kind. In sum, I highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about being educated about the world around us. For academics, it provides fertile ground for research ideas and for those outside the academy I think it would provide a worthwhile chance to reflect, whether one is a neo-Luddite, a fully automated luxury communist, a libertarian, or something altogether other.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    Greenfield achieves his goal of demystifying modern technologies that underpin and mediate our social existence but in doing so does the dirty work of reinforcing what Mark Fisher calls "capitalist realism" - the inability to imagine a future outside of capitalism. "Radical Technologies" is great at cutting through the saviour-esque platitudes surrounding modern technologies such as machine learning, cryptocurrency, automation, or 3D printing by bringing them down to earth and showing the inhere Greenfield achieves his goal of demystifying modern technologies that underpin and mediate our social existence but in doing so does the dirty work of reinforcing what Mark Fisher calls "capitalist realism" - the inability to imagine a future outside of capitalism. "Radical Technologies" is great at cutting through the saviour-esque platitudes surrounding modern technologies such as machine learning, cryptocurrency, automation, or 3D printing by bringing them down to earth and showing the inherent limitations on them, how they are currently used, and the ideologies surrounding their construction and implementation. I would recommend the book alone for this fact and I can think of several Silicon Valley technocrats I know who would benefit greatly from reading this. However, in his "what is to be done" section Greenfield is entirely pessimistic for any possibility of the left reterritorializing these technologies and using them to build a utopian or revolutionary politics, or as Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams call in their aptly titled book: "Inventing the Future". This techno-pessimism leads to unfair criticisms of Srnicek and Williams as some sort of technodeterminists overly reliant on the concept of automation abstracted from it's current sociopolitical. This unfair criticism comes arises from three faults: 1) a misreading of Srnicek and William's who clearly define a concrete political program - something Greenfield did not do - to accompany the reality of automation; 2) a poor analysis of how automation shifts social relations and abolishes wage labor by virtue of its existence; and lastly 3) an inability to imagine a future outside of neoliberalism. Srnicek and William's explicitly emphasize the importance of a futuristic imagination and give examples of afrofuturism and Soviet sci-fi ambitions however Greenfield’s milquetoast call-to-action will engender more bleak neoliberalism. Maybe I am being a bit too harsh. Overall this book has some great moments where it really shines through, especially in the sections where Greenfield shows how technologies "Design Everyday Life" like in the sections on the smart city or the implicit ideologies in algorithms. In my opinion it was wanting in three aspects, could have shown more how these technologies affect the social and psychological spheres, given a larger emphasis on the productive sphere of these technologies eg Shenzen, China and other SEZs, and could have provided better arguments or examples of a future politics based on or even just influenced by these "radical technologies" instead of tossing the baby out with the bath water. As a last note, there were enough typos and oddly worded sentences that it looked like it was rushed to print without its last run through by an editor. Ultimately, an informative book that suffered from just not being what I was looking for. Ending on a good note, anyone who reads this though will walk away with a better understanding of the constitution and function of a multitude of new and pervasive technologies.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    There's a joke I may have imagined that Verso will put out any book with "Radical" in the title, but the radicalism hinted at in the title refers not to the radicalism as a self-judtofuing quality of leftist thought independent of the material world, as Verso authors are won't to ascribe to, not does it refer to the kind of starry-eyed gamechanger quality of technology that countless tech blogs and writers take as their tenor. Rather it focuses more on the qualities of technologies and the implic There's a joke I may have imagined that Verso will put out any book with "Radical" in the title, but the radicalism hinted at in the title refers not to the radicalism as a self-judtofuing quality of leftist thought independent of the material world, as Verso authors are won't to ascribe to, not does it refer to the kind of starry-eyed gamechanger quality of technology that countless tech blogs and writers take as their tenor. Rather it focuses more on the qualities of technologies and the implicit or explicit desire of their inventors or cheerleaders that play into the consolidation or even acceleration of existing power structures and global capital. The word radical may be a shibboleth of certain sections of the left but in its true meaning it is independent of ideology, and from a more objective view it is certainly the right who are innovating and organising their way to (further) power, in a way that transgresses traditional formations of community, communication, exchange, and formation and ownership of knowledge: ways that are certainly radical. Taken beyond the marketing sheen, Greenfield brings us back to the stark realities of the technologies which continue to encroach into our lives. In each section, a pattern emerges: technologies sold to us or demand acceptance in the public sphere based on claims of personal and social benefits, claims which outstrip the actual capabilities of the technology, or claims which are undermined by the ways the owners of these technologies extract, own and deploy data about individuals in "possession" or proximity to such technologies. Benefits are small if existent, and adopting and being seen to adopt new technologies becomes an ingrained behaviour. Short circuiting reward pathways, dopamine delivery on completion of tasks that afford little inherent worth. But it's not an oh-dearist dystopian surrender, rather a shift in prevailing perspectives, rather these trends in technology are planned, strategised and maintained with an expenditure of vast amounts of time, money and mental effort. Any attempt to resist such trends will require the same investment, but essentially in ways different from current prevailing modes of left resistance, i.e. Scolding of academics naturally suspicious of and unversed in science and technology couched in language intentionally designed to obfuscate, and the remaining power of Labor as a fatalistic project to slow down the loss of past gains to an inevit future of loss.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Desmond

    For a slim shard of the world’s favored, a bleak prosperity prevails. Life goes on for them pretty much the way it does now: peppered by increasingly catastrophic weather events, unpredictable outbreaks of savage violence, and a nagging, inchoate sense of loss, but otherwise very much business as usual. Unprecedentedly healthy, sparklingly bright, and diverse along every conceivable axis, the elite . . . grind away ironically at jobs they know full well to be bullshit, in a gigantic, complicated For a slim shard of the world’s favored, a bleak prosperity prevails. Life goes on for them pretty much the way it does now: peppered by increasingly catastrophic weather events, unpredictable outbreaks of savage violence, and a nagging, inchoate sense of loss, but otherwise very much business as usual. Unprecedentedly healthy, sparklingly bright, and diverse along every conceivable axis, the elite . . . grind away ironically at jobs they know full well to be bullshit, in a gigantic, complicated ouroboros of pointlessness dedicated primarily to the manipulation of symbols. Their days are largely given over to the pleasures of friendship, conviviality and hard work; they arrange their brunches, vacations, hookups, gigs and pregnancies via app, and get around all but effortlessly, still delighted that the new autonomous Ubers relieve them even of the hassle of interacting with a driver. Almost everything is optimized for their comfort and convenience, based on data collection so detailed and comprehensive that most of the choices everyday life might otherwise present them with are anticipated and preempted. Virtually nobody complains—the credit plans, menu choices and travel upgrade options that are preselected for them always strike a perfect balance between affordability and the satisfaction of a desire they did not know they possessed until it was fulfilled. Radical Technologies presents informed, relatively jargon-free critical thinking that can help us approach, understand, and work towards preventing the above quoted near-future possibility (among a few other scenarios). Most of the book is a primer and analysis of a few specific technologies while only two short chapters at the end outline possible strategies of resistance. As with most Verso books I've read, this comes in the form of a generalized optimism towards a collective action counterbalanced against a slightly masochistic sense of futility under capitalism. A deeper exposition on both practical and philosophical leftist theories of organization and future-building may be found elsewhere, but at least this book will help filter out any techno-optimistic claims that open source 3D printing can take us to a post-scarcity, post-capitalism utopia.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shuaib Choudhry

    Incredible book tackling topics such as consciousness, psychology, philosophy and science. Overall look at technology and it's economic, personal and societal impact. There is a great chapter on the smartphone and how it pervades every aspect of our lives. Another wonderful chapter on the internet of things and the future of a seamless and always connected world and how it could be beneficial but also the potential for abuse. The next chapter on augmented reality and the associated hype with the Incredible book tackling topics such as consciousness, psychology, philosophy and science. Overall look at technology and it's economic, personal and societal impact. There is a great chapter on the smartphone and how it pervades every aspect of our lives. Another wonderful chapter on the internet of things and the future of a seamless and always connected world and how it could be beneficial but also the potential for abuse. The next chapter on augmented reality and the associated hype with the author showcasing the true applicability of this technology and usefulness. Leads onto digital fabrication and how it could potentially allow for a world of luxury communism; destroying the foundations that capitalism runs on. The next few great chapters on bitcoin and blockchain, the hype, the genius, the pitfalls as well as a great demystification of the terms surrounding these topics. Block chain and distributed consensus on networks leading to distributed corporations as well as automated commons would be the ultimate dream of all techno evangelists working in this area. The author is honest about the likelihood of this happening and how the powers that be could also just as easily utilise it to their benefit. This area of distributed consensus is probably a ripe area for networks research and blockchain could also lead to automating the recovery chain for the circular economy. The book also describes machine learning and general artificial intelligence in great detail for the layman, nails the benefits and pitfalls spot on as well as the economic impact on society. Overall a superb book and a great quote by Phillip K Dick summarises the underlying theme, 'reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing in it'. Profound and consequential concerning the true reality instead of the hopes and dreams people have for technologies they unleash, life in general and perhaps related to the underlying existence of God and belief in him.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Andrew

    Razor-sharp analysis on the social, political, and economic impacts on technology that has recently begun to shape our lives in ways we (mostly) have yet to understand. When treated as such, the book excels marvelously. Greenfield is a master explainer, who is able to weave metaphor and simile to make arcane technology digestible to even the most tech-averse layman. He also understands the complex social, biological, political, and economic intersections that inform the production of new technolo Razor-sharp analysis on the social, political, and economic impacts on technology that has recently begun to shape our lives in ways we (mostly) have yet to understand. When treated as such, the book excels marvelously. Greenfield is a master explainer, who is able to weave metaphor and simile to make arcane technology digestible to even the most tech-averse layman. He also understands the complex social, biological, political, and economic intersections that inform the production of new technologies and their widespread adoption. In the end, his argument is—however—far too critical to draw any prescriptive plan of attack for anyone on the left. And without that shared narrative, it leaves us a bit defenseless to harness his criticisms. Hence the one-star deduction. Brilliant otherwise.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bill Williams

    Radical Technologies is an in depth view of the every day devices that shape our lives. There are chapters on the power of cell phones, the broken promise of augmented reality, 3D printing, autonomous cars, blockchain technology, bitcoin and complex algorithms to name a few. The underlying theme of the book concerns the false promise of the technology sold to us on a daily basis. Autonomous vehicles can crash and self-driving trucks will put the current truck-drivers out of work. Every time our f Radical Technologies is an in depth view of the every day devices that shape our lives. There are chapters on the power of cell phones, the broken promise of augmented reality, 3D printing, autonomous cars, blockchain technology, bitcoin and complex algorithms to name a few. The underlying theme of the book concerns the false promise of the technology sold to us on a daily basis. Autonomous vehicles can crash and self-driving trucks will put the current truck-drivers out of work. Every time our future tech hands us something with one hand, it seems to take something away with the other. Heavily researched and well written, Radical Technologies is a dense read and a nice place to bump into terms like 'techno-utopians'. Highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    When something can be said in two sentences, the writer takes about forty. I get that he's going for a sweeping overview and hypotheses designed to capture our imagination on what the future holds but this went overboard. Whatever the pressures he faced to beef up the book, the contrived way that a lot of vocabulary was incorporated was unjustifiable. I enjoyed the chapters on cryptocurrency/bitcoin but probably would have enjoyed many of the other ones if he had reigned in the grandiloquence. Pe When something can be said in two sentences, the writer takes about forty. I get that he's going for a sweeping overview and hypotheses designed to capture our imagination on what the future holds but this went overboard. Whatever the pressures he faced to beef up the book, the contrived way that a lot of vocabulary was incorporated was unjustifiable. I enjoyed the chapters on cryptocurrency/bitcoin but probably would have enjoyed many of the other ones if he had reigned in the grandiloquence. Perhaps since this book was geared towards less tech inclined people, more science-based and factual explanations of the technology itself would have been useful. Overall interesting arguments and concept/structure behind the book!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Keith Dodds

    Must reading for anyone concerned with where modern technology is going. Particularly the subject areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Government is so far behind and the technology is developing so fast, it is highly doubtful governments can catch up. And even if they had the nous to do so, do they have a real incentive to rein in intrusive technologies and surveillance capitalism? Or do the demands of the national security state suggest that government mass surveillance Must reading for anyone concerned with where modern technology is going. Particularly the subject areas such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. Government is so far behind and the technology is developing so fast, it is highly doubtful governments can catch up. And even if they had the nous to do so, do they have a real incentive to rein in intrusive technologies and surveillance capitalism? Or do the demands of the national security state suggest that government mass surveillance may be one of the biggest and scariest drivers of AI in the next period? Who will regulate the regulators?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vyvyan

    I follow a lot of these technologies professionally, so there was very little that was brand new to me in the book. However, its real benefit is drawing together how they work, and the effects of their organisation and deployment, in clear prose that is understandable to non-geeks. The chapter on bitcoin and blockchain was the first time I felt like I approached understanding these topics. Greenfield has a lucid and reassuringly (to me) skeptical approach to technologies; he's always asking the I follow a lot of these technologies professionally, so there was very little that was brand new to me in the book. However, its real benefit is drawing together how they work, and the effects of their organisation and deployment, in clear prose that is understandable to non-geeks. The chapter on bitcoin and blockchain was the first time I felt like I approached understanding these topics. Greenfield has a lucid and reassuringly (to me) skeptical approach to technologies; he's always asking the (very pertinent) question, "who benefits".

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thom Kaife

    Seemingly prescient, informative and thoughtful critique of the technologies subverting their dominance and perversion of our every day lives. it's not all doom and gloom though, offering what seems a fair discussion on both the utopian and distopian potential for these technologies. Bitcoin and the blockchain were explained really well this book, two particular technologies that have been completely impenetrable until now for my understanding. Seemingly prescient, informative and thoughtful critique of the technologies subverting their dominance and perversion of our every day lives. it's not all doom and gloom though, offering what seems a fair discussion on both the utopian and distopian potential for these technologies. Bitcoin and the blockchain were explained really well this book, two particular technologies that have been completely impenetrable until now for my understanding.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Victor Bevz

    For a simplified guide to entrenched and emerging technologies, this book is too prone to gratuitous Latin. But Greenfield provides some good footholds for questioning the services, methods and ethics of big tech corporates like Amazon and Google. I got a lot out of this book with some additional research, but I'd take some of the arguments with a grain of salt. Many of the noted sources are articles from news websites of average reliability. For a simplified guide to entrenched and emerging technologies, this book is too prone to gratuitous Latin. But Greenfield provides some good footholds for questioning the services, methods and ethics of big tech corporates like Amazon and Google. I got a lot out of this book with some additional research, but I'd take some of the arguments with a grain of salt. Many of the noted sources are articles from news websites of average reliability.

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