An Excellent Book: “How to Fix the Future”

Author and entrepreneur Andrew Keen has just launched his latest book, titled “How to Fix the Future.”

The book argues that we’re faced with a historic threat to individual and social wellbeing in the form of big tech monopolies building addictive tech. To avoid the worst possible outcomes will require a combination of regulation, innovation, social activism, consumer choice, and education. Keen travels the world to meet people leading each of those types of work.

Here’s what I wrote about it on Amazon. “An optimistic map of a distributed future with humanity at the center? Yes please and thank you! An informative, inspiring book. Keen’s range of interviews here are remarkable. His historical references are delightful. This is a really important book. It’s also fun to read.”

It’s really a good book and if you’d like to see what people are doing all around the world to make a better future, where technology serves us instead of us serving our technology, I highly recommend it. The way it’s put in historical context is very compelling, too.

I was honored to get to interview Keen at Powell’s Books the day after launch. (A Little Bird monitoring system I’d set up to watch the top 1000 futurists online for any mention of Portland alerted me to his plans to come through town about 6 months prior.) A great crowd attended, with smart questions.

Particularly important was Amelia Abreu‘s question about the impact of black, queer, disabled, and women futurists’ work on our understanding of the present and what to do about it. To his credit, Keen had done some important interviews with really impressive women tech leaders, from investment to regulation, but there’s never enough discussion of the deep critiques and radically different cultural futures so often articulated by people at the margins of political power. And Keen is a political moderate, a reformer, he himself acknowledges, concerned about the potential for authoritarianism from both radical ends of the political spectrum. The perspectives he misses out on from anti-racist, 3rd wave feminism, the disability rights and related movements are his, and our, loss. (One view into these other perspectives is this list of 120+ influential women futurists.)

That said, what he has covered in the book is pretty incredible and very important. From Estonia the Singapore, from Stephen Wolfram to John Borthwick, the EU’s brave Margrethe Vestager to the lawyer suing new economy companies over workers’ rights, Shannon Liss-Riordan – it’s a really great book.

If you’d like to follow along with the incredible group of people he interviewed for the book, I put together a Twitter List of 40 of them I was able to find on Twitter. You can click to follow it, bookmark it, and keep an eye on this dynamic group of global innovators resisting monopoly power.

A distributed, networked-based, platform of a future, with humanity at the center. Let’s build that.

From Keen’s blog, 45 seconds from one of the most influential people in the world of Data Science, Hilary Mason: