Code Name Ginger: The Story Behind Segway and Dean Kamen's Quest to Invent a New World


Steve Kemper - 2003
    For anyone who has ever wondered what it was like inside Thomas Edison's lab or the Wright Brothers' garage, here is the twenty-first century equivalent. This is the story behind the creation of "Ginger, " code name for the top-secret project that renowned inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen believes will change the world: the Segway Human Transporter. One of the most talked-about products of recent times, the Segway is a self-balancing, electronic "people mover"--an engineering marvel that Kamen calls "magic sneakers." Kamen gave journalist Steve Kemper exclusive access to the project for the critical eighteen months during which the Segway was designed, prototyped, and readied for manufacture. In Code Name Ginger, Kemper offers a gripping chronicle of raw innovation, high finance, ingenious engineering, and lofty ambition. He tells the inside story of the collaboration and clashes between a strong-willed founder and his engineers and marketers--and the investors who gambled $90 million on his pioneering idea. Readers step into Kamen's eccentric and idealistic world of invention and sit in on secret meetings with high-powered deal makers such as John Doerr and business leaders such as Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. It's a bumpy journey, but an exhilarating one, filled with flashes of brilliance, multimillion-dollar misjudgments, and passionate people on a quest.

The Social Organism: How Social Media Is Growing, Evolving, and Changing Who We Are


Oliver Luckett - 2016
     The co-founder of three multi-million dollar start-ups, Oliver Luckett is frequently asked to speak on social media's impact. But how, he used to wonder, could he best describe the interactions of millions of users, a complicated system of human connections? One day, while hiking through Joshua Tree National Park, Luckett had a flashback to his days as a microbiology lab rat--and an epiphany: Social media is an organism, a living, breathing, evolving creature. Luckett and Casey deliver a revolutionary theory of social networks, showing--to an astonishing degree--how they mimic biological life. By examining cells, viruses, and other microbiological functions, we can master social media in both business and in life.

Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0


Sarah Lacy - 2008
    Beginning with Netscape’s IPO in 1996, billions flowed into Internet startups, and companies with no revenues and shaky business plans earned sky-high valuations on Wall Street. It was the era of paper millionaires, $800 office chairs, and Super Bowl ads for dotcoms. Then in 2000 the Bubble burst, with the NASDAQ losing 75 percent of its value and hundreds of companies closing up shop. It was all written off to “irrational exuberance,” and everyone moved on. Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good is the story of the entrepreneurs who learned their lesson from the bust and in recent years have created groundbreaking new Web companies. The second iteration of the dotcoms—dubbed Web 2.0—is all about bringing people together. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace unite friends online; YouTube lets anyone posts videos for the world to see; Digg.com allows Internet users to vote on the most relevant news of the day; Six Apart sells software that enables bloggers to post their viewpoints online; and Slide helps people customize their virtual selves. Business reporter Sarah Lacy brings to light the entire Web 2.0 scene: the wide-eyed but wary entrepreneurs, the hated venture capitalists, the bloggers fueling the hype, the programmers coding through the night, the twenty-something millionaires, and the Internet “fan boys” eager for all the promises to come true.

The End of Money: The story of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain revolution (New Scientist Instant Expert)


New Scientist - 2017
    On this journey you'll discover how this staggering new technology has the potential to enable an ultra-libertarian society beyond government control.Murder for hire. Drug trafficking. Embezzlement. Money laundering. These might sound like plot lines of a thriller, but they are true stories from the short history of cryptocurrencies - digital currencies conceived by computer hackers and cryptographers that represent a completely new sort of financial transaction that could soon become mainstream. The most famous - or infamous - cryptocurrency is bitcoin. But look beyond its tarnished reputation and something much shinier emerges. The technology that underlies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies - the blockchain - is hailed as the greatest advancement since the invention of the internet. It is now moving away from being the backbone for a digital currency and making inroads into other core concepts of society: identity, ownership and even the rule of law. The End of Money is your essential introduction to this transformative new technology that has governments, entrepreneurs and forward-thinking people from all walks of life sitting up and taking notice. ABOUT THE SERIESNew Scientist Instant Expert books are definitive and accessible entry points to the most important subjects in science; subjects that challenge, attract debate, invite controversy and engage the most enquiring minds. Designed for curious readers who want to know how things work and why, the Instant Expert series explores the topics that really matter and their impact on individuals, society, and the planet, translating the scientific complexities around us into language that's open to everyone, and putting new ideas and discoveries into perspective and context.

The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World


Steve Levine - 2015
    It will power the electric car, relieve global warming, and catapult the winner into a new era of economic and political mastery. Can the United States win?Steve LeVine was granted unprecedented access to a secret federal laboratory outside Chicago, where a group of geniuses is trying to solve this next monumental task of physics. But these scientists— almost all foreign born—are not alone. With so much at stake, researchers in Japan, South Korea, and China are in the same pursuit. The drama intensifies when a Silicon Valley start-up licenses the federal laboratory’s signature invention with the aim of a blockbuster sale to the world’s biggest carmakers.The Powerhouse is a real-time, two-year thrilling account of big invention, big commercialization, and big deception. It exposes the layers of competition and ambition, aspiration and disappointment behind this great turning point in the history of technology.

Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution


Charles Morris - 2014
    The most trusted sources in the auto industry have called its Model S the most advanced, safest and best-performing car ever built - and it doesn’t use a drop of gasoline. Tesla has changed the way the public perceives electric vehicles, and inspired the major automakers to revive their own dormant efforts to sell EVs. However, even amidst the avalanche of media coverage that followed the triumph of the Model S, few have grasped the true significance of what is happening. Tesla has redefined the automobile, sparked a new wave of innovation comparable to the internet and mobile computing revolutions, and unleashed forces that will transform not just the auto industry, but every aspect of society. The Tesla story is one part of an ongoing tide of change driven by the use of information technology to eliminate “friction” such as geographic distance, middlemen and outdated regulations. Tesla is simply applying the new order to the auto industry, but the automobile is such a pervasive influence in our lives that redefining how it is designed, built, driven and sold will have sweeping effects in unexpected areas. Just as Tesla built the Model S as an electric vehicle “from the ground up,” it has taken an outsider’s approach to the way it markets its cars. Its direct sales model has drawn legal challenges from entrenched auto dealers, who fear that their outdated business model will be destroyed. Its systems approach to the software and electronics in its cars has highlighted how far behind the technological times the major automakers are. It’s easy to see why readers find Tesla irresistible. CEO Elon Musk is a superstar entrepreneur, a “nauseatingly pro-US” immigrant and the leader of two other cutting-edge companies. Tesla dares to challenge the establishment behemoths and, so far at least, has handily beaten them at their own game. In this history of the 21st century’s most exciting startup, Charles Morris begins with a brief history of EVs and a biography of Tesla’s driving force, Elon Musk. He then details the history of the company, told in the words of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who made it happen. There are many fascinating stories here: Martin Eberhard’s realization that there were many like himself, who loved fast cars but wanted to help the environment and bring about the post-oil age; the freewheeling first days, reminiscent of the early internet era; the incredible ingenuity of the team who built the Roadster; Tesla’s near-death experience and miraculous resurrection; the spiteful split between the company’s larger-than-life leaders; the gloves-off battles with hostile media such as Top Gear and the New York Times; and the media’s ironic about-face when the magnificent Model S won the industry’s highest honors, and naysayers became cheerleaders overnight. And the story is just beginning: Tesla has breathtakingly ambitious plans for the future.This book was updated May 1, 2015 to include the latest on the Gigafactory and the D package.

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine's Computer Age


Robert M. Wachter - 2015
    For the past few decades, technology has been touted as the cure for all of healthcare's ills.But medicine stubbornly resisted computerization - until now. Over the past five years, thanks largely to billions of dollars in federal incentives, healthcare has finally gone digital.Yet once clinicians started using computers to actually deliver care, it dawned on them that something was deeply wrong. Why were doctors no longer making eye contact with their patients? How could one of America's leading hospitals give a teenager a 39-fold overdose of a common antibiotic, despite a state-of-the-art computerized prescribing system? How could a recruiting ad for physicians tout the absence of an electronic medical record as a major selling point?Logically enough, we've pinned the problems on clunky software, flawed implementations, absurd regulations, and bad karma. It was all of those things, but it was also something far more complicated. And far more interesting . . .Written with a rare combination of compelling stories and hard-hitting analysis by one of the nation's most thoughtful physicians, The Digital Doctor examines healthcare at the dawn of its computer age. It tackles the hard questions, from how technology is changing care at the bedside to whether government intervention has been useful or destructive. And it does so with clarity, insight, humor, and compassion. Ultimately, it is a hopeful story."We need to recognize that computers in healthcare don't simply replace my doctor's scrawl with Helvetica 12," writes the author Dr. Robert Wachter. "Instead, they transform the work, the people who do it, and their relationships with each other and with patients. . . . Sure, we should have thought of this sooner. But it's not too late to get it right."This riveting book offers the prescription for getting it right, making it essential reading for everyone - patient and provider alike - who cares about our healthcare system.

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition


Jonathan Tepper - 2018
    Digital monopolies like Google, Facebook and Amazon act as gatekeepers to the digital world. Amazon is capturing almost all online shopping dollars. We have the illusion of choice, but for most critical decisions, we have only one or two companies, when it comes to high speed Internet, health insurance, medical care, mortgage title insurance, social networks, Internet searches, or even consumer goods like toothpaste. Every day, the average American transfers a little of their pay check to monopolists and oligopolists. The solution is vigorous anti-trust enforcement to return America to a period where competition created higher economic growth, more jobs, higher wages and a level playing field for all. The Myth of Capitalism is the story of industrial concentration, but it matters to everyone, because the stakes could not be higher. It tackles the big questions of: why is the US becoming a more unequal society, why is economic growth anemic despite trillions of dollars of federal debt and money printing, why the number of start-ups has declined, and why are workers losing out.

Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles -- and All of Us


Rana Foroohar - 2019
    Today, the utopia they sought to create is looking more dystopian than ever: from digital surveillance and the loss of privacy to the spreading of misinformation and hate speech to predatory algorithms targeting the weak and vulnerable to products that have been engineered to manipulate our desires. How did we get here? How did these once-scrappy and idealistic enterprises become rapacious monopolies with the power to corrupt our elections, co-opt all our data, and control the largest single chunk of corporate wealth—while evading all semblance of regulation and taxes?  In Don’t Be Evil, Financial Times global business columnist Rana Foroohar tells the story of how Big Tech lost its soul—and ate our lunch. Through her skilled reporting and unparalleled access—won through nearly thirty years covering business and technology—she shows the true extent to which behemoths like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are monetizing both our data and our attention, without us seeing a penny of those exorbitant profits. Finally, Foroohar lays out a plan for how we can resist, by creating a framework that fosters innovation while also protecting us from the dark side of digital technology.Praise for Don’t Be Evil “At first sight, Don’t Be Evil looks like it’s doing for Google what muckraking journalist Ida Tarbell did for Standard Oil over a century ago. But this whip-smart, highly readable book’s scope turns out to be much broader. Worried about the monopolistic tendencies of big tech? The addictive apps on your iPhone? The role Facebook played in Donald Trump’s election? Foroohar will leave you even more worried, but a lot better informed.”—Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and author of The Square and the Tower

Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences


Edward Tenner - 1996
    Tenner shows why our confidence in technological solutions may be misplaced, and explores ways in which we can better survive in a world where despite technology's advances--and often because of them--"reality is always gaining on us."  For anyone hoping to understand the ways in which society and technology interact, Why Things Bite Back is indispensable reading.  "A bracing critique of technological determinism in both its utopian and dystopian forms...No one who wants to think clearly about our high-tech future can afford to ignore this book."--Jackson Lears, Wilson Quarterly

Uncharted: How to Map the Future


Margaret Heffernan - 2020
    We are addicted to prediction, desperate for certainty about the future. But the complexity of modern life won’t provide that; experts in forecasting are reluctant to look more than 400 days out. History doesn’t repeat itself and even genetics won’t tell you everything you want to know. Ineradicable uncertainty is now a fact of life. In complex environments, efficiency is a hazard not a help; being robust is the better, safer option. Drawing on a wide array of people and places, Margaret Heffernan looks at long-term projects developed over generations that could never have been planned the way that they have been run. Experiments, led by individuals and nations, discover new possibilities and options. Radical exercises in forging new futures with wildly diverse participants allow everyone to create outcomes together that none could do alone. Existential crises reveal the vital social component in resilience. Death is certain, but how we approach it impacts the future of those we leave behind. And preparedness – doing everything today that you might need for tomorrow – provides the antidote to passivity and prediction. Ranging freely through history and from business to science, government to friendships, this refreshing book challenges us to resist the false promises of technology and efficiency and instead to mine our own creativity and humanity for the capacity to create the futures we want and can believe in.

Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact


Vaclav Smil - 2004
    At its beginnings in the 1870s were dynamite, the telephone, photographic film, and the first light bulbs. Its peak decade - the astonishing 1880s - brought electricity - generating plants, electric motors, steam turbines, the gramophone, cars, aluminum production, air-filled rubber tires, and prestressed concrete. And its post-1900 period saw the first airplanes, tractors, radio signals and plastics, neon lights and assembly line production. This book is a systematic interdisciplinary account of the history of this outpouring of European and American intellect and of its truly epochal consequences. It takes a close look at four fundamental classes of these epoch-making innovations: formation, diffusion, and standardization of electric systems; invention and rapid adoption of internal combustion engines; the unprecedented pace of new chemical syntheses and material substitutions; and the birth of a new information age. These chapters are followed by an evaluation of the lasting impact these advances had on the 20th century, that is, the creation of high-energy societies engaged in mass production aimed at improving standards of living.

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages


Carlota Pérez - 2002
    Carlota Perez draws upon Schumpeter's theories of the clustering of innovations to explain why each technological revolution gives rise to a paradigm shift and a "New Economy" and how these "opportunity explosions", focused on specific industries, also lead to the recurrence of financial bubbles and crises. These findings are illustrated with examples from the past two centuries: the industrial revolution, the age of steam and railways, the age of steel and electricity, the emergence of mass production and automobiles, and the current information revolution/knowledge society. By analyzing the changing relationship between finance capital and production capital during the emergence, diffusion and assimilation of new technologies throughout the global economic system, this book sheds light on some of the most pressing economic problems of today.

Talk to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think


James Vlahos - 2019
    They know that whoever successfully creates it will revolutionize our relationship with technology—and make billions of dollars in the process. They call it conversational AI.   Computers that can speak and think like humans may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but they are rapidly moving toward reality. In Talk to Me, veteran tech journalist James Vlahos meets the researchers at Amazon, Google, and Apple who are leading the way. He explores how voice tech will transform every sector of society: handing untold new powers to businesses, overturning traditional notions of privacy, upending how we access information, and fundamentally altering the way we understand human consciousness. And he even tries to understand the significance of the voice-computing revolution first-hand — by building a chatbot version of his terminally ill father.   Vlahos’s research leads him to one fundamental question: What happens when our computers become as articulate, compassionate, and creative as we are?

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century


Ryan Avent - 2016
    Until now.Digital technology is transforming every corner of the economy, fundamentally altering the way things are done, who does them, and what they earn for their efforts. In The Wealth of Humans, Economist editor Ryan Avent brings up-to-the-minute research and reporting to bear on the major economic question of our time: can the modern world manage technological changes every bit as disruptive as those that shook the socioeconomic landscape of the 19th century?Traveling from Shenzhen, to Gothenburg, to Mumbai, to Silicon Valley, Avent investigates the meaning of work in the twenty-first century: how technology is upending time-tested business models and thrusting workers of all kinds into a world wholly unlike that of a generation ago. It's a world in which the relationships between capital and labor and between rich and poor have been overturned.Past revolutions required rewriting the social contract: this one is unlikely to demand anything less. Avent looks to the history of the Industrial Revolution and the work of numerous experts for lessons in reordering society. The future needn't be bleak, but as The Wealth of Humans explains, we can't expect to restructure the world without a wrenching rethinking of what an economy should be.