Misinformation, hacking, and imploding startups: 18 books to read in 2020 that puncture Silicon Valley utopianism – Business Insider


For your everyday tweeting, Uber Eating, back-to-back meeting tech bro, the idea that rapid technological change could have its downsides is an inconvenient truth.

Thats why weve rounded up 18 books puncturing Silicon Valley utopianism. From the rise of Big Data to the fall of Theranos, these authors delve into the tech fairy tales weve been sold and uncover the underlying truth.

Arm yourself with the tools to take on Big Tech from this bestselling list of tech experts.

Mike Isaac, the award-winning New York Times technology reporter, digs deep into the history of Uber, the worlds best known -and most controversial -ride-hailing firm.

Praised for laying out the companys many woes without making a caricature of the companys eccentric ex-CEO Travis Kalanick, Isaac offers the essential guide to understanding how Uber became what it is today.

As the company continues to face down controversy around the world, this book puts the pedal to the metal in a way nothing else has before.

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Richard Seymours dark polemic on the digital age might be the most sobering on this list.

Hardly a day goes by without the President of the United States firing vitriol at his enemies via social media, as Seymour observes in what he assures his readers is a horror story come to life.

Seymour dedicates his book to the Luddites those that smashed machinery apart during the industrial revolution with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Reading it might just make you want to do the same.

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In Emily Changs shocking foray into the exploits of some of the worlds most unsavoury tech bros, drug-fuelled sex parties are the norm in the suburbs of Silicon Valley.

Rejected as salacious nonsense by Elon Musk who is himself alleged to have attended one such party Changs work exposes the Valleys notoriously male-dominated and sexist culture.

In the final chapter, Chang reveals: Writing this book has been like going on a trek through a minefield, with fresh mines being laid as I walked.

Dont miss it.

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Read the inside story of the startup that continues to make headlines around the world.

After founding Theranos, a healthtech company which claimed to have revolutionary blood-testing capabilities, Elizabeth Holmes set a series of calamitous events in motion.

John Carreyrou received universal acclaim for his forensic analysis, seeking sources from top to bottom within Theranos, the sham company that drew massive investments from the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Carlos Slim.

While it remains to be seen what will become of Holmes, Carreyrous hard-hitting investigation is now set for a Hollywood adaptation, directed by The Big Shorts Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence.

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Invisible Women exposes what author Criado Perez dubs the one-size-fits-men bias in design and technology, highlighting the endless number of mismatches in everyday life, from fitness monitors to items of clothing to car safety.

The winner of the Financial Times Best Business Book of 2019, Invisible Women is a compelling insight into the dangers of treating male bodies as the default in policymaking.

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Financial Times journalist Rana Foroohars deep-dive critique of the internets pioneers takes a forensic look at the biggest companies dominating our lives, including: Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Uber.

In examining each case study, Foroohar unpicks how the tech giants slowly but surely started to betray their founding principles, from Googles old mantra Dont be evil to Mark Zuckerbergs vision of creating communities around the world.

Like with so many on our list, Dont Be Evil might leave you feeling a little more nervous about the world we live in, but a lot more informed.

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Jamie Susskind confronts some of the most important questions of our time, effortlessly mapping his knowledge of political theory onto the latest developments from Silicon Valley, revealing a host of ethical quandaries and impracticalities.

Susskind doesnt hone in on any particular companies, instead abstracting their capabilities and what they might mean for all of us in our everyday lives or, as he calls it, the digital lifeworld.

For all its grand implications, Future Politics is an accessible read, peppered with self-deprecating humour and pop cultural references throughout, and will make you only more curious about the road ahead.

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Shoshana Zuboff, a professor of social psychology at Harvard Business School, has been using the term surveillance capitalism to describe the economic model of Big Tech since at least 2014, around five years before publishing this weighty tome.

She offers the reader a shocking insight into the business model that underpins the digital world, detailing in razor-sharp detail how the likes of Facebook and Google are using our data to advance their interests.

Zuboff effortlessly infuses what we already know with her trademark academic analysis, allowing us to grasp the big picture. The landmark book is a follow-up of sorts to her previous work, 1988s The Age of the Smart Machine, which was likewise considered definitive in its field.

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Automating Inequality is an unsettling insight into the world of robotic decision-making, exploring how algorithms are already being used to make decisions about who should be paid, who should be surveilled and in some cases who should be born.

Eubanks, a professor of womens studies at the University of Albany, paints a compelling picture of inequality at large, intensified by the distancing of human beings from human affairs.

The unfiltered impact of new technology on issues like race, class and gender exemplifies how machines have yet to learn how to make decisions the way humans do.

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Jamie Bartletts manifesto for technological resistance, longlisted for the Orwell Prize, offers a comprehensive overview of the threats posed by the Internet to our very way of life.

Most recently heard hunting down the Missing Cryptoqueen for the BBC, Bartlett offers a sobering guide to the ways in which both individuals and institutions can stop Big Tech from taking over our culture, elections, economy and more.

Bartlett works at think-tank Demos, and previously presented a two-part BBC documentary series called The Secrets of Silicon Valley.

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While technically more a series of sociological experiments than tech expos, Bloodworths book dramatically reveals the everyday reality of those working in the UKs tech-driven gig economy.

Whether stacking shelves in an Amazon warehouse or seeking passengers as an Uber driver, Bloodworth steps into the lives of those doing Big Techs heavy lifting without seeing much of the reward.

Selected as The Times current affairs book of 2018 and longlisted for the Orwell Prize, Hired is an in-depth study of the conditions imposed on those benefiting least from the technological revolution.

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Christopher Wiley, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, lifts the lid on his time at the now-infamous political consultancy.

Revelations abound about the companys working culture, including the behaviour of former CEO Alexander Nix, while Wiley reveals bit by bit the kind of power he wielded while rifling through individuals personal data.

While the true impact of Cambridge Analyticas work in the US, UK and elsewhere around the world continues to be argued, Wileys insight gives you the best chance yet of making that assessment for yourself.

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Algorithms are everywhere, organising the unfathomably large quantities of data produced by each of us every day.

In We Are Data, John Cheney-Lippold spells out what the implications might be for our algorithmic identities in the digital age, and how they underpin everything from architecture to accountancy.

A professor of digital studies at the University of Michigan, Cheney-Lippold implores his readers to try to fully grasp the problems that lie ahead, so that we might have the best chance of reaching a solution.

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Stuart Russell already has one of the best-known books on artificial intelligence to his name, having authored Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach in 1995 with co-writer Peter Norvig.

Now, Russell returns to the question and doesnt hold anything back.

The University of California professor outlines the darker consequences of pushing the frontiers in artificial intelligence or, as he calls it, the most important question facing humanity.

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Writing with the pace of a thriller novel, Andy Greenberg tells the story of Russias infamous hacking group of the title.

Sandworm is the must-read guide to state-sponsored hacking, described by the LA Times as a comprehensive look at the technical, military and political stories of this new hidden war.

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With his 2018 book, journalist Corey Pein set out to learn how such an overhyped industry as tech could sustain itself as long as it has.

He slowly works the crowds at conferences, pitches his wacky ideas to investors and interviews a cast of ridiculous characters: cyborgs, tech bros, hackers and obedient employees all feature.

LWWWD is an incisive portrait of a self-obsessed industry hellbent on succeeding by whatever means necessary.

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Martin Moore has some big questions for Big Tech, breaking his book into three overarching themes: hackers, systems failure, and alternative futures.

From the rise of alt-right media outlets like Breitbart, through to the rise of what he dubs surveillance democracies, Moore maps a path from old Soviet disinformation campaigns through to those alleged to have played a part in the 2016 US Election.

A seriously engaging work that should be read by anyone curious about the impact of new technology on national security.

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One of the most unsettling and illuminating books about the internet ever written, so says the New York Times, New Dark Age reveals the dark clouds gathering over our dreams of a digital utopia.

Looking at the ways machines have already began besting their human competitors, such as the AI that defeated chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, Bridle suggests a new path forward: centaur chess, a kind of team-up between humans partnered with computers.

The implications for a post- or transhuman world are to say the least mind-blowing.

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Misinformation, hacking, and imploding startups: 18 books to read in 2020 that puncture Silicon Valley utopianism - Business Insider

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