In the height of summer reading season, with so many titles vying for attention, The Green Sheet is pleased to recommend two business books that read like thrillers and may indeed be worthy of our readers' beach bags. Both books portray visions of the future. One exposes the dangers of technology when co-opted by criminals in the hyper-connected world; another shows technology as a force for good that can be used to solve some of the world's most pressing issues.
Marc Goodman, a self-described futurist, has a background in law enforcement. He has held senior level positions at the CIA, FBI and Interpol. His book Future Crimes: Everything is Connected; Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, published by Doubleday in February 2015, provides a look at emerging technology and the deepening relationship between human beings and machines.
The book's central premise is that advanced technologies bring both opportunities and threats. Goodman proposes that greater connections bring greater risks. He emphasizes the critical need for citizens and business owners to understand those risks. Goodman warns that failing to fully grasp the threats and vulnerabilities embedded in connected technologies can result in stolen identities, drained online bank accounts, wiped out computer servers and more.
"Implanted medical devices such as pacemakers can be hacked to deliver a lethal jolt of electricity, and a car's brakes can be disabled at high speed from miles away," he wrote. "Meanwhile, 3D printers can produce AK-47s, bioterrorists can download the recipe for Spanish flu and cartels are using fleets of drones to ferry drugs across borders."
Goodman's access to the annals of law enforcement provides behind-the-scenes coverage of the "Dark Web" where some of the world's most nefarious criminals congregate online to share stolen data and participate in a range of illegal activities. These criminals are leveraging the explosion of available data from social media, credit reports and compromised credit card systems.
Despite these dire warnings, Goodman provides simple steps that can be taken to protect against 85 percent of the most common technological dangers. He recommends adopting an attitude of constant vigilance to guard against the ever-changing threat landscape.
Peter H. Diamandis, Chief Executive Officer of The XPRIZE Foundation and Executive Chairman and co-founder of Singularity University, teamed with bestselling author Steven Kotler to co-write Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, which was published in February 2015 by Free Press. The book explores how advanced technologies can be used to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges.
The authors believe the world's biggest problems present the world's biggest opportunities. The book's chapters evaluate four primary drivers that are creating a world of abundance and provide a road map for the journey ahead.
Kotler defines the first force as the accelerating rate of technological progress. "Right now, all information-based technologies are on exponential growth curves -- meaning they're doubling in power for the same price every 12 to 24 months," he wrote. "This is why an $8-million supercomputer from two decades ago now sits in your pocket and costs less than $200."
The authors describe the second force, do-it-yourself innovation, as a gradual shift that gained momentum through the casual collaborations of small groups. They note that small groups "consistently outperform larger organizations when it comes to innovation." NASA and Apple Inc. are notable examples.
The third force, money, is fueling the high-tech revolution, according to the authors. Funding has come from a new breed of "technophilanthropists" who have the knowledge and insight to "believe that the same high-leverage thinking and best business practices that led to their technological success can bring about philanthropic success."
The last force, identified as "The Rising Billion," is the world's largest demographic group living below the poverty line. Democratized access to the Internet and global transportation networks will enable 3 billion new voices to join the global conversation, the authors predicted.
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