Summary of “Books everyone should read about the future”

Many writers have imagined the future in their work, inviting us to travel through time.
We asked Lynn Lobash, manager of the New York Public Library’s Reader Services department, to recommend the books about the future that everyone should read. Here are 11, and you can see more recommendations at the NYPL’s site.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is set in a dystopian future where an oppressive and religious organization takes over the US government.
Kolbert combines vivid descriptions of natural wonders, like the Great Barrier Reef, and wild experiences, like venturing into a bat cave, to explain Earth’s present and possible future.
Klein challenges readers to abandon capitalism and restructure the global economy and our political system to move toward a greener future.
These thinkers consider the future of work, salaries, equality, technology, and climate change, among other topics.
In a grim future, citizens are constantly monitored and controlled by Big Brother and the Thought Police.
In Huxley’s future, babies are born in labs, and society discourages individual action and thought.

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Summary of “Why is millennial humor so weird?”

To visit millennial comedy, advertising and memes is to spend time in a dream world where ideas twist and suddenly vanish; where loops of self-referential quips warp and distort with each iteration, tweaked by another user embellishing on someone else’s joke, until nothing coherent is left; where beloved children’s character Winnie the Pooh is depicted in a fan-made comic strip as a 9/11 truther, and grown men in a parody ad dance to shrill synth beats while eating Totino’s pizza rolls out of a tiny pink backpack.
Unlike the subcultural stoner comedy of yesteryear or the giddily absurd humor of classics like Monty Python, this breed of millennial surrealism is both mainstream and tangibly dark – it aims for wide swaths of young people, leaning in to feelings of worry, failure and dread. Meanwhile, online culture allows more people to get in on the action, producing their own contributions to the meaningless, loopy, sometimes-sinister whirling gyre of the moment in the form of memes.
In the simplest terms, memes are any pieces of cultural information that spread among groups by imitation, changing bit by bit along the way.
Adam Downer is a 26-year-old associate staff editor at Know Your Meme, an online encyclopedia of the form where the oldest staffer tops out at about age 32, Downer told me.
Since 2008, Know Your Meme’s staff has indexed some 11,228 memes and adds new entries to its database every day.
The strangest meme he ever worked on, Downer says, was a bizarre mind-virus called “Hey Beter.” The meme consists of four panels, the first including the phrase “Hey Beter,” a riff on “Hey Peter,” referring to the main character of the comedy cartoon series “Family Guy.” What comes next seems to make even less sense: In one iteration, the Sesame Street character Elmo calls out to Peter, then asks him to spell “Whomst’ve,” then blasts him with blue lasers.
In his book “The Weird and the Eerie,” author Mark Fisher points out that, in most cases, “The response to the apparition of a grotesque object will involve laughter as much as revulsion.” And the weird, Fisher goes on, “Is a signal that the concepts and frameworks which we have previously employed are now obsolete.” By staking out a playful space to meditate on emotions that are usually upsetting, millennial surrealism intermixes relief with stress and levity with lunacy.
Twitter user Honkimus Maximus welcomed the news with a meme depicting the “Simpsons” character Mr. Burns googly-eyed and sedate, receiving an injection of memes directly into his veins.

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Summary of “Aziz Ansari Quit the Internet”

Aziz Ansari recently deleted the web browser from his phone and laptop.
As he explained in an interview with GQ, when he gets into a cab, he now leaves his phone in his pocket and simply sits there and thinks; when he gets home, instead of “Looking at websites for an hour and half, checking to see if there’s a new thing,” he reads a book.
“Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or whenever you go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content. It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things.”
“What about important news and politics?”, he asks.
“I got the world by the balls professionally. Personally, I’m alone right nowSo right now, I have it by the balls, but I’m feeling it slowly going away and I’m worried about finding new balls.”
Escaping the fizzy chatter of the online world can support deep insight and creative achievement.
Ansari, in other words, perhaps encapsulates both the highs and lows of a committing to a deep life in a distracted world.
On a related note, I just finished reading Michael Harris’s new book, Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World.

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Summary of “William Gibson Talks ‘Archangel,’ Apocalypses, and Dystopias”

Few authors have crafted more vividly realized future worlds than William Gibson.
As part of Vulture’s Dark Futures week, we caught up with Gibson to talk about Archangel, but also about dystopian and apocalyptic literature in general.
Why do you think we, as a culture, are so endlessly obsessed with stories about last-ditch attempts to stave off the end of the world?The end of the world is universal shorthand for whatever we don’t want to happen.
We have very little control over anything much at all, individually, so fantasies of staving off the end of the world are fairly benign fantasies of increased agency.
What grim future do you fear most? A brutal dystopia? A nuked-out wasteland? A chaotic world war?I don’t think of those as very distinct states.
To what extent do you see World War II as a real-life apocalypse? We think of it as a victory, but nothing in human history can match its devastation, after all.
If you were, say, a tiger, and you knew what’s about to happen to your species, wouldn’t it be realistic to have a pessimistic view of things? I think it’s realistic, as a human, to have a pessimistic view of a world minus tigers.
What are some of your favorite works of apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction?Pavane and The Chalk Giants, both by the British writer Keith Roberts, both post-nuclear; and The Alteration by Kingsley Amis, a Catholic world in which the Reformation didn’t happen.

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Summary of “Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward.”

To get computers to think like humans, we need a new A.I. paradigm, one that places “Top down” and “Bottom up” knowledge on equal footing.
Top-down knowledge comprises cognitive models of the world and how it works.
Deep learning is very good at bottom-up knowledge, like discerning which patterns of pixels correspond to golden retrievers as opposed to Labradors.
To a deep-learning system there is no difference between the reflection and the real thing, because the system lacks a theory of the world and how it works.
I say this as someone who has experience with both models, having worked on A.I. both as an academic researcher and as the founder of a start-up company, Geometric Intelligence, which was recently acquired by Uber.Academic labs are too small.
A full solution will incorporate advances in natural language processing, knowledge representation and inference.
Even the largest “Open” efforts at A.I., like OpenAI, which has about 50 staff members and is sponsored in part by Elon Musk, is tiny by comparison.
An international A.I. mission focused on teaching machines to read could genuinely change the world for the better – the more so if it made A.I. a public good, rather than the property of a privileged few.

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Summary of “Attrition Warfare: When Even Winners Lose”

The International Encyclopedia of the First World War defines attrition warfare as “The sustained process of wearing down an opponent so as to force their physical collapse through continuous losses in personnel, equipment and supplies or [wearing] them down to such an extent that their will to fight collapses.”
Theorists are divided as to whether attrition is even a separate tactic, rather than a ubiquitous feature of all conflict.
Attrition Warfare in World War I. One of the clearest examples of attrition warfare is World War I, so much so that many historians refer to it as “The War of Attrition.”
One particular battle from World War I which stands out as a notable example of attrition warfare is the Battle of Verdun.
The Vietnam War is another key example of attrition warfare.
Although all wars involve casualties, attrition warfare increases the number of combatants and civilians who are killed.
The unstable outcome of World War I is in part responsible for the outbreak of World War II. Long-term impact on a nation – Attrition warfare can cause serious long-term problems for both sides.
If you choose a radically different strategy, with the same resources or fewer, you’re likely not to be in a war of attrition.

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Summary of “Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality”

Billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience – and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it.
How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we’re all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it “Reality.” Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.
The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.
Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design – plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

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Summary of “The Inside Story of Disney World’s ‘Avatar’ Theme Park”

Disney had a number of ambitious projects in the works when Wizarding World opened, including an expansion of the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom in the same spot where their Harry Potter land would have gone, and a nearly complete redo of its Disney California Adventure park, which had struggled with attendance since it opened in 2001.
Initially proposed as part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, at the initial meeting, Staggs suggested something bigger.
Maybe the biggest thing to befall the company during that period was the 2012 announcement that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm, meaning that Disney now owned the rights to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and a number of smaller properties.
Suddenly the need to build a massive theme park based on a franchise that Disney didn’t actually own seemed unnecessary, especially when, in 2015, Iger announced the creation of massive Star Wars-themed lands for both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Last year, when I was still working for the interactive division of Disney, several people visited us from Disney Parks, to talk about Pandora – The World of Avatar.
At one point Pandora was seen as a key component to revitalizing the Animal Kingdom park, which has always fought to carve out a unique identity for itself amongst the constellation of parks in Disney World.
As the rush to 2021’s 50th anniversary of Disney World approaches, and the rivalry with Universal, which is currently planning a Super Nintendo World, intensifies, Disney is going to have to up its game.
Further adding to the experience is the still-as-yet-unannounced Star Wars-themed hotel coming to the Walt Disney World version, which will offer guests an even deeper adventure; they’ll apparently be handed dossiers and assigned missions, similar to the recent Pirates Adventure Cruises at Disney World.

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Summary of “10 grand challenges we’ll face by 2050”

Over the last few months, BBC Future Now has been examining some of the biggest problems humankind faces right now: land use to accommodate exploding populations, the future of nuclear energy, the chasm between rich and poor – and much more.
A MORE AGED POPULATION THAN EVER BEFORE. We won’t just be wrestling with the fact that the world’s population is exploding – but people are living longer than ever, too.
From the UK to Japan to China, societies with large numbers of people over 65 will become more common.
Aside from more seawalls, the city is requiring all new buildings be built with their first floor built higher.
SAFE CAR TRAVEL. Despite all the rapid urbanisation and talk of bullet trains and fantastical technology like the Hyperloop coming to the fore, the car isn’t going anywhere – and in fact, in the next couple decades, there will be even more of them on the road. Driverless car technology is swiftly rolling out, with major tech companies and automakers aggressively seeking to debut human-free vehicles in coming years.
SETTLING OTHER WORLDS. How will space tourism companies make sure their activities are safe? How will we find ways to send humans to Mars or another planet to live there, as Stephen Hawking has urged us to figure out? Space travel might seem like the domain of space agencies and billionaires today, but as it becomes more accessible to everybody else, a whole host of new challenges will emerge.
Outer space is increasingly looking less like the final frontier and more like our backyard, and with more money being shelled out to get humans up to the inky abyss than ever before, the logistics, safety and diplomacy behind the challenge all demand serious consideration.
One of them is the sci-fi-sounding notion that suggests artificial intelligence will one day become more powerful than human intelligence and improve itself at an exponential rate, otherwise known as ‘the singularity’.

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Summary of “Manvotional: The Value of Doing”

Our grandfathers alone in the wilderness, were sufficient unto themselves, for they were true Woodcrafters-they mastered the things about them.
Conditions have changed, and now most of these things have been taken from the home to the factory, so the old home training is no longer in reach.
The big value of all this knowledge was in that it bestowed power.
For learning to do gives more power to do, and when you let someone else do a thing for you, you eventually lose the power to do that thing.
In time of stress, each leader took the helm of his own ship; and the proud boast often heard among these world-subduing northern folk was: “I am a noble. My father owns his own forge.” Always in the world’s history, those who valued the ability to do have been strong and sturdy.
Emerson recognized the value of doing things well when he said: “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he live in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his doorway.”
Oh, Woodcraft Boy, would you really live? Then begin, not by dreaming of some new field to enter or new worlds to conquer, but by knowing and using all the things about you.
Know the pleasure of workmanship, the joy that comes from things made well by your own hands, the happiness which comes from closer touch with the fundamental things of life and the consciousness of being of value to the world.

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