2017 Reading List aka Unbounded Ambitions

Daniel’s 2017 Reading List

In 2016, I’ve learned that doing graduate program and pursuing an aggressive extracurricular reading list is an overly ambitious task. Luckily, it’s 2017 and I am still going to give it another shot. I’m stubborn.

New Socio-Economic Systems

Part of my foresight interest is researching new economic systems. When it comes to our system of governance and market system, we’ve come along with since its foundations were first laid and it’s time to serious imagine alternative systems that are possible.

I’ve already read Zero Marginal Society, Post Capitalism, Blockchain Revolution, and a few others, but there’s more to go!

The Commons Transition: Policy Proposals for an Open Knowledge Commons Society
Compiled and edited by Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel

I’m half way into reading this. It’s a post-communist/post-capitalist model for centering society, governance, and the economy already more democratic, decentralized, and shared commons form of society.

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
by Ray Kurzweil

Yep, I’m in foresight and I haven’t read this book. I have to admit its because I am hesitant on the idea of transhumanism and singularity. But I gotta read it.

Social Studies / History

Silk Roads: A New History fo the World
by Peter Frankopan

Peter Frankopan revisits European Civilizations, not through the usual path of the Roman Empire to French Revolution, but Europe’s contact with the centers of the world connected by the Silk Road – from Baghdad to Western China. Always exciting to revisit history from new perspectives!

The Muqaddimah
by Ibn Khaldun

Ibn Khaldun, a great fourteenth-century Arab scholar, is credited by being one of the world’s first historians and sociologist. The Muqaddimah is considered among his most important works about premodern Islamic history.

 

Organizations, Leadership, & Governance

As I pursue my career in foresight, I really look forward to using foresight as a new method of strategy that not only provides a plan of action but also changes how an organization understands uncertainty and how it embraces change.

Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus
by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh, Donald Low

Donald Low is an former economist I follow closely when it comes to Singapore. While there’s no doubt about what Lee Kuan Yew and PAP has done to build Singapore as it is today, Low questions what it is Singapore needs to do today to continue to move forward – or, as per its national anthem: “Majulah Singapura” – Onwards Singapore!

Leading the Revolution
by Gary Hamel

Gary Hamel lays out what is needed to ensure a company is positioned to constantly review and reinvent itself. I asked the head of my foresight program what books I should read when it comes to organizational design and organizational change. With this mind, I asked the head of my foresight program. Andy Hines, for some recommended books. Below are some recommended reads from Prof. Hines and others.

Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading
by Ronald A. Heifetz  and Marty Linsky

Leadership on the Line is geared as an accessible and practical guide to leadership. Like Leading the Revolution, this book was one of the recommended organizational design books by the head of my foresight program.

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
by Richard H. Thaler

From my days in digital marketing and consulting, I’ve worked on client projects where designed the user experience to “nudge” customers to do certain things – buy, sign-up, etc. Given the complexity of society, I think this is something we need to learn more about from the perspective of governance – nudging citizens to take the right action (save, recycle, be healthy etc).

Instruction to Deliver: Fighting to Transform Britain’s Public Services
by Michael Barber

This is a book recommend by a friend, who consults with governments on service delivery in Asia to Europe. Beyond just providing the basics – democracy, rule of law – the ability to provide citizens with effective, efficient, and response services is an under appreciated but vital functional of an effective bureaucracy and government.

 

Technology & Society

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
by Cathy O’Neil

Title says it all. If you’ve read Jaron Lanier, a Microsoft Researcher and computer philosopher, you know how data centralization – from Uber to Google – is potentially dangerous power grab by only a select few. I don’t know what Cathy O’Neil’s angle is on this, but I think it’s worth a read.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
by Yuval Noah Harari

A few of my friends have praised this book. I’ve been told it’s poses provocative and philosophical questions on what it means to be human when looking at coming technological advances that pose to completely change human society.

 

Fiction

I’m a little light on the fiction section (unless you count the comic section). Any suggestions?

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets
by Svetlana Alexievich

I’m a sucker for Russian writers or books about Russia. From Red Plenty (Soviet Union attempt at Big Data/Cybernetics in the 1960s) to Crime & Punishment to Super Sad True Love Story (most under-rated sci-fi book in recent times), I’m all for it.

New York Times called “Secondhand Time” a “symphonic oral history about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia.” Naturally, I can’t resist.

Submission: A Novel
by Michel Houellebecq

Michel Houellebecq is a French writer who loves to court controversy, especially when it comes to religion and sex. You do not have to like Houellebecq to be fascinated by his writing on everything from depression to Europe’s anxiety about Islam.

Death’s End
by Liu Cixin

The final book of an award winning sci-fi trilogy by Chinese writer Liu Cixin. His first two books were intriguing, if not depression, look at what “first contact” with alien life could actually mean for humankind. Can’t wait to read this book.

Dystopia

If you’re seriously into science fiction, I think you’ll know about some famous dystopia works like RUR by Karl Capek (a play that coined the word ‘robot’) to Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. In a Facebook thread by a friend, I asked some other suggestions, especially comic book based works.

This is a list provided by my Facebook acquaintance:

  1. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills
  2. Canticle for Leibowitz
  3. Parable of the Sower
  4. Micronauts (Original, first twenty issues)

 

 

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Daniel writes on foresight and explores new economic systems. He has over 15 years of experience in technology & digital marketing and has worked with clients in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Daniel is currently part of the University of Houston's Foresight Program.

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