By @SimonCocking. We recently interviewed Brett King about his thoughts on FinTech, the future of banking and his views on a range of topics (see interview parts I and II). Meanwhile Brett has been keeping himself busy writing, and launching, on May 6th his fifth book “Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane“, which we now review below.

Firstly the book is a good read and easily readable. It manages to straddle that tricky challenge of being informative for the tech audience at the same time as being interesting and appealing to a wider general audience too. In the time we had it to review it, the book was picked up and read by a range of other interested people. From 13 year old tech geeks, to managers of major cultural institutions, looking to future proof their own organisations. Which indicates this is a topic that interests a wide range of people.

The book begins by taking you through a quick review of the last 250 years of technological innovation, with increasingly shorter cycles of relevance and then obsolescence for different inventions. Moore’s Law, Ray Kuzweil’s predictions of a coming Singularity, and other key trends are all referenced. If you are not familiar with these points of reference they are all explained in a way that again treads carefully between keeping the general reader on board and yet also informing the more tech savvy among the audience.

His analysis of the imminent arrival of ubiquitous renewable energies is refreshing and positive. Coming at it from the perspective that cost will drive it’s mass adoption rather than needing to appeal to ecological considerations. King approaches the growth of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies from a similar perspective, namely that adoption will be driven by the fact that machine to machine transactions will simply be more effective and less error prone than human based interactions. Naturally this will have significant implications in terms of what sectors still need to employ humans and which won’t. These parts of the book are well worth reading to future proof your own potential career decisions!

Drawing on current trends and their likely implications for the future King also analyses the impacts on transportation. Driverless cars are already with us, but in the future it could also free up large amounts of our time, in our ‘third place’, after home and work. Similarly with AI related quality of life improvements there are some very positive future scenarios for humanity in terms of increased time to pursue what interests us and what we care about, rather than merely living to work. Naturally Skynet and other robot distopias are always a possibility and Brett doesn’t shy away from looking at these possibilities too.

Roadmap_AugmentedAge Road map to an Augmented Future, page 434

Without wanting to give too much away this is a good book as it presents an interesting and thought provoking look at our near and further off future. Much of is it plausible, and as he says, he’s not looking to get it all 100% right, but rather to make us aware of the general direction in which our global societies are heading. Well worth a read, and one that you may find other family members reading too.


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