Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. It is time to re-evaluate the Silicon Valley consensus determining the future.
We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our existence. We’re told that innovations—from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars—will make life easier, more convenient and more productive. 3D printing promises unprecedented control over the form and distribution of matter, while the blockchain stands to revolutionize everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organize the mundane realities of the day to day. And, all the while, fiendishly complex algorithms are operating quietly in the background, reshaping the economy, transforming the fundamental terms of our politics and even redefining what it means to be human.
Having successfully colonised everyday life, these radical technologies are now conditioning the choices available to us in the years to come. How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as individuals and societies? Who benefits from their adoption? In answering these questions, Greenfield’s timely guide clarifies the scale and nature of the crisis we now confront —and offers ways to reclaim our stake in the future.
Adam Greenfield was formerly lead information architect for the Tokyo office of internet services consultancy Razorfish, and independent user experience designer and Head of Design Direction for Service and User Interface Design at Nokia headquarters in Helsinki. Selected in 2013 as Senior Urban Fellow at the LSE Cities centre of the London School of Economics, he has taught in the Urban Design program of the Bartlett, University College London, and in New York University’s interactive telecommunications program. His books include Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, Urban Computing and Its Discontents, and the bestselling Against the Smart City.
Sally Davies is a senior commissioning editor at Aeon magazine, where she focuses on science, philosophy and feminism. Previously she was the innovation and technology correspondent at the Financial Times, and an associate editor of Nautilus magazine.