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Staff blog

What Will the World Look Like in 100 Years?

Next week, information organization expert Frank Schneiger will be joining us on Thursday, November 17th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss what the world map will look like in 2116.  Frank will discuss climate change, nuclear war, overpopulation, demographics, plutocracy, and more. Here’s a sample of books from his book list:

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world's cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it's in their own best interest to limit their growth. Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning the planet and the presence on it back in balance.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Issue-orientated book that argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education and public benefits create a permanent under-caste based largely on race.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

A controversial history of violence argues that today's world is the most peaceful time in human existence, drawing on psychological insights into intrinsic values that are causing people to condemn violence as an acceptable measure.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland

A journalist and industry specialist for Reuters examines the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, taking a non-partisan look into the businesspeople who are amassing colossal fortunes and preferring the company of similar people around the world.

Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement by Thomas Geoghegan

National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived--but different--labor movement is now more relevant than ever in our increasingly unequal society. The inequality reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the workplace is more authoritarian than ever, and we have even less of a say over our conditions at work. He tells us stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about problems working people like his own clients--cabdrivers, cashiers, even Chicago public school teachers--now face in our largely union-free economy. He then explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) will be crucial for saving what is left of the middle class.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

In Silicon Valley the phrase "disruptive technology" is tossed around on a casual basis. No one doubts that technology has the power to devastate entire industries and upend various sectors of the job market. But Rise of the Robots asks a bigger question: Can accelerating technology disrupt our entire economic system to the point where a fundamental restructuring is required? Companies like Facebook and YouTube may only need a handful of employees to achieve enormous valuations, but what will be the fate of those of us not lucky or smart enough to have gotten into the great shift from human labor to computation?

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

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives-- where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance--are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated. But as Cathy O'Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination. O'Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it's up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives. This important book empowers us to ask the tough questions, uncover the truth, and demand change.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

An investigation into the growing radical right reveals a network of wealthy people with extreme Libertarian views, led by the Koch brothers, that has been systematically influencing and controlling academic institutions, the courts, and the United States government.

Title summaries borrowed from CountyCat record descriptions.



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