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Futurology


The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Sacred Activism)

The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Sacred Activism) Lowest new price: $10.26
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Author: Charles Eisenstein

In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do to make the world a better place? This inspirational and thought-provoking book serves as an empowering antidote to the cynicism, frustration, paralysis, and overwhelm so many of us are feeling, replacing it with a grounding reminder of what’s true: we are all connected, and our small, personal choices bear unsuspected transformational power. By fully embracing and practicing this principle of interconnectedness—called interbeing—we become more effective agents of change and have a stronger positive influence on the world.

Throughout the book, Eisenstein relates real-life stories showing how small, individual acts of courage, kindness, and self-trust can change our culture’s guiding narrative of separation, which, he shows, has generated the present planetary crisis. He brings to conscious awareness a deep wisdom we all innately know: until we get our selves in order, any action we take—no matter how good our intentions—will ultimately be wrongheaded and wronghearted. Above all, Eisenstein invites us to embrace a radically different understanding of cause and effect, sounding a clarion call to surrender our old worldview of separation, so that we can finally create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

With chapters covering separation, interbeing, despair, hope, pain, pleasure, consciousness, and many more, the book invites us to let the old Story of Separation fall away so that we can stand firmly in a Story of Interbeing.

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How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed Lowest new price: $8.57
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Author: Ray Kurzweil

The bestselling author of The Singularity Is Near explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential futurist. In How to Create a Mind, he presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in the human-machine civilization: reverse-engineering the brain to understand precisely how it functions and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines. Kurzweil discusses how the brain works, how the mind emerges, brain-computer interfaces, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence to address the world’s problems. Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics.

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The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny

The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny Lowest new price: $5.56
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Author: William Strauss
Brand: Broadway Books

First came the postwar High, then the Awakening of the '60s and '70s, and now the Unraveling.  This audacious and provocative book tells us what to expect just beyond the start of the next century.  Are you ready for the Fourth Turning?

Strauss and Howe will change the way you see the world--and your place in it.  In The Fourth Turning, they apply their generational theories to the cycles of history and locate America in the middle of an unraveling period, on the brink of a crisis.  How you prepare for this crisis--the Fourth Turning--is intimately connected to the mood and attitude of your particular generation.  Are you one of the can-do "GI generation," who triumphed in the last crisis?  Do you belong to the mediating "Silent Majority," who enjoyed the 1950s High?  Do you fall into the "awakened" Boomer category of the 1970s and 1980s, or are you a Gen-Xer struggling to adapt to our splintering world?  Whatever your stage of life, The Fourth Turning offers bold predictions about how all of us can prepare, individually and collectively, for America's next rendezvous with destiny.

The Fourth Turning continues the project of mapping out the place of generations in history, a project begun in the authors' earlier books Generations and 13th Gen. If millennial fever takes hold, The Fourth Turning may be only the first of an impending wave of pseudo-scholarly tracts prognosticating future (but imminent!) doom as we collectively close the books on this millennium. Those expecting a serious or dry tome might be put off by the authors' taste for bulleted text and catchy phrasings, but can you blame these guys for wanting to make impending peril as exciting as possible? After all, they think we are headed toward "events on par with the Revolution, the Civil War, or World War II" in the next 20 years. Mixing solid understanding of present generational divisions, with some fairly broad generalizations, Strauss and Howe promise to move from history to prophecy. Fans of Future Shock, Megatrends, or Powershift will be familiar with the authors' style of writing and not at all put off by the book's reach or style. Their take on history provides an intriguing (if not always reliable) lens through which to view the past, present, and maybe even the future.

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The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World

The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World Lowest new price: $5.96
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Author: George Friedman

The bestselling author of The Next 100 Years sharpens his focus to the next ten years, specifically the political shifts that will take place, the decisions that will be made, the consequences of those decisions, and how the American president will acknowledge and manage the fact that the United States has become an empire.
 
In the long view, history is seen as a series of events—but the course of those events is determined by individuals and their actions. During the next ten years, individual leaders will face significant transitions for their nations: the United States’ relationships with Iran and Israel will be undergoing changes, China will likely confront a major crisis, and the wars in the Islamic world will subside. Unexpected energy and technology developments will emerge, and labor shortages will begin to matter more than financial crises. Distinguished geopolitical forecaster George Friedman analyzes these events from the perspectives of the men and women leading these global changes, focusing in particular on the American president, who will require extraordinary skills to shepherd the United States through this transitional period. The Next Decade is a provocative and fascinating look at the conflicts and opportunities that lie ahead.

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

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? Lowest new price: $16.22
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Author: Alan Weisman

A powerful investigation into the chances for humanity's future from the author of the bestseller The World Without Us.

In his bestselling book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman considered how the Earth could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity's constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet-only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature.

But with a million more of us every 4 1/2 days on a planet that's not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than 20 countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth--and also the hardest: How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth's ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population, and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth?

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. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.

By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today, with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.

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Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times (Sacred Activism)

Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times (Sacred Activism) Lowest new price: $10.26
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Author: Carolyn Baker Ph.D.

A collection of probing essays and weekly meditations, this book addresses how to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the impending collapse of industrial civilization. Author Carolyn Baker offers wisdom, inspiration, and a sense of spiritual purpose for anyone who is concerned about the daunting future humankind has created.

The author's introduction to Collapsing Consciously articulates our current predicament of economic collapse, environmental degradation, and global conflict and expresses the confusion, anxiety, grief, anger, and despair we all experience when we take a hard look at the present-day global crisis and the likely future of the planet. But rather than showing us ways to prevent the collapse, Baker argues that the demise of our consumerist, corporate culture is inevitable, and that it is crucial to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the certain changes to come.

Part 1 is a collection of seventeen essays which argue that while the collapse of industrial society cannot be prevented, its meaning extends far beyond tragedy and loss. These essays ask the reader to delve inward and discover the limitless treasures of the soul, as well as the gratification and exhilaration to be discovered in joining with community in preparing for the future.

In part 2, Baker offers fifty-two weekly meditations comprised of spiritual wisdom, inspiration, paradox, comfort, humor, irony, and a persistent challenge to create and savor beauty in the world, regardless of how bleak the future may appear.

Collapsing Consciously is a refreshing take on the perilous present and the grim prospects for our future. Instead of quoting discouraging statistics about our predicament, Baker offers a deeper perspective that makes sense of a world that most of the time appears psychotic or even surreal. Through inspiration and perennial wisdom she has created a manual for making meaning and generating joy, especially in situations that feel hopelessly devoid of both.

An ebook containing additional meditations is also available: Collapsing Consciously Meditations: Further Reflections for Turbulent Times, ISBN 978-1-58394-758-6.

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The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (P.S.)

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (P.S.) Lowest new price: $6.84
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Author: Matt Ridley

“Ridley writes with panache, wit, and humor and displays remarkable ingenuity in finding ways to present complicated materials for the lay reader.” — Los Angeles Times

In a bold and provocative interpretation of economic history, Matt Ridley, the New York Times-bestselling author of Genome and The Red Queen, makes the case for an economics of hope, arguing that the benefits of commerce, technology, innovation, and change—what Ridley calls cultural evolution—will inevitably increase human prosperity. Fans of the works of Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Niall Ferguson (The Ascent of Money), and Thomas Friedman (The World Is Flat) will find much to ponder and enjoy in The Rational Optimist.

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Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction Lowest new price: $5.53
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Author: Annalee Newitz

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist in Science & Technology

In its 4.5 billion-year history, life on Earth has been almost erased at least half a dozen times: shattered by asteroid impacts, entombed in ice, smothered by methane, and torn apart by unfathomably powerful megavolcanoes. And we know that another global disaster is eventually headed our way. Can we survive it? How? In this brilliantly speculative work of popular science, Annalee Newitz, editor of io9.com, explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow, from simulating tsunamis or studying central Turkey’s ancient underground cities, to cultivating cyanobacteria for “living cities” or designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective. Readers of this book will be equipped scientifically, intellectually, and emotionally to face whatever our future holds.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2013: Global warming, supervolcanoes, asteroid impacts, ice ages, and cosmic radiation. We know that, over millennia, these disasters have already ravaged the earth and its species. In fact, many scientists argue that the earth has undergone five previous mass extinctions, and that at least seventy-five percent of life on earth was exterminated by each. Now guess what? We may be living through the initial groans of the earth’s sixth mass extinction. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world--and Annalee Newitz, editor of the popular blog IO9 explains why in her fascinating, fast-paced, and informative book. With chapters like “A Million Year View” and “How to Build a Deathproof City” Newitz argues that we can do a lot to stick around after the apocalypse, even if there’s nothing we can do to alter the earth’s course. --Chris Schluep

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The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self

The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self Lowest new price: $12.89
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Author: Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein explores the history and potential future of civilization, tracing the converging crises of our age to the illusion of the separate self. In this landmark book, Eisenstein explains how a disconnection from the natural world and one another is built into the foundations of civilization: into science, religion, money, technology, medicine, and education as we know them. As a result, each of these institutions faces a grave and growing crisis, fueling our near-pathological pursuit of technological fixes even as we push our planet to the brink of collapse.

Fortunately, an Age of Reunion is emerging out of the birth pangs of an earth in crisis. As our old constructs of self and world dissolve in crisis, we are entering a new narrative of interbeing, a more expansive sense of self, and a more ecological relationship to nature. Our darkest hour bears the possibility of a more beautiful world—not through the extension of millennia-old methods of management and control but by fundamentally reimagining ourselves and our systems.  Breathtaking in its scope and intelligence, The Ascent of Humanity is a remarkable book showing what it truly means to be human.

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The Post-American World: Release 2.0

The Post-American World: Release 2.0 Lowest new price: $9.98
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Author: Fareed Zakaria

“A relentlessly intelligent book.” —Joseph Joffe, New York Times Book Review

“This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” So begins Fareed Zakaria’s blockbuster on the United States in the twenty-first century, and the trends he identifies have proceeded faster than anyone anticipated. How might the nation continue to thrive in a truly global era? In this fully updated 2.0 edition, Zakaria answers these questions with his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination.

Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer: Author One-to-One
In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together authors Fareed Zakaria and Ian Bremmer and asked them to interview each other.

Ian Bremmer is the president of Eurasia Group, the world's leading global political risk research and consulting firm. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and other publications, and his books include Every Nation for Itself, The End of the Free Market, and The J Curve. Read on to see Ian Bremmer's questions for Fareed Zakaria, or turn the tables to see what Zakaria asked Bremmer.

Ian Bremmer: You made clear from the opening sentence of The Post-American World that you do not believe that America faces some kind of inevitable, irreversible decline. But how can U.S. policymakers ensure that the rise of the rest actually strengthens the United States?

Fareed Zakaria: If more countries thrive in the existing global system, it means a larger world economy--more consumers and producers, investors and inventors. That’s great for America. As Europe boomed after World War II, America boomed with it. The rise of Japan and Korea and Taiwan has not meant the decline of America. But the key has been that we have to be able to adjust and adapt. The US economy was enormously productive in the 1950s and 1960s--leading the world in almost every way, from technology to infrastructure to mass education. Our problem is that we no longer lead the world on many of these dimensions-- think of infrastructure or K-12 education--and the rest of the world has been hard at work catching up. So, the fault lies not in our competitors but in ourselves. The good news is, if we can rectify these mistakes, we should still do well in the emerging world.

Ian Bremmer

Bremmer: Given everything that has happened since 2008--the financial market meltdown, the Eurozone crisis, the Arab Spring--have you become more confident or less that the United States can successfully transition from its previous role as global hegemon to a new role as the most powerful among other powerful countries?

Zakaria: There are two distinct (though related) challenges for Washington in a Post-American World. The first is economic, which I outline above. The second is political. Here the structural challenge might seem daunting. Political power is not like economic power. In economics, others can grow and that can be good for you--win, win. In politics, power is relative. As China and India and Brazil and Turkey all prosper and gain strength and confidence, whose dominant influence are they cutting into? The U.S. But even here, the picture is actually quite hopeful for America. The truth is, only America has power along all dimensions – economic, military, political, cultural. And that gives it great strength, particularly as an agenda-setter. Also, the rise of these other countries creates uncertainty and anxiety in the international system. If the United States plays its cards well, it can be the crucial stabilizing force in the system. You can see that dynamic at work in Asia where China’s rise has unsettled many Asian countries and they look to America to play a stabilizing role. It’s a new diplomatic challenge for America, to be more of a catalyst and broker than hegemon and arbiter. It emphasizes brains more than brawn. Let’s hope we’re up to it.

Bremmer: How can policymakers overcome the polarization of American politics to get this right?

Zakaria: That’s the trillion-dollar question. America’s economy and society remain dynamic. It’s political system is broken. First, recognize the problem. Stop mouthing slogans about how we have the world’s greatest democracy. Our system is now highly dysfunctional and corrupt. We need to fix it.

Bremmer: Among rising states, which do you think have the most staying power and why? Will some of the rest be left behind?

Fareed Zakaria

Zakaria: China is in a league apart from every other rising power. It has the scale--in terms of sheer numbers--to have a huge global impact. It is also run by a competent elite, technocrats who plan for the long term and are moving China up the value chain. They are making huge investments in education and infrastructure, which will pay off over the long run. I agree with you that China continues to have a long-term political challenge, how to combine a vigorous and open economy with a closed and bureaucratic political system. But so far they have managed to balance it--I think they will need to make much larger political changes in the next decade than they have in the last decade.

Bremmer: How well do you think America is responding to China’s continued rise?

Zakaria: American business has been responding well to China’s rise, helping it but also benefitting from it. American society is more closed and parochial than American business and so there has been little contact, which is a pity because we can always learn from others. Washington, at a foreign policy level, has actually done quite well in its handling of China. It has encouraged the integration of China into the global economy, it has tried to get China to be more rule-based and more committed to producing (rather than consuming) global public goods. And it has carefully and systematically shored up its alliances with key Asian countries, from India to Japan to South Korea to Australia, which is an important hedge against Chinese expansion. All in all, a solid performance.

Bremmer: You devote a chapter to India’s growing prominence. Are you optimistic that India’s government will help spur the country toward the next stage of its economic development? Or is this still a country where progress will come mainly in spite of government?

Zakaria: China grows because of its government, and India grows in spite of its government. I don’t expect much improvement in India’s public policy. The infrastructure will continue to lag, the education system will be poor, the government will keep doling out subsidies, and tax and regulatory policy will be uncompetitive. But Indian businesses are world class. They manage under very difficult conditions to perform amazingly well. They manage capital efficiently, understand global markets and brands, and have high quality management. India has good demographics, with lots of young consumers. India’s story is a bottom-up story, rather than China’s top-down story. But don’t kid yourself. Ultimately, you need good government policy to go to the next stage. Unless there is massive and intelligent investment in human and physical capital, India will lag behind China substantially. Whether in India or America, bad government will be a huge limiting factor on a country’s success, no matter how dynamic the society and the economy.

Photo of Ian Bremmer © Marc Bryan Brown

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