What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

August 28, 2017
author |
Tim O'Reilly
year published |

“Everything is amazing, everything is horrible, and it’s all moving too fast,” writes O’Reilly, founder of a media company based in Silicon Valley, who describes himself as having spent most of his career thinking about the future. Here, he acknowledges that despite the amazing technological advances made in recent history, many people are trepidatious about the future, anticipating a dystopia in which robots have taken most human jobs. Who will save us from this coming to pass? It’s the creators of “unicorns,” posits O’Reilly—technologies that amaze, and then become quotidian, freeing people to pursue more creative work. Examples of unicorns, according to O’Reilly, include the automobile, the telephone, and, more recently, the iPhone and peer-to-peer services such as Lyft and Uber. To O’Reilly, these radical innovations arise more out of intellectual curiosity than avarice—though he doesn’t make clear why this distinction matters. In his somewhat dreamy-eyed, utopian view of the future world, machine productivity will provide everyone’s basic needs and humans will find new jobs that consist of nurturing and enriching each other’s lives. The ideas are interesting but their presentation is long-winded. Nonetheless, O’Reilly has delivered an interesting, if somewhat breathless, look at what the future might hold.

—Publishers Weekly