Everywhere we turn, our everyday experience of the world is being transfigured by the advent of startling new technologies. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of the Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to rethink our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define our lives, as well as the Silicon Valley consensus that is determining the shape of our future.
We already depend on the smartphone to navigate every aspect of our daily lives. The technologies that follow in its wake, from augmented-reality interfaces and virtual assistants to autonomous delivery drones and self-driving cars, are offered to us with the promise that they 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 revolutionise everything from the recording and exchange of value to the way we organise ourselves in groups and polities. 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 that will be available to us in the future, and most of us haven’t even begun to think about what it all means. Just how did they claim such a prominent place in our lives? How do they work? What challenges do they present to us, as selves and societies? In answering these questions, Greenfield’s timely guide orients us to the circumstances we now confront — and prods us to the thought and action necessary to ensure that our values will survive the years to come.