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Important Books


In this list, you'll find quotations from important books we read, along with our thoughts about their place in our ongoing mission.

Tim O’Reilly’s WTF: What's the Future?

“Prosperity in human societies is best understood as the accumulation of solutions to human problems. We won't run out of work until we run out of problems.” – Nick Hanauer

Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists

“Productivity is for robots. Humans excel at wasting time, experimenting, playing, creating, and exploring.” – Kevin Kelly

Mike Berners-Lee’s There Is No Planet B

“...a lively and cogent assessment of what is happening to the Earth's biosphere and resources ... All citizens should be grateful for this information-packed and wide-ranging primer” – Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

James Gleick: Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

“A genius, a great mathematician once said, performs magic, does things that nobody else could do. To his scientific colleagues, Richard Feynman was a magician of the highest caliber...”


Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near

“Most long-range forecasts of what is technically feasible in future time periods dramatically underestimate the power of future developments because they are based on what I call the 'intuitive linear' view. My models show that we are doubling the paradigm-shift rate every decade... Thus the twentieth century was gradually speeding up to today's rate of progress; its achievements, therefore, were equivalent to about twenty years of progress at the rate in 2000. We'll make another twenty years of progress in just fourteen years (by 2014) and then do the same again in only seven years. To express this another way, we won't experience one hundred years of technological advance in the twenty-first century; we will witness on the order of of twenty thousand years of progress (again, when measured by today's [2005] rate of progress, or about one thousand times greater than what we achieved in the twentieth century.”– Ray Kurzweil

The same thing is happening with renewable energy. It’s doubling every 4 years and I’m confident it will meet 100% of our energy needs by 2030.


Marcia Bjornerud: Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

lengthy extracts from this book can be found here

This short, profound, mind-altering work is brilliant. Had it been read by 10% of the world's decision makers and serious influencers in 1990, we would probably not be in the Racing to Extinction Orgy we now find ourselves in ...Oh, but wait: it wasn't published until 2018. Oh, well. There's another verdant and generous planet just next door, right?

The author, Marcia Bjornerud, speaks in a gentle but insistent voice, telling us that our relationship with Time is messed up, but that listening to the rocks can help straighten us out. Here's a long quote that sums up her thinking:

“As members of a technological society that can keep Nature at arm's length most of the time, we have an almost autistic relationship with the Earth. We are rigid in our ways, savants when it comes to certain narrow obsessions, but dysfunctional in other regards, because we wrongly view ourselves as separate from the rest of the natural world. Convinced that Nature is something outside us, a mute and immutable thing external to us, we are unable to empathize or communicate with it.

“But the Earth is speaking to us all the time. In every stone, it offers an eternal truth or good rule of thumb; in every leaf, a prototype power station; in every ecosystem, an exemplar of a healthy economy. In Aldo Leopold's words, we need to ‘start thinking like a mountain,’ awake to all the habits and inhabitants of this ancient, complicated, endlessly evolving planet.' [p179]”

 


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