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Future Scenarios and Predictions Reading List

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The content provided on the reading lists is for educational and informational purposes. The sources of the content are cited, and the content used represents a small portion of the whole. The use of the content, in such context and circumstance, falls under “Fair Use” pursuant of Section 107 of the Copyright Act. If you are the copyright owner and wish to have your content removed, please contact Corey Parson at corey.parson@ung.edu. 

The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

Ray Kurzweil - 2005 - AI

"For over three decades, the great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he presented the daring argument that with the ever-accelerating rate of technological change, computers would rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now, in The Singularity Is Near, he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our own creations."

Kurzweil, Ray. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York:Penguin Group, 2005.

Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

Nassim Nicolas Taleb - 2010 - Context

“A black swan is an event, positive or negative, that is deemed improbably yet causes massive consequences. In this groundbreaking and prophetic book, Massim Taleb shows in a playful way that Black Swan events explain almost everything about our world, and yet we—especially the experts—are blind to them. In this second edition, Taleb has added a new philosophical and empirical essay, ‘On Robustness and Fragility,’ which offers tools to navigate and exploit a Black Swan world.”

Tale, Nassim Nicolas. Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. New York: Random House, 2010

No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn

Charles A. Kupchan - 2012 - Context

“The world is on the cusp of a global turn. The Wests’ preeminence is slipping away as China, India, Brazil and other emerging powers rice. Although most strategists recognize that the West is on the wane, they are confident that its founding ideas—democracy, capitalism, and secular nationalism—will continue to spread, ensuring that the Western order will outlast its primacy.
“In No One's World, Charles A. Kupchan boldly challenges this view, arguing that just as the rise of the West was the product of social and economic conditions unique to Europe and the United States, ascendant regions will follow their own paths to modernity and embrace their own conceptions of domestic and international order. He contends that the twenty-first century will not belong to America, China, Asia, or anyone else. It will be no one’s world. For the first time in history, the world will be interdependent—but without a center of gravity or global guardian.

“More than simply diagnosing what lies ahead, Kupchan provides a detailed strategy for striking a bargain between the West and the rising rest by fashioning a new consensus on issues of legitimacy, sovereignty, and governance. Thoughtful, provocative, sweeping in scope, this work is nothing less than a global guidebook for the 21st century.”

Hupchan, Charles A. No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 2012.

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends

Richard Dobbs - 2015 - Context

“Based on years of research by the McKinsey Global Institute, No Ordinary Disruption is a timely and important analysis of the four forces transforming the global economy. The rise of emerging markets, the accelerating impact of technology on the natural forces of market competition, an aging world population; and the flows of trade, capital, and people are simultaneously exercising a radical and transformative impact on businesses and economies around the world.”

Dobbs, Richard. No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends. New York:PublicAffairs, 2016.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

George Friedman - 2010 - Context

“In his thought-provoking new book, George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR—the preeminent private intelligence and forecasting firm—focuses on what he knows best, the future. Positing that civilization is at the dawn of a new era, he offers a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century, all based on his own thorough analysis and research. For example, The U.S.-Jihadist war will be replaced by a new cold war with Russia; China’s role as a world power will diminish; Mexico will become an important force on the geopolitical stage; and new technologies and cultural trends will radically alter the way we live (and fight wars). Riveting reading from first to last, The Next 100 Years is a fascinating exploration of what the future holds for all of us.”

Friedman, George. The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. New York:Anchor Books, 2010.

The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World

George Friedman - 2011 - Context

“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.”

Friedman, George. The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World. New York:Anchor Books, 2012.

The Post-American World: Release 2.0

Fareed Zakaria - 2011 - Context

“In this essential update of his global bestseller, Fareed Zakaria continues to explore the shifting role of the United States in the rapidly changing landscape of world affairs. The tilting balance of power, which Zakaria coined in the original edition of The Post-American World as the ‘rise of the rest,’ has proceeded more swiftly than anyone could have anticipated, aided by the financial crisis and the surprising determination and continued growth of emerging markets such as Brazil, China, and India. With his customary lucidity, insight, and imagination, Zakaria tracks this quickly moving phenomenon and reports on the latest economic, technological, and even military developments that will shape our global future.”

Zakaria, Fareed. The Post-American World: Release 2.0. New York:W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization

Parag Khanna - 2016 - Geography

“In this bracing guide to a future shaped less by national borders than by global supply chains, visionary strategist Parag Khanna travels from Ukraine to Iran, Mongolia to North Korea, Pakistan to Nigeria, and across the Artic Circle and the South China Sea to explain the unprecedented changes affecting every part of the planet. He shows how nations are less at war over territory than engaged in tugs-pf-war over pipelines, railways, shipping lanes, and Internet cables. Khanna argues that new energy discoveries and technologies have eliminated the need for resource wars; even the Arab world is evolving a more peaceful map as it builds resource and trade routes across its war-torn landscape. At the same time, thriving hubs such as Singapore and Dubai are injecting dynamism into young and heavily populated regions, cyber-communities empower commerce across vast distances, and the world’s ballooning financial assets are being wisely invested into building an inclusive global society. Beneath the chaos of a world that appears to be falling apart is a new foundation of connectivity pulling it together.”

Kahnna, Parag. Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization. New York:Penguin Random House, 2016.

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

Robert D. Kaplan - 2012 - Geography

“Bestselling author Robert D. Kaplan builds on the insights, discoveries, and theories of great geographers and geopolitical thinkers of the recent and distant past to look back at critical pivots in history and then to look forward at the evolving global scene. Kaplan traces the history of the world’s hot sports by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to other embattled lands. He then applies the lessons learned to the present crises in Europe, Russia, China, the Indian Subcontinent, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab Middle East. The result is a holistic interpretation of the next cycle of conflict throughout Eurasia, a visionary glimpse into a future that can be understood only in the context of temperature, land allotment, and other physical certainties. A brilliant rebuttal to thinkers who suggest that globalism will trump geography, this indispensable work shows how timeless truths and natural facts can help prevent this century’s looming cataclysms.”

Kaplan, Robert D. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate. New York:Random House. 2013.

Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla

David Kilcullen - 2013 - Insurgency

“In his third book, David Kilcullen takes us out of the mountains: away from the remote, rural guerrilla warfare of Afghanistan, and into the marginalised slums and complex security threats of the world’s coastal cities, where almost 75 per cent of us will be living by 2050. Scrutinising major environmental trends—population growth, coastal urbanisation—and increasing digital connectivity, he projects a future of feral cities, urban systems under stress, and increasing overlaps between crime and war, internal and external threats, and the real and virtual worlds. Informed by Kilcullen’s own fieldwork in the Caribbean, Somalia, the Middle East and Afghanistan, and that of his field research teams in cities in Central America and Africa, Out of the Mountains presents detailed, on-the-ground accounts of the new faces of modern conflict––from the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, to transnational drug networks, local street gangs, and the uprisings of the Arab Spring.”

Kilcullen, David. Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla. London:C. Hurst & Co., 2013

The Future of Freedom

Fareed Zakaria - 2003 - Political

“A work of tremendous originality and insight. ... Makes you see the world differently.”―Washington Post

“Translated into twenty languages, The Future of Freedom is a modern classic that uses historical analysis to shed light on the present, examining how democracy has changed our politics, economics, and social relations. Prescient in laying out the distinction between democracy and liberty, the book contains a new afterword on the United States's occupation of Iraq and a wide-ranging update of the book's themes.”

Zakaria, Fareed. The Future of Freedom. New York:W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2007.

The Future of Christianity

Alister E. McGrath - 2002 - Religion

“Christianity is the world's largest religious grouping. It has undergone massive change in the twentieth century, and seems poised to undergo major transformations in the twenty-first. In this important and timely book, one of Christianity's most prolific and respected writers examines these changes, and their implications for the future. Will Christianity survive? And if so, in what forms? And what might its impact be upon culture? How does its past affect its future? What does the future hold for the various types of Christianity?

“This racy, witty yet highly informed book deals with issues such as the crisis in confidence within western Christianity, the impact of postmodernity on Christianity, and the shift in numerical strength from the west to Africa and Asia. It questions whether traditional Protestant denominations are likely to survive in their present form, and charts the rise of various forms of post-denominational Christianity. It explores the impact of a consumer culture on western Christianity, and the changes this has brought about in approached to evangelism and church growth. Finally, the work documents the gulf that has opened up between academic theology and the life of the church, and offers a penetrating Gramscian analysis of how this situation has arisen, and what can be done to remedy it.”

McGrath, Alister E. The Future of Christianity. Oxford:Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2002.

Physics of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

Michio Kaku - 2012 - Science

“Space elevators. Internet-enabled contact lenses. Cars that fly by floating on magnetic fields. This is the stuff of science fiction—it’s also daily life in the year 2100.

“Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku details the developments in computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, and space travel that are poised to happen over the next hundred years. He also considers how these inventions will affect the world economy, addressing the key questions: Who will have jobs? Which nations will prosper? Kaku interviews three hundred of the world’s top scientists—working in their labs on astonishing prototypes. He also takes into account the rigorous scientific principles that regulate how quickly, how safely, and how far technologies can advance. In Physics of the Future, Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant.”

Kaku, Michio. Physics of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. New York:Random House, 2011.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Erik Brynjolfsson - 2014 - Tech & Econ

“A groundbreaking book, The Second Machine Age crystalized the debate over the pace of technological change and its effect on the economy, vaulting onto best-seller lists with its whip-smart explanation of the forces behind everything from Jeopardy! champion computers to self-driving cars. In an eye-opening analysis, MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy, and present a blueprint for how to both build and share prosperity in the Second Machine Age.

Brynjofsson, Erik and Andrew McAfee. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. New York:W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2014.

The Future Declassified: Megatrends That Will Undo the World Unless We Take Action

Mathew Burrows - 2014 - Trends

“Today social and political change can happen in an instant, and foresight is critical. For the past decade Mat Burrows has helped the United States combat the unknown through the creation of the Global Trends report. Used by the White House, the State and Defense departments, and Homeland Security, this key futurist guide employs the most advanced research and data at the government's disposal to predict our future. Now, Burrows—for the first time—has expanded and updated the most recent Global Trends report, forecasting the tectonic shifts that will drive us to 2030.

What are the key threats and opportunities facing the United States? Which way are the Middle East, Russia, and China headed? If we want to secure our future, Burrows argues, we cannot disengage from the rest of the world. (And, interestingly, most of the rest of the world doesn't want an inward-focused United States either.) And we will only be in charge of our destiny if we come to terms with the multifaceted technological revolution and begin to make some deliberate choices. We need better education to prepare for the churn in the workforce. We need to decide if we want to play God and select our children's traits.

Finally, Burrows turns to stories, some optimistic, some frightening, to explore a spectrum of future worlds—ones in which nuclear war returns and a deadly virus surfaces or, more
positively, where the United States and China patch up their differences and the US middle class stems its decline.

From the realities of rampant urbanization and growth in a global middle class to an eastward shift in economic power and a growing number of disruptive technologies, The Future,
Declassified reminds us that every aspect of our lives is in flux and that if we don't take charge and direct those developments, we put ourselves at their mercy.”

Burrows, Mathew. The Future Declassified: Megatrends That Will Undo the World Unless We Take Action. New York:St. Martin's Press, 2014.

Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare

Colin S. Gray—2006—WAR

“Many nations, peoples and special-interest groups believe that violence will advance their cause. Warfare has changed greatly since the Second World War; it continued to change during the late 20th century and this process is still accelerating.

“Political, technological, social and religious forces are shaping the future of warfare, but most western armed forces have yet to evolve significantly from the cold war era when they trained to resist a conventional invasion by the Warsaw Pact. America is now the only superpower, but its dominance is threatened by internal and external factors. The world’s most hi-tech weaponry seems helpless in the face of determined guerrilla fighters not afraid to die for their beliefs.”

Gray, Colin S. Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare. London:Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005.

7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century

Andrew Krepinevich - 2009 - War

“A global pandemic finds millions swarming across the U.S. border. Major American cities are leveled by black-market nukes. China’s growing civil unrest ignites a global showdown. Pakistan’s collapse leads to a hunt for its nuclear weapons. What if the worst that could happen actually happens? How will we respond? Are we prepared? 

“These are the questions that Andrew F. Krepinevich asks—and answers—in this timely and often chilling book. As a military expert and consultant, Krepinevich must think the unthinkable based on the latest intelligence and geopolitical trends—and devise a response in the event our worst nightmares become reality. 

As riveting as a thriller, 7 Deadly Scenarios reveals the forces—both overt and covert—that are in play; the real ambitions of world powers, terrorist groups, and rogue states; and the actions and counteractions both our enemies and our allies can be expected to take—and what we must do to prepare before it’s too late.”

Krepinevich, Andrew F. 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century. New York:Bantam Books, 2010.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

P.W. Singer and August Cole - 2016 - War


“Ghost Fleet is a page-turning imagining of a war set in the not-too-distant future. Navy captains battle through a modern-day Pearl Harbor; fighter pilots duel with stealthy drones; teenage hackers fight in digital playgrounds; Silicon Valley billionaires mobilize for cyberwar; and a serial killer carries out her own vendetta. Ultimately, victory will depend on who can best blend the lessons of the past with the weapons of the future. But what makes the story even more notable is that every trend and technology in book—no matter how sci-fi it may seem—is real.
 
The debut novel by two leading experts on the cutting edge of national security, Ghost Fleet has drawn praise as a new kind of techno-thriller while also becoming the new must-read for military leaders around the world.”

Singer, P. W. and August Cole. Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. New York:Mariner Books, 2015

Starship Troopers

Robert A. Heinlein - 1987 - War

JOIN THE ARMY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE

“The historians can’t seem to settle whether to call this one ‘The Third Space War’ (or the fourth), or whether ‘The First Interstellar War’ fits it better. We just call it ‘The Bug War.’ Everything up to then and still later were ‘incidents,’ ‘patrols,’ or ‘police actions.’ However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an ‘incident’ as you are if you buy it in a declared war...

In one of Robert A. Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest book camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy."

Heinlein, Robert A. Starship Troopers. New York:Penguin Group, 1959.

Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America

Qiao Liang - 2015 - War Asymmetric

“A sobering and fascinating study on war in the modern era, Unrestricted Warfare carefully explores strategies that militarily and politically disadvantaged nations might take in order to successfully attack a geopolitical super-power like the United States. American military doctrine is typically led by technology; a new class of weapon or vehicle is developed, which allows or encourages an adjustment in strategy. Military strategists Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui argue that this dynamic is a crucial weakness in the American military, and that this blind spot with regard to alternative forms warfare could be effectively exploited by enemies. Unrestricted Warfare concerns the many ways in which this might occur, and, in turn, suggests what the United States might do to defend itself.

“The traditional mentality that offensive action is limited to military action is no longer adequate given the range of contemporary threats and the rising costs-both in dollars and lives lost-of traditional warfare. Instead, Liang and Xiangsui suggest the significance of alternatives to direct military confrontation, including international policy, economic warfare, attacks on digital infrastructure and networks, and terrorism. Even a relatively insignificant state can incapacitate a far more powerful enemy by applying pressure to their economic and political systems. Exploring each of these considerations with remarkable insight and clarity, Unrestricted Warfare is an engaging evaluation of our geopolitical future.”

Liang, Qiao and Wang Xiangsui. Unrestricted Warfare: China's Master Plan to Destroy America. Marina Del Ray:Shadow Lawn Press., 2017.

The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century

Thomas Hammes - 2004 - War Asymmetric

“‘4GW (Fourth Generation Warfare) is the only kind of war America has ever lost. And we have done so three times—in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. This form of warfare has also defeated the French in Vietnam and Algeria, and the USSR in Afghanistan. As the only Goliath left in the world, we should be worried that the world's Davids have found a sling and stone that work.’—Chapter 1, The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. The War in Iraq. The War on Terror. These types of ‘asymmetrical’ warfare are the conflicts of the 21st century—and show how difficult it is for the world's remaining superpower to battle insurgents and terrorists who will fight unconventionally in the face of superior military power. This change in military conflict may seem sudden.”

Hammes, Thomas X. The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century. St. Paul:Zenith Press, 2006.

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