The tech industry is always evolving, from the emerging technologies being developed to transform the future of work to robotics streaming into every sector, it’s always good to get firsthand experience on the world of tech.
Here, we list some of the most recent groundbreaking tech tomes for you to get your teeth into.
Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener
Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner is a sharp, funny and sometimes dark trip through the Silicon Valley startup scene based on her own experiences.
It offers first-person insight of Bay Area startup culture, tracking the intersection between surveillance culture, quick fortunes, and political power.
Competing in the age of AI: Strategy and leadership when algorithms and networks run the world by Marco Lansiti and Karim R. Lakhani
Competing in the age of AI addresses how organisations can deliver an AI-driven strategy, and go about rethinking their operating models.
Authors Marco Lansiti and Karim R. Lakhani argue that by reinventing organisations around data, analytics and AI, many traditional business constraints have been removed.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said of the book: “An important book that explains what’s required to rethink the firm and become an AI-first company. Anyone interested in the impact of AI should read this book.”
You look like a thing and I love you: How Artificial Intelligence works and why it’s making the world a weirder place by Janelle Shane
AI Weirdness blog writer and scientist Janelle Shane’s book is for all AI-curious people in the world. Shane answers question for those that fear the technology, as well as those that are just eager to know what automation, AI, and robotics could achieve.
Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet by Yasha Levine
Investigative reporter Yasha Levine details the roots of the internet as a tool for surveillance and control, through to the murky reality beneath the surface of the modern privacy movement today.
Surveillance Valley is a must read for those with an interest in the history of the web and where it all started – as a weapon.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Wall Street Journal investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winner John Carreyrou tells the story of a biotech startup based in Silicon Valley, Theranos, that wasn’t quite as advertised.
Bad Blood reveals how Elizabeth Holmes, once the most successful female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, grabbed the attention and capital of investors with a medical device that promised to transform the medical industry by making blood testing simpler. But the technology didn’t work.
Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO and self-confessed cricket obsessive Satya Nadella launched his part-polemical, part-autobiographical book Hit Refresh in 2017.
Coauthored with former Microsoft employee Jill Tracie Nichols, the Hyderabad-born CEO charts his time growing up, moving to America, his family life and his rise to CEO at Microsoft, with various philosophical and political musings tied in along the way.
Although Nadella ignores some of the most pressing concerns of the 21st century (disaster capitalism – he doesn’t want to talk about it, he writes) and comes across as technocrat (he is the CEO of Microsoft, after all), the book nevertheless became a New York Times bestseller and manages to carry a certain candid warmth.
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang
A riveting call to arms against the stifling homogeneity of Silicon Valley’s tech bro communities. Enshrined in exclusive cultural practices – meeting in a hot tub or the local strip club anyone? – and workplaces where discrimination and harassment are rife, this book takes aim at the antiquated views still baked into one of the otherwise most forward-thinking segments of society.
Supported by interviews with a number of impressive women in tech, and insider scoops on the most troubling hotbeds of this inequality, this book examines how to disrupt the brotopia currently shaping the world of tomorrow.
Harnessing our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson
This book, written by MIT researchers Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, is a must read for those in tech or business. It focuses on how machine intelligence, products and platforms, and the ability to harness the crowd are informing the future of business, including how and why industry incumbents are being disrupted by younger upstarts and why the wisdom of crowds is more important than ever.
Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies by Calestous Juma
This book is a fascinating, historical exploration of how technologies of varying scale have been received and the worries that are often associated with them, exploring themes such as inequality along the way. It then links these concerns to emerging technologies today and how to manage shifting public expectations towards new tech.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
In Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, author Nir Eyal draws from his background in advertising and gaming, combined with a healthy dollop of behavioural psychology to inform this insightful book on how companies build products we can’t put down. Eyal uses his Hook Model, consisting of four steps, to explain why some products intrigue us while others are discarded. A fascinating read for anyone interested in consumer psychology or the human mind in general.
Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
Described by the journal Science as a ‘call for resistance’, Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech, explores the human biases behind the people who write code – and how an extreme lack of diversity in Silicon Valley can lead to extremely unpleasant results baked into the final software, including but not limited to racial discrimination and sexism.
Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith
Tackling serious topics with a light-hearted touch, SMBC cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and Dr Kelly Weinersmith to explore emerging technologies that might – wait for it – improve and/or ruin everything.
It puts the lens on real and imagined technologies like augmented reality, space elevators, and fusion-powered toasters, why they could or couldn’t work and the steps that would have to be taken to potentially realise them.
Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian says the book provides insights into “the most ambitious technological feats of our time”.
The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale
Frank Pasquale’s exposé into the murky algorithmic undergrowth of big finance charts how hidden lines of code can make or break lives and even threaten to topple economies.
Chief executives cloistered in Silicon Valley race to gather the most data for maximum profit, but they’re unaccountable.
Pasquale’s book seeks to shine a light on their secretive (and perhaps unethical) practices, to encourage the kind of transparency that the public is eager for in both Wall Street and the Valley.
Ready Player One
Set in 2044, humanity escapes the dystopia of existence within the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). Following protagonist Wade, we experience an action-packed sci-fi thriller, teasing romance and on-the-bone comedy, ultimately fuelled by the nostalgia of the 1980s.
Any techie reader will be immersed from start to finish in the hunt for Adventure’s three keys from the Atari 2600. Made to bring out the inner gamer-geek in all of us, Ready Player One is the close-sci-fi novel of the decade and a soon-to-be cult classic.
Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley money machine
Stripping the Silicon Valley bubble bare, Chaos Monkeys offers a guide to the high-powered tech elite living a life of excess in the Californian tech hub. In this book, author Antonio García Martínez (previously a Facebook and Twitter advisor) looks at how tech innovators can disrupt every sector of modern life.
For a slightly more recent examination of the same topics, look no further than Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley following author, Corey Pein’s, experiences trying to get rich quick in the world’s most lucrative ‘billionaire factory’. The resulting cultural excavation of a desolated landscape populated by opportunists, con-men and grifters from afar is well worth a read.
Weapons of Math Destruction
In this book, data scientist Cathy O’Neil explores the age of the algorithm, questioning its impact on humans and society. Logically designed algorithms would be expected to bring about calm, certainty and fairness – but this is far from being the case. Instead, policies informed by ‘fair’ algorithms are currently penalising some of those most at need, creating vicious cycles and highlighting the ‘dark side of big data’.
Rise of the Machines: the lost history of cybernetics
The rise of the machines as a futuristic theory has been well covered in TV, films and books, but what got us to this point? Why is there a constant need to explore a post-apocalyptic world where we have super intelligent overlords? This book offers an insightful history of cybernetics, offering a guide to the recent past and how this could impact the future of, well, everything.
The Open Organisation by Jim Whitehurst
In this book, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst reveals how creating an engaged and passionate workforce will result in a performance and revenue boost in both a work setting and in the greater world. Whitehurst focuses on the greater community, demonstrating how building a strong collective will inevitably lead to success.
The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
In this book, Kevin Kelly guides readers through the next 30 years of our lives, calling on 12 technological imperatives that will transform the way we live. From virtual reality, AI and the digital economy, this book aims to provide an understanding of the tech that will change the future of the planet.
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
A brave attempt to sum up how computers and the internet came to be, with Ada Countess of Lovelace in the 1830s at one end to the era of search at the other – and plenty in between. Covering the work of 60 ‘innovators’, it turns out it was all about teamwork rather than the simplistic idea of genius or mavericks. He could have started earlier with the Mechanical Turk.
Pax Technica by Philip N. Howard
An unfashionably optimistic view on the Internet of Things (IoT) and what this new hyper-connectedness could do for politics, democracy and even the authoritarian regimes that have flourished lately. He argues that IoT won’t just change the nature of devices but the ability – or inability – of power brokers to control it.