From Thomas Piketty to David Harvey, scholars are increasingly questioning whether we are entering into a post-capitalist era. If so, does this new epoch signal the failure of capitalism and emergence of alternative systems? Or does it mark the ultimate triumph of capitalism as it evolves into an unstoppable entity that takes new forms as it engulfs its opposition?
After Capitalism brings together leading scholars from across the academy to offer competing perspectives on capitalism’s past incarnations, present conditions, and possible futures. Some contributors reassess classic theorizations of capitalism in light of recent trends, including real estate bubbles, debt relief protests, and the rise of a global creditocracy. Others examine Marx’s writings, unemployment, hoarding, “capitalist realism,” and coyote (trickster) capitalism, among many other topics. Media and design trends locate the key ideologies of the current economic moment, with authors considering everything from the austerity aesthetics of reality TV to the seductive smoothness of liquid crystal.
Even as it draws momentous conclusions about global economic phenomena, After Capitalism also pays close attention to locales as varied as Cuba, India, and Latvia, examining the very different ways that economic conditions have affected the relationship between the state and its citizens. Collectively, these essays raise provocative questions about how we should imagine capitalism in the twenty-first century. Will capitalism, like all economic systems, come to an end, or does there exist in history or elsewhere a hidden world that is already post-capitalist, offering alternative possibilities for thought and action?
What are the implications of how we talk about apocalypse?
A new philosophical field has emerged. “Existential risk” studies any real or hypothetical human extinction event in the near or distant future. This movement examines catastrophes ranging from runaway global warming to nuclear warfare to malevolent artificial intelligence, deploying a curious mix of utilitarian ethics, statistical risk analysis, and, controversially, a transhuman advocacy that would aim to supersede almost all extinction scenarios. The proponents of existential risk thinking, led by Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, have seen their work gain immense popularity, attracting endorsement from Bill Gates and Elon Musk, millions of dollars, and millions of views.
Calamity Theory is the first book to examine the rise of this thinking and its failures to acknowledge the ways some communities and lifeways are more at risk than others and what it implies about human extinction.
“Sustainability is not a buzz-word anymore; it’s a matter of survival. Meaningful achievement in sustainability will require significant paradigm shifts in attitudes about how we live, how we consume resources, how we govern ourselves and how we transport people and goods. Asti’s excellent exploration of the issues is a must-read.”
-- Subrata Basu, AIA, AICP Miami-Dade County Department of Planning and Zoning
“Industries, health care, education and others are trying to tread more lightly on our environment. To achieve sustainability goals our times demand, we must work together to maximize the benefit to our communities. Asti has always seen the larger picture and encouraged orchestration of diverse initiatives. The Chicken Came First is full of knowledge, sensitivity, and insights certain to advance the achievement of sustainable communities.”
--Richard Renfro, AIA
Renfro Design Group, AIA, New York City
“A brilliant travel guide to the coming world of AI.”
What does it mean to be creative? Can creativity be trained? Is it uniquely human, or could AI be considered creative?
Mathematical genius and exuberant polymath Marcus du Sautoy plunges us into the world of artificial intelligence and algorithmic learning in this essential guide to the future of creativity. He considers the role of pattern and imitation in the creative process and sets out to investigate the programs and programmers—from Deep Mind and the Flow Machine to Botnik and WHIM—who are seeking to rival or surpass human innovation in gaming, music, art, and language. A thrilling tour of the landscape of invention, The Creativity Code explores the new face of creativity and the mysteries of the human code.
“As machines outsmart us in ever more domains, we can at least comfort ourselves that one area will remain sacrosanct and uncomputable: human creativity. Or can we?…In his fascinating exploration of the nature of creativity, Marcus du Sautoy questions many of those assumptions.”
“Fascinating…If all the experiences, hopes, dreams, visions, lusts, loves, and hatreds that shape the human imagination amount to nothing more than a ‘code,’ then sooner or later a machine will crack it. Indeed, du Sautoy assembles an eclectic array of evidence to show how that’s happening even now.”
The first English-language collection to establish curiosity studies as a unique field
From science and technology to business and education, curiosity is often taken for granted as an unquestioned good. And yet, few people can define curiosity. Curiosity Studies marshals scholars from more than a dozen fields not only to define curiosity but also to grapple with its ethics as well as its role in technological advancement and global citizenship. While intriguing research on curiosity has occurred in numerous disciplines for decades, no rigorously cross-disciplinary study has existed—until now.
Curiosity Studies stages an interdisciplinary conversation about what curiosity is and what resources it holds for human and ecological flourishing. These engaging essays are integrated into four clusters: scientific inquiry, educational practice, social relations, and transformative power. By exploring curiosity through the practice of scientific inquiry, the contours of human learning, the stakes of social difference, and the potential of radical imagination, these clusters focus and reinvigorate the study of this universal but slippery phenomenon: the desire to know.
Against the assumption that curiosity is neutral, this volume insists that curiosity has a history and a political import and requires precision to define and operationalize. As various fields deepen its analysis, a new ecosystem for knowledge production can flourish, driven by real-world problems and a commitment to solve them in collaboration. By paying particular attention to pedagogy throughout, Curiosity Studies equips us to live critically and creatively in what might be called our new Age of Curiosity.
Contributors: Danielle S. Bassett, U of Pennsylvania; Barbara M. Benedict, Trinity College; Susan Engel, Williams College; Ellen K. Feder, American U; Kristina T. Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Narendra Keval; Christina León, Princeton U; Tyson Lewis, U of North Texas; Amy Marvin, U of Oregon; Hilary M. Schor, U of Southern California; Seeta Sistla, Hampshire College; Heather Anne Swanson, Aarhus U.
Histories of the Future
Daniel Rosenberg and Susan Harding, eds. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress CB158.H57 2005 | Dewey Decimal 303.49
We live in a world saturated by futures. Our lives are constructed around ideas and images about the future that are as full and as flawed as our understandings of the past. This book is a conceptual toolkit for thinking about the forms and functions that the future takes. Exploring links between panic and nostalgia, waiting and utopia, technology and messianism, prophecy and trauma, it brings together critical meditations on the social, cultural, and intellectual forces that create narratives and practices of the future. The prognosticators, speculators, prophets, and visionaries have their say here, but the emphasis is on small narratives and forgotten conjunctures, on the connections between expectation and experience in everyday life.
In tightly linked studies, the contributors excavate forgotten and emergent futures of art, religion, technology, economics, and politics. They trace hidden histories of science fiction, futurism, and millennialism and break down barriers between far-flung cultural spheres. From the boardrooms of Silicon Valley to the forests of Java and from the literary salons of Tokyo to the roadside cafés of the Nevada desert, the authors stitch together the disparate images and stories of futures past and present. Histories of the Future is further punctuated by three interludes: a thought-provoking game that invites players to fashion future narratives of their own, a metafiction by renowned novelist Jonathan Lethem, and a remarkable graphic research tool: a timeline of timelines.
Contributors. Sasha Archibald, Susan Harding, Jamer Hunt, Pamela Jackson, Susan Lepselter, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Masco, Christopher Newfield, Elizabeth Pollman, Vicente Rafael, Daniel Rosenberg, Miryam Sas, Kathleen Stewart, Anna Tsing
Trends have become a commodity—an element of culture in their own right and the very currency of our cultural life. Consumer culture relies on a new class of professionals who explain trends, predict trends, and in profound ways even manufacture trends. On Trend delves into one of the most powerful forces in global consumer culture. From forecasting to cool hunting to design thinking, the work done by trend professionals influences how we live, work, play, shop, and learn. Devon Powers' provocative insights open up how the business of the future kindles exciting opportunity even as its practices raise questions about an economy increasingly built on nonstop disruption and innovation. Merging industry history with vivid portraits of today's trend visionaries, Powers reveals how trends took over, what it means for cultural change, and the price all of us pay to see—and live—the future.
In the field of history, the Web and other technologies have become important tools in research and teaching of the past. Yet the use of these tools is limited—many historians and history educators have resisted adopting them because they fail to see how digital tools supplement and even improve upon conventional tools (such as books). In Pastplay, a collection of essays by leading history and humanities researchers and teachers, editor Kevin Kee works to address these concerns head-on. How should we use technology? Playfully, Kee contends. Why? Because doing so helps us think about the past in new ways; through the act of creating technologies, our understanding of the past is re-imagined and developed. From the insights of numerous scholars and teachers, Pastplay argues that we should play with technology in history because doing so enables us to see the past in new ways by helping us understand how history is created; honoring the roots of research, teaching, and technology development; requiring us to model our thoughts; and then allowing us to build our own understanding.
Planet Management is a study of, and contribution to, the history of "globality"--the emergence of a complex organization of politics, economics, and culture at a planetary rather than a national level. Drawing on historical archival research as well as recent theoretical work in science studies and critical theory, the book tell the story of the central role of technoscientific discourses and practices in the emergence of globality.
While Ralph Ellison is perhaps best known for his novel Invisible Man, he was also a significant twentieth-century intellectual, having authored numerous essays and papers that shaped thought on subjects from jazz to liberalism. Ralph Ellison: The Next Fifty Years gathers outstanding scholars in the fields of American and African American studies to engage Ellison’s theoretical and critical writings.
Several essays in this collection focus on an area of Ellison’s thinking that has yet to be adequately scrutinized—his study of, and writing about, music, specifically jazz and the blues. Although not a systematic philosopher of music, Ellison exhibited the seriousness and rigor associated with the critical musical writings of Theodor Adorno and Edward Said. Other essays in this special issue examine salient questions raised by Ellison’s work, including the nature of the connection between the novel and the democratic mind, Vietnam and the crisis of liberal society, and the problematic of modernism and freedom. Ralph Ellison addresses the ways in which Ellison’s writings about art were also efforts to think about and discuss political agency.
Contributors. Jonathan Arac, Kevin Bell, Adam Gussow, Ronald A. T. Judy, Robert O’Meally, Donald E. Pease, Barry Shank, Hortense Spillers, Kenneth Warren, Alexander G. Weheliye, John Wright
We are running out of water, robots will take our jobs, we are eating ourselves to an early death, old age pension and health systems are bankrupting governments, and an immigration crisis is unravelling the European integration project. A growing number of nightmares, perfect storms, and global catastrophes create fear of the future. One response is technocratic optimism — we’ll invent our way out of these impending crises. Or we’ll simply ignore them as politically too hot to handle, too uncomfortable for experts — denied until crisis hits. History is littered with late lessons from early warnings. Cynicism is an excuse for inaction. Populism flourishes in the depths of despair. Despite the gloom, there is another way to look at the future. We don’t have to be pessimistic or optimistic — we can find realistic hope.This book is written by an international and influential collection of future shapers. It is aimed at anyone who is interested in learning to refresh the present, forge new common ground, and redesign the future.
The ability to predict the future is essential to modern life. Planning for population growth or changes in weather patterns or forecasting demand for products and managing inventories would be impossible without it. But how have people through the ages gone about making predictions? What were their underlying assumptions, and what methods did they use? Have increased computer power and the newest algorithms improved our success in anticipating the future, or are we still only as good (or as bad) as our ancestors bent over their auguries? From the ancients watching the flight of birds to the murky activities of Google and Facebook today, Seeing into the Future provides vital insight into the past, present, and—of course—future of prediction.
W. Warren Wagar's A Short History of the Future is a memoir of postmodern times, cast as a history. This powerful and visionary book is narrated by a far-future historian, Peter Jensen, who leaves this account of the world from the 1990s to the opening of the twenty-third century as a gift to his granddaughter. A combination of fiction and scholarship, this third edition of Wagar's speculative history of the future alternates between descriptions of world events and intimate glimpses of his fictive historian's family into the first centuries of the new millennium.
"Thanks to Wagar's magisterial command of futurist information and theory, his extrapolated near-term future is an incisive, dynamic vision of where we may indeed be heading."—H. Bruce Franklin, Washington Post
"A comprehensive, massively detailed script of a possible near future. . . . Intriguing."—San Francisco Chronicle
"A Short History of the Future reads with ease, raises provocative possibilities and presents challenging occasions for thought and argument."—Chicago Tribune
"A breathtaking future history in the manner of Wells and Stapledon, unnerving in its mixture of fact, fiction, and personal perspectives."—George Zebrowski, New York Review of Science Fiction
A dazzling and imaginative combination of fiction and scholarship, this speculative history of the future is a memoir of postmodern times. This second edition shows how the events of 1989 and their aftermath reinforce Wagar's predictions of the future. "A breathtaking future history in the manner of Wells and Stapledon, unnerving in its mixture of facts, fiction, and personal perspectives."—George Zebrowski, New York Review of Science Fiction
In the tradition of H. G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come, W. Warren Wagar's A Short History of the Future is a memoir of postmodern times. Cast in the form of a history book, the narrative voice of the book's powerful vision is that of a far-future historian, Peter Jensen, who leaves this account of the world from the 1990s to the opening of the twenty-third century as a gift to his granddaughter. A dazzling and imaginative combination of fiction and scholarship, Wagar's speculative history of the future alternates between descriptions of world events and intimate glimpses of his fictive historian's family through the ages.
Jensen's tale traces the flow of the future from the early twenty-first-century reign of a megacorporate global economy, to its sudden collapse in 2044, when nuclear catastrophe envelops the world. In the traumatic aftermath, a socialist world commonwealth comes into being in the year 2062, followed by a lengthy transition to a decentralized order of technologically mature autonomous societies, many located in outer space. The riveting literary interludes that follow each chapter take the form of letters and documents from the history of Jensen's family, evoking the everyday lives of people in the midst of these global-historical events. Here we meet a woman in Brazil whose son is dying from a new immuno-deficiency disease, two brothers comparing life on earth with life in a space colony, and many more.
Neither fiction nor nonfiction, Wagar's brilliantly creative work is not meant to forecast the future, but rather to draw attention to possibilities and alternatives for humankind and planet Earth. In doing so, it also serves as an unforgettable reminder that the future is being made now.
Concerns itself with the future of sociology, and of all social science. The thirteen authors—among them Wendell Bell, Kai T. Erikson, Scott Greer, Robert Boguslaw, James Mau, and Ivar Oxaal—are oriented toward a redefinition of the role of the social scientist as advisor to policymakers and administrators in all major areas of social concern, for the purpose of studying and shaping the future. This book contains research strategies for such "futurologistic" study, theories on its merits and dangers, as well as an annotated bibliography of social science studies of the future.
How should we think about the “shape” of human history since the birth of cities, and where are we headed? Sociologist and historian John Torpey proposes that the “Axial Age” of the first millennium BCE, when some of the world’s major religious and intellectual developments first emerged, was only one of three such decisive periods that can be used to directly affect present social problems, from economic inequality to ecological destruction.
Torpey’s argument advances the idea that there are in fact three “Axial Ages,” instead of one original Axial Age and several subsequent, smaller developments. Each of the three ages contributed decisively to how humanity lives, and the difficulties it faces. The earliest, or original, Axial Age was a moral one; the second was material, and revolved around the creation and use of physical objects; and the third is chiefly mental, and focused on the technological. While there are profound risks and challenges, Torpey shows how a worldview that combines the strengths of all three ages has the potential to usher in a period of exceptional human freedom and possibility.
Transhumanism posits that humanity is on the verge of rapid evolutionary change as a result of emerging technologies and increased global consciousness. However, this insight is dismissed as a naive and controversial reframing of posthumanist thought, having also been vilified as “the most dangerous idea in the world” by Francis Fukuyama. In this book, Andrew Pilsch counters these critiques, arguing instead that transhumanism’s utopian rhetoric actively imagines radical new futures for the species and its habitat.
Pilsch situates contemporary transhumanism within the longer history of a rhetorical mode he calls “evolutionary futurism” that unifies diverse texts, philosophies, and theories of science and technology that anticipate a radical explosion in humanity’s cognitive, physical, and cultural potentialities. By conceptualizing transhumanism as a rhetoric, as opposed to an obscure group of fringe figures, he explores the intersection of three major paradigms shaping contemporary Western intellectual life: cybernetics, evolutionary biology, and spiritualism. In analyzing this collision, his work traces the belief in a digital, evolutionary, and collective future through a broad range of texts written by theologians and mystics, biologists and computer scientists, political philosophers and economic thinkers, conceptual artists and Golden Age science fiction writers. Unearthing the long history of evolutionary futurism, Pilsch concludes, allows us to more clearly see the novel contributions that transhumanism offers for escaping our current geopolitical bind by inspiring radical utopian thought.
Drawing up alternate ways to “make a living” beyond capitalism
To live in this world is to be conditioned by capital. Once paired with Western democracy, unfettered capitalism has led to a shrinking economic system that squeezes out billions of people—creating a planet of surplus populations. Wageless Life is a manifesto for building a future beyond the toxic failures of late-stage capitalism. Daring to imagine new social relations, new modes of economic existence, and new collective worlds, the authors provide skills and tools for perceiving—and living in— a post-capitalist future.
Forerunners: Ideas First Short books of thought-in-process scholarship, where intense analysis, questioning, and speculation take the lead