Tim O’Reilly shares insights from his book WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Harper Collins, 2017).
WTF? can be an expression of amazement or an expression of dismay. In today’s economy, we have far too much dismay along with our amazement, and technology bears some of the blame. In this combination of memoir, business strategy guide, and call to action, Tim O’Reilly, Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual and the founder of O’Reilly Media, explores the upside and the potential downsides of today’s WTF? technologies.
O’Reilly draws on lessons from Amazon, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft to show how those platforms prosper only when they create more value for their participants than they extract for the platform owner. He also explores how, like those platforms, our economy and financial markets have become increasingly managed by algorithms, and how we must rewrite those algorithms if we wish to create a more human-centered future.
The core of the book’s call to action is an exhortation to businesses to DO MORE with technology rather than just using it to cut costs and enrich their shareholders. Robots are going to take our jobs, they say. O’Reilly replies, “Only if that’s what we ask them to do! Technology is the solution to human problems, and we won’t run out of work till we run out of problems.” Whether technology brings the WTF? of wonder or the WTF? of dismay isn’t inevitable. It’s up to us!
Tim O’Reilly is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of O’Reilly Media, the company that has been providing the picks and shovels of learning to the Silicon Valley gold rush for the past thirty-five years. The company delivers online learning, publishes books, and runs conferences about cutting-edge technology, and has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. If you’ve heard the term “open source software”, “web 2.0”, “the Maker movement”, “government as a platform”, or “the WTF economy”, he’s had a hand in framing each of those big ideas. Tim is also a partner at early stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), and on the boards of Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox. He is the author of many technical books published by O’Reilly Media, and most recently WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Harper Business, 2017). He is working on a new book about why we need to rethink antitrust in the era of internet-scale platforms.
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