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Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization (TED Books Book 15) [Kindle Edition]

Parag Khanna , Ayesha Khanna
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Technology futurists Ayesha and Parag Khanna (whom Esquire magazine calls one of the 75 people who will influence the 21st century) declare that we are rapidly moving from a point of co-existence with technology to a phase of co-evolution with it. In the Hybrid Age, technology is ubiquitous (with trillions of sensors coating our environment), intelligent (devices communicating with each other as well as with us), and social (encouraging us to develop emotional relationships with it). Technology no longer just processes our instruction; it has its own agency, and we respond to it as much as it responds to us. What this means for societies and individuals, as well as communities and nations, is truly world changing. How will we respond and adapt?


Product Description

Review

Praise for Hybrid Reality

Hybrid Reality is an enormously important contribution to our thinking about how to create a better tomorrow. It studiously ties technology to our deepest political and economic patterns, and gives a lucid portrayal of the technologies re-shaping our lives tod. The Khanna’s case for a Pax Technologica is a mission we should all share.”
- Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman/CEO, X PRIZE and Chairman, Singularity University

“The Khannas have presented a visionary synthesis of the world on the horizon. Their research is exhaustive and exhilarating, and their hopefulness inspiring.”
- Alvin and Heidi Toffler, bestselling authors of Future Shock, The Third Wave, Revolutionary Wealth and more

Hybrid Reality effortlessly bridges many examples of our deepening entanglement with technology – from avatars to augmented reality to social robots – with profound and plausible scenarios for how our very sense of self will change. This book will prepare you for the future.”
- Jeremy Bailenson, Director, Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), Stanford University

Hybrid Reality is a profoundly optimistic book. For all those who fear the future for their children, Ayesha and Parag Khanna have given you a hundred reasons for hope. The range of ideas and forces creating new potentials will give the reader a strong foundation for understanding the accelerating change all around us and the tools for navigating an astonishing new world.”
- Peter Schwartz, co-founder, Global Business Network (GBN) and author of The Art of the Long View and Inevitable Surprises

Hybrid Reality has captured the inexorable integration and symbiosis of technology with the human condition. Yes, we are shaped by technology — but somehow, wonderfully, we are shaping it to transform our institutions and our world as well. The Khannas have invented a new language to talk about this emerging reality. Let’s talk.”
- Don Tapscott, best-selling (co-)author of 14 books, most recently Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 995 KB
  • Print Length: 79 pages
  • Publisher: TED Conferences (21 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0085BLPW8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #296,450 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hybrid Reality is the short monograph which I suppose serves as flagship publication Pareg and Ayesha's Hybrid Reality Institute, an organisation whose raison d'etre seems to be the pursuit of unfettered wishful thinking about the potential of technology. Good luck to them: dreaming up whacky visions of the future does sound like fun, and while it's hard to see any practical application for the Fortune 500 companies the authors claim as their clients, if they've managed to persuade these conglomerates otherwise, happy days. Especially if in the future, everything is going to be crowd-sourced and free.

Hybrid Reality is thus an attempt to sketch out a future based on extrapolating current trends of technological development: a (thankfully slimmer) companion-piece to Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity is Near.

In fairness, Hybrid Reality quickly moves beyond stock platitudes about crowdsourcing, but where it does it does so without much credibility. The text is plastered with buzzwords borrowed from other disciplines and deployed with carefree abandon:

"accelerated evolution creates what we might call a Heisenbergian or quantum society: we are particles whose position, momentum and impact on others, and the impact of others on us, are perpetually uncertain due to constant technological disruptions."

Okayyy. Amongst the rhubarb there is a point to be made about rapidly disrupting technologies, but that's not it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pondering 'what if?' 26 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Subtitled Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization, this is from the TED Books series and explores not just how technology has changed the way we live but that in order for governments, business, society and individuals to thrive, we should embrace a conjoined evolution. Not quite resistance is futile but when you consider some of the examples discussed - from ASIMO to Watson, Facebook to Klout - it is clear that technology's transformative impact on our lives is far from over. Some reviews were scathing but I quite liked the opportunity to ponder 'what if?' for a while.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A promising future, if only it comes about. 24 Nov. 2013
By Mark D
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Personally, I think the authors are totally on the money as to how technology will be integrated into our figure lives. However, for that integration to be successful, the technology needs to be widely available.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too short for money 9 Feb. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
OK. Bit pricey for such a short book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
91 of 103 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All above five star reviews are by the authors friends! 7 Aug. 2012
By jane ayer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I read a very provocative and negative review of this book In the new republic by evgeny morozov (google it). Curious, i came to amazon to check out the book and saw all five star rave reviews!! I wondered how everyone who read the book could love it so much.
Amazon reviews are imprtant for we trust in the integrity of the reviews. However, when i looked up each one of the above reviewers, they have all written only about khanna's books! And his wife's books!! None of the reviewers have any reviews of any other books on kindle or amazon to their credit. Clearly, these are the authors friends who are trying to skew the amazon reviews and change how this book appears on amazon book lists.
This is very disingenuous.
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial Technobabble 26 Aug. 2012
By Larry Cavendish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Do you constantly use terms like "coordinate hierarchy" and "emergent systems" when you are trying to impress your friends? Do you like stringing together long words that you don't understand in order to sound more intelligent than other people? Do you like learning unrelated statistics that don't seem to lead to any conclusion? Then this is the book for you!
Parag and Ayesha Khanna don't know quite what the future holds, but they know it's gonna be scary. They could be considered bold futurists had this book been published in 1988. Lookout for Asia! They're more accustomed to being genetically altered and having chips inserted in their brain stems than you are. Did you know cell phones are going to play a big role in social change? Did you know the internet will change the way money is exchanged? There are many insights just like this in Hybrid Reality.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Corporate Buzzword Technobabble BS 13 Feb. 2013
By DCLawStudent - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This book epitomizes the current corporate practice of stringing together a bunch of technobabble BS and irrelevant statistics and labeling it insight. Don't bother.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars uncritical examination of technology and culture 22 Sept. 2012
By R. Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is an uncritical examinations of technology and culture in which the only conclusions the authors seem capable of drawing regards today's complex global socio-economic reality are that almost all contemporary social and economic problems can be solved by participation in the borderless neo-liberal economy and a shared religious like faith in the technological innovation that it facilitates.

The fact that Ayesha Khanna is an advisor to the Singularity University - many of whose faculty of techno-inititates hold an almost millennial belief in a "singularity" or an end of history like event after which it will become possible to digitize and upload human consciousness into "spiritual machines"- certainly helps to explain the authors techno-zealotry.

Using the work of Alvin and Heidi Toffler as a jumping off point (one sees in the Khannas' interpretation of "Future Shock" why the books is also a favorite of Newt Gingrich) the Khannas' weave a narrative about the what a glorious future is in store for all those who learn to appropriate the new technologies to become aspiring entrepreneurs of the digital age.

The Khannas' appear to view Asian authoritarian capitalism, such as practiced in China or Singapore, as role models for the Future Societies they envision. Not surprisingly those places are well served by technocratic regimes since the few voices of dissent within can be quickly extinguished through the security apparatus of the all seeing surveillance state that the new digital technologies - for all the good they may do - also enable.

While one expects an optimistic assessment of Technology from any TED talk or book, one has an expectation to at least see an attempt at a critical interrogation -or even a nuanced view- of what may be some other darker sides of the new "hybrid reality". But, except for a few short paragraphs in which they mention the problems associated with the digital divide, that some Africans may have to toil to mine hazardous materials that go into electronic devices, or that ariel drones may also be used by drug cartels in the future, this critique is largely absent from the book.

Moreover, although the new found glories of India's participation in the global knowledge economy are duly noted it is surprising for these authors of Indian decent that they never once mention the almost 250,000 farmers in India who have committed suicide in the past fifteen years. An event that has in large part been credibly linked to the genetically modified (hybrid) seeds these poor farmers must now purchase from global corporations like Monsanto that have proven to be largely unsuitable for the indigenous agricultural conditions they are constrained to work within. Or perhaps it is not so surprising that the darker side of technological innovation and the streaming capitalism of the contemporary global economy is ignored by the these authors as their career track appear overly dependent on slavishly following the libertarian socio-economic ideologies spun by the techno-elites of Silicon Valley.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The future's so bright I've got to wear VR Goggles to help me empathise 21 Jan. 2013
By Olly Buxton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Hybrid Reality is the short monograph which I suppose serves as flagship publication Pareg and Ayesha's Hybrid Reality Institute, an organisation whose raison d'etre seems to be the pursuit of unfettered wishful thinking about the potential of technology. Good luck to them: dreaming up whacky visions of the future does sound like fun, and while it's hard to see any practical application for the Fortune 500 companies the authors claim as their clients, if they've managed to persuade these conglomerates otherwise, happy days. Especially if in the future, everything is going to be crowd-sourced and free.

Hybrid Reality is thus an attempt to sketch out a future based on extrapolating current trends of technological development: a (thankfully slimmer) companion-piece to Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near.

In fairness, Hybrid Reality quickly moves beyond stock platitudes about crowdsourcing, but where it does it does so without much credibility. The text is plastered with buzzwords borrowed from other disciplines and deployed with carefree abandon:

"accelerated evolution creates what we might call a Heisenbergian or quantum society: we are particles whose position, momentum and impact on others, and the impact of others on us, are perpetually uncertain due to constant technological disruptions."

Okayyy. Amongst the rhubarb there is a point to be made about rapidly disrupting technologies, but that's not it. To the contrary, the rate of change is so fast that genuinely novel technologies and businesses have little chance to establish themselves, and that those which get a foothold do so as much by fiat as sober business development, and then proceed to hammer everyone else into the ground. In such a nasty, brutish and short environment conditions favour not elegance and sophistication in design but the lowest common denominator.

Breath-taking technologies of the sort which overflow this book, on the other hand, assume a sophistication which needs a warm and safe environment in which to incubate. Increasingly, new technologies never get the chance to be smart. It isn't accelerated evolution that's going on, but accelerated extinction.

I suppose you might expect a degree of credulity from faculty members of the "Singularity University" but, still, their vision owes as much to science fiction as it does to academic analysis and nothing at all to the traditional discipline of economics. Perhaps the dismal science, too, will succumb to the information revolution: cavalierly, Samuel Huntingdon's maxim is reformulated so that it is not economics but technology that is "the most important source of power and wellbeing". Older hands will recall hearing that kind of talk before, and it didn't work out so well in 2003 when hundreds of "new economy" business models folded when it turned out they did need to generate revenue after all.

It's easy to be a naysayer, of course, but all the same my hunch is that the Khannas' monologue has little value for anything but excitable kite flying. Many of their assertions strongly suggest this pair really, literally, need to get out more. "Of the eight hours a day children today spend online, 1.5 involve using avatars..." they say, as if that initial premise may be taken as a given. Eight hours a day online? Which children are these, exactly? "Robots are incontestably becoming more ubiquitous, intelligent and social" and "represent an entirely new type of `other' that we interact with in our social lives". Elsewhere, "Technik", as they put it, seems to have the power to change the laws of nature, and in the short term: "The average British citizen will likely live to be 100 years old", they predict. Technik is so clever it can even grant us powers which we already have: In the future there will be virtual reality goggles, we are told, which can "sense other people's stress levels". Just imagine being able to do that.

You can, in any case, read your fill here of all the ways the internet of things will provide an untold wealth of cool free stuff, but note the lack of any financial analysis: All this cool stuff requires effort: not just to design and conceptualise, but to manufacture, distribute, house, power, maintain and (to extent it can't be fully computerised) operate. And effort, generally, requires money. Previous generations of technological development have shifted the labour demand curve upwards: automation has taken out repetitive, low value tasks but created more complex ones designing, building and maintaining the machinery to carry out these tasks: as a result we have grown busier with each development, not more idle - though our occupations have been more complex, challenging and rewarding. The Khannas' brave new world would, by implication, flip that on its head.

For argument's sake, let's say the robots can fully take over, perform our manual labour, wipe bottoms, cure diseases and revolutionise production across all industries and agricultures so that human intervention is not required at all. Hard to see, but let's say. Is a permanent state of situation of blissful, but chronic, total global unemployment a feasible basis for an economy?

As far as I know, man cannot live by Facebook likes alone. Last time I checked, rent wasn't free. Nor was power, food, nor raw materials. As we go on, they're getting harder (and costlier) to extract. So who will finance these lives of leisure? With what? Why? Who would provide services, when there was no-one to pay for them? Is it perhaps the case that personal labour, rather than being an unfortunate by-product of the "old economy" way of doing things, is in fact an immutable in the calculus of value?

Dreaming about amazing technologies which might be coming down the pike is the job of a science fiction writer. The academic question is less glamorous and more fundamental: how, within the new parameters of digital commons and in a post-growth world, can anyone devise a business model able to deliver them? These, it seems to me, are the really challenging questions, and you won't find them addressed in this book.

Olly Buxton
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