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Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution (Hardback)
  • Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution (Hardback)

Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution (Hardback)

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Hardback 288 Pages / Published: 30/11/2017
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The 20th century witnessed two digital revolutions. Computing power has revolutionized every industry, from finance to agriculture to pharmaceuticals. We've got computers at work and at home, in our pockets and our bags, on our wrists, and even embedded in the architecture of our houses. At the same time a revolution in digital communication unfolded, which has forever altered our lives-work, social, and private-by enabling a world in which we're never impossible to reach and have nearly limitless power to express ourselves. But no one saw the downsides of these: powerful computers threaten to displace human labor from a range of jobs, both blue and white collar, and, after an election in which the Internet played such a pivotal role in spreading disinformation-not to mention the simple problem of never being able to escape our jobs if our email goes with us everywhere-the possible pitfalls of free communication become clearer.

And now, as Neil Gershenfeld, Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, and Alan Gershenfeld make clear, we are in the early years of the third digital revolution: from computation and communication comes fabrication. Fabrication includes everything from 3D printing to laser cutters to machines that can assemble anything, including themselves, by precisely controlling the placement of individual atoms. We will soon be able to program matter the same way we can now program a computer. This may sound outlandish, but just as the smartphone is the logical conclusion of trends in computing that began in the 1960s, so is this fabrication technology of the future the extension of today's trends in manufacturing. Neil Gershenfeld, an MIT professor, is at the forefront of making it a reality, through his scientific work as well as his championing of Fab Labs, a sort of low-cost personal factory. In Designing Reality, he and his brothers Alan and Joel explore not just the promise but the perils of this revolution in fabrication. On one extreme, it promises self-sufficient cities, the end of work, and the ability for each of us to design and create anything we can imagine. On the other, it could lead to the concentration of wealth in very few hands. Neither guaranteeing utopia nor insisting that our worst nightmares are about to come true, the Gershenfelds are trying to anticipate the future and teach us how best to prepare for it, personally and as a society, across education, employment and more. The first two digital revolutions caught us flat-footed, and there has been a heavy price to pay. Let us prepare for the future, not simply react to it.

ISBN: 9780465093472
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 502 g
Dimensions: 243 x 154 x 26 mm

"Ordinary people can now create objects with almost arbitrary levels of complexity, in large part because of the Gershenfelds' insights and leadership. Designing Reality is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand this revolution and its implications."--Erik Brynjolfsson, Director MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and co-author of The Second Machine Age and Machine, Platform, Crowd
"Providing universal access to digital fabrication is one of the most important challenges and opportunities of our time. Designing Reality is a manual describing what it is, why it is important, and how to get there."
--Congressman Bill Foster, Ph.D.
"Bhutan's biggest constraint in promoting Gross National Happiness (GNH), our development philosophy, is its heavy reliance on imports at the end of long supply chains. Designing Reality shows that digital fabrication can overcome this constraint by allowing us to fabricate locally while thinking globally and being true to the principles of GNH. We look forward to Bhutan becoming not just a Fab City, but a Fab Country."--Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan
"Designing Reality is an invitation and roadmap for all of us to bring our talent, passion, and communities to proactively shape our shared future. At the core of the Fab movement is a network of humans working together in radical collaboration from every corner of the planet, growing creative confidence in themselves and others. Challenges abound today, as do opportunities; our author-trio invite us all into the mix, because if we include everyone, we can fix (nearly) everything. Opt-in -- yourself, your family, your community."--Megan J. Smith and Puneet Kaur Ahira, 3rd U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Entrepreneur, Engineer; Founder & CEO at shift7 Co-Founder & Chief Architect at shift7; former White House, Google, Goldman Sachs
"In Designing Reality, the brothers Gershenfeld have provided a compelling roadmap for how accelerating technology will merge the digital and physical worlds (bits and atoms) and drive the next stage in our evolution as a species."--Ray Kurzweil, Inventor, Author and Futurist, author of The Singularity is Near and How to Create a Mind
"In this mind-altering book, the Gershenfelds envision a future of making things that's not dominated by big factories and powerful companies. Instead, it's centered around local innovators using powerful tools to design and build the realities they want. If this sounds good to you, here's the blueprint for making it happen."--Andrew McAfee, MIT Scientist and co-author of The Second Machine Age
"If the last 70+ years have told the story of atoms converted into bits, then the next will tell the story of bits being turned back into atoms. The members of the Gershenfeld troika arm-wrestle their way through alternative future scenarios that highlight the possibilities and the challenges that computer-based fabrication offer. One could not ask for a better point-counter-point exploration of the Third Digital Revolution."--Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
"Designing Reality is nothing less than a full-blown manifesto for ushering in the age of digital fabrication, the third leg of the digital revolution. Anchoring the authors' comprehensive vision is the exponential growth of fab labs, a globally extant collection of now over 1000 digital fabrication testbeds. Codifying the lessons learned from more than a decade of success and failure, they powerfully advocate for fab labs as a model for accelerating the growth of and universal access to digital fabrication for all humanity."--Justin Rattner, Chief Technology Officer, Intel Corporation (retired)
"Designing Reality is more than a deep look into the future of making things, it's a sobering (yet entertaining) reflection on how we will need to design society to accommodate the wholesale changes that these technologies are certain to bring. The Gershenfelds have fused their talents to provide a clear picture of how digital materials will come to pass, while addressing the needed transformation in the social sciences if we are to avoid uneven distribution of the benefits. The book offers a highly probable account of a future where error-correcting self-assembly will allow anyone to make (almost) anything."--James A. Warren, Physicist and Director of the Materials Genome Program
"Designing Reality delivers a thought-provoking dialogue with relevance for other emerging technologies as well as digital fabrication. The Gershenfelds engagingly alert us not only to the opportunities that digital fabrication presents but also to the societal and governance challenges that the widespread diffusion of this technology will generate."--Science

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