Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (April 2023)

Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (April 2023)

Selbey LabsForesight & Innovation
Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (April 2023)

Our latest series of book recommendations range from titles focusing on anthropology to technology to generational theory to social division. We hope you enjoy the list and welcome your feedback!

‘Deep Fakes’ by Nina Schick

As an update to her excellent book, Nine recently produced the world’s first certified and transparent deepfake video, in conjunction with Truepic, a digital authenticity company, and, an AI studio. It contains the first industry watermark declaring it to be a deepfake, which she hopes will jolt the tech and media industries into adopting the signature more widely, in a bid to counter disinformation on the internet. As she says, Deep Fakes have come, but we’re still not ready. Advanced AI is now able to create video of people doing things they never did, in places they have never been, saying things they never said. In the hands of rogue states, terrorists, criminals or crazed individuals, they represent a disturbing new threat to democracy and personal liberty. Deep Fakes can be misused to shift public opinion, swing Presidential elections, or blackmail, coerce, and silence individuals. And when combined with the destabilising overload of disinformation that has been dubbed 'the Infocalypse', we are potentially facing a danger of world-changing proportions.

‘In Defence of Capitalism’ by Rainer Zitelmann

In this dynamic new book, of which Adam Smith would have been proud, Dr Rainer Zitelmann examines some of the most commonly raised objections to capitalism e.g. “whether it’s climate change, environmental degradation, rising inequalities, poverty, greed, war, or just the turning of productive humans into suggestable and addictive consumers, it’s capitalism’s fault”. But do the charges against capitalism stack up, or are they merely myths in need of debunking? Against each charge, Zitelmann offers a counter argument using a wealth of evidence: proving that it’s not capitalism that’s failed but a century of anti-capitalist experiments. In doing so, he provides capitalism’s defenders with the facts and arguments they need to counter (usually false or misinformed) anti-capitalist allegations.

‘Think Bigger’ by Sheena Iyenger 

Sheena Iyengar—an acclaimed author and expert in the science of choice—answers a timeless question with enormous implications for problems of all kinds across the world: “How can I get my best ideas?” Iyengar provides essential tools to spark creative thinking and help us make our most meaningful choices. She draws from recent advances in neuro- and cognitive sciences to give readers a set of practical steps for coming up with powerful new ideas. Think Bigger offers an innovative evidence-backed method for generating big ideas that Iyengar and her team of researchers developed and refined over the last decade. In doing so, she upends the myth that big ideas are reserved for a select few.

‘Generations’ by Bobby Duffy

Marketers are obsessed as ever with targeting consumers via generational stereotypes. But, to put this thinking in context, in this deeply researched book, Professor Bobby Duffy asks questions such as whether we’re in the middle of a generational war? Are Millennials really entitled 'snowflakes'? Are Baby Boomers stealing their children's futures? Are Generation X the saddest generation? Will Generation Z fix the climate crisis? Whilst doing so, he explores whether when we're born determines our attitudes to money, sex, religion, politics and much else. Informed by unique analysis of hundreds of studies, Duffy reveals that many of our preconceptions are just that: tired stereotypes. Revealing and informative, Generations provides a bold new framework for understanding the most divisive issues raging today: from culture wars to climate change and mental health to housing. Including data from all over the globe, and with powerful implications for humanity's future, this big-thinking book will hopefully transform how marketers view the world.

‘Who are we now?’ by Jason Cowley 

Acres of newsprint have been utilised to discuss the issue of national identity. Jason Cowley, editor-in-chief of the New Statesman, examines contemporary England through a handful of the key news stories from recent times to reveal what they tell us about the state of the nation and to answer the question Who Are We Now? Spanning the years since the election of Tony Blair’s New Labour government to the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the book investigates how England has changed and how those changes have affected us. In doing so, he shows the common threads that unite them, whether it is attitudes to class, nation, identity, belonging, immigration, or religion. He also fleshes out the headlines with the very human stories behind them. Through these vivid and often moving stories, Cowley offers a clear and compassionate analysis of how and why England became so divided and the United Kingdom so fragmented, and how we got to this cultural and political crossroads. Most importantly, he also shows us the many ways in which there is genuine hope for the future.

‘Your Invisible Network’ by Michael Melcher

The Financial Times recently highlighted this book, which outlines how we can all create, maintain, and leverage professional relationships--in only 20 minutes a day. Michael Melcher illuminates how and why ‘meaningful relationships’ are a must-have to sustain and further our careers. He believes that a network built on reciprocity, depth, and trust isn't merely helpful to your career growth; it is absolutely necessary, as our skills, work ethic, education, lived experience, and passions will only achieve their full potential when paired with meaningful relationships. This book provides a practical, nuanced plan for building and sustaining a network that will supercharge your growth, showing how to: Recognize the seven types of relationships critical for career success, Foster meaningful connections with people with whom you have little in common, Find mentors and sponsors, Reach out to people despite discomfort--and know what to do if they don't respond, Serve as a resource and benefactor to others, Develop your convening power, Build a happier and more fulfilled work life. As he says, no matter what career stage you're in, it's time to re-evaluate your network and equip yourself with the tools to boost its power - your secret weapon for career success! 

‘The End of the World is Just Beginning’ by Peter Zeihan

In this fascinating book, the author claims that 2019 was the last great year for the world economy. As he points out, for generations, everything has been getting faster, better, and cheaper. Finally, we reached the point that almost anything you could ever want could be sent to your home within days—even hours—of when you decided you wanted it. America made that happen, but now America has lost interest in keeping it going. All of this was artificial. All this was temporary. All this is ending. Geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan maps out the next world: a world where countries or regions will have no choice but to make their own goods, grow their own food, secure their own energy, fight their own battles, and do it all with populations that are both shrinking and aging. The list of countries that make it all work is smaller than you think. Which means everything about our interconnected world—from how we manufacture products, to how we grow food, to how we keep the lights on, to how we shuttle stuff about, to how we pay for it all—is about to change. A world ending. A world beginning…

‘Anthro Vision’ by Gillian Tett

In this heavily reviewed book, the renowned journalist Gillian Tett reveals how anthropology can make sense of the corporate world. In doing so, she explains how we buy, sell, work and think. From supermarkets to factories, trading floors to tech firms, their methods are revealing the hidden codes that define our lives. The result is a wholly new way to see human behaviour: anthro-vision. According to Prospect magazine, ‘this engaging book argues why more businesses (and people) should look to anthropology if they want to succeed’. Meanwhile, The Times says, 'Anyone working to rebuild a more equal world will benefit from Tett's well-argued case that to solve twenty-first-century problems, we must expand our fields of vision and fill in old blind spots with new empathy.' And a former Governor of the Bank of England stated that ‘this is a fascinating and compelling demonstration, that all of us, especially economists, can benefit from the insights of anthropology: the worm’s-eye, not just the bird’s-eye, view of how people behave’.

‘How Innovation Works’ by Matt Ridley

Building on his bestseller The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley chronicles the history of innovation, and how we need to change our thinking on the subject. Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society. It is innovation that will shape the twenty-first century. Yet innovation remains a mysterious process, poorly understood by policy makers and businessmen alike. Matt Ridley argues that we need to see innovation as an incremental, bottom-up, fortuitous process that happens as a direct result of the human habit of exchange, rather than an orderly, top-down process developing according to a plan. Innovation is crucially different from invention, because it is the turning of inventions into things of practical and affordable use to people. It speeds up in some sectors and slows down in others. It is always a collective, collaborative phenomenon, involving trial and error, not a matter of lonely genius. It still cannot be modelled properly by economists, but it can easily be discouraged by politicians. Far from there being too much innovation, he believes that we may be on the brink of an innovation famine…

‘The Modern Maverick’ by Ed Haddon

In this excellent new title, Ed Haddon asks us to imagine designing a race that only you could win. Now imagine that race was your life. You're done with living by other people's rules. It's time to define your own version of success and set free your inner maverick. Success is something that many of us are encouraged to pursue from a young age - but what defines 'success'? Many people are taught to set goals in pursuit of a generic definition of success that is dictated by society: chase money, pass exams, build profile, attract followers, or generate likes. Even if we do reach the top of the mountain, we often find it to be less than we expected. Living someone else's life is draining; individuals are tired, and society is poorer as a consequence. The Modern Maverick sets out a roadmap for a different way forward. A way that combines purpose and profit. A way that helps you figure out your own definition of success and gives you the courage and tools to pursue it. It moves beyond a general question around purpose, and instead focuses on identifying what you are truly passionate about, what you are uniquely good at, what you can get paid enough for - and how all of that dovetails with what the world needs. Sounds good to us!

Selbey Labs
Selbey Labs
Foresight & Innovation

Selbey Labs, part of the Selbey Anderson Group, is a foresight and innovation practice focused on helping brands see and respond to opportunities and threats.

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