Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (March 2023)

Foresight & Innovation

Selbey Labs - Books of the Month (March 2023)

Foresight & Innovation
Foresight & Innovation
selbey-labs-book-of-the-month-sean-pillot-de-chenecey-the-post-truth-business-foyles-signal-strength-selbey-anderson-difference-makers (1)
Foyles has been the UK’s iconic bookseller for over a century. Taking a lead from some of the titles displayed in “London favourite bookstore” here are our recommendations…

‘Virtual Society’ by Herman Narula

Is the metaverse a brave new world? An immersive digital playground? The next generation of online gaming? Or just the latest manifestation of our human tendency to create other realities?

Those are some of the issues covered in Herman Narula’s book, who argues that it is all of these things. His vision of the metaverse, deeply rooted in history and psychology, looks to the ancient Egyptians and modern sports fans - finding that humanity has always sought to supplement our day-to-day lives with a rich diversity of alternative immersive experiences.

‘What we owe the future’ by William MacAskill

Our future could last for millions of years – or it could end tomorrow.

Astonishing numbers of people could lead lives of great happiness or unimaginable suffering, or never live at all, depending on what we choose to do today. The challenges we face are enormous. But so is the influence we have. If we choose wisely, our distant descendants will look back on us fondly, knowing we did everything we could to give them a world that is beautiful and just.

‘The Good Ancestor’ by Roman Krznaric

Could economists have foreseen the 2008 crash? Could political pundits have predicted Brexit or Trump? 

Long-term thinking struggles to take root in a world where immediate results are demanded and rewarded. Short-term thinking is endemic across all aspects of life. In The Good Ancestor, leading philosopher Roman Krznaric shows just how crucial long-term thinking is, not just for ordinary people but across political, economic, environmental and business worlds, identifying the flaws of today’s short-term mindset.

‘The Theft of a Decade’ by Joseph Sternberg

This book describes a new economic crisis, a sinister tectonic shift that is stealing a generation's future.

A contrarian, revelatory analysis of how one generation pulled the rug out from under another, and the myriad consequences that has set in store for all of us. Millennials were the unfortunate victim of several generations of economic theories that made life harder for them than it was for their grandparents. Then came the crash of 2008, and the Boomer generation's reaction to it was brutal…

Burning Down the House’ by Andrew Koppleman

Modern libertarianism began with Friedrich Hayek’s corrective to the Depression-era vogue for central economic planning.

It resisted oppressive state power and showed how capitalism could improve life for everyone. Yet today, it's a toxic blend of anarchism, disdain for the weak, and rationalization for environmental catastrophe. Andrew Koppelman’s book traces libertarianism's evolution from moderate pro-market ideas to romantic fabulism and the promotion of climate change denial.

‘The New Puritans’ by Andrew Doyle

The Puritans of the 17th century sought to refashion society in accordance with their own beliefs, but they were deep thinkers who were aware of their own fallibility.

Today, in the grasp of the New Puritans, we see a very different story. Leading a cultural revolution driven by identity politics and so-called 'social justice', the new puritanism movement is best understood as a religion - one that makes grand claims to moral purity and tolerates no dissent. Its disciples even have their own language, rituals and a determination to root out sinners through cancel culture. Doyle offers a case for the reinstatement of liberal values...

‘Reality+’ by David Chalmers

What is reality? How can we lead a good life? Is there a god? How do we know there's an external world - and how do we know we're not living in a computer simulation?

In the coming decades, the technology that enables VR & AR will improve beyond recognition. Within a century, we will have virtual worlds that are impossible to distinguish from non-virtual worlds. But is virtual reality just escapism? In a highly original work of 'technophilosophy', Chalmers argues no: virtual reality is genuine reality. Virtual worlds are not second-class worlds. We can live a meaningful life in virtual reality - and increasingly, we will.

‘The 15 Minute City’ by Natalie Whittle

Cities define the lives of all those who call them home: where they go, how they get there, how they spend their time.

But what if we structured the way we live in our cities differently? Natalie Whittle interrogates the notion of the 15-minute city: its pros, its cons and its potential to revolutionise modern living. Building her study around consideration of space and time, she traverses both to collect models from ancient Athens to modern Paris and demonstrate how one idea could change our daily lives – and the world – for good.

‘The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism’ by Martin Wolf

We are living in an age when economic failings have shaken faith in global capitalism. Political failings have undermined trust in liberal democracy and in the very notion of truth.

The ties that ought to bind open markets to free and fair elections are being strained and rejected, even in democracy's notional heartlands. Around the world, democratic capitalism, which depends on the determined separation of power from wealth, is in crisis. Some now argue that capitalism is better without democracy; others that democracy is better without capitalism. This book is a forceful rejoinder to both views.

‘The Big Con’ by Marianna Mazzucato & Rosie Collington

There is an entrenched relationship between the consulting industry and the way business and government are managed today which must change.

Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington believe that our economies' reliance on companies such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY stunts innovation, obfuscates corporate and political accountability and impedes our collective mission of halting climate breakdown. This book has received a mass of glowing media attention, although the author’s may find they’re not overly welcome at the companies mentioned above…


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.