The Exponential Age

The Exponential Age is the best book I’ve read on accelerating rates of change in years.

No short review can do justice to the vast array of examples he provides about the changes that are buffeting our world. It’s not just the familiar technological issues that most readers are familiar with. He goes much farther to talk about such remarkable shifts as the speed with which COVID-19 vaccines were created. Similarly, more than any book on climate change I’ve read, his discussion of the reduced costs of renewable technologies convinced me that we could enter an age of energy abundance in my lifetime–and I’m in my. seventies.

More importantly, he explores the downsides of those changes, including their tendency to create winner take all companies like the FANGs. Even more importantly yet, he spends the most powerful part of the book exploring what he calls the exponential gap in which so many areas of our lives are changing exponentially, while the public and private sector decision making systems we rely on remain stuck in industrial era patterns of behavior.

He doesn’t do as much as I would like in discussing how we can close those gaps, but then again, that’s my job rather than his.

If you are only going to read a single book about technological and other changes in the 2020s, this is it.