Book Bits | 9 March 2019

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity
By Amy Webb
Review via Marketplace.org
A future built on artificial intelligence is already here. It’s in the way Netflix chooses the next show for you to binge, how your Gmail account suggests simple email replies, in the technology that protects your credit card purchases. And if we continue to let AI develop the way we do now, says futurist Amy Webb, we’re probably not going to like where it takes us.
She says the future of AI is increasingly divided between the work done by six American companies — Google, IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple — and three Chinese ones — Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba. But neither country has a technology policy that “puts humans at the center and puts the future of humanity at the forefront.”

● Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital
By Kimberly Clausing
Summary via publisher (Harvard University Press)
A leading authority on corporate taxation and an advocate of a more equal economy, Clausing agrees that Americans, especially those with middle and lower incomes, face stark economic challenges. But these problems do not require us to retreat from the global economy. On the contrary, she shows, an open economy overwhelmingly helps. International trade makes countries richer, raises living standards, benefits consumers, and brings nations together. Global capital mobility helps both borrowers and lenders. International business improves efficiency and fosters innovation. And immigration remains one of America’s greatest strengths, as newcomers play an essential role in economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The Power of Capitalism: A Journey Through Recent History Across Five Continents
By Rainer Zitelmann
Summary via publisher (LID Publishing)
“The market has failed, we need more government intervention.” That’s the mantra politicians, the media, and intellectuals have been reiterating ever since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis. By taking the reader on a journey across continents and through recent history, Rainer Zitelmann disproves this call for greater government intervention, and demonstrates that capitalism matters more than ever. The author provides compelling evidence from across the world that capitalism has been the solution to a number of massive problems. He compares developments in West and East Germany, North and South Korea, capitalist Chile v. Socialist Venezuela, and analyzes the extraordinary economic rise of China. For many people, “capitalism” is a dirty word. This book provides a timely reminder of capitalism’s power in enabling growth and prosperity, and in alleviating poverty.

The Corporate Contract in Changing Times: Is the Law Keeping Up?
Edited by Steven Davidoff Solomon and Randall Stuart Thomas
Summary via publisher (University of Chicago Press)
Over the past few decades, significant changes have occurred across capital markets. Shareholder activists have become more prominent, institutional investors have begun to wield more power, and intermediaries like investment advisory firms have greatly increased their influence. These changes to the economic environment in which corporations operate have outpaced changes in basic corporate law and left corporations uncertain of how to respond to the new dynamics and adhere to their fiduciary duties to stockholders. With The Corporate Contract in Changing Times, Steven Davidoff Solomon and Randall Stuart Thomas bring together leading corporate law scholars, judges, and lawyers from top corporate law firms to explore what needs to change and what has prevented reform thus far. Among the topics addressed are how the law could be adapted to the reality that activist hedge funds pose a more serious threat to corporations than the hostile takeovers and how statutory laws, such as the rules governing appraisal rights, could be reviewed in the wake of appraisal arbitrage.

IBM: The Rise and Fall and Reinvention of a Global Icon
By James W. Cortada
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
For decades, IBM shaped the way the world did business. IBM products were in every large organization, and IBM corporate culture established a management style that was imitated by companies around the globe. It was “Big Blue, ” an icon. And yet over the years, IBM has gone through both failure and success, surviving flatlining revenue and forced reinvention. The company almost went out of business in the early 1990s, then came back strong with new business strategies and an emphasis on artificial intelligence. In this authoritative, monumental history, James Cortada tells the story of one of the most influential American companies of the last century.

Data Analytics: Effective Methods for Presenting Results
Edited by Subhashish Samaddar and Satish Nargundkar
Summary via publisher (CRC Press)
If you are a manager who receives the results of any data analyst’s work to help with your decision-making, this book is for you. Anyone playing a role in the field of analytics can benefit from this book as well. In the two decades the editors of this book spent teaching and consulting in the field of analytics, they noticed a critical shortcoming in the communication abilities of many analytics professionals. Specifically, analysts have difficulty in articulating in business terms what their analyses showed and what actionable recommendations were made. When analysts made presentations, they tended to lapse into the technicalities of mathematical procedures, rather than focusing on the strategic and tactical impact and meaning of their work. As analytics has become more mainstream and widespread in organizations, this problem has grown more acute.

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