Book Bits | 11 April 2020

Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley―Making AI
Serve Us All

By Kevin Scott with Greg Shaw
Q&A with author (Scott) via The Verge
This week for our Vergecast interview series, Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel chats with Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott about his new book Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley―Making AI Serve Us All.
Scott’s book tackles how artificial intelligence and machine learning can help rural America in a more grounding way, from employment to education to public health. In one chapter of his book, Scott focuses on how AI can assist with health care and diagnostic issues — a prominent concern in the US today, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interview, Scott refocuses the solutions he describes in the book around the current crisis, specifically supercomputers Microsoft has been using to train natural language processing now being used to search for vaccine targets and therapies for the novel coronavirus.

Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever
By Alex Kantrowitz
Summary via publisher (Portfolio/Penguin Random House)
An acclaimed tech reporter reveals the inner workings of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, showing how to compete with the tech titans using their own playbook. At Amazon, “Day One” is code for inventing like a startup, with little regard for legacy. Day Two is, in Jeff Bezos’s own words, “stasis, followed by irrelevance, followed by excruciating, painful decline, followed by death.” Most companies today are set up for Day Two. They build advantages and defend them fiercely, rather than invent the future. But Amazon and fellow tech titans Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are operating in Day One: they prioritize reinvention over tradition and collaboration over ownership.

Green Swans: The Coming Boom in Regenerative Capitalism
By John Elkington
Review via Publishers Weekly
A thoughtful if self-aggrandizing call for sustainable capitalism arrives from social entrepreneur Elkington (coauthor, The Breakthrough Challenge). Expanding on Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s 2007 book, The Black Swan, an exploration of unpredictable and large-scale events, Elkington introduces green swans, which offer “systemic solutions to global challenges.” He predicts an approaching crisis in the world economy, with at stake whether democracy and sustainability—a term which, he informs readers, he coined—can coexist with capitalism. The most likely outcome, Elkington posits, is that capitalism will falter or crash entirely, only to reemerge in a more environmentally and socially responsible form.

Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs–from Delhi to Detroit–Are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley
By by Alexandre Lazarow
Summary via publisher (Harvard Business Review Press)
The new playbook for innovation and startup success is emerging from beyond Silicon Valley–at the “frontier.” Startups have changed the world. In the United States, many startups, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, have become household names. The economic value of startups has doubled since 1992 and is projected to double again in the next fifteen years. For decades, the hot center of this phenomenon has been Silicon Valley. This is changing fast. Thanks to technology, startups are now taking root everywhere, from Delhi to Detroit to Nairobi to Sao Paulo. Yet despite this globalization of startup activity, our knowledge of how to build successful startups is still drawn primarily from Silicon Valley.

After the Crash: Understanding the Social, Economic and Technological Consequences of the 2008 Crisis
By Orhan Erdem
Summary via publisher (Palgrave Macmillan)
This book seeks to diagnose and analyze the social, economic and technological consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, which brought epochal changes to our lives. First and foremost, a paradigm shift arose in economic theories that fail to predict or explain the crisis. On the governmental side, we have been observing a natural parallel between authoritarianism and the way many democratic countries are being governed. Liberalism seems to have failed. Driven by the anger over the crisis and its heavy burden, a variety of technological innovations were birthed and gained momentum. Bitcoin was a manifesto to the monetary system; sharing economy was a rebellion to the consumerist lifestyle; and subscriptions were a threat to ownership. This books ties each of these events to the 2008 crisis and explains the connection.

A Random Walk to Nowhere:How the Professors Caused a Real “Fraud-on-the-Market”
By John A Dobelman and Edward E Williams
Summary via publisher (World Scientific)
This book is about an intellectual fraud, one that has become part of legal doctrine that has greatly influenced decisions all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. The “efficient market hypothesis” (EMH), born from the Random Walk theory, started out as an honest attempt to improve insights into how financial markets work, but eventually became almost a religion that every financial economist had to buy into, or risk professional crucifixion. The EMH began over a half century ago. It posits that share prices reflect all available market information, and that it is impossible to consistently outperform the market. This theory dominated research in the academic financial community from the outset, and has continued to do so for decades. Meanwhile, the evidence for above-average profit-making opportunities in the markets has been unfairly suppressed.

The Little Book of Investing Like the Pros: Five Steps for Picking Stocks
By Joshua Pearl, Joshua Rosenbaum
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
As you have probably noticed, there are quite a few investing books out there. Many of them were written by some of the world’s greatest investors. So, why should you read our book? Stock investing is more prevalent than ever, whether directly or indirectly through brokerage accounts, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, or retirement plans. Despite this, the vast majority of individual investors have no training on how to pick stocks. And, until now, there hasn’t been a truly accessible, easy-to-understand resource available to help them. The Little Book of Investing Like the Pros was written to fill this void.

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