Book Bits | 9 February 2019

The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work
By Richard Baldwin
Review via The Times
The robots are coming for white-collar jobs. Just as millions of manufacturing jobs were lost in the 1970s and 1980s, the next phase of automation — what the author calls the “globotics” upheaval, a portmanteau of globalisation and robotics — will make between one in six and one in ten jobs obsolete.
The impending Globotics Revolution will leave professionals in the West competing with zero-wage thinking computers (white-collar robots) and lower-wage graduates in the developing world (tele-migrants). Engineers, accountants, lawyers, most service-sector jobs, office workers and middle managers — all are under threat from the globots.

AlphaBrain: How a Group of Iconoclasts Are Using Cognitive Science to Advance the Business of Alpha Generation
By Stephen Duneier
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
AlphaBrain is the investor’s guide to achieving more, doing better, and reaching higher. At its core, the magnitude of your success is based on the quality of your decisions. The problem is that human beings are poor decision-makers; we tend to approach problems after they arise instead of planning for them in advance. We put too much weight on instinct, belief, and “gut feeling.” We make the same mistakes over and over again—so reliably, in fact, that cognitive science can accurately predict exactly which mistakes we’ll make and when. This book offers a way to understand and plan for the human mind’s usual tendencies to help you make smarter investment decisions. Using a framework based on cognitive research, you’ll learn how to approach decisions objectively, systematically, and constantly review your process; you’ll take action based on evidence instead of intuition, and get ahead of potential problems before they get the best of you.

Democracy and Prosperity: Reinventing Capitalism through a Turbulent Century
By Torben Iversen and David Soskice
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
It is a widespread view that democracy and the advanced nation-state are in crisis, weakened by globalization and undermined by global capitalism, in turn explaining rising inequality and mounting populism. This book, written by two of the world’s leading political economists, argues this view is wrong: advanced democracies are resilient, and their enduring historical relationship with capitalism has been mutually beneficial.

The Future Is Asian
By Parag Khanna
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
The “Asian Century” is even bigger than you think. Far greater than just China, the new Asian system taking shape is a multi-civilizational order spanning Saudi Arabia to Japan, Russia to Australia, Turkey to Indonesia—linking five billion people through trade, finance, infrastructure, and diplomatic networks that together represent 40 percent of global GDP. China has taken a lead in building the new Silk Roads across Asia, but it will not lead it alone. Rather, Asia is rapidly returning to the centuries-old patterns of commerce, conflict, and cultural exchange that thrived long before European colonialism and American dominance. Asians will determine their own future—and as they collectively assert their interests around the world, they will determine ours as well.

The Dumb Things Smart People Do with Their Money: Thirteen Ways to Right Your Financial Wrongs
By Jill Schlesinger
Summary via publisher (Ballantine Books)
After decades working as a Wall Street trader, investment adviser, and money expert for CBS, Jill Schlesinger reveals thirteen costly mistakes you’re probably making right now with your money without even knowing it. Drawing on heartfelt personal stories (yes, money experts screw up, too), Schlesinger argues that it’s not lack of smarts that causes even the brightest, most accomplished people among us to behave like financial dumb-asses, but simple emotional blind spots.

The Discrete Charm of the Machine: Why the World Became Digital
By Kenneth Steiglitz
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
A few short decades ago, we were informed by the smooth signals of analog television and radio; we communicated using our analog telephones; and we even computed with analog computers. Today our world is digital, built with zeros and ones. Why did this revolution occur? The Discrete Charm of the Machine explains, in an engaging and accessible manner, the varied physical and logical reasons behind this radical transformation.

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
By Cal Newport
Review via WBUR
According to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Survey, 63 percent of respondents said they have tried to limit their smartphone usage, but only around half succeeded in cutting back.
Cal Newport, author of the new book “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” and an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, argues that phone use is getting in the way of too much of our lives. The main complaint he hears? People are losing their autonomy.

The Story of Silver: How the White Metal Shaped America and the Modern World
By William L. Silber
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Silver has been the preferred shelter against government defaults, political instability, and inflation for most people in the world because it is cheaper than gold. The white metal has been the place to hide when conventional investments sour, but it has also seduced sophisticated investors throughout the ages like a siren. This book explains how powerful figures, up to and including Warren Buffett, have come under silver’s thrall, and how its history guides economic and political decisions in the twenty-first century.