On books about visionaries and not-so visionaries
The subtitle of one of Dan Gardner’s Future Babble books is Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better. In other words, even experts are human, and they make a lot of mistakes. I especially enjoyed this because people have spent so much time and effort on TV talking about the euro-zone crisis, yet no one has been able to predict much of anything — in terms of scale or time frame — about what was really going to happen.
Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near is a classic because it forces you to suspend belief. It breaks down the constrictions built up by formal education and makes us think about things that are hard to imagine.
I picked up Steve Jobs thinking it was a biography, but it’s really more of a business book, and Walter Isaacson is particularly good on the huge sacrifices in relationships that you have to make in building a business. When we see successful people, we only get a peek into the glamour of their lives but not the hard choices and personal costs.
Moyo, an economist, is the author of Dead Aid and most recently of Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World
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