by Ed Maguire
Summer is winding down, schools are back in session and the world is changing faster than ever. Learning something new is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but for many of us, it’s not so easy to learn something new if you’re not already working toward a degree. The good news is that there has never been so much free information online and available to anyone with an internet connection. If you’re tired of the same old same old exhausted from listening to people argue about the elections, or just curious about what’s going on out there, there’s a whole load of ways that you can “go to school” without going into massive debt. Why don’t you check out a few of these resources?
Here are a few websites that I find to be great resources to expand your mind (and pick up a
recommendation or two):
By now, almost everyone has heard of the TED Talks – “Ideas Worth Spreading” – but it’s a good reminder that there are hundreds of amazing presentations available for free. There’s everything from art to sports to culture, humor, music, performance art, and inspirational stories. There are new talks being added all the time. Do yourself a favor and see what’s been added recently.
This is a massive motherlode of free cultural and educational resources. Want to learn a new language? Take an online course? Download a free e-book? Watch a free online movie? Open Culture offers an enormous archive of content, and you’ll want to check the blog regularly for interesting tidbits, links and stories.
Maria Popova curates this website that cobbles together thoughtful and surprising tidbits across art, music, science, literature and other disciplines. The newsletter is a must read, and is supported by contributions.
Want to take free classes from any one of 140+ colleges and universities? Here’s your opportunity to learn a new computer programming
language, or catch up on that Music history class you wished you could take in college. No one takes attendance, so it’s up to you to finish the homework though.
If you are interested in getting smart on some of the most dramatic changes in technology, society and business, there are a few books that will give you a good overview of what’s happening – and you don’t need to be a scientist or an engineer to understand what’s important. Here are a few that I have recommended to people:
Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane by Brett King, with Alex Lightman, JP Rangaswami and Andy Lark (2016)
Author, CEO and futurist Brett King outlines how a new “augmented age” is emerging, powered by four key disruptive trends: artificial intelligence, embedded technology experiences, genome technology and smart infrastructure. The book is rich with examples and anecdotes, bringing to life complex technol- ogies and concepts in an accessible fashion. One of the best books I’ve read looking at how the convergence of AI, robotics, ubiquitous computing and digitized health will lead to epochal changes in work, life and the nature of businesses.
Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler (2013)
Peter Diamandis is a co-founder of Singularity University, and serial and concurrent entrepreneur who lays out a boatload of reasons why you should be an optimist. Advances in healthcare, science, space travel and connectivity are unleashing amazing changes in front of us.
The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologiesby Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2014)
This is a must read for anyone that wants to get a better understanding of what technology is doing to our society. Follow up to 2011’s Race Against the Machine, this volume is the most thoroughly researched and well written exploration of the impact of technology on work and prosperity. The book takes an optimistic tone, but does not gloss over the challenges ahead in education and technological unemployment.
The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil(2005)
Ray Kurzweil is a genius inventor and entrepreneur who is currently working at Google. The idea of the Technological Singularity is that humans will be able to extend lives indefinitely as technology advances. This is not just “Nerd Rapture” – the book lays out the basis for a lot of thinking about accelerating change. This work is a fundamental read for anyone who wants an understanding of exponential change, and it’s a core work that puts human progress in perspective. Yes it might sound crazy at first but it’s backed up by a lot of research.
Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact – Steven Kotler (2015)
This book has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman” and co-founder of the Flow
Genome Project, chronicles some of the most dramatic advances in science and technology.
Topics include private space flight, asteroid mining, bionic limbs, space diving, mind uploading, genetically engineered insects, ecological engineering, psychedelic drugs, stem cells, s steroidsand religion. The book tracks the latest innovations In emerging fields and weaves engaging anecdotes and backstories into an accessible collection of topics.
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly (2016)
Kevin Kelly is one of the most profound philosophers on technology of our era. He was a co-founder of Wired magazine, and his books have been deeply influential to innovators and investors - must-reads for anyone with an interest in how the future may unfold around us. With Out of Control he drew parallels between nature and technology, and What Technology Wants connected the evolutionary threads from the creation of life to the rise of human civilization, and to technology as our organic extension. In The Inevitable, Kelly frames 12 conceptual forces almost as fundamental elements : “Becoming”, “Sharing”, “Cognifying”, “Flowing”, “Screening”, “Accessing” etc. This is a book you are going to want to read and re-read to fully absorb.
Ed Maguire has worked as an equity analyst covering the technology sector since 1999 for a variety of firms including CLSA Americas, Merrill Lynch and CIBC. Previously he led sales for independent music distributor Twinbrook Music while working as professional musician performing on bass, violin and keyboards, composing, arranging and producing a variety of styles of music. Ed holds a B.A. in Music from Columbia and an M.B.A. from Rutgers in Finance and Management Information Systems. He lives in Millburn, NJ with his wife Lily, their two kids and the dog Spock.