The best tech books of 2020

MCD / wired

It’s been a frustrating year of updating live blogs and breaking news sites. But we also managed to get some reading done. Here, our writers and editors have picked our favorite books from 2020, covering a wide range of areas covered by Wired.

Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener

In this memoir, New Yorker Tech journalist Anna Wiener talks about her dive into San Francisco’s tech startup scene as a millennial. Disillusioned with publishing jobs, Wiener moved from New York to Silicon Valley, promising a better future for all and more exciting gifts for those in the club. The book recounts her experience working for multiple startups, a distorted account of an industry that, while technologically advanced, seems completely disjointed in other ways. Covering issues such as sexism, surveillance, and San Francisco’s homeless crisis, it reveals a world where moral dilemmas hide beneath its shiny exterior. Victoria Turk

price: £16.99 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

How to make the world add up, Tim Harford

The Covid-19 pandemic may have made us all epidemiologists in chairs, but it has also highlighted the importance of statistics in our daily lives; what numbers can tell us how the world is changing, and when What happens when we don’t have access to the data we need. Financial Times BBC correspondent and presenter more or less Tim Harford explains how to decipher the numbers around us and confuse us by applying ten simple rules. Rather than simply rejecting statistical shenanigans, Harford’s book implores us to look beyond bravado — and our own biases — to really figure out what data can tell us, and where it might be useful. This is a must read before hitting send on any tweet that mentions R numbers or false positives. Matt Reynolds

price: £10 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Focus, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova

Maria Konnikova suspends her work as a journalist The New Yorker and New York Times And gave himself a year to become a professional poker player. Under the tutelage of US poker champion Erik Seidel and other professionals, Konnikova set her sights on the biggest stage the game has to offer: the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Biggest bluff A poker book that has nothing to do with poker. It’s about mastering uncertainty and learning to take control of your decision-making process in order to handle the game of life with more confidence. gentlemen

price: £13.60 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

The Lonely Century, Norina Hertz

In this timely book, economist Hertz explores the loneliness epidemic that swept the world even before the coronavirus epidemic. She looks at how technology designed to bring us together divides us, the impact isolation has on our health, and the bizarre “loneliness economy” that has sprung up to meet the needs of people who crave human contact, from a lifelike Sex dolls to offering hugs in exchange for cash. This book is a fascinating study of a key societal question: Why do we feel so alone in an age where technology means we are more connected than ever? Amit Kawara

price: £10 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

Reed Hastings: Building Netflix by Matt Burgess

Netflix may dominate our TV consumption today, but its future is never certain: The ubiquitous online video giant may never survive the rise of streaming. This story takes us back to its humbler beginnings, when Netflix decided to take on Blockbuster, the king of brick-and-mortar video rentals, in the ’90s with an ambitious video-by-mail service. In a story with more twists than a bowl of spaghetti, WIRED’s own Matt Burgess dissects the life and choices of the famously elusive Netflix founder Reed Hastings, who was the The driving force behind a successful media empire. Natasha Bernal

price: £10.65 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

Sway: Unraveling Unconscious Bias, Pragya Agarwal

“Unconscious bias” has become a buzzword in the modern office, but what does it really mean? How does it work, what are the implications, and what can we do about it? Behavioral scientist Pragya Agarwal delves into the research to take us through the many ways that bias manifests itself, from stereotyped assumptions to confirmation and status quo bias, and how these all contribute to bias and inequality. She specifically highlights the intersecting nature of our biases and how this can exacerbate the privilege or disadvantage of different groups. There are no easy solutions here, but Agarwal urges that only when we become more attuned to our unconscious biases can we begin to consciously change our behavior. VT

price: £12.99 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

What technology is thinking, by Adrian Daub

Where do concepts such as “subversion”, “content” and “exit” come from? What are they really meant for, other than the way they get thrown around randomly in Silicon Valley? Daub tries to locate the most common concept in Silicon Valley to its philosophical origins. A professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, Daub is an elegant and articulate writer who excels at breaking down what he calls the jargon of the philosophers who have had such a profound impact on WIRED’s coverage. Will Bedingfield

price: £10 | Amazon | Waterstone | Words

Cliff, Toby Order

If not for SARS-CoV-2, cliff Probably still a book that only visionary futurists, rationalists and transhumanists can read (plus, I bet blogger and ex-government aide Dominic Cummings). But as it turns out, this clinical, unfettered dissection of existential risk — all the ways in which humanity could perish or self-destruct — has acquired an urgent and vaguely prophetic character. Ord, a philosopher at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, listed all the risks, assessed their likelihood and potential to kill us all, and suggested strategies to mitigate each. Asteroids, nuclear weapons and climate change all received honorable mentions. The same goes for epidemics, even if Ord is primarily concerned with artificially engineered epidemics. The biggest problem, however, is non-aligned AI – machines or algorithms that go rogue, or simply embrace a well-meaning idea that doesn’t require us to survive. In a year when our daily lives were unexpectedly (or rather expected but ignored) upended, cliffis a good way to look at everything: Worse things can easily happen – and are likely to happen. Gian Volpicelli

price: £17 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

Relying on It: How I Disrupted an Industry, Anne Bodden

Finally, one of the biggest secrets in London’s fintech world has come to light. The cause of a major fallout between the founders of two major UK neo-banks, Starling Bank and Monzo, has been the source of much speculation over the years. In her bombshell book, Starling Bank founder Anne Boden breaks ranks, tearing down her arch-rival and former partner Tom Blomfield, depicting betrayal, break-in and destruction on a biblical level. While it’s full of drama, Bodden also reveals exactly what it’s like to be an older female entrepreneur in an industry that’s not working against her — and how she’s made it. Notice

price: £14 | Amazon | Waterstone | Bookstore

This is not normal, William Davies

This collection of essays is an excellent window into the first four years of the pandemic. Davies said the UK was suffering from “a relinquishment of liberal economic rationality, declining authority of empirical facts, mainstreaming of nationalism, hatred of the ‘liberal elite’, the impact of big data and real-time media on our politics, new models of celebrity leadership, democracy The crisis of representation.” Davis deftly recorded the depressing state of affairs.pick up his magnum opus nervous state at the same time. World Bank

price: £12 | Amazon | Waterstone | Foyles | Bookstore

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