‘How to Fix the Future’

 

Andrew Keen, Atlantic, 330 pages, $26. Published close on the heels of his 2015 curmudgeonly treatise, “The Internet Is Not the Answer,” Andrew Keen’s new book is far less grumpy, as the entrepreneur turned technology pundit trains his lens on tools he believes can help correct our course. The title is a bit off. Forget the future. The book is a courageous attempt to offer some constructive solutions to a world already filled with monoliths that make the Microsoft of the 1990s look like a humble Etsy vendor. Keen is mercifully brief with his indictments of big tech. Keen offers a five-part solution to cure society of the Googles and Amazons of the world, consisting of greater consumer choice, social responsibility, competitive innovation, smart regulation and enlightened education. To form his answer, he hits the road, interviewing dozens of folks around the world. He visits the chief technology officer of Estonia, the first country in the world to offer “e-residency,” an electronic passport that allows any small-business owner to use a variety of Estonian services and technologies. In Singapore, Keen explores the Smart Nation initiative, where Keen might show a bit too much of a wide-eyed trip to Oz. In Brussels, he meets with the European commissioner for competition. The book was not well edited, with spelling mistakes that are inexcusable. But his travels do allow for his statement that the efforts are a “counterweight to Silicon Valley’s most corrosive indifference to the impact of its disruption on the world around it.”