Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

ISBN : 9780198825616

Jamie Susskind
544 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2018
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Winner of the 2019 Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize   

  • Confronts one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology - from AI to virtual reality - transform politics and society?
  • Asks penetrating questions about how digital technology will be used to exert control by the state and by big tech firms
  • Challenges readers to rethink the meaning of democracy and justice, freedom and equality, power, and property
  • Draws on centuries of political thought to shed light on the politics of the future

Future Politics confronts one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology transform politics and society? The great political debate of the last century was about how much of our collective life should be determined by the state and what should be left to the market and civil society. In the future, the question will be how far our lives should be directed and controlled by powerful digital systems - and on what terms?
Jamie Susskind argues that rapid and relentless innovation in a range of technologies - from artificial intelligence to virtual reality - will transform the way we live together. Calling for a fundamental change in the way we think about politics, he describes a world in which certain technologies and platforms, and those who control them, come to hold great power over us. Some will gather data about our lives, causing us to avoid conduct perceived as shameful, sinful, or wrong. Others will filter our perception of the world, choosing what we know, shaping what we think, affecting how we feel, and guiding how we act. Still others will force us to behave certain ways, like self-driving cars that refuse to drive over the speed limit.
Those who control these technologies - usually big tech firms and the state - will increasingly control us. They will set the limits of our liberty, decreeing what we may do and what is forbidden. Their algorithms will resolve vital questions of social justice, allocating social goods and sorting us into hierarchies of status and esteem. They will decide the future of democracy, causing it to flourish or decay.
A groundbreaking work of political analysis, Future Politics challenges readers to rethink what it means to be free or equal, what it means to have power or property, what it means for a political system to be just or democratic, and proposes ways in which we can - and must - regain control.



1: Increasingly Capable Systems
2: Increasingly Integrated Technology
3: Increasingly Quantified Society
4: Thinking Like a Theorist

5: Code is Power
6: Force
7: Scrutiny
8: Perception-Control
9: Public and Private Power

10: Freedom and the Supercharged State
11: Freedom and the Tech Firm

12: The Dream of Democracy
13: Democracy in the Future

14: Algorithms of Distribution
15: Algorithms of Recognition
16: Algorithmic Injustice
17: Technological Unemployment
18: The Wealth Cyclone

19: Transparency and the New Separation of Powers
20: Post-Politics

About the author: 

Jamie Susskind, Barrister, Littleton Chambers
Jamie Susskind is an author, speaker, and practising barrister. A past Fellow of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, he studied history and politics at Magdalen College, Oxford. He lives in London.

Winner of the 2019 Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize

"The most interesting exploration yet of the political realities in the digital era." - Matthew d'Ancona, Books of the Year 2018, Evening Standard

"He steers a course to the future that is as convincing as it is shocking." - Bryan Appleyard, The Sunday Times

"[Susskind] has tremendous talent and the book is very readable." - Tim Stanley, The Telegraph

"An impressive feat of intellectual organization ... To have written it all down so lucidly, engagingly and succinctly is a formidable achievement." - Raphael Behr, The Guardian

"The tone of this book is as refreshing as the originality of insight. Susskind contends that "that there are causes for both optimism and pessimism, but what the future requires above all is vigilance"." - Paschal Donohoe, The Irish Times

"Future Politics is a riveting book that sparkles with great ideas ... It is chock full of facts and the book combines knowledge of politics and technology in a unique and fascinating way." - Catherine Balavage, Frost

"A work of clarity and effortless genius which is a must for anybody seeking to understand the impact of modern technology on our body politic now and in the future." - Robert Rinder, Evening Standard

"Superb and necessary book." - Nick Cohen, The Observer

"Future Politics should be essential reading for those with the will to anticipate the future challenges facing defence and society." - Wavell Room

"Brilliant ... detailed research, colourful examples, and a pacy, upbeat style ... Future Politics will remain relevant for several years. All elected officials should read it as a matter of urgency." - Jamie Bartlett, Catholic Herald

"'Future Politics' challenges readers to rethink what it means to be free or equal, what it means to have power or property, what it means for a political system to be just or democratic, and proposes ways in which we can - and must - regain control. This is no less than a call for a fundamental change in the way we think about politics." - Dominic Lenton, Engineering & Technology

"... rigorous and thoughtful book ..." - David Patrikarakos, Literary Review

"Original and thought-provoking, this ground-breaking book challenges us to develop new policies for new times." - Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 2007-2010

"Few understand politics. Even fewer understand technology. Susskind is that rare soul who understands both - and more importantly, how the latter will change the former. Whether correct or not - and I believe he is correct - there is no better glimpse into our shared future than this book." - Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School

"This book crackles with ideas, sparking new thoughts with every page. And it is superbly organised, too. It's difficult to help people understand the past, but to help understand the future is a real achievement. Terrific." - Lord Finkelstein, Associate Editor, The Times

"From Arendt to artificial intelligence, from Machiavelli to machine learning, Susskind seamlessly weaves modern technology with classic theory to present a tour de force introduction to the future—explaining with erudition and humor the powerful digital systems that will govern our lives." - Beth Simone Noveck, Professor in Technology, Culture and Society, New York University Tandon School of Engineering

"Only an elite can control the power of computation, dispersed in space, integrated in the cloud, and enabled to operate on ever bigger data. What are the implications for freedom, democracy, and justice? Jamie Susskind offers a pathbreaking exploration of the challenge that these issues pose for our political thinking and practice. It's a must-read." - Philip Pettit, L. S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values, Princeton University, and Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy, Australian National University

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