Author of the fascinating new book The Future and Related Nonsense: The Insiders Guide to Where We Are And Where We’re Heading, Antony Funnell, talks to us about it’s a bit scary but very exciting to be living in this digital age:
‘My greatest attribute is my curiosity. People and events fascinate me. I am an inveterate snoop. I love finding out about new things. As a result, one half of my head is crammed full of incredibly useful facts, while the other half is bulked-up with the sort of trivia that makes people’s eyes glaze over at dinner parties (but only after I’ve had a wine or two).
I became a journalist and writer because it seemed the best way to put my love of detail to some sort of useful purpose. And because I also found that I was good at asking questions and making complex ideas and events accessible for others. For the past six years I’ve been focussing, to a great extent, on technology and social change – first as the presenter of ABC Radio National’s Media Report and more recently hosting Future Tense. It’s a dream job. Every week I get to engage with leading international innovators and thinkers – from Oxford Dons to the wonks who develop algorithmic trading systems for Wall Street investment houses.
The Future and #Related Nonsense has given me an opportunity to share the knowledge I’ve accumulated about how society is changing and where we’re heading. There’s just so much going on. The greatest challenge I faced in putting the book together was actually editing it down – making difficult decisions about what not to cover.
The Future and #Related Nonsense was born of a desire to write a book about the future that was both information and idea rich, but which didn’t bog down in technical terms or overwhelm people with new-age jargon and marketing spin. I also wanted to give readers a take on innovation and that was both fun and enjoyable.
We’re blessed to live in interesting times, but as the old Chinese proverb would have it, that can also be a curse. People are better educated than ever before and have access to far more information than at any time in human history, and yet, as I began pulling together the major themes of the book, it became clear to me just how unquestioning we have become of technology and those who own and develop it. From the way social media works to scientific efforts underway to artificially cool the planet, there is a level of passivity in our relationship with technology that doesn’t bode well for the future.
My hope is that The Future and #Related Nonsense will help people who feel intimidated by technology and the way the world is heading to realise that it is actually okay to be sceptical. Being a sceptic doesn’t make you a Luddite. In fact, healthy scepticism keeps the world on an even keel and is more needed than ever in today’s gadget and marketing-driven society. Be curious, be positive, but embrace your inner sceptic! That’s the tag-line for my book.’
The Future and Related Nonsense is available now.