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Top 10 tech books to add to your 2022 reading list

3rd March 2022
Paige West

2022 celebrates the 25th anniversary of World Book Day. World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and shared reading and its mission is to promote reading for pleasure. With that in mind, here are 10 technology- and engineering-related books we think should be on your radar this year.

1. The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley, by Jimmy Soni

In this book, award-winning author and biographer Jimmy Soni explores PayPal’s turbulent early days. With interviews and access to pages of internal material, he shows how the seeds of so much of what shapes our world today – fast-scaling digital start-ups, cashless currency concepts, mobile money transfer – were planted two decades ago. He also reveals the stories of countless individuals who were left out of the front-page features and banner headlines but who were central to PayPal’s success.

Described as “a gripping account of PayPal’s origins and a vivid portrait of the geeks and contrarians who made its meteoric rise possible” by the Wall Street Journal, “an intensely magnetic chronicle” by The New York Times and “engrossing” by the Business Insider, The Founders is a story of iteration and inventiveness – the products of which have cast a long and powerful shadow over modern life.

2. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

Based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years – as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – Walter Isaacson has written a story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionised six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. Isaacson's portrait touched millions of readers.

The New Yorker described it as “enthralling” and the Telegraph said, “This is a riveting book, with as much to say about the transformation of modern life in the information age as about its supernaturally gifted and driven subject.”

3. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Max Tegmark

In this book, Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who's helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial, looks at how the rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology. How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose? Life 3.0 empowers you to join what may be the most important conversation of our time.

Daily Telegraph and The Times Books of the Year 2017, Stephen Hawking describes it as “the most important conversation of our time, and Tegmark's thought-provoking book will help you join it.”

4. Exploring BeagleBone, by Derek Molloy

Dr. Derek Molloy is an Associate Professor in the School of Electronic Engineering at Dublin City University, Ireland. Exploring BeagleBone (Second Edition) is a hands-on guide to bringing gadgets, gizmos, and robots to life using the popular BeagleBone and PocketBeagle embedded Linux platforms. Comprehensive content and deep detail provide more than just a BeagleBone instruction manual – you'll also learn the underlying engineering techniques that will allow you to create your own projects.

5. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance

With more than two million copies sold, Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of Musk’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Vance uses Musk's story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition?

This book was named one of the best books of the year by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Audible and Amazon and is a New York Times and International Bestseller.

6. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master, by Andrew Hunt & David Thomas

The Pragmatic Programmer cuts through the increasing specialisation and technicalities of modern software development to examine the core process – taking a requirement and producing working, maintainable code that delights its users. It covers topics ranging from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques for keeping your code flexible and easy to adapt and reuse.

Written as a series of self-contained sections and filled with entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies, The Pragmatic Programmer illustrates the best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development.

7. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, by Martin Ford

What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? In Rise of the Robots, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren't going to work, and we must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects – not to mention those of their children – as well as for society as a whole.

This book was winner of the 2015 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, is a New York Times Bestseller, was the Top Business Book of 2015 at Forbes and one of 12 Notable Science and Technology Books of 2015.

8. The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology Is Transforming Business, Politics and Society, by Azeem Azhar

Azeem Azhar, technology analyst and host of the Exponential View podcast, offers a new model for understanding how technology is evolving so fast, and why it fundamentally alters the world. He roots his analysis in the idea of an "exponential gap" in which technological developments rapidly outpace our society's ability to catch up. Azhar shows that this divide explains many problems of our time – from political polarisation to ballooning inequality to unchecked corporate power. He delves into how the exponential gap is a near-inevitable consequence of the rise of AI, automation, and other exponential technologies, like renewable energy, 3D printing, and synthetic biology, which loom over the horizon.

This book was the Financial Times Best Book of the Year 2021.

9. Atlas of AI, by Kate Crawford

Drawing on more than a decade of research, award‑winning scholar Kate Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the minerals drawn from the earth, to the labour pulled from low-wage information workers, to the data taken from every action and expression. This book reveals how this planetary network is fuelling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased inequity. Rather than taking a narrow focus on code and algorithms, Crawford offers us a material and political perspective on what it takes to make AI and how it centralises power.

The New Yorker said, “This study argues that [artificial intelligence] is neither artificial nor particularly intelligent…A fascinating history of the data on which machine-learning systems are trained.” John Thornhill of the Financial Times describes it as, “A valuable corrective to much of the hype surrounding AI and a useful instruction manual for the future.”

10. An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination, by Sheera Frenkel & Cecilia Kang

Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang take readers inside the complex court politics, alliances and rivalries within Facebook to shine a light on the fatal cracks in the architecture of the tech behemoth. This behind-the-scenes exposé offers the definitive account of Facebook’s fall from grace.

Described as “the ultimate takedown” by New York Times Book Review, this book was an instant New York Times bestseller and winner of the SABEW Best in Business Award.

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