Midway through Joel Garreau’s “Radical Evolution”, Ray Kurzweil answers a question as to whether technology will enable us to transcend human nature by stating, “…it depends on how you define human nature.” Garreau’s questions in this thought-provoking and well-researched book, receive that “it depends” response repeatedly. So much of the subjects’ responses depend heavily on how each individual defines what it means to be human.
As a marketer, I think of myself first and foremost a student of human nature. I can’t sell a prospect something they simply don’t want, need, desire. Asking “will the dog eat the dog food?” reflected dot-bomb hubris at its worst, VC’s and marketers so out of touch with their customers that they could relate to potential customers almost as though they were dogs, ultimately dooming their efforts to failure. As a technologist, how a given solution removes obstacles for my customers fascinates me to no end, especially when it’s an obstacle those consumers didn’t know they had. While marketers and technologists occasionally stumble across those types of answers by accident, those that do it consistently succeed because they continually wonder what makes people tick.
“Radical Evolution” explores some challenging questions for marketers, technologists, and anyone else planning to live in the future about what that ticking will sound like. It also looks at whether that ticking represents the sound of an alarm clock, waking us to a bright new day, or if it represents instead a bomb set to go off. While a number of the concepts within the book are no doubt familiar to regular readers of Wired, (notably Bill Joy’s famous/infamous “Why the future doesn’t need us” manifesto), Garreau presents a number of distinctive, credible, and intriguing scenarios illustrating possible futures for humanity and the implications those scenarios drive.
Will you agree with it? It depends. Should you read it? Absolutely.