New Nonfiction: What Should We Be Worried About? – John Brockman

Booksellers who have stocked Brockman’s series over time know that the new books fly off display tables and that the whole series is backlist gold. Readers who pick up one volume are likely to go back for other titles in the series because the organizing idea is irresistible: Brockman (the publisher of which the Guardian has called “the world’s smartest website”) poses a single question and a wide-ranging slate of contributors respond.

The first two books asked the questions: “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? and “What is your dangerous idea?” Together those two books now have almost 100,000 copies in print.

This time out Brockman asks my favorite question yet: “What should we be worried about?” Since I’m predisposed to fretting, I thought this might make my worrying more streamlined and efficient—instead it just scared the crap out of me. J I’ll note that the experts have thought of a lot of things the rest of us haven’t. It was pretty interesting.

Contributors include: Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, musician Brian Eno, filmmaker Terry Gilliam, Martin Rees, Arianna Huffington, Matt Ridley, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Steven Pinker, Sherry Turkle, Daniel C. Dennett, Mary Catherine Bateson, Bruce Sterling, Nicholas G. Carr, Kevin Kelly, Lisa Randall, J. Craig Venter, and many more.

Want a taste? Check out contributions to this question on

Those without enough to worry about will have fuel for many a future sleepless night after perusing this thick collection of concerns from 150 influential philosophers, futurists, and scientists….The subjects fall into predictable categories, from the dangers of our dependence on the Internet and the possibility of a technological Singularity, to concern for how technology could change children’s brains and reduce the overall level of general knowledge. Security technologist Bruce Schneier and others raise questions of privacy in a world of commodified information; others worry about the rise of superstition and anti-science sentiments and the growing lack of informed science coverage in the news….Brockman offers an impressive array of ideas from a diverse group….”
Publishers Weekly

“Water resources, viruses, low science literacy, and our failure to achieve global cooperation are all addressed with striking clarity. By taking this bold approach to significant quandaries, Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives.”
Booklist (starred review)

What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night (9780062296238) by John Brockman. $15.99 trade paper original. 2/11/14 on sale.

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