George Gilder is the archetypal disruptive futurist author. Unlike many a denizen of Silicon Valley, Gilder is a theist who possesses a teleological view of knowledge and power, championing the idea that the all is not directionless, but is headed somewhere ultimately meaningful. As such, he’s been a noted proponent of intelligent design.
In his long and influential career (he’s 78), Gilder has always been a writer given to aphorism and oracular pronouncement. Sometimes these nuggets are profound and suggestive. They make you feel smart, like Neo about to control the Matrix, just by reading them. But sometimes they leave a reader befuddled as to what the heck Gilder might even be talking about, much less whether it is true or not.
Nevertheless, in previous works Gilder has found a way to weave his insights and maxims together into powerful and coherent arguments. This is most evident in his famous book, Wealth and Poverty (1981), where he argued for the then-new idea of supply side economics, and advanced a moral case for capitalism.
For an updated take on Gilder’s wonderful, Zeitgeist-contrarian conception of money, politics, knowledge, and power, check out Knowledge and Power (2013) and The Scandal of Money (2016). In these, and in his new book Life After Google:The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy, Gilder adroitly incorporates his theistic, techno-triumphalist take on the universe.
The Great Unravelling
Perhaps because he is attempting to pull together a thesis from observations made on the messy edge of technological innovation, “Life After Google,” feels a bit more scattershot than what has come before. Some chapters are excursions into the weeds that don’t contribute much to the overall direction of the book beyond serving as ding-dongs of the bell of doom that Gilder is ringing for our Google and Facebook dominated information culture.