[Diamandis’] thesis rests on a four-legged stool. The first idea is that our technologies in computing, energy, medicine and a host of other areas are improving at such an exponential rate that they will soon enable breakthroughs we now barely think possible. Second, these technologies have empowered do-it-yourself innovators to achieve startling advances — in vehicle engineering, medical care and even synthetic biology — with scant resources and little manpower, so we can stop depending on big corporations or national laboratories. Third, technology has created a generation of techno-philanthropists (think Bill Gates) who are pouring their billions into solving seemingly intractable problems like hunger and disease.
The threat of world overpopulation is the latest assignment for Brown’s art historian and accidental sleuth Robert Langdon. Awakening in a Florence hospital with no memory of the preceding 36 hours, Langdon and an attractive attending physician with an oversized intellect are immediately pursued by an ominous underground organization and the Italian police.
3. “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. Alexander joined Kerri in April to discuss injustices in the legal system that have led to the mass incarceration of African-American men. Here’s Kirkus Review:
Most people who use or sell illegal drugs are white, but in many states 90 percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses are black or Latino. Police departments, given financial incentives — cash grants and the right to keep confiscated cash and assets from drug raids — to focus on drug enforcement, find it easier to send SWAT teams into poor neighborhoods, where they will face less political backlash, than into gated communities and college frat houses. Also, most people do not care what happens to drug criminals, feeling that “they get what they deserve.”