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About the book
  • Published: 27 November 2017
  • ISBN: 9781847941855
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us

Tim O’Reilly, ‘The Oracle of Silicon Valley’, explores how digital technology is restructuring every business, every job, and every sector of society

‘An indispensable guide.’ Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn

‘Tech’s most valuable teacher.’ Forbes
Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual and the founder of O’Reilly Media explores the upside and the potential downsides of our future – what he calls the ‘next economy’.
Tim O’Reilly’s genius is to identify and explain emerging technologies with world shaking potential – the World Wide Web, Open Source Software, Web 2.0, Open Government data, the Maker Movement, Big Data. ‘The man who can really can make a whole industry happen,’ according to Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, O’Reilly has most recently focused on the future of work – AI, algorithms, and new approaches to business organisation that will shape our lives. He has brought together an unlikely coalition of technologists, business leaders, labour advocates, and policy makers to wrestle with these issues. In WTF? he shares the evolution of his intellectual development, applying his approach to a number of challenging issues we will face as citizens, employees, business leaders, and a nation.

What is the future when an increasing number of jobs can be performed by intelligent machines instead of people, or only done by people in partnership with those machines? What happens to our consumer based societies – to workers and to the companies that depend on their purchasing power? Is income inequality and unemployment an inevitable consequence of technological advancement, or are there paths to a better future? What will happen to business when technology-enabled networks and marketplaces are better at deploying talent than traditional companies? What’s the future of education when on-demand learning outperforms traditional institutions? Will the fundamental social safety nets of the developed world survive the transition, and if not, what will replace them?

The digital revolution has transformed the world of media, upending centuries-old companies and business models. Now, it is restructuring every business, every job, and every sector of society. Yet the biggest changes are still ahead. To survive, every industry and organisation will have to transform itself in multiple ways. O’Reilly explores what the next economy will mean for the world and every aspect of our lives – and what we can do to shape it.

  • Pub date: 27 November 2017
  • ISBN: 9781847941855
  • Imprint: Random House Business
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $35.00

About the Author

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O’Reilly is widely recognised as the leading thinker of Silicon Valley. As the founder and CEO of the publishing company O’Reilly Media, he has become famous for spotting technology with world-shaking potential – from launching the world’s first commercial website in 1993, via popularising terms like ‘Web 2.0’ and ‘OpenSource’ in the early 2000s, to advising the White House on its tech policies over the last decade. O’Reilly is also a partner of the venture capital firm O’Reilly AlphaTech, and sits on the boards of Maker Media, Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics and PopVox. He lives in Oakland, California.

Praise for WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us

“Tim O’Reilly has been at the cutting edge of the Internet since it went commercial.”

New York Times

“O’Reilly’s ability to quickly identify nascent trends is unparalleled.”


“A punchy and provocative book . . . What’s The Future is an insightful and heartfelt plea, daring us to reimagine a better economy and society . . . A jaunty read with a compelling narrative of how technology interweaves with the real world.”

Financial Times

“Tech’s most valuable teacher.”


“Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual.”


“One of the most influential pioneers and thinkers of the internet age.”


“The ultimate tech industry thought leader.”

Scientific American

“The man who can really can make a whole industry happen.”

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google

“If people want ideas about the future, they should look to O’Reilly to point them out.”


“For anyone who wants to know how to prepare for the future – and how we might shape that future in ways that broadly benefit society, not just technological or entrepreneurial elites – WTF? is an indispensable guide.”

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn

“Tim O’Reilly’s creative insights and moral clarity have made him the trusted guide to waves of technology now sweeping the planet. If you want a better future, don’t just read this book, but make sure your friends do, too.”

Erik Brynjolfsson, co-author of THE SECOND MACHINE AGE

“So many insights, so much history, so much of our future by the consummate insider who is as much a part of the story as the people and ideas he writes about – I was learning something on more or less every page.”

Dr. James Manyika, Director, McKinsey Global Institute

“Tim has been an astute observer of both the successes and the excesses of Silicon Valley. This provocative book distils the lessons he has learned about the power of technology to shape our economy and our lives.”

Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google

“If anyone knows how to leverage the power of social media, it’s Tim O’Reilly.”

Fast Company

“Lots of people are worried about new technology and its impact on the economy. Will automation make humans obsolete? Will platform businesses become giant monopolies? Will the online economy kill the suburbs? How will tech affect inequality? These questions are hard to answer, but media entrepreneur Tim O’Reilly . . . [doesn’t] shy away from the task . . . [WTF?] contemplates how economic systems can be transformed to spread the benefits of new technology more equitably.”

Books of the Year, Bloomberg

“Draws on decades of experience covering tech to illustrate how increasingly intelligent machines are changing the way we work and how they could impact the way we address our most pressing social concerns.”

Publishers Weekly

“Defiantly optimistic . . . O’Reilly is inquisitive, sourcing ideas and thoughts from across history and disciplines, while the book is littered with quotes from literature, and by historical figures, entrepreneurs, economists, and friends in high places.”


“O’Reilly has an uncanny knack for charting what’s ahead. In WTF?, he shows us know he does it. At a time of sweeping change, it is a bracing and an exhilarating read.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America

“Excellent . . . Tim knows this stuff as well as anyone, and there’s never been a more important moment to understand the issues raised in this book.”


“If you’ve heard the term Open Source software or Web 2.0 then you’re familiar with the work of Tim O’Reilly, who’s had a big hand in framing each of those even bigger ideas, shaping the debate about the future of the present day enchantment with technology.”

Anne McElvoy, BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking

“For more than two decades, Tim O’Reilly has been the conscience of the tech industry . . . His new book WTF? seizes on this singular moment in history, in which just about everything makes us say “WTF?””


“O’Reilly highlights the big (and sometimes unexpected) questions we really should be asking about the future of tech, how we shape it, regulate it, and ensure it has the values we want for business, government and society.”

Best Books on Innovation, Nesta

“One of the biggest names in technology.”

BBC World Service, Click

“O’Reilly’s vision is more Utopian than dystopian, even downright optimistic in a roundabout, creative-destruction sort of way. The positive outlook is refreshing and engaging.”

Kirkus Reviews

“No one is better at understanding the future than Tim O’Reilly. He has an intuitive feel and a deep knowledge of technology. This book makes sense of the astonishing transformations that are happening around us and is an indispensable guidebook to tomorrow.”

Walter Isaacson

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