6 books essential to understand the future

Geoff Ralston is the president of Y Combinator. He shared 6 books which may help you predict the future and avoid mistakes from the past.

About expert: Geoff Ralston runs Y Combinator. This is a venture fund for startup accelerating in IT sphere from Silicon Valley. More than 2,000 companies have been launched thanks to Y Combinator. For instance, Airbnb, Twitch, and Reddit went out into the world. Before heading Y Combinator, Ralston was vice president of engineer development and SRO at Yahoo!.

People like predicting the future. We create scenarios and models in order to predict what our lunch of future will be like or what will be the reason for the potential threat for a particular field, planet, or the human in general.
Especially, the desire to make predictions is typical for investors. The best of them are capable of finding founders of companies who are good at predicting as well. A talented founder is always able to tell a convincing story about why his future version is the best and why it is bound to happen.

Geoff Ralston tells readers of Fast Company that he loves reading about the past as it helps forecast better. Books inspire him to think over what the world will be like in 5, 10, 20 years.
This helps Y Combinator understand what should be done further.

1. The Undoing Project. A friendship that changed the world, Michael Lewis.

Human behavior is extremely hard to predict in advance. Nevertheless, economists founded a scientific field based on predictions. However, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky destroyed it. Kahneman won the Nobel prize for economics. The book tells a story about their path in a very interesting manner. Ralston enjoys reading about extraordinary people that change the world thanks to their insight.

2. Superforecasting: The art and science of prediction, Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

Despite the future is frequently impossible to forecast, some of us do succeed in it. This book explains how to elicit correct predictions. Ralston was often thinking about this work during the pandemic COVID-19, when a bunch of hypotheses were not proved, whereas many of those which were ignored turned out to be true.

3. The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, Toby Ord

This well-written book addresses our possibilities: what we as humanity can achieve and what may go wrong on the way to these achievements. Such ideas seem pretty relevant now as Ord’s arguments instilled so much determination in Ralston so he did everything possible to decrease potential risks.

4. Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes, R.P. Eddy and Richard A.Clark

This book concerns the essence of catastrophes and what we can do in order to foresee them. It is necessary to take heed to people who are able to predict calamities.

5. Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the limits of the Possible, Arthur C. Clarke

Klark’s predictions about space investigations, genetic modifications, and computerization are really prominent, considering the fact that it was written in 1962.

6. A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, Jeniffer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg

This story is devoted to CRISPR. This is one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the 21 century. Can you imagine that a human is formed from one cell following the model coded in 46 chromosomes in its core! It sounds incredible. The story is about Jeniffer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier: how they discovered the mechanism able to modify this code.