Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by Kirkus and Literary Hub
The tech elite have a plan to survive the apocalypse: they want to leave us all behind.
Five mysterious billionaires summoned theorist Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The topic? How to survive the “Event”: the societal catastrophe they know is coming. Rushkoff came to understand that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley–style certainty that they and their cohort can break the laws of physics, economics, and morality to escape a disaster of their own making—as long as they have enough money and the right technology.
In Survival of the Richest, Rushkoff traces the origins of The Mindset in science and technology through its current expression in missions to Mars, island bunkers, AI futurism, and the metaverse. In a dozen urgent, electrifying chapters, he confronts tech utopianism, the datafication of all human interaction, and the exploitation of that data by corporations. Through fascinating characters—master programmers who want to remake the world from scratch as if redesigning a video game and bankers who return from Burning Man convinced that incentivized capitalism is the solution to environmental disasters—Rushkoff explains why those with the most power to change our current trajectory have no interest in doing so. And he shows how recent forms of anti-mainstream rebellion—QAnon, for example, or meme stocks—reinforce the same destructive order.
This mind-blowing work of social analysis shows us how to transcend the landscape The Mindset created—a world alive with algorithms and intelligences actively rewarding our most selfish tendencies—and rediscover community, mutual aid, and human interdependency. In a thundering conclusion, Survival of the Richest argues that the only way to survive the coming catastrophe is to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place.
Media theorist Rushkoff (Team Human) presents a fascinating and distressing account of how the very wealthy prep for doomsday. His premise is that über-rich individuals are operating with "The Mindset," or the belief that with enough wealth and resources, they can "insulate themselves from the damage they are creating" and survive an event that decimates the general population. Rushkoff introduces readers to the purveyor of multiple "residential farm communities for millionaires" designed to provide safety for the upper class in the future; the concept of "seasteading," the creation of "independent, free-floating city-states" in the ocean; and "prepper construction companies" in Texas that offer million-dollar luxury bunkers outfitted with bowling allies and pools. He also argues that supposedly innovative solutions to climate change that focus on the crisis as an opportunity for continued economic growth are only going to make the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. It's all rather intriguing, even if a couple of chapters feel somewhat tangential (one is a brief history of how the internet went from an ethos of "serving others" to a source of profits). This is an eye-popping look at some outlandish visions for the future. Agent: Mollie Glick, Creative Artists Agency.