BOOK REVIEW: In the future of “Unscaled”, AI will keep the rich different from you and me

“The rich are different from you and me.”

“Yes, they have more money.”

No exchange like that between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway ever took place, but it’s a lot more fun to imagine that it did. The initially curt put-down contains within it the germ of a much more intense concurrence the more you think about it.

Unscaled by Hemant Taneja, or “How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future” manages to embody both readings of that exchange.

The multimillionaire venture capitalist’s book often reads like a literal vanity-press product, talking of its subjects as an excuse to brag about all of the occasions Taneja’s investments thus far have paid off. That includes investments you’ve heard of like the temporary-messages app Snapchat as well as those you probably haven’t, like the “consumer digital health company“, Livongo.

In that way, the experience of reading Unscaled is very much like anyone who’s ever been cornered at a house party by someone you’ve just met, quite sure everything they do will be as interesting for you to hear as it clearly is for them to recount.

But, the rich are different from you and me, and what interests Taneja versus what does not is almost like reading an alien species talk about the implications of technology for the future.

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It’s hard to run into a rich person these days

The other day I was at a bar with a friend, sipping longnecks at the end of an otherwise empty table, conversating lazily about this, that and nothing really.

I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t the Crawl On Inn, and no, I didn’t see Bubba®. This isn’t that kind of column.

Anyway, about halfway through the first beer, some feller gripping a bottle of Coors Light moseyed up, stood right next to our table and started talking to us. Never seen him before in our lives, but there he was, joining in our conversating without any invitation. He was pretty far ahead of us, and slurring a bit, so that may explain why he didn’t mind intruding, and why a few minutes later, without any prompting, he didn’t mind pulling up a stool.

And we didn’t mind, either, because the drinks in our hands were the last we paid for ourselves that night.

Continue reading “It’s hard to run into a rich person these days”