The End of Reality: How Four Billionaires are Selling a Fantasy Future of the Metaverse, Mars, and Crypto (Hardcover)
An instant bestseller! A brilliant takedown and exposé of the great con job of the twenty-first century—the metaverse, crypto, space travel, transhumanism—being sold by four billionaires (Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen, Elon Musk), leading to the degeneration and bankruptcy of our society.
At a time when the crises of income inequality, climate, and democracy are compounding to create epic wealth disparity and the prospect of a second American civil war, four billionaires are hyping schemes that are designed to divert our attention away from issues that really matter. Each scheme—the metaverse, cryptocurrency, space travel, and transhumanism—is an existential threat in moral, political, and economic terms.
In The End of Reality¸ Jonathan Taplin provides perceptive insight into the personal backgrounds and cultural power of these billionaires—Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marc Andreesen (“The Four”) —and shows how their tech monopolies have brought middle-class wage stagnation, the hollowing out of many American towns, a radical increase in income inequality, and unbounded public acrimony. Meanwhile, the enormous amount of taxpayer money to be funneled into the dystopian ventures of "The Four," the benefits of which will accrue to billionaires, exacerbate these disturbing trends.
The End of Reality is both scathing critique and reform agenda that replaces the warped worldview of "The Four" with a vision of regenerative economics that seeks to build a sustainable society with healthy growth and full employment.
About the Author
Jonathan Taplin is a public intellectual, writer, film producer, and scholar. He is the director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California and professor at the USC Annenberg School from in the field of international communication management and digital media entertainment. His extraordinary journey has put him at the crest of every major cultural wave in the past half century: he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band, producer of major films such as Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, an executive at Merrill Lynch, creator of the Internet’s first video-on-demand service and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium.
“Presented as a book about the four tech horsemen, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Andreessen, it is in fact something more interesting, a study of the ways these men and their companies wish to remove us from reality entirely…Taplin writes from diverse and impressive life experience…his great virtue as a writer is his humanity, an ability to clearly and elegantly state the case. The persuasive way Taplin builds his arguments, and the direct, uncompromising conclusions he draws, are what make this book so valuable. The End of Reality weaves together an ambitious and far-reaching critique of ‘ our culture of escape from reality,’ highlighting a series of jarring hypocrisies… It’s disturbing, saddening, rage-inducing at times, but I also get the sense it was conceived in the hopeful spirit that it might not be too late.”—Irish Independent
“Scathing but humane…Taplin makes use of his prodigious erudition with a multi-pronged historical analysis…Brilliantly bracing, his sobering wake-up call grabs you by the lapels for a stern talking-to.”—Business Post (Ireland)
“Taplin expertly picks apart each of these self-appointed saviors and their Frankenstein’s monsters of modern technocracy...he retains a relatively objective tone by displaying facts without overt judgement—and by taking the history of propaganda as his context… his argument in The End of Reality is valid and sobering.“ —Rain Taxi Review of Books
“[A] vigorous polemic…Persuasive and insightful, this cutting portrait of America's slide toward oligarchy hits home.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A wake-up call as to what happens when a society elevates people who don’t have the public’s best interests in mind. Jonathan Taplin has a gift for storytelling that turns the bitter pill (reality check) into a fascinating read.” —Scott Galloway, NYU Stern professor of marketing and bestselling author of Adrift
“Tech culture has to improve for the sake of humanity, and that’s not going to happen without critiques like The End of Reality. Please take the time to read this carefully, especially if you are sure it must be wrong.”—Jaron Lanier, author of Who Owns the Future?
“Reading Taplin’s invigorating The End of Reality is akin to attending a huge outdoor feast. There is so much nourishment in his book, so much provocative thinking, so much vivid writing, so much thought that went into the book’s vast menu, that by the final page the reader is left in awe. Taplin is a delightful iconoclast and a daring thinker.”—Ken Auletta, author of Hollywood Ending
“Once again, Taplin has cut to the core of a heartless techno-oligarchy. If names like Musk, Thiel, and Zuckerberg only cause you distress, Taplin’s careful exposé will move you to outrage, though with hope the hyper-barons can be curbed.”—Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Princeton University
“I’ve followed technology, and politics, for decades. But I found a tremendous amount of new information and insight in The End of Reality. Anyone interested in where culture is headed, and how democracy can survive, will want to read this book.”—James Fallows, national correspondent, Atlantic
“Taplin takes us to the inner sanctum of the plutocratic insurgency: where libertarian billionaires, resentful that they are not universally acclaimed as heroes, are spinning a ‘populist’ technophantasmagoria designed first and foremost to distract the rest of us from the vast anti-democratic power and privilege they have amassed for themselves.”—Nils Gilman, senior vice president, the Berggruen Institute
“The End of Reality is incredibly timely and powerful. The technologists pushing us into a world dominated by AI need to abandon their Ayn Rand mindset of ‘who’s going to stop me’ and consider the power of the new, regenerative economics tool set Taplin proposes.”—John Seely Brown, former director, Xerox PARC
“Taplin understands true creativity comes from real people, not the lazy musings of the super-rich or the idea factories of the giant corporation. That’s why he’s fought so hard for so long to protect every human who dreams of making a better world—or just singing a more beautiful song—from the dystopian projects of America’s new autocrats. Want a future that works for you and your family? Here’s your guide.”—Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute and author of Liberty from All Masters