Christmas is the perfect time to catch up on all those books you’ve been meaning to read, and when it comes to technology, this has been a great year for insightful non-fiction. Technology books are also a worthy choice of gift for anyone interesting in tech or its cousin politics, and there’s plenty of long reads that have covered both areas with style.

So whether you’re looking to get in some time with a good book yourself or trying to find a memorable present for a loved one, when it comes to great technology books, Verdict has you covered.

Here’s our list of the best technology books to put under the Christmas tree in 2019.

Verdict’s pick of technology books you should gift this Christmas

Mindf*ck: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World

Great technology books for Christmas: Mindf*ckBy Christopher Wylie

Published: October 2019

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

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The Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked the world in 2018, bringing the debate surrounding data privacy to the forefront of public discussion. Mindf*ck: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World tells the story behind the scandal, revealing how an unknown military contractor infiltrated the western political stage and exposing the role of social media in the spread of targeted disinformation and manipulation, as told by whistleblower and ex-Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie.

Even for those familiar with how the scandal unfolded will appreciate this first-hand account of the role of user data and microtargeting played in political events such as the rise of the alt-right, the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump, and the powerful individuals behind this.

This cautionary tale is essential reading for anyone concerned about the influence of Big Tech on the democratic process.

Buy it on Amazon

Permanent Record

Great technology books for Christmas: Permanent RecordBy Edward Snowden

Published: September 2019

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

It’s been six years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of US government surveillance, yet the privacy arguments are just as pertinent now than as they were in 2013.

Snowden, the CIA contractor turned whistleblower, remains a divisive figure. His honest, easy to read memoir seeks to guide us through his motivations by starting at the beginning. The son of a coast guard officer with a keen interest in computers, shaped by the libertarianism of the early world wide web then spurred into patriotism after 9/11, his incredible story seems almost inevitable from our vantage point.

Snowden goes into great detail explaining the bloated bureaucracy of the US intelligence agencies in he worked for. His account of exfiltrating the explosive data and going on the run reads like a gripping thriller. It concludes with some reflection on what’s changed since his revelations rocked the world, and what the future privacy landscape looks like.

A perfect Christmas gift for those wanting to learn more about Snowden the man and get a snapshot into the workings of US intelligence agencies.

Buy it on Amazon

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

Great technology books for Christmas: AI SuperpowersBy Kai-Fu Lee

Published: January 2019

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

Anyone who is interested in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) is surely fascinated by the battle between the US and China for AI supremacy. And who better to unpick this thorny and evolving race than Kai-Fu Lee, world-renowned Taiwanese-American computer scientist and alumni of Apple, Microsoft and Google?

Making the case for China as the future AI leader, AI Superpowers explores the evolving nature of US-Sino AI competition and how it is impacting not only blue-collar jobs but white-collar jobs too. With vast workplace upheaval ahead, and resulting profound changes to the nature of society expected, Lee argues what should – and shouldn’t – be done to adapt to this new reality.

Smart, insightful and yet highly accessible, AI Superpowers is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future and AI’s place in it.

Buy in on Amazon

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

Great technology books for Christmas: The Age of Surveillance CapitalismBy Shoshana Zuboff

Published: January 2019

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

In a world where data is arguably the new oil, this in-depth exploration of how “surveillance capitalism” is threatening our privacy and individuality through the rise of social media, smart technology and artificial intelligence. Harvard Professor Zuboff provides a comprehensive insight into the role of Big Tech in profiting from the prediction and control of behaviour, and the startling impact this is having on society.

This look at how the mining of personal information by corporations operating in a data-powered economy is impacting human experience and behaviour, and the roles of Google, Facebook and Amazon in this.

A startling examination of the impacts of this new form of capitalism, and a stark warning for the future.

Buy it on Amazon

The People Vs Tech: How the internet is killing democracy (and how we save it)

Great technology books for Christmas: The People vs TechBy Jamie Bartlett

Published: April 2018

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

The wheels of the tech utopia bus came off some time ago. But in what ways could the internet become worse for humanity, and what would that mean for Western democracy?

Fans of the smash-hit podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen will be familiar with Bartlett. In The People Vs Tech, he applies the same inquisitive, journalistic approach to these pressing questions.

Bartlett takes concepts that already exist and pushes them to the extremes they could become if left unchecked. The book is broken into six parts, from citizens being “nudged” by data, to the risks of a “crypto-anarchy” future. It finishes with a 20-part plan to prevent this future.

Longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing and winner of the 2019 Transmission Prize, The People Vs Tech is a fantastic Christmas present for those without a background in technology who want to understand the technology threats that are yet to come.

Buy in on Amazon

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe

Great technology books for Christmas: Zucked
By Roger McNamee

Published: February 2019

Why it’s a great technology book to gift this Christmas:

Imagine being at the heart of Facebook and a passionate believer in it as a force for good, and then, as the world around you transforms into the divided, fake news-laden reality it is today, realising that you are in fact involved in a company doing incredible societal damage. This is the experience of venture capitalist Roger McNamee, and Zucked is his account of his rude awakening and what he did next.

Part personal narrative, part eye-opening insight into the inner workings of one of the world’s most influential companies, this book explores the forces that have put Facebook into fraught position it now finds itself in, and the conflicting challenges of morality and capitalism it faces.

Hard-hitting, frank and at times shocking, Zucked is a book anyone who uses social media should consider reading.

Buy it on Amazon

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