Age of Discovery

Ian Goldin and co-author Chris Kutarna define the present day as a  New Renaissance—a rare moment of flourishing genius and risk that promises to reshape all our lives

Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance, published Bloomsbury and St Martin’s Press, is out now.

Da Vinci, Columbus, Copernicus, Luther, Gutenberg. These names recall an era in which an unprecedented rush of discovery and disruption broke through long-standing barriers and broke down equally long-standing powers. This rush entangled the whole world politically, economically and intellectually, and reshaped society. Now, the same forces that converged 500 years ago to spark genius and upend social order—great leaps in science, trade, migration, technology, education and health—are once again present, only stronger and more widespread.

In Age of Discovery, Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna show how we can draw courage and wisdom from the last Renaissance in order to fashion our own golden age out of this New Renaissance. Whether we’re seized by Gutenberg or Zuckerberg; the discovery of the Americas or the rise of China; copperplate or silicon etching; the Bonfire of the Vanities or the rise of ISIS; the spread of syphilis or the Ebola pandemic—a Renaissance moment, then and now, forces humanity to give its best just when the stakes are highest.

Age of Discovery navigates the crises of our time and helps us all define a legacy that the world will still celebrate half a millennium from now.

Order Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance on Amazon (UK)

Order Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance on Amazon (US)

Order Age of Discovery: Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance on Amazon, 2017 revised paperback edition (UK)

Age of Discovery is also available in the following translations:

Reviews and endorsements:

Professor Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate in Economics:

“There are many things to admire in this wonderful book.  The Renaissance brought a crescendo of new ideas in the full range of human endeavor, and with them a century of transformational change.  It also brought interdependence, risk, instability, confusion and fear.  The present age feels similar.  The authors convincingly argue there is no way to chart a precise course amidst this level of complexity.  Navigational skills, humility, and embracing fundamental values, most importantly our capacities for creativity and empathy, will help us, individually and societally.  Everyone should read it.”

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group:

“Age of Discovery is an important book in a time where the world is dividing and retreating. Ian and Chris take us on a powerful journey and remind us of our common humanity and the importance of collaboration, compassion and genius. We must not build walls, pull up the drawbridge and live in fear. This book will help the world courageously embrace the potential of collective intelligence and ensure we understand the lessons from the past and realise the opportunities ahead of us in this New Renaissance.”

Arianna Huffington, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post:

“In a time of big global challenges and unprecedented opportunities, Age of Discovery is an essential guide — and a superb ride — through our current stormy moment. In their timely and lively book, Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna chart a course to a new golden age of human creativity, ingenuity, and potential.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund:

“Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna have dared to look up from the spreadsheets and put aside for the moment the safe, incremental studies to ask – and answer – essential big questions: where do we come from, what are we doing wrong—and right!—and where are we trying to go? We should thank them for their audacity and accept their challenge to take risks, push the boundaries of the possible, be sober about the challenges, and perhaps most importantly, to be optimistic for what the future may hold.”

Reid Hoffman, Founder, LinkedIn:

“In an age of quick and often simplistic analysis, Ian and Chris paint a rich and instructive portrait of our current moment. Drawing on powerful Renaissance-era parallels to diagnose the opportunities and challenges that lie before us, Age of Discovery offers essential insights for all of us including every emerging Michaelangelo and Da Vinci.”

Lord Martin Rees, former President of Royal Society and Astronomer Royal:

“This fascinating book covers a remarkably broad canvas. The authors set today’s global trends in a historical perspective while assessing current challenges and policy options. They argue that we live in an era where the stakes are higher than ever before– but they are neither techno-utopians nor doom-mongers. This balanced analysis should interest all who care about the future of humanity.”

Professor Andrew Hamilton, President, New York University and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford:

“Age of Discovery is a fascinating book that seeks to make links from the remarkable period of crisis and creativity that was the Renaissance to the dramatic changes that we are all experiencing in the world today. Compelling parallels are drawn between the rapid developments in technology and culture that occurred or are occurring, and the challenges faced by the societies in absorbing them. The book offers outstanding insights for all those interested in the stresses of the modern world and how other ages have confronted them in their own time.”

Professor Niall Ferguson, Harvard University:

“Are we living through a new Renaissance? In this hugely stimulating book, Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna look at today’s hubs of innovation and sees new versions of Florence in the age of the Medici. Ours, he argues, is a new era of exploration. But, as in the da Vinci and da Gama, new technology and global integration bring with them new perils as well as new prosperity: pandemics, religious manias, war. Everyone should read the authors’ call for a new humanism that is ready to defend our modern Renaissance against attacks that have already begun.”

Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and 13th World Chess Champion and author of Winter is Coming:

“Along with being fascinating reading, Age of Discovery provides the big picture view required to understand the challenges being created by the constant waves of innovation we face today. Our wonderful new technologies are agnostic, capable of being used for good and for evil, to save lives and to end lives. The book illustrates well that in life, as in chess, every advance creates both opportunities and dangers—and the winners will be those who best embrace the new while still learning from the old. I know better than most that “genius” is an overused word, but the authors effectively rehabilitate it in Age of Discovery by showing how individual brilliance becomes collective success when individual freedom spreads opportunity throughout society.”

Dominic Barton, Managing Partner of McKinsey:

“Age of Discovery is a much needed dose of perspective in our increasingly short-term focused world. The authors step back from the day-to-day to illustrate how our current period –- with its relentless pace, new technologies, and heightened connectedness -– is a New Renaissance. The reader learns the lessons of the original Renaissance, such as the need to look out for new systemic risks, and the necessity to ‘embrace genius’ –- the innovative and frequently controversial ideas that originate from these unique points in time. With this perspective, leaders can learn to make prudent decisions for the long-term without being over-biased by near-term volatility.“

Professor Ned Phelps, Nobel Laureate in Economics:

“Age of Discovery offers a refreshing change from the shallow analyses and sterile nostrums of the right and the left. Its vision is that the current wave of advances — in communications and science among others — are fast presenting opportunities for a worldwide outpouring of creativity. Its wisdom is that these possibilities will be largely missed if citizens do not act and nations do not organize to take advantage of them. An impressive and important book.”

Professor AC Grayling, Master, New College of the Humanities:

“In this superb account of the parallels between our own time and the Renaissance the authors show what we can learn, both as guide and warning; if we hark to what they say, we can unleash the best of today’s potentials and avoid its pitfalls. Their book is an education and a great read in one.”

Vijay Govindarajan, Coxe Distinguished Professor at Tuck at Dartmouth & Marvin Bower Fellow at Harvard Business School and NYT Best Selling Author:

“In Age of Discovery, Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna deliver a masterpiece with a very important message: how to weather today’s crises and achieve greatness.”

Larry Brilliant, President of Skoll Urgent Threats Fund and former Executive Director

Civilizations, epochs, eras, ages—whatever—cannot see their own effect on history.  The “roostertails” of the Age of Enlightenment or Renaissance Era are unknowable to those living then. What Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna have done is nothing less than to capture a freeze frame of the rapidly moving innovations and discoveries of today, examine its risks and benefits, and extrapolate our own roostertail.   That they have done this while the plane is flying, the computer code being written, the achievements being celebrated and their side-effects and knock effect not yet realized is a remarkable feat of both history and prophecy.  They have given us a gift of self reflection that is indeed rare.  I can’t believe the book is so light and small for accomplishing such a heavy lift.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace and former Secretary General, Civicus:

“Age of Discovery identifies the pivotal choices we all face, and issues a call to action that we all need to hear. I strongly recommend this timely and immensely important and readable book.”

Hans-Paul Buerkner, Chairman and former CEO of The Boston Consulting Group:

“Age of Discovery provides a very important reminder to see and to grasp the opportunities in the many challenges we are facing today, as we have done successfully in past times. We have made enormous progress by coming up with new solutions time and again. There is no reason to be pessimistic.”

Professor Asha Kanwar, President, Commonwealth of Learning:

“In a time of loose rhetoric and gloomy headlines, Age of Discovery shines the hope that, working together, we can promote learning societies that will help us navigate our tangled 21st century. Will we flounder or flourish? With a brilliant mix of fresh wit and sober thinking, Ian and Chris challenge and inspire us all. A must-read for present and future leaders everywhere.” 

Victor L.L. Chu, Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group:

“This is the best book I have read in recent years- highly educational, enlightened and entertaining. The evolution of our society’s achievements and challenges over generations, explained in wonderful clarity and simplicity, provides a valuable guide for present and future generations to navigate the growing risks and complexities facing humanity. A must-read!”

Justin Yifu Lin, former Chief Economist, World Bank: 

“At the time of the rise of China, the reversal of globalization and the remaking of the world order, Age of Discovery provides readers wisdom and enlightenment by foreseeing the future through reviewing the past.”

Peter Frankopan, Author of The Silk Roads:

“Bold, challenging and invigorating”

Zhu Min, former Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund:

“With their magical pen, Ian and Chris take us through a thrilling and unforgettable 500 years of human history: from the Renaissance to today. As 500 years ago, today is indeed an age of discovery. In the face of rapid technological, cultural and ideological changes, faced with surging opportunities and risks, faced with great uncertainty, where can we find hope and determination? How can we become active players in innovation? How can we achieve a new ‘Renaissance’? The authors implant into our present perspective not only history, but also openness, humility, innovation and insight. What we’re left with is faith for the future. Reading this book is a shocking and beautiful voyage of discovery.”

Press coverage and media reviews

Age of Discovery Cover