The one sentence summary

As everything accelerates, it pays to pause and reflect on what is happening.


  • To understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces are all accelerating at once. These are:
  1. Moore’s Law (technology – computing power doubles every two years)
  2. The Market (globalisation – the world is now one market, not many)
  3. Mother nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)
  • The book is also an argument for being late – for pausing to appreciate this epoch and reflect on its possibilities and dangers. The title refers to waiting for someone to turn up to a meeting. Instead of getting cross with them, we should thank them for giving us unexpected thinking time.
  • Technologists believe they have made waiting obsolete. Who needs patience any more? But on the other hand:

“Knowledge is only good if you can reflect on it.” Leon Wieseltier

  • For the first time ever in the history of humanity, we have reached the point where technology is advancing faster than the speed with which humans can learn about it properly and adapt fast enough.
  • To get to grips with this, we need to adopt a new kind of approach: dynamic stability. Like riding a bike, it’s less stressful to keep moving.
  • A black elephant is a cross between a black swan (a rare unanticipated event with big implications) and the elephant in the room (a problem that is widely visible, but no one wants to address it).


  • It is an optimist’s guide to thriving in The Age of Accelerations.
  • According to Lin Wells, who teaches strategy at the National Defence University, there are three ways of thinking about a problem: inside the box, outside the box, and when there is no box. He recommends thinking without a box.
  • SMOP stands for a Small Matter Of Programming – a Silicon Valley engineer’s phrase for when software can’t cope with the amount of data thrown at it.
  • The cloud is a misnomer – too soft, fluffy and passive. It should be called the
  • Complexity is free. Technology can sort pretty much anything out, and you usually don’t have to pay. The cost of huge amounts of data is now negligible.
  • A Boston Consulting Group survey asked: “Which of the following things would you give up for a year rather than give up personal use of your mobile phone?” The answers: Dining out 64%, Having a pet 51%, Going on holiday 50%, a day off a week 51%, Seeing friends in person 45%, Giving up sex 38%. That’s desperation for you.


  • The title is charming but somewhat flawed – if you have sufficient control of your life, you should be able to generate your own thinking time.
  • The book is very long and many will struggle to finish it.