HarperCollins presents ‘The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World’, by Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan

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NEW DELHI, July 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — HarperCollins presents a stellar exploration of how the power to manipulate one’s thoughts is being harnessed ‘The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World’, by Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan.

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Co-author Shivam Shankar Singh says, “We’ve all wondered how society has gotten to the point where we no longer debate what’s good or bad, we instead have to debate what’s real. This transformation isn’t a chance occurrence. The key to power in the modern world is the ability to shape people’s thoughts, and this means that everyone from politicians to nation states is constantly working to influence what facts we come to believe. Sophisticated information warfare techniques are constantly being used by different actors trying to build competing realities around us. This book demystifies those techniques and details just how the war to manipulate our thoughts is being waged.”


Co-author Anand Venkatanarayanan says, “We live in strange times, where we can’t recognise our own family and friends because, they seem to live in a different reality, which we can’t reconcile or understand. It is frightening because, irreconcilable differences are eventually resolved, not through dialogue and mediation, but in battle fields. This breakdown of harmony is not a natural condition but is created, maintained and funded through a clear thought process, which we have decoded and documented in detail.”


Swati Chopra, Executive Editor, Harpercollins India, says, “Today, more than ever before, information warfare is determining the way we experience the world. Manipulating minds is quickly becoming the means of achieving power, from domestic politics to geopolitics and beyond. The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities helps us understand how realities are ‘conjured’ and power acquired, using examples from stories and headlines we see every day. An unmissable book written by two authors who bring to it their expertise in the interlinked realms of politics, technology, social media and cyber security.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

How do politicians in today’s world attain power? How do nations become powerful? Why do human beings follow others unquestioningly, even if it is to their own detriment? What factors determine which politicians, nations and organizations will dominate the modern world?

Through much of human history, societal control was determined by militaristic strength. Individuals and tribes fought to control vital resources and land. In the next part of evolution marked by colonialism and the emergence of mega-corporations, money determined power. In the recent decade, the key to supremacy has shifted again. The power and control individuals, leaders and nations have is now determined by their ability to mould the information environment.

In The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities, Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan dive into the operations of political parties, cyber criminals, godmen, nation states and intelligence agencies from around the world to explain how the power to manipulate your thoughts is being harnessed, and how information warfare is shaping your life and world.

Releasing 2 August 2021

Order Now: bit.ly/AlternateRealities

Non-fiction/Politics/Data and Information Technology | Hardback | INR 599 | 296 pp

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

“Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan’s stellar examination of how modern conjurers apply the art of perception management to shape reality uses wonderful Indian epics and pop culture stories to convey complex information-warfare concepts like reflexive control, cybercriminal psychology, and how authoritarians exploit the information environment to solidify power. A breath of fresh air showcasing information operations topics outside typical Western case studies, their work has pressing relevance to a global audience of laypersons and experts alike. I am excited to recommend this book to friends and colleagues.” – Cody Gentry Barrow, information warfare expert, former senior intelligence officer, The Pentagon.

“This is a beguiling and fascinating story of the worlds we have created and now live in. It sees WhatsApp and Facebook as imagined communities no more or less than nation states and religious groups, bonded and sustained by ritual and story-telling, novelty and community. Uniquely Indian, drawing on ancient myth and religious traditions, yet universal. The authors show us why we should fear the power of the gods that rule these new worlds no less than those that ruled the heavens and earth in centuries past. Their ability to shape our reality is perhaps greater than any more earthly, geographical and physical power. Nation states and political parties, are both threatened by this new source of power, and ruthlessly exploiting it. Perhaps the most important battle of the century ahead will be the one for people’s minds, the victor the one best able to conjure a reality people want to believe in, real or not.” – Group Captain Keith Dear, former intelligence officer, RAF, former advisor to the Prime Minister (UK) on defence modernisation, science, technology and the Integrated Review.

“As societal interactions get digitized, a crucial bastion of human agency-the ability to interpret reality via information-comes under attack. The sacred spaces of truth and objectivity are encroached upon by parasitic ideologies, beliefs and dogma. Increasingly sophisticated methods are utilized to influence the thoughts of people and nation states turn into forces trying to shape the information environment. The machinery of a state is repurposed to target its own citizenry and create alternate realities. This book is a critical re-evaluation of the cognitive forces shaping our country and its digital architecture of information.” –Pukhraj Singh, cyber intelligence analyst, former cyber operator, Government of India.

About the Authors

Shivam Shankar Singh is a data analyst, campaign consultant and author of the bestseller, How to Win an Indian Election (2019). He started out in politics as a Legislative Assistant to Member of Parliament Fellow and went on to witness the process of conjuring political realities while managing data analytics for some of India’s largest parties. He is a panelist on national television and writes for several news publications on data and politics. He is also a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University, Beijing.

Anand Venkatanarayanan is a cyber security and privacy researcher who also dabbles in financial modeling. He has over twenty years of experience in designing and developing system software. He was called as an expert witness before the Supreme Court of India for the Aadhaar case and has deposed before the Kenyan High court on their Digital Identity project. He writes extensively on cybersecurity and was one of the first to break the story on the hacking of the Kudankulam nuclear reactor. He studies reality creation techniques deployed at population scale.

About HarperCollins Publishers India:

HarperCollins Publishers India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalogue of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Prabha Khaitan Woman’s Voice Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and the Crossword Book Award. HarperCollins India has been awarded the Publisher of the Year Award three times: at Publishing Next in 2015, and at Tata Literature Live! in 2016 and 2018.HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Egmont, Oneworld, Harvard University Press, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet.

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