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The Coming Convergence: Surprising Ways Diverse Technologies Interact to Shape Our World and Change the Future

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591026136
ISBN-10: 159102613X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's far easier to describe the past than to predict the future: this principle is unwittingly demonstrated by Schmidt, a physicist and longtime science fiction editor (Analog: Science Fiction and Fact). His book is best when discussing how past technologies have come together, usually in unforeseen ways, to enable social change. Joseph-Marie Jacquard's late–18th-century work on automatic looms controlled by punch cards, for example, can be traced forward to the development of early computers. Schmidt is glib but far less informative when projecting where the confluence of current technologies is likely to take us. He touches on nanotechnology and improvements in computing power, among other fields, and offers projections about how medicine, communication and interpersonal relationships are apt to change, but he largely does so superficially and perhaps overly optimistically: "In the kind of world we can aspire to, everybody will have enough and nobody will have to work very hard to get it." Though he acknowledges that some convergences can be harmful, he dismisses this downside with equal ease, concluding simply that we need to be vigilant about the choices we make. Illus. (Apr.)
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Review

"No one can show the opportunities and dangers of the future better than Stan Schmidt. The Coming Convergence should be read - and enjoyed - by anyone who wants to understand what tomorrow will be like." -- Ben Bova, author of The Grand Tour series of novels

"People often say life is 'just one thing after another.' But it isn't. It's a whole lot of things after a whole lot of other things. Not change, but a tapestry of change. Stan Schmidt has taken that idea and projected it into the future, exploring not only the effects of this or that innovation, but the effects of all of them in concert. An exciting - and cautionary - vision." -- Michael F. Flynn, author of Eifelheim and The January Dancer

"Stanley Schmidt brings a broad intelligence and crisp writing style to this lucid and necessary book. His demonstration and analysis of how diverse technological and social forces come together in unexpected ways helps explain how we got to this perilous stage in human history, and what dangers and wonders we might expect just beyond the near horizon." -- Joe Haldeman, MIT professor and author of The Forever War, Forever Peace and The Accidental Time Machine

"[W]arns us of the problems inherent in the runaway growth of technology, but also describes the almost unimaginable benefits that can occur when different technologies come together in a happy marriage. The overall effect is uplifting and inspiring; if you think the world has changed a lot in the past twenty years, as someone once said 'you ain't seen nothin' yet'." -- John Gribbin, University of Sussex, and author of The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159102613X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,446,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Robert J. Sawyer on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Stanley Schmidt is our advance scout, journeying ahead to the glorious, complex future that awaits us all, and he reports back in this fabulous book, chock-full of the same kind of lucid and insightful commentary that has made his ANALOG editorials must-reading for three decades now. Schmidt gives us the same kind of clear-headed thinking and cleanly written prose that we associated with Asimov and Sagan.
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Format: Hardcover
THE COMING CONVERGENCE: THE SURPRISING WAYS DIVERSE TECHNOLOGIES INTERACT TO SHAPE OUR WORLD AND CHANGE THE FUTURE comes from a physicist and writer who shows how past convergences between technologies have changed the world - and how new currents in biotechnology and information technology hold the same promise for the future. From the potentials for reduced pollution and longer lives to the issues of too much power in too few hands, THE COMING CONVERGENCE charts dangerous - and hopeful - future paths of development.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If one is interested in knowing where biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence combined together may lead us, if one is thrilled by the future prospect of a superhumanity with undescribable abilities and powers, then this book is highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Schmidt has produced a thoughtful essay every month in his editorials for Analog. While this book is not a collection of those, it has the same sober, yet open intellectual inquisitiveness of those writings. And it has a single theme, which has not received enough attention, in my opinion. There was a time when men of science were also men of art, writing, and politics - people like Ben Franklin or Leonardo or Newton. Then the sciences became hyper-specialized, and that is the state of affairs today. However, technology is a different matter, and we see that what drives our world-wide societies, to a great degree, is the intended or unintended convergence of various technologies. Humanity reaches its highs and lows when different ideas are merged in ways not originally intended. Examples are landing men on the Moon, or crashing planes into buildings. This is our future, folks. We can learn how to progress wisely, or...

Written for the lay reader, one needs no background in science at all to understand every word of this book. It includes chapters that survey some cutting-edge technologies, indicating both how these resulted from diverse predecessors, and how they may yet evolve. Things like MRI, CT scans, and such are explained in simple terms. The latter part begins to wrestle with a strategy for managing these changes. The stakes could not be higher.
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