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The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape the World in the Next 20 Years Paperback – August 28, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Canton's background in future-planning consultancy began when he studied under Alvin Toffler in the 1970s—and it shows in this big-picture take on the world of tomorrow. Taken individually, none of the trends Canton believes will shape the upcoming decades are surprising: major crises brought on by energy shortages and climate change; economic transformation wrought by globalization; and the "war on terror" has barely started. But he recognizes that the future is created by a "convergence" in which these developments interact. Canton's imagination runs in a dozen directions at once, peppering the margins of his vision with media headlines and short vignettes from a science-fictional future. Some of these are more believable than others—hydrogen-based energy systems by 2040, sure, but drugs that will keep us from even thinking antigovernment thoughts? Canton's goal, however, isn't predicting, it's convincing Americans to take a more active role in envisioning and safeguarding the 21st century before somebody else does. His lively scenarios are designed to spark debates, and they surely will. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Canton, global futurist and business advisor, offers a forecasting road map for the twenty-first century that includes 10 top trends of the extreme future. These trends are the critical role of energy; information technology and networks; biotechnology; the manipulation of matter at the atomic scale (producing new drugs, fuels, materials, and machines); and the use of devices, drugs, and materials to heal and enhance mental performance. Other trends are the emerging workforce, which will be more multicultural, female, and Hispanic; longer and healthier lives; the critical importance of science; major threats, including hackers, terrorists, and mind control; and the new realities of global trade and competition. Finally, he cites preparation for increased global warming, the struggle for human rights and individual freedom, and the consequences of future interaction between America and China. Canton is optimistic about the future and believes Americans in general are, too. He observes, "They inspire change and innovation, creating a vision that suggests what is coming next will be good." Important and fascinating perspective! Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (August 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452288665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452288669
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jaewoo Kim VINE VOICE on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author makes many speculative and outlandish predictions of the future. His sheer number of intuitive predictions will allow him to be right on many matters, but very off on some.

What is lacking are analysis and technical details of why the future will be the way the author claims. For example, he claims lack of energy supply and technological progress will bring forth an age of hydrogen powered cars and fusion nuclear reactors. Yet, he provides no technical reasons why these two technologies will dominate the energy industry. Just how will we manage to produce hydrogen in large concentration and quantities which will be cost effective when it takes MORE energy to produce concenttrated hydrogen today than the energy value of the hydrogen themselves? Also, since when was controlled nuclear fusion reactors even possible? An explaination of how we will overcome the technical hurdles is missing throughout this book.

Some of the claims are downright outlandish. For example, the author claims we will have teleporter which will transfer objects throughout the globe. Again, the missing piece is of any scientific backing or explaination.

Some of the predictions are based on facts, and therefore, have strong predictive value. For example, the author claims that we will have a skilled worker shortage well into 2025 and beyond. This is based on a solid demographic data which indicates that we will have a shrinking workforce of suitable age in America.

Finally, the author is a PhD, but he never says on what subject. He also seems to compare himself to Da Vinci.....He claims many of his previous predictions were right on target. But I imagine many of his predictions were dead off target as well. The sheer number of predictions in this book will allow the author to claim that he is a futurist because many of his predictions will probably come true. Just don't expect him to backup his claims with solid science, facts, or analysis.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book contains a lot of preening; the author seems to think it is important to remind us (anecdotally) how many huge companies and heads-of-state he's interacted with. Many of his predictions range from poorly explored (he talks about a hydrogen fuel economy without addressing the fact that hydrogen is just a transport--not a readily available source of energy) to the absurd (predictions that teleportation will be available within decades, given the fact of photonic teleportation which doesn't even slightly approach the complexity of disintegrating, transporting and reintegrating an object!) There's also a lot of political advocacy here; I'd have simply preferred an analysis of technological and cultural trends along with research to back it up.
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Format: Hardcover
As I read this book I am reminded of the old saying that 'forecasting the future is easy, it's being right that's hard.'

Dr. Canton breaks down his forecasts into ten areas. Some of them I find very good. Some of them I find OK. Some of them I disagree with. Some of them I'd replace with others.

His view of the future of the individual, Chapter 10, I find totally agreeable. He says that protecting the freedom and rights of the individual is going to be difficult. I absolutely agree. There will be a great deal of pressure to restrict rights (the so called Patriot's Act) in the name of security. The Democrats would like to impose gun control. The Republicans would like to impose abortion control.

His view on energy I find half right. He is right that we are running out of energy. Oil will get progressively more expensive. Then he says, 'Hydrogen is the most plentiful gas in the universe...It's abundant, reliable, renewable, clean and secure because hydrogen is everywhere, America wouldn't have to rely on foreign suppliers.' Yes, but hydrogen isn't a fuel, it's a way to store energy. You have to put more energy into separating hydrogen from oxygen (where it's mostly found, i.e. water) than you get back when you burn it. Nuclear power is the only forseeable place to get the energy to put into hydrogen, and we still have problems of where to store the old fuel rods, do you want them in your back yard?

He sees medicine making all kinds of advances that will lead to longer and healthier lives. I'm not so sure. AIDS is likely to move up to #3 in killing people in the next few years, and there's no cure in sight. Drug resistent forms of TB, malaria, etc. are spreading. New potential diseases like avian flu.
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Format: Hardcover
First a few sample forecasts from the book.
- Today in 2012 one forecast seems difficult to believe but I sure would love to: "There will be more jobs than people to fill them by 2015 in the U.S., Europe, and Japan."
- "By 2012, most people will want to use the science of genetics to predict when they become sick..." is not exactly there although a number of companies are offering limited genetic testing.
- "Energy terrorism will become a future weapon..." seems implausible given the strong incentive to come up with alternative energies. Certainly some sources are more expensive than others, but terrorism seems too strong a word in this context. The author further talks about the "myth of abundance". Of course, that was before the Bakken shale, before fracking, and probably before hybrid cars became commonplace.
- hydrogen car. Maybe in the distant future but the author seems to have missed the hybrid, battery operated car.
- nanotechnology. This area is certainly growing and has great potential in many applications.
- space tourism. Another growing and not-so-far-fetched area.
- all merchants, banks, and consumers will be connected. Definitely on the mark with this one.
- "Within 10 years [by 2016?], humans routinely living beyond one hundred will be an accepted reality." Unless a major breakthrough is achieved, that seems far fetched today in 2012.
- Robo-surgery. While not commonplace, this is becoming more available in various forms.
- The author presents a lot of global warming hype with little evidence in 2012.

The author mentioned longevity and for a supporting point stated that Socrates died before 35. It appears that Socrates actually died at the age of 70.

Predicting the future is difficult business.
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