- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 1st edition (May 14, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780375713422
- ISBN-13: 978-0375713422
- ASIN: 0375713425
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-first Century Paperback – May 14, 2002
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Scientists love to speculate about the direction research and technology will take us, and editor John Brockman has given a stellar panel free rein to imagine the future in The Next Fifty Years. From brain-swapping and the hunt for extraterrestrials to the genetic elimination of unhappiness and a new scientific morality, the ideas in this book are wild and thought-provoking. The list of scientists and thinkers who participate is impressive: Lee Smolin and Martin Rees on cosmology; Ian Stewart on mathematics; and Richard Dawkins and Paul Davies on the life sciences, just to name a few. Many of the authors remind readers that science has changed a lot since the blind optimism of the early 20th century, and they are unanimously aware of the potential consequences of the developments they describe. Fifty years is a long time in the information age, and these essays do a credible and entertaining job of guessing where we're going. --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
Agent Brockman has collected 25 of his writers to discuss the future of science in their respective fields of study. Several of these writers surpass ordinary trend spotting to entertain some rather pulse-quickening ideas completely beyond the kin of the so-called dominant paradigm. And some are of a magnitude to radically advance the nature of humans' interaction with each other, the planet and beyond. The neurologist Robert Sapolsky, for example, posits that sadness will take its place alongside AIDS and Alzheimer's as the most notorious medical disasters of the next half-century. Brockman, who is also an author-editor (The Third Culture; The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years, etc.), divides his collection into two parts: the future in theory and the future in practice. Theoretical topics include cosmology, what it means to be alive, the nature of consciousness and the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence. Mars exploration, DNA sequencing, neuroscience, child rearing and the like are addressed in the practical half. These essays can be quite technical, intended as they are to make the latest scientific information available for cross-disciplinary research. The intellectual adventures collected here point to a future that is dazzlingly bright, at least to the eyes of these unorthodox thinkers. The general public, for whom these essays are also written, should be similarly bedazzled.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-2 of 23 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Here are just a few examples of the pervasive scientific hubris and shocking disrespect for life:
* "At the beginning of the twenty-first century, chemists are in complete command of matter" (194)
* "One engaging possibility is that bacteria can be genetically engineered to excrete whole cogwheels, pistons, and springs" (198)
* "Humans are machines" (184-185)
* "We can be confident that all such discoveries will fall within our current canon of understanding" (199)
* "The world half a century from now will look different and work differently. It will be much richer. It will have far snazzier technology. It might even be ever so slightly happier." (241)
While these scientists feel "in complete command," moving toward a "snazzier, slightly happier future," they largely ignore the fact that the world is careening toward social, political, economic, and environmental disaster--and that all of these problems, which these scientists are blind to, are largely rooted in the mechanistic, patriarchal, modern scientific worldview which has sucked Spirit from the world.
It is interesting to consider the book as whole. The patterns that repeat throughout seem most likely to yield the surest and most spectacular advances: genetics, neuroscience, and computer science (the Bio, Info, and Cognitive segments of the familiar NBIC acronym--nano is hardly touched on here).
But in general, Edge scientists need a wake up call: technology cannot be the solution to all our ills. The solution is much bigger than that, and it would be nice if these scientists could at least address the future of science in the context of the world beyond their provincial specialties.
Despite the fact that the chapters have been leading by leading authorities there are still problems that flow through the book. The most important is that each author examines his or her field in isolation from others. Considering the fact that most revolutionary paradigm shifts have been as a result of "Kuhnian Revolutions" (see Thomas Kuhn's "The Structures of Scientific Revolutions") where radical changes in scientific theories have been brought about or significantly influenced by theories or concepts outside of the field this is not a minor oversight.
A second problem is inherent to forecasting the future, especially in terms of scientific advances. That is that it is inherently difficult to do. Witness the fact that leading minds in the past have not been able to do this in past. For example Turing, one of the leading minds in cybernetics and theoretical mathematics, did not predict the importance of computers to society in even a much smaller time frame (i.e., 20 years instead of 50). Even in the late 1950s and early 1960s he did not predict their rise in importance. During the late 1990s many of the leading minds at Cal Tech, for example, were not able to, on a consensual basis, even pick technologies that would be the most cutting edge within only 5 or 10 years is also revealing. Even one of the authors in one of the chapters in the book admits that many of the concepts and much of the language in theoretical physics in existence in the 1930s and 1940s did not even exist even in the period right up to the first world war.
In short, the book contains many well written essays with interesting perspectives primarily due to the authoritative nature of their authors but, considering the task of predicting so far in the future in fields in such perpetual and rapid flux (one that is inherently difficult), the essays can only be considered educated guesses that will, in all probability, be incorrect.