Mark Stevenson has been to the future a few years ahead of the rest of us - and reckons it has a lot going for it. His voyage of discovery takes him to Oxford to meet Trans humanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronts a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback's smartest farmer. He clambers around space planes in the Mojave desert, gets to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delves deep into the possibilities of biotech, sees an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, has his genome profiled, and glimpses the next stage of human evolution... and tries to make sense of what's in store. Insightful and often very funny, An Optimist's Tour of the Future is a book that tracks one curious man's journey to find out 'what's in store?'
©2012 Mark Stevenson (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"Certainly one of the most interesting science books I've read for a long time." (New Statesman)
"A rollicking roller-coaster ride around the cutting edge of science with dozens of laugh-out-loud moments" (Scotsman)
"[A] grand tour of charismatic technologies and their prophets ... Stevenson bags an impressive list of interviewees." (Financial Times)
"He makes a good case for believing that we can have a future worth making an effort to reach." (Guardian)
"Mark Stevenson is the perfect tour guide: optimistic without being naive, fun but not silly, entertaining but enlightening." (Michael Brooks - author of 13 Things That Don't Make Sense)
"A refreshing reminder that the future will always belong to the optimists." (New Scientist)
The author just go everything wrong. He was too basic, covering in pain staking detail the blooming obvious and not talking about genuinely new and interesting trends, inventions or discoveries. He spent at least an hour explaining the internet. Really? Who doesn't know about the internet?
His writing is full of cliches. New York is always 'The Big Apple'. America is 'state side' etc etc. It gets annoying.
He is also polite about everyone, like a sycophantic junior employee. Do I really need to know the person you are interviewing is 'quick to smile or make a joke'? It may have been well intentioned but it sounded like the new guy eager for a promotion. After the tenth sycophantic pen picture of his interviewees, it got in the way of the story.
He was also full of ego. For example, he arrived in 'The Big Apple' and headed to his scientist friend's apartment and saw science papers strewn around. Because he had 'now been to Harvard' (he visited for about 2 hours) he felt like he now was able to read these scientific papers.
But ultimately, the book made a truly fascinating, awe-inspiring tale into a dull, cliched, ego-trip. Awful, awful, awful.
Anger, disgust and disappointment.
The content of this book is excellent. Each chapter covers some topic to do with technology, such as life expectancy, artificial intelligence, climate change and commercial space travel. It's written based on interviews with industry leaders and key thinkers in each area.
However, it is 5 years old now, so some sections are probably out of date - although personally I'm not up-to-date enough on most topics to know which. It is also let down by the author's slightly lacklustre narration, and the American accent he puts on for all the American experts quoted.
A thoughtful, optimistic, view of modern technological trends.
...what's a girl to do?! Thank God and gods for this view of the world. A view that means that we can, and should, take responsibility for making it better, not resorting to the malady of 'the other' - often remote in ideology, location and fortune.
Read it, listen to it and enjoy it. If you don't I can guarantee that the noise that you are listening to is probably the Titanic's onboard band. Enjoy your daiquiri at the bar. Or get in a boat and start rowing for the future.
I really enjoyed this book as the concepts it makes you consider are really challenging. Leaves you wanting to make a difference too.
Mark did a great job narrating even if his accents were a bit daft 😀
This book is written in a chatty style with humour by someone who is not a scientist. He writes about the fascinating and almost unbelievable breakthroughs in technology that will shape the future for us and our children. This is no science fiction it is what is already being done.
That the worlds oil problem maybe solved by genetically engineered bacteria
Several but I won't spoil it for you
Become an optimist and read this book
I picked this book up because I'm writing some sci-fi books at the moment and, let's face it, most futurology is, at best, pessimistic. Of course, a great deal of sci-fi is pretty pessimistic too, but I didn't want that. Also, this is written by a guy who used to be a stand-up comedian, not a scientist, so I figured it would be both humorous and relatively down to earth. All good things.
It's quite an enjoyable listen. I suspect the delivery is better coming from the guy who wrote the book than just reading it, but YMMV. Stevenson has a fairly dry humour, which I enjoy.
Of course, the book is out of date. The author acknowledges the fact that his work is a snapshot of a moment of the changes in the world. Things are changing so fast that anything more is difficult. It does give a snapshot of some very interesting potential future technologies and a view on how to deal with them all.
If you like your future dark and corporate, a bit like Alien, don't read this. If you want to think the future could be bright, do.
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