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)
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Of course, the book is out of date.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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