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On the Future

Prospects for Humanity
Narrated by: Martin Rees, Samuel West
Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Environment
4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Summary

A provocative and inspiring look at the future of humanity and science from world-renowned scientist and best-selling author Martin Rees

Humanity has reached a critical moment. Our world is unsettled and rapidly changing, and we face existential risks over the next century. Various outcomes - good and bad - are possible. Yet our approach to the future is characterized by short-term thinking, polarizing debates, alarmist rhetoric, and pessimism. In this short, exhilarating book, renowned scientist and best-selling author Martin Rees argues that humanity’s prospects depend on our taking a very different approach to planning for tomorrow.

The future of humanity is bound to the future of science and hinges on how successfully we harness technological advances to address our challenges. If we are to use science to solve our problems while avoiding its dystopian risks, we must think rationally, globally, collectively, and optimistically about the long term. Advances in biotechnology, cybertechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence - if pursued and applied wisely - could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces on Earth, from climate change to nuclear war. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no “Plan B” for Earth - no viable alternative within reach if we do not care for our home planet.

Rich with fascinating insights into cutting-edge science and technology, this accessible book will captivate anyone who wants to understand the critical issues that will define the future of humanity on Earth and beyond.

©2018 Martin Rees (P)2018 Princeton University Press

Critic reviews

"It is hard not to be fascinated as [Rees] builds his Eeyorish case - which is laid out with the dispassionate air of a superintelligent alien anthropologist observing our species’ eccentricities from afar.... [A] lucid and engaging book." (Tom Whipple, The Times)

"Short in extent but wide in range: from redesigning genes, through the likelihood of human-induced climate change, to the possibility of encounters with alien intelligence in the Universe. [On the Future]’s overall theme is that Earth’s growing population will flourish only if science and technology are deployed with ‘wisdom.’" (Andrew Robinson, Science)

"Rees neatly packages his sprawling subject matter into a guidebook for the responsible use of science to build a healthy and equitable future for humanity." (Daniel Ackerman, Scientific American)

What members say

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Prophetic

Obviously won his bet. Got the pandemic nailed on. Not that religeous but could of been a Prophet.

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Essential reading for the 21st century

Martin Rees's book is unapologetically speculative, but necessarily so given its topic: our rather uncertain future. Overall its approach is exploratory, rather than straightforwardly argumentative, and it canvasses vivedly the challenges facing humanity in this century, as well as our prospects for meeting them effectively. The book is a perfect starting point for thinking about themes that will be increasingly significant in the coming decades.

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a must read for our history and our future

a brilliant scientific analytical approach to the future of the human race where we have clear choices to make

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A big bite size review of humanity

The range of subjects in this is huge so each chunk should lead you into further reading. It doesn't leave you hanging but thirsty for more. Great choice of narrator as well.

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  • Philomath
  • 29-10-18

Science, the future, and great wisdom

Very few scientists still alive have achieved the status and credibility of Sir Martin Rees. At the age of 76 he is still considered in his prime. This puts him at a privileged position of being one of the wisest scientist alive.

This book is advice from a person without an agenda, peer pressure, or allegiance to any group. It is meant for normal people as well as scientist. It provides a view of the scientific forest without being blocked by the trees. Rees does not disappoint in with his clarity of thought, scientific knowledge and the responsibility facing us.

The author does not shy away from predictions. The world is changing so fast no one is looking at the horizon. While great things can be achieved with the plethora of scientific discoveries, some of the risks may very well have an existential risk on humanity, and are highlighted clearly and concisely.

This book is a must read for scientists, politicians, and anyone with influence. It is also for us to contemplate and push for a future that can sustain humanity as we reach a crossroad for which we may not rewind.

A highly recommended read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-11-18

This book is an eye opener!

It is amazing what humankind already have achieved. This book gives you a summary to what extend technology has already evolved. It is fascinating and at the same time shocking. Science, astronomy and basic human curiosity mix perfectly well. Great!

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  • Eric
  • 05-02-20

Wonderful

A well articulated argument that makes a compelling case for the future that even the layperson can understand.

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  • keithzusi
  • 15-01-20

Maybe I just don’t get it...

The reviews were good, The summary looked interesting, this looks like a book I would and should enjoy. Unfortunately too many tangents. And ramblings to get me interested and engage get the Cliff notes...

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  • Vivek Bhatnagar
  • 15-07-19

Directionless.....

I Struggled to finish. Lacks content. Spaghetti of popular topics. No takeaways. Strongly not Recommended..

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  • Matthew Duncan
  • 07-05-19

Excellent perspective and advice from a luminary

Ties many subjects together in a reasoned, intelligent and sophisticated maturity. light enough for the casual futurist, but also substantial enough to be required reading of experts in the various fields.

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  • Samer Chidiac
  • 02-03-19

Loved it!

Clear, easy to read, thought-provoking and insightful. For anyone who is interested in the topic of the Future.

Loved it!

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  • Suz
  • 02-02-19

This book is for EVERYONE!! Addressing the future a global responsibility.

I gave this all star rating, as focus on our future is so important and Martin Rees guides the reader through crucial subject matter. He writes with characteristic wit, and clarification, making it easy for the reader to engage in such complex matters.

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  • shopper2013
  • 15-12-18

Phenomenal for Lay

Phenomenal book for the high school educated general public. This type of text is of fundamental importance to our future as a specie. Would like to have had more details as far as the specifics of what avenues of science meet his criteria for high importance and high odds of success.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-04-19

Imagine trip Mar

Science achievement is limit if human has no dream and imagination to develop theories that one day proved to be true, interesting book for people who wonder what we have to face to migrate to other stars in the galaxy!