The Coming Convergence: The Surprising Ways Diverse Technologies Interact to Shape Our World and Change the Future

The Coming Convergence: The Surprising Ways Diverse Technologies Interact to Shape Our World and Change the Future

by Stanley Schmidt
     
 

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ISBN-10: 159102613X

ISBN-13: 9781591026136

Pub. Date: 04/22/2008

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Imagine direct communication links between the human brain and machines, or tailored materials capable of adapting by themselves to changing environmental conditions, or computer chips and environmental sensors embedded into everyday clothing, or medical technologies that eliminate currently untreatable conditions such as blindness and paralysis. Now imagine all of

Overview

Imagine direct communication links between the human brain and machines, or tailored materials capable of adapting by themselves to changing environmental conditions, or computer chips and environmental sensors embedded into everyday clothing, or medical technologies that eliminate currently untreatable conditions such as blindness and paralysis. Now imagine all of these developments occurring at the same time. Far-fetched?

Not So. These are actually the reasonable predictions of scientists attempting to forecast a few decades into the future based on the rapid pace of innovation.

Author Stanley Schmidt – a physicist, a writer, and the editor of Analog: Science Fiction and Fact – explores these and many more amazing yet probable scenarios in this fascinating guide to the near future. He shows how past convergences have led to today’s world, then considers tomorrow’s main currents in biotechnology, cognitive science, information technology, and nanotechnology. Looking even further downstream he foresees both exciting and potentially dangerous developments:

Longer, healthier lives
Cheap, generally available food, energy, and technology
Reduced pollution and environmental stress
Economic disruption during transitional periods
Excessive power in too few hands
Increased vulnerability from overdependence on technology.

Schmidt notes that even a routine technology such as the CAT scan is the result of three wholly separate innovations started many decades ago which recently converged: the X-ray, the computer, and advances in medicine. On a more ominous note, he also observes that the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was made possible by the malicious convergence of two separate trends in modern engineering and technology: the concentration of people in high rises within cities and the success of the passenger airline industry.

The message is clear: the choices we make now will converge to create a near and distant future that will be almost unbelievably wonderful or unimaginably catastrophic, or both. This knowledgeable, fascinating glimpse into the future is a must read for everyone interested in technology, upcoming innovations in business, science fiction, and the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591026136
Publisher:
Prometheus Books
Publication date:
04/22/2008
Pages:
356
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.27(h) x 1.04(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword     9
Acknowledgments     13
Introduction: Converging Currents: Then, Now, and Tomorrow     15
From Fabric Looms to the Internet: The Story of Computing     31
Aviation and Big Buildings     49
New Arts and Sciences     69
Looking Inside: New Technologies and Medicine     87
Computers and Genes     101
New Directions in Biotechnology     115
Cognitive Science: How Do We Know?     129
The Explosion in Information Technology     147
Nanotechnology     173
Metaconvergences: When Big Streams Make Still Bigger Streams     185
Potentials and Promises     215
Pitfalls and Perils     223
Getting There from Here: Challenges and Strategies     235
Notes     247
Index     263

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