An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out by Mark Stevenson

By Mark Stevenson

In the culture of invoice Bryson's A brief historical past of approximately Everything, a sensible and enjoyable advisor to the way forward for civilization

while all of sudden faced together with his personal mortality, Mark Stevenson- a author, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian-began to give some thought to what the long run holds for our species. "The prior is a overseas country," writes Stevenson. "By my research it is a bit like France-in that i have been to components of it and eaten a few great nutrients there. however the destiny? the long run is an unknown territory-and there is no such thing as a guidebook." hence, his ambition used to be born.

Stevenson set out easily, asking, "What's next?" after which traveled the globe in pursuit of the solutions. alongside the best way, he visited the Australian outback to go to the farmers who can store us from weather switch, met a robotic with temper swings, and talked to the Spaniard who is placing a resort in area. whereas a few can be crushed, or perhaps dismayed through the looming realities of genome sequencing, artificial biology, a nuclear renaissance, and carbon scrubbing, Stevenson continues to be, good, confident. Drawing on his singular humor and storytelling to collapse those occasionally advanced discoveries, An Optimist's travel of the Future paints a perfectly readable, and entirely captivating portrait of the place we are going to be after we develop up- and why it truly is no longer so scary.

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Extra resources for An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out to Answer "What's Next?"

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I ask. ‘It is a dangerous idea,’ he asserts. ‘Once you start to modify our basic biology, if you go about it unwisely, the results could be …’ He pauses. ’ But, he reasonably points out, ‘the bigger the potential risks are – of course, the bigger the potential upsides as well. So the key is to try and be wise and ethically responsible. ’ He sees a radically different future shaped hugely by the advances of science and medicine. But I also get the impression he feels those advances are not being equalled by similar improvements in our ability to deal with the possible moral and ethical consequences.

With the sun setting, I approach my hotel, passing the Broad Institute – a joint initiative by the mighty universities of Harvard and MIT. It is one of the many labs around the world spewing out documents full of A’s, T’s, G’s and C’s – labs that are writing down and cataloguing the DNA of pretty much anything they can get their hands on (including, in the Broad’s case, that elephant I mentioned earlier). Currently, as a planet, we are collectively in the process of writing down the code of life in all its forms, including some that are extinct (their DNA being sifted out of hair, hooves and tusks held in museums).

He is thirty-six. I’d hate to read his biography when he’s fifty, by which time he will no doubt have enjoyed a brief stint in the West End as a dancer, proved a number of the unsolved problems of mathematics, built a robot wife and published several successful cookbooks. Arriving at Oxford I head for Broad Street and the Indian Institute, where Professor Bostrom has invited me to an afternoon seminar discussing transhumanist ethics. Inside I find a modern, plastic-chaired seminar room (a sharp contrast to the stonework Hindu demigods and tigers’ heads outside).

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