The Way We Will Be 50 Years from Today: 60 of the World's Greatest Minds Share Their Visions of the Next Half-Century

Wallace, Mike
ISBN:
9780849903700

The world is an uncertain place, which is why the future and the unknown absolutely fascinate us. Veteran television journalist Mike Wallace asked the question "What will life be like 50 years from now?" to sixty of the world's greatest minds. Their responses offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural, scientific, political, and spiritual moods of the times. Edited and with an introduction by Mike Wallace, this book provides an imaginative and thought-provoking look into our collective soul and the critical issues that underlie our hopes, prayers, fears, and dreams for life in the 21st century. Contributors include former presidents, leading scientists, noted writers and artists, respected religious leaders, and current political figures, including: Vint Cerf, Vice President of Google; known as a "Father of the Internet" Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a geneticist who led the Human Genome Project Dr. Wanda Jones, Director of the Office on Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Ray Kurzweil, an inventor whose developments include the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and the first text-to-speech synthesizer General James E. Cartwright, Commander of United States Strategic Command Kim Dae-jung, the former President of the Republic of Korea Ronald Noble, Secretary General of Interpol Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner; called "the father of the Green Revolution" Carol Bellamy, former Executive Director UNICEF, first former volunteer to serve as director of Peace Corp, and current president and CEO of World Learning Gerardus 't Hooft, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands; Nobel Prize in Physics Craig Newmark, Internet pioneer and founder of craigslist Editorial Reviews Publishers Weekly These short meditations on the world in 50 years are overwhelmingly devoted to developments in human health, climate change and technology, with a disappointing scarcity of speculation about any social or spiritual transformations. Scientists, who make up more than half of the contributors, predict that genetic engineering will be commonplace and AIDS obsolete, although infectious diseases will adapt and prosper. Marriages will be arranged by compatible genotype; the oceans will rise; cats will no longer be kept as pets-they will have been identified (along with hamsters and birds) as transmitters of everything from Parkinson's to schizophrenia. China and India will be the new superpowers, and the U.S. will finally adopt the metric system. Although many writers note that certain species of plants and animals will be extinct in 50 years, only one laments that several languages will also be dead. This privileging of the scientific viewpoint makes the contributions from immunologist Peter Doherty and writer Michael Shermer all the more welcome as they attempt to focus on humanity rather than technology, imagination more than data. Perhaps it is easier to chart the course of climate change than social change-still the inhabitants of the planet and the future of their governments, beliefs and values deserve as much attention as the planet itself. (Apr .15) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Library Journal The apparent contradiction between the title and subtitle may confuse readers, but once they get past that, they'll find longtime 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace explaining in his introduction that the book "presents the future by people who have brought us the present." The 60 contributors (most are American, despite the subtitle) assess the world they imagine in 2058 from the perspective of their own expertise. They are men and women prominent mostly in science, medicine, the Internet, and government, with several Nobel prize winners among them. The essays are short (two or three pages) and vary from the general (e.g., predicting that the worst contagious diseases will have been eradicated) to the more specific (e.g., showing the evolution of neuro-transistors), with some written as "present-day" reports on achievements in 2058 and others as predictions. Each essay is preceded by a short introductory paragraph on the writer. The order of the essays appears to be arbitrary. The book is clearly aimed at the general public, but while Wallace's name will draw attention, the contents will likely only be of interest to larger public libraries. --Joel W Tscherne

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