Friday, April 29, 2011

Book Blog 4: 50 Years from Today

I've been slowly reading the book called 50 Years from Today. It is an interesting collection of short writings by 60 influential people in the world in 2008.

I like the book because it shows a glimpse into the minds of intellectual people when they think about what life in the near future might be like.

Many of the writers predict that technology will play a huge part in transforming many different areas of life including healthcare, transportation, international relations, and commerce.
In chapter 54, Peter Marra predicts that in 50 years we will have lost 10% of the current bird population to global warming.

In chapter 55, Nsedu Obot-Witherspoon predicts that childhood diseases will become more prevalent due to warmer global climates.

William H. Meadows predicts in chapter 56 that humanity will rediscover the importance of preserving, instead of destroying and exploiting, the wilderness areas of the world.  

In chapter 57, Lawrence Krauss (who recently debated popular Christian apologist William Lane Craig) points out that in order for all of humanity to have available to it the amount of energy that is available to those in the West a Gigawatt power plant would need to come online every day for over forty years!  This will not happen.  Therefore, he says that our energy sources and/or consumption will need to be greatly altered in order to achieve the goal of having the energy that is available to the West available to all of humanity.  

In addition, Krauss predicts that scientists will create life in the laboratory, and that scientists will largely understand the origins of life within 50 years.  He also predicts that human intelligence could be surpassed by machine intelligence.  He's not as optimistic as Ray Kurzweil, who says that machine intelligence may surpass human intelligence in 30 years.  Krauss predicts that virtual reality will become a more significant part of life.  He points out that it already is a significant part of the lives of some people due to online communities such as Second Life, a virtual world where people meet, buy virtual land, have virtual employment, and basically live virtual lives.

Krauss ends by stating his hope that religious fundamentalism will not play as active a force against scientific progress as it played over the last thousand years. 

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