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

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  264 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Ever heard of transhumans? Humans saved from aging through artificial spare parts. They're coming soon. So too are intelligent robots, revolutionary biotech, benign engineering and commercial space flights.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published December 4th 2010)
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Robert
For anyone genuinely interested in science, save your cash and subscribe to the Beano. It's less bland, contains better science and is funnier. The author does not appear to be an expert on science: rather, just some bloke who's been paid to go to go round the world doing fun things and exclaiming how "cool" they are. You can tune into a holiday programme on TV if you want see that - it'll be more relevant. If the future holds more banal ways to waste your cash like this one, I for one am not fe ...more
Niall Teasdale
I picked this book up because I'm writing some sci-fi books at the moment and, let's face it, most futurology is, at best, pessimistic. Of course, a great deal of sci-fi is pretty pessimistic too, but I didn't want that. Also, this is written by a guy who used to be a stand-up comedian, not a scientist, so I figured it would be both humorous and relatively down to earth. All good things.

It's quite an enjoyable listen. I suspect the delivery is better coming from the guy who wrote the book than j
...more
Andy Wilkins
Honestly, I did not finish this book so I can't give it a full review- this is just for my own records. This book has an interesting premise: finding various perspicacious individuals involved in designing technology to improve the state of the world in the future. Whilst I found this aspect interesting and I wanted to follow up with what progress these developments had made since the book was published, I couldn't stand the style of writing. Stevenson has tried to develop this "blokeish" style ...more
David C. Mueller
This is one of the most optimistic books I have ever read. It is clearly stated on the cover of the book that the author is not science expert but rather a layman. While I knew some of the material, I appreciated the review. The material that was new to me I found astounding. Some aspects of the book are indeed scary, even disturbing, but new developments in science and technology often are, especially to those of us who are no longer young. You do not have to agree with all the folks interviewe ...more
John
I was unsure about this and put off by the jaunty style, but nevertheless some of the people he talks to and the innovations he explains are interesting. The problem is that, while he does explain the context of (for example) the threat posed by climate change, he doesn't really assess how realistic the claims are for the various innovations that will supposedly enable us to successfully face it. He appears to conclude that combating climate change is a piece of cake. I suspect his optimism is a ...more
Dustin Steinacker
First, a quick detour: Barbara Ehrenrich released a book in 2010 called "Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America," which made the argument that a philosophy of positive thinking has contributed to groupthink (discouraging people in organizations to discuss problems or oppose courses of action, possibly leading us to things like the war in Iraq and economic collapse), encouraged us to overlook or minimize very real problems (leading to their propagation), and encouraged us to i ...more
B. Rule
This felt like a very superficial tour of a number of technologies likely to play a large role in the near future. However, the author lacked any special insight and often got very obvious things wrong. Once he told me Aristotle was a student of Socrates, I checked out, never to fully return. While the topic (to the extent there is one) is interesting, this book was only marginally worth reading.
Avian Jun
For the uninformed (like me) this was a great book that covered most of the topics listed on the back of the book with enough depth to make you sound like you know something. At parts it was a little dry, but that is mostly due to my lack of patience with non-fiction titles. As non-fiction titles go, this was one of the funnier and more interesting ones to read.
Charlie
If you want inspiration of ideas that are going to change our world , and you want something that challenges the view that everything in the world is getting worse this is the book for you.
And if you want to change things Mark Stevensons League of Pragmatic Optimists is worth a look too.
Artur Coelho
Extrair sentido da confluência de ciência, tecnologia e tendências sociais que o futuro próximo nos promete não é tarefa fácil. O constante bombardeamento mediático de inovações revolucionárias quase nos tornou imunes ao conceito em si. Tecnologias de enorme poder transformativo estão correntemente em desenvolvimento ou já com aplicação, prontas a responder aos desafios colocados à humanidade ou sendo elas próprias novos desafios perante os quais não sabemos bem com reagir.

Este livro não se esf
...more
Niall519
What you'd get if you crossed Bill Bryson (which is made explicit on the back cover) with John Horgan - popular science that's lightly readable and as interested in the people as the invention, knowledge, and technology.

Which does lead me to again ponder the issue of whether 'the science' can, or should, be divorced in any way from 'the scientist(s)' when adopting this style of coverage.

There's not much that's really revelatory here for anyone who keeps up with the news, a science-focused show o
...more
Natalie Jubb
An Optimist's Tour of the Future proved completely irresistible and demanded an immediate re-read for several reasons.

First, the number of new scientific ideas and emergent technologies that are described, accessibly and engagingly in this book, is incredible. Did you know there are several different research groups who’ve successfully created genetically engineered bacteria that consume waste CO2 and excrete fuel, such as diesel or ethanol? Or that an AI has learned not only how to derive new s
...more
J. Ewbank
This book by Stevenson is about what we might expect in the future, how the human race may progress in several areas of science etc, based on where we are now or are almost are now. Anyone interested in these areas will have a welcome read of this book.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms" "Wesley's Wars" and "To Whom It May Concern"
Venky
From trans-humanism to robots that are capable of thinking, Mark Stevenson provides a vantage albeit controversial insight as to how burgeoning advances in Science and Technology could prove to be a boon as well as a bane to the future of mankind.
Leif Denti
Handlar om framtida teknik och hur den kan hjälpa mänskligheten i framtiden, likt "Abundance" (Peter Diamandis). Denna bok är dock lite mera radikal/extrem, då den till exempel tar upp "transhumanism". I stort var den inte lika bra som Abundance.
Mike Moskos
Far too much cutesy writing (as if he were doing questions and answers during a Long Now Foundation talk); the book would have been far better if he had reduced it by half. As the others said, you have to get past the first few chapters.

I have to give him major kudos for helping to publicize Allan Savory's holistic management/rotational grazing scheme which besides creating amazing soil fertility (and thus profitable farms), almost certainly is the cheapest/fastest/simplest/best way to reduce r
...more
Alyse Pascoe
Wonderful, well balanced, such exciting stuff. Stevenson does a great job of not dumbing down the complex science but makes it palatable for the average person interested in these incredible fields of innovation and discovery.
Vonrehausen
I gave this book 1 star. In this book optimist seems to refer being a bit simple. With all the oohs and aahs he doesnt come of as particularly clever or insightful individual.

The writing revolves too much around his own and his subjects personality, too bad it's just in the way of what might be a summary of exciting new technologies. In the end Stevenson's brown nosing was just too much to bear. His lack of education and the shallowness of his knowledge about the topics he writes discredits him
...more
Ian
i was surprised at this book, which was a browsing find in the library. I do like books about the future which is why I picked it up. Very surprised to find a whole chapter about Vicki Buck, past mayor of christchurch and possible future councillor in the rebuild here. Chatty, biographical style about the author's world ( tax-deductible!) trips around the world to interview people, some of whom I've read ( kurzweil, Cerf) and good synthesis at the end. I like his approach. WOuld like to get Naom ...more
Ang
This is tough for me to rate. The first two sections were fairly boring and...not THAT interesting or (to me)optimistic. But when Stevenson started talking about the future of the Earth, well, that got both interesting and optimistic. If you care about the environment, or are worried about the future of the Earth, it's probably worth reading those chapters. Otherwise, you have to be REALLY into science to like this.

Also, for what it's worth, the prose is accessible and the man is funny. But stil
...more
Vicky
It was a struggle to read. Huge amount of information had been crammed into 300+ pages. Regardless the title I did not feel very optimistic imagining killer viruses and nano bombs, or self-replicating machines. Yes, there are great scientists and engineers working at the frontiers but human nature did not change much and who may use the results is a dilemma. There is a huge potential for advancement or complete destruction of humanity. Need to read something light at the moment.
Holly Bik
Really enjoyed this book once I got into it - Stevenson gives an inspiring bird's eye view of different research fields that are tackling humanity's greatest questions and challenges. It really is an optimistic viewpoint - I finished the book feeling excited about what the future holds, and even slightly less cynical about our capacity as humans to survive (and perhaps even thrive) in a changing climate.
Martin Glen
A whistle-stop tour of the various technologies and ideas - some jaw-droppingly simple - that will make the future an even more amazing time to be alive than the present. A welcome antidote to hair-shirt Eco-doom.
That said, the author takes climate change as a given. But in that, and in many other aspects of life, he gives the impression that human ingenuity is as ever woefully underestimated.
Erik
I "liked" the comment byRobert, "The author does not appear to be an expert on science: rather, just some bloke who's been paid to go round the world doing fun things and exclaiming how "cool" they are."
I didn't bother staying with the book though. The "cool" was buried under Stevenson's tour guide voice.
Jacob Sanders
It was cool. Read if you feel like the world is going to shit. At the end, you can feel better, until, like a jilted but hyper-sexual lover, you find yourself back in bed with the existential dread we all feel when we look at the news or the mirror or our adopted pets and say: "Well what the fuck is it all worth!?" -
William Paunan
Fantastic read. When I felt disenfranchised that any depiction of the future had a sad, inevitable dystopia ending, I did a search and serendipitously found this book which reaffirmed my belief that human beings will make problems but ultimately we have the capacity to solve them.
Gregg McNeill
This book is a great read! I had the opportunity to interview the author for a documentary I'm shooting. Fantastic interview, interesting and witty guy. Stevenson has a great perspective on the impending future as it relates to technology and our relationship to it.
Jenna Beaulieu
This book was absolutely thrilling and inspiring. It definitely hyped me up about the potential wonder of the future. Covers such topics as nanotechnology, robotics, solar technology, etc.

It's like a collection of TED Talks in text.
Shruti
Terrifically informative and energizing. Helps (us) everyday citizens to understand the relevance and real possibilities (and arguably, on point with the book's premise, necessities) for local-grown, imaginative action.

3.8
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #98 on February 11, 2011, during an interview with author Mark Stevenson. http://skepticallyspeaking.ca/episode...
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Co-director of Flow Associates, Britains most respected cultural learning consultancy, and ReAgency, a leading organization promoting science communications, Mark Stevenson is a uniquely funny and unashamedly intelligent comedic talent. After graduating with first-class honors from the Information Technology Institute at Salford University, he became an editor at an IT industry think tank before m ...more
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