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The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Our Future
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The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Our Future

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  153 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
According to James Martin-known as "the guru of the Information Age"-humanity is at a crucial turning point. If we succeed in finding ways to support massive gains in population combined with dizzying technological progress, we have a magnificent future ahead of us. If we fail, we may well be headed for a new Dark Ages.

In this provocative and prophetic book, Martin argue
Paperback, 512 pages
Published July 3rd 2007 by Riverhead Trade (first published 2006)
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May 07, 2013 Barak rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.3 stars

The book, at least the first half, mentions some important issues and problems the world of the 21st century is facing (or hiding from) or about to face, and is even edifying on some of these; and the author should have stopped there, after around 200 pages or so (even in this part there was too much reinforcement (repetition, reiteration, regurgitation, drilling down) of the subject matter to my liking).

Then - around the second half - the author becomes this bright-eyed preacher, ideal
Feb 27, 2013 Ariadna73 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economy, history
This book is very interesting: It tells you how the humanity has reached the point where it is right now; and it promises to list some hints to try to fix the mess we have created.

This is the table of contents:

The transition generation
What got us into this mess?
Rich kids and their trust funds
Too many people
The giant in the kitchen
Destitute nations
Climate catastrophe
Invisible mayhem
Genetically modified humans?
Automated evolution
The transhuman condition
The awesome meaning of this century
Henry Chan
Oct 28, 2016 Henry Chan rated it really liked it
Overall this book highlighted some key points that will take into effect within the next few decades. with suggestion on how to deal with the oncoming problems, it is up to those armed with the knowledge to foresee and tackle those problems, when the stakes aren't so high.
Apr 05, 2011 Nick rated it it was ok
Things I liked:
1. Presents current environmental and social problems conscisely and comprehensively.
2. Includes quotes from original interviews with a variety of well-known scientists and political figures.
3. Overall, provides an optimistic outlook on a subject that is nine tenths doom and gloom.

Things I didn't like:
1.Page count to information ratio was lower than a casual skimming originally suggested due to an excessive amount of repetition and unrelated information about speculative technolog
Mar 10, 2013 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the problems that human-kind will face towards the end of the century. The future for us represented as 'heading towards a canyon'. Overpopulation, resource shortage, complex technological threats paint a grim reality. The author has a tendency to repeat himself, ideas and topics could have been more concise. Despite the rather unorganised approach, I found there to be many interesting scientific topics covered. The solutions to tackle the World's problems seem rather ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Lysergius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture
Interesting in that he states the issues facing the human species in the 21st century; less so in that he can propose only hypothetical solutions, since clearly until we change our ways we are doomed. It is morally unacceptable for half of the world to live like kings and the other half like paupers. This needs to change. Clearly we have to address out relationship with the planet, our environment, before it is too late.

These things are self evident. Can we address and resolve them? Not convince
Apr 29, 2008 Tim is currently reading it
Just started this - but the author is someone I know and respect from the field of computer science. Never knew he went into futurist politics, but it makes sense he'd try to save the world after grokking it deeply. He started the "James Martin 21st Century School" at Oxford to get people thinking about the big, long-term challenges we face. Very clear writing that inter-relates the major themes of our day. Promises to be a nail-biter - I'll update again when I've finished the first chapter!
Harry Jordan
Nov 03, 2013 Harry Jordan rated it liked it
Anyone new to the ideas of the Singularity and Transhumanism will find this book a good place to start. James Martin does a workmanlike job putting the challenges of the 21C into perspective. The books title is a little pretentious; better something simple like "Wake Up before it's too late" works for me. Probably could have delivered the same message with about 1/3 less words. Still - read this book!
Jeff Deck
Jan 10, 2011 Jeff Deck rated it really liked it
There's a lot of vital stuff in here that everyone should read, particularly policymakers and concerned citizens. Basic message: listen to the scientists. That's such simple advice, but so rarely heeded in the political power struggles that make up our supposed leadership today. Martin can be repetitive, and you obviously won't enjoy this book like you would with fiction or narrative nonfiction-- but I wish this book could help pull some heads out of asses.
Feb 11, 2012 Johan rated it it was amazing
I think it is time to re-read the book, now we are a decade into the 21st century and do a check of what we - collectively as the world population- should have done, but have not yet done... despite all excuses such as the global financial and economic crisis, political instabiliy and change in parts of the world etc.

This blueprint remains as "vital" as it was when published and I think it is very important to read it and act upon it!
Izwan Z
Dec 23, 2014 Izwan Z rated it it was amazing
This book is like a 'be it all, end all' sorts of book. It gives you hope, yet strip and shred it all away right after it. It's like a tug of war game. A race between progress and backwardness. How technology here exists to complement our living, yet we strive to utilise it to propel our greed. Ultimately, this James Martin's piece is an absolutely brilliantly scary read. Don't listen to the voices in your head, listen to your scientists.
Nov 30, 2008 Pablo rated it liked it
Shelves: autor-inglés
Lo mejor que tiene este libro es posiblemente su índice. Este autor ofrece un panorama de los problemas sociales, éticos, técnicos y ecológicos del futuro próximo. Esta visión general es un buen complemento de la letra pequeña y generalmente insustancial de la prensa escrita y los medios. Lo peor de este libro es la indisimuladable visión conservadora y proestadounidense de su autor. De todos modos es una iniciativa elogiable, y una muy estimulante y clara exposición de ideas.
Aug 06, 2011 C.J. rated it really liked it
I would highly recommend this book to nearly anyone who has an interest in the unbelievable future this planet may or may not have, depending on our actions today as a whole.

The book could have been better structured; Martin tends to dwell on certain subjects throughout the book, and he could have tied it all together betterm in my opinion. But I still highly recommend this book.
Christopher Lascelles
Jul 02, 2012 Christopher Lascelles rated it really liked it
A really great introduction to the crisis that we face as a species as we enter the 21st century. Martin pulls no punches and can be a little repetitive but that's no bad things on a subject as important as this. I would strongly recommend people to read this book if they want there eyes opened as to what's in store.
Ian Dobie
Aug 01, 2012 Ian Dobie rated it it was amazing
I found this book very interesting, very intelligently written, well researched, and importantly, easy to read. There are some very big issues contained in these pages, but actually it made me feel quite optimistic about the future rather than the standard pessimistic view of the future. Perhaps that just shows my naïveté, but it's still a great book
Bj Engelhardt
Feb 12, 2014 Bj Engelhardt rated it liked it
An interesting book provide a stark view of the environmental degradation we are causing to our planet and ways we can mitigate the effects, as well as some cool predictions on the future of technology. Martin is not the strongest writer of prose, though, so the book often felt stiff and lacking good narrative. Still, worth the read.
Apr 06, 2013 Nigel rated it liked it
Martin doesn't so much seek to tell the reader what the meaning of this century is, merely that we are at a pinchpoint or delta in human development, from which we can either spiral towards destruction or begin our journey towards a safer, brighter future based on education, renewable technologies and sensibly curbing our wants and destructive ways ....
May 18, 2014 Austin rated it really liked it
Great summary, great man. Boring prose, but when you're reading a book about the issues of the coming century, you'd have to be an incredibly meager person to ignore the content because of stylistic shortcomings.
Christopher Mehigan
Jun 09, 2009 Christopher Mehigan rated it really liked it
An excellent and compelling book about the threats facing us and the promise of a generation. Gives glimpses of what the century might look like, a very thought provoking read and call to action for our generation.
Emily rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2013
Dustin Hartley
Dustin Hartley rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2011
Jason rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2007
Miklos rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2012
Giovi2012 rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2013
Gunter rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2009
James Daniels
James Daniels rated it really liked it
Dec 02, 2015
Michael Brosnahan
Michael Brosnahan rated it it was ok
Jan 02, 2014
Tania rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2015
Rainer Sternfeld
Rainer Sternfeld rated it really liked it
Dec 06, 2015
David rated it really liked it
Apr 23, 2012
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James Martin (1933) is a British Information Technology consultant and author, who was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his book, The Wired Society: A Challenge for Tomorrow (1977). James Martin was born in 1933 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, England. He earned a degree in physics at the Keble College, Oxford. He was awarded an honorary DSc by Warwick University in July 2009. Martin joined IBM in 1959, ...more
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