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

The Way We Will Be 50 Years from Today by Mike Wallace
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's review
Oct 09, 09

bookshelves: non-fiction, politics
Read in October, 2009

A quick summary of this book might read “we just don’t know”. Many of the contributors to this collection of essays talk about how poor attempts at predicting are, and yet here is 60 attempts of predicting the state of things 50 years in the future, all wrapped up in one book. That being said, many of these essays are interesting, not only for what they try to tell us about where we, i.e. humanity, is going, but for what they tell us about the authors of the essays.

The collection of authors is a good mix of political, business, medical, and scientific leaders, with a smaller number from perspectives such as military, environmental, media, and human rights leaders. A rather surprising omission is any religious leader representation, though we do get a bit of the opposing view from authors such as Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins.

Some of the essays are optimistic, some pessimistic, most fall somewhere between, with the full understanding that the future depends largely on how we react to the challenges we face today. Many of the authors focus their thoughts and predictions on their areas of expertise, but there are a quite a few essays where the authors try to envision the much more general state of the world and mankind in the future.

For myself, the most interesting aspects of these essays was to see which issues and challenges were brought up the most by the different authors. It is clear, whether you agree with it or not, that one of the biggest issues facing humanity at this time, according to these authors, is Global Warming and the environment. Other key related issues are population and the spread of diseases. Energy is also a key issue, which is related to the environment as the authors feel the need to move off of fossil fuels and towards renewable energy is a certainty. The next biggest area of commonality appears to be the technological advancements, especially in the areas of computer and information sharing. From a political perspective, the rise of China and India appears to be agreed on, though how the U.S. and the rest of the world react to it is more debatable. Terrorism and the potential clash of cultures also appear to be key challenges from the perspective of the authors.

I would suggest that reading one or two essays at a time is probably the best way to approach the book. Reading many of them one after another tends to make them blend together and one quickly forgets which author they are reading as well. I also think that leaving out any essays from the perspective of a religious leader weakens the overall effort. While I am not religious myself, it is clear that religion, in particular the clash between Islam and Western societies is believed to be a significant challenge for humanity, and something from the perspective of a religious leader would have been interesting and add to the discussion.
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