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Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible
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Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  456 ratings  ·  35 reviews
This book originally appeared in 1962, and was based on essays written during the period 1959 - 1961. Since it was concerned with ultimate possibilities, and not with achievements to be expected in the near future, even the remarkable events of the last decade have dated it very little. But Arthur Clarke has gone over the book making corrections and comments where necessar ...more
Paperback, Millenium Edition, 211 pages
Published 2000 by Indigo (first published January 1st 1962)
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  456 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Andrej Karpathy
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Arthur C. Clarke's "Profiles of the Future" is a fascinating exploration of the science and art of predicting the future in the context of science and technology. Clarke first studies predictions made in the past and tries to identify common mistakes and patterns. Armed with some takeaways he then focuses his intellect and imagination on charting future progress from 1960 (when the book was written!) to 2100. Reading the book in 2016 puts us approximately in the middle of this interval; Clarke g ...more
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Let’s face it, fellow readers: the last ten years were such a stupid decade. I don’t mean politically, culturally, etc. (although we can trash it in the comments if you want) I just mean in general. I imagine the Eighties were pretty cool (I wasn’t ensouled for most of it), and I personally enjoyed the Nineties, but this? It’s been ten years and we’re still unsure what to call it. The Oughties? The Noughts? Something equally stupid and unhip? Screw it. I don’t care anymore. The whole 200X dating ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Dang it! Clarke's predictions turned out to be uncannily accurate. I have read tons of science fiction but some of them seemed completely reasonable and their extrapolations convincing! as the author mentioned "if you find my extrapolations convincing, I shall not have succeeded in looking very far ahead". Clarke explains what could be in-store if things now continue to evolve in the future!!
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthur-c-clarke
60- cı illərdə Klarkın elmi- fantastikaya, onun elmin inkişafındakı rolu, həmçinin gələcəklə bağlı şəxsi düşüncələrinin əks olunduğu bir kitab. Klark kahin deyil, onun bəzi düşüncələrinin indi bizə mənasız gəlməsi normaldır (bəzi düşüncələri də hədəfi tam on ikidən vurub). Kitabı XXI əsrə görə yox, Klarkın dövrünə görə nəzərə almaq lazımdır.
اول كتاب عن علم المستقبليات اقراءه و كنت صغيرا و اثر فيا الكثير
John Defrog
In which Arthur C Clarke predicts the future 50 years ago! Or, more accurately, Clarke looks at many of the various tropes of science-fiction and assesses how many could come true or are at least scientifically possible. Because this was published in 1963 – and contains some articles that were written as far back as 1958 – reading it is as much an exercise in assessing Clarke’s accuracy as it is appreciating his vision. (In fact, Clarke himself would do this in later editions of this book – the ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This book is an analyzation, topic by topic, by famed Sci-Fi novelist Arthur C. Clarke. It is a bit dated (written in 1970 I believe), but it is still a great and fairly accurate read to this day. Clarke discusses technological discoveries as proposed by science fiction novels, many of which have become reality years later. He details some of the most popular science fiction subjects, and presents a summary of the likelihood of each to come to fruition. I recommend this book to those that are in ...more
Janith Pathirage
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Another mindbogglingly Arthur C. Clarke book. Now we can see some of the predictions are exaggerated and beyond the time schedule, but there are some good ones too. Like his predictions on cloud technology and 3D printers. His theory on interdenominational beings is also very fascinating. There were some theories which I have never heard before. Totally worth the time spent on this short narrative. Clarke never leaves his readers empty handed.
yashas annadani
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This wonderful book by Arthur Clarke envisages and speculates our future, without taking into account the time frame in which the discussed innovations might occur. It's well chronicled and the author gives a valid scientific explanation about why some things cannot be ruled out. The fact that he accurately predicted the cellphone mode of communication back then reinforces the credibility of the author's claims.
However, I was a tad disappointed with the book for mainly three reasons. First, the
Kiril Valchev
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Когато пишех този увод, в ръцете ми попадна рецензията на една доста скучна книга върху двадесет и първия век. Известният английски учен, автор на рецензията, намира книгата за изключително смислена и всички екстраполации на автора — за доста убедителни.
Бих желал да се надявам, че подобни обвинения никога няма да бъдат отправени срещу мен. Ако тази моя книга се окаже напълно разумна и всички мои екстраполации — убедителни, това значи, че на мен не ми се е удало да надзърна достатъчно далеч в б
Tamer Ertangil
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this old-classic for the sake of its philosophy. Its scientific and science-fictional importance is already known; however, between the lines, one can see decent philosophical insights. I remember a paragraph, for instance, where Clarke argues that abundance is of no vice; on the contrary, with the help of artificial intelligence and robots, the production in industry, agriculture and service sectors is going to be done much more easily and fruitfuly, which will result in abundance, and w ...more
Rahul Shaha
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Considering that this book was written in the late 1960s, the ideas developed by the writer are in vivid detail and are very similar to how its all turned out. Arthur Clarke really let his imagination run completely wild in 13 different application areas ranging from the underground to space travel. Its probably not a book you can read end to end at one go as it all becomes a bit too overwhelming. I personally didn't read the last couple of chapters. One way would be to pick zour topics of inter ...more
Jack Ziegler
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had wanted to read this book for a long time after coming across Clarke's Third Law and tracking down it's source. For me, the first several chapters were the best part of the book. The reminders of the limitations people put on future discovery is a good thing to remember. The predictions are interesting, but less instructive. My copy is a used paper back published in 1984 and already so many things have changed or not happened as predicted. I don't see this as a fault. It is just the nature ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series of essays of and about forecasts of future technology.

The essays were originally written for Playboy in 1961, and were then collected into the original 1962 version of this book. Clarke revised the book in 1973, 1982 and 1999. I read the 1982 version not long after it was published and found it stimulating. On reading the 1999 edition, I have been surprised to learn that some of my ideas for my own extreme-far-future sf novel were not my own thoughts, as I had thought, but ideas I'd for
Ben Mann
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
First few chapters were amazing, but after that gets too dated
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
ACC is outstanding again. His "bounds" on the future seem perfect. Especially when written in 1960!
Steve Dewey
An easy read, but a little dull. It avoided the usual problem of extrapolating and prophesying - being quickly proved wrong - by mainly discussing ideas and concepts Clarke located so far into the future they have still to come to pass. The book was written in the 60s, updated in the 70s, and last printed in the early 80s - so it is of course already old hat, and Clarke knew little about the future development of microprocessors, genetic engineering, and so on. Nonetheless, one of the entertainm ...more
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I wasn't disappointed. It contains essays by the author, some that were first published in the 60's and some that have been updated over the years. Each one deals with a single theme, such as transport, and explores what it means for our future, where current technology might take us and what could be the limit to what we can achieve. They are written brilliantly, not too technical or scientific, but with enough that you can follow the arguments ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read the original 1962 paperback, not the revision from 2000. While it didn't promise jetpacks, there was a lot of hot air (possibly of the focused kind) about hovercraft. That never really caught on, needless to say. Dated, and written in that kind of hokey pseudo-scientific paternal voice that's become a sci-fi stereotype, it still made me nostalgic for a past where progress seemed inevitable and wildly unpredictable. Clarke was looking forward to the establishment of colonies on other plane ...more
Nicholas Whyte

Classic book of essays by Clarke, originally written in 1962 mostly for Playboy, and updated by him in 1999 - so the first edition was written when he was a little older than I am now, and the revision when he was 82; will I be reviewing old blog posts for republication in 2049? It is all good solid stuff about the future of technology and space flight, and the nature of the universe. One notable miss is that he doesn't seem to have been very worried abo
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The predictions made by the author of the future are very imaginative and yet have a firm grounding on the laws of science and technology. He talks about - the fourth dimension, conquering the laws of gravity, the exploration and colonization of outer spaces, mining the seas for energy and minerals, pulling asteroids to Earth to supply needed materials, breeding smaller size and more efficient men who consume
less food etc.
You will be astounded by author's vision.
He had predicted - sattelite TVs,
Много ми беше интересна. Впечатлена съм от сбъдналите се прогнози за сателитната телевизия и електронните книги. В някои отношения техническият и научен прогрес са надминали и най-смелите прогнози, но например в сферата на транспорта все още можем само да мечтаем за чудноватите превозни средства, предложени от писателя:-)). Светът наистина много се е променил за последните 50 години от написването на книгата.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gives a fun and scientific look into the world of well now. Written in the 60's it shows Arthur C. Clarke's knowledge of almost every aspect of technological advances past present and future. The fact that he nailed it on so many ideas of technologies he predicted we would have to day is astounding. Read it, you won't be disappointed
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting reissue with updates by science fiction author (or should that be auteur?) Arthur C Clarke, here speculating about our collective future and what we or our descendants are likely to see and experience via various scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. Entertaining, especially where he outs his own earlier erroneous projections and shares his corrected vision.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
There are several revisions of this classic available. I read the original from the early 1960's. Much of the information is dated, but a good deal of it also proved correct. A fun look at the future from the past, and with the benefit of hindsight.
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
It's a four for three reasons.
1) The mention of anti-heterosexual legislation. Just that it even happened.
2) The almost two paragraphs on what a boon zero-gee "erotica" will be.
3) All the little tidbits of science I learned.
Otherwise, it would have gotten a good three(ish).
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book is so dated. Ironic that the premise is to show that so many things are possible when all the experts claim them to be "impossible" and then Clarke gets on these points where he says things are not going to be possible.
Skip this book. It is just too old.
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it
For someone who is distinctly not scientifically minded I found this book very interesting and easy to read and (mostly) understand (the basic idea anyway..)
Fun fact: Clarke wrote this way back, predicting possibilities for the future. It's cool to see which ones came true in some way or another.
Sep 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm sad that there's no cover art for my copy. However a turely interesting look at what minds thought our future would be like. Some stuff sounds good, some sounds completely out to lunch.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
So dated yet so before its time still. Arthur C. Clarke speculates on the future of technology in this brilliant thought journey through possibility.
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Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most important and influential figures in 20th century science fiction. He spent the first half of his life in England, where he served in World War Two as a radar operator, before emigrating to Ceylon in 1956. He is best known for the novel and movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he co-created with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick.

Clarke was a graduate of King
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 1467 likes
“The creation of wealth is certainly not to be despised, but in the long run the only human activities really worthwhile are the search for knowledge, and the creation of beauty. This is beyond argument, the only point of debate is which comes first.” 30 likes
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