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Profiles of the Future

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  482 ratings  ·  40 reviews
An inquiry into the limits of the possible.

Our problems on Jupiter, Mercury, Venus - conquering Time - transport in the future - overcoming gravity - communications across space - benevolent electronic brains.

The range of this enthralling book is immense: from the re-making of the human mind to the vast reaches of the universe. Newly revised, even t
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Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published March 29th 2013 by Gateway (first published 1962)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Andrej Karpathy
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jacob
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Alister
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!!
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
Brenton
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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Tamer Ertangil
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jack Ziegler
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rahul Shaha
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
Daniel
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'
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The Mole
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this interesting book, though I admit to skimming through the last few chapters. I suppose my attention-span just wasn't up to the task (though I suspect it's actually just my interest wasn't completely there). Clarke was obviously a very smart and deep-thinking man, and I believe I will try to read more of his stories in the future.

Good book on the whole. Very good, and very creative!
Jonathan
interesting to read this some 50+ years after it was written. he accurately predicts things like 3D printing and self-driving cars, but is way off on things like the spread of ground effect machines. but overall his ideas are sounds, even if his timetables often proved wrong, and he does a good job of rooting any future technologies in the hard-and-fast laws of physics but leaving lots of room open within those boundaries.
Fazzolini
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
It is interesting to read a book whose main topic is trying to predict the future that was written half a century ago. Arthur Clarke had some excellent ideas about the future where he got it very close, which means that people can predict trends of the future by careful analysis of today's technology.

On the other hand, he completely missed the digital revolution and the internet. If we extrapolate, this means the future holds for us surprises that we cannon even fathom.
Love Hurts
Enthralling, the way Arthur C. Clarke predicts the unfamiliar areas of science and technology which came to pass. Furthermore this was promulgated in 1963 and writings from this book features things as far as 1959....The accuracy is so farfetched yet it's reality. My eyes are wide open, awaiting further of his visions to be unlocked.
Jason
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ACC is outstanding again. His "bounds" on the future seem perfect. Especially when written in 1960!
Ben Mann
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
First few chapters were amazing, but after that gets too dated
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
Dark-Draco
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nick
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1402031.html

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 about environmental concerns, at tha
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gramakri
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 predicte
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Robert
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michael
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
Emily
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Joshua
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ben
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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).
Dan
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Greg
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So dated yet so before its time still. Arthur C. Clarke speculates on the future of technology in this brilliant thought journey through possibility.
Jonathan
Actually, in broad brush strokes, remarkably on the money.
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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
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“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” 1501 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.” 31 likes
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