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James Martin

The Meaning of the 21st Century

What does the 21st century have in store for us. Well in The Meaning of the 21st Century James Martin argues that it may be good or bad - it depends on our actions over the next few years - but what we certainly won't get is more of the same.

On the one hand there are revolutionary new technologies becoming available such as nanotechnology, genetic modification and artificial intelligence. These will give those people who have access to them extraordinary possibilities, for instance the chance to live to be 120 and maybe much more. There is also talk of the acceleration of technology to such a degree that we reach the Singularity, after which our lifes will be completely different to what has gone before.

On the other hand, many people on our planet are starving. Although we talk about 'developing' nations, Martin points out that for many countries, 'failed' nation is a better term - their citizens have little hope of improvement, and with the growing environmental problems such as global warming, things are likely to get worse.

The interplay of these two forces will shape the coming century, and Martin is clearly trying to make sure that we get the optimistic view. While the book is not particularly deep in any one area, it does bring together a wide range of topics relevant to life in the coming decades. I would recommend it to everyone, as it is the sort of book that motivates the reader to play an part in the shaping of our common future.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews