An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out by Mark Stevenson

By Mark Stevenson

In the culture of invoice Bryson's A brief historical past of approximately Everything, a sensible and interesting advisor to the way forward for civilization

while by surprise faced along with his personal mortality, Mark Stevenson- a author, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian-began to examine what the long run holds for our species. "The prior is a international country," writes Stevenson. "By my research it's kind of like France-in that i have been to elements of it and eaten a few great nutrition there. however the destiny? the longer term is an unknown territory-and there is no guidebook." hence, his ambition was once born.

Stevenson set out easily, asking, "What's next?" after which traveled the globe in pursuit of the solutions. alongside the way in which, he visited the Australian outback to go to the farmers who can retailer us from weather swap, met a robotic with temper swings, and talked to the Spaniard who is placing a resort in area. whereas a few can be crushed, or perhaps dismayed by means of the looming realities of genome sequencing, man made biology, a nuclear renaissance, and carbon scrubbing, Stevenson continues to be, good, positive. Drawing on his singular humor and storytelling to collapse those occasionally advanced discoveries, An Optimist's travel of the Future paints a superbly readable, and entirely enchanting portrait of the place we will be after we develop up- and why it is no longer so scary.

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Extra resources for An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out to Answer "What's Next?"

Sample text

His face is angular and inquisitive with deeply set eyes – giving the impression it has spent a good deal of time screwed up in concentration, which on reflection is probably just how the face of a philosopher should look. There’s a kindness to his features – and a certain impishness there too. ’ As we walk to his office, I ask Nick how many transhumanists like a smoke. ‘They fall into two camps,’ he observes. ’ He pauses. ’ We turn down a nondescript side street and arrive at the Future of Humanity Institute, which is not nearly as grand as its title implies.

Led by Maria Blasco, the team is building on the work of Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, who discovered a startling substance (strictly an enzyme – a substance cells use to spur on chemical reactions) called ‘telomerase’ while they were investigating a micro-critter named ‘Tetrahymena’ found in freshwater ponds, a discovery for which the three shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Tetrahymena has two particularly interesting characteristics. One, it has seven sexes. Two, it’s biologically immortal.

Chinese alchemist Ge Hong (born in 283 CE) believed immortality was achieved by cultivating everlasting union with yourself, allowing you to sip from a wellspring of a ‘metaphysical oneness’ or xuan, which permeated all things. It’s a dream that is just as prevalent today. In San Francisco, for example, Alex Chui will sell you a pair of magnetic finger rings or ‘eternal life devices’ for around thirty dollars. They come with a ninety-day refund, which seems an extraordinarily unconfident guarantee.

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