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A brilliant ensemble of the world's most visionary scientists provides twenty-five original never-before-published essays about the advances in science and technology that we may see within our lifetimes. Theoretical physicist and bestselling author Paul Davies examines the likelihood that by the year 2050 we will be able to establish a continuing human presence on Mars. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi investigates the ramifications of engineering high-IQ, geneticially happy babies. Psychiatrist Nancy Etcoff explains current research into the creation of emotion-sensing jewelry that could gauge our moods and tell us when to take an anti-depressant pill. And evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explores the probability that we will soon be able to obtain a genome printout that predicts our natural end for the same cost as a chest x-ray. (Will we want to read it? And will insurance companies and governments have access to it?) This fascinating and unprecedented book explores not only the practical possibilities of the near future, but also the social and political ramifications of the developments of the strange new world to come. Also includes original essays by: Lee Smolin Martin Rees Ian Stewart Brian Goodwin Marc D. Hauser Alison Gopnik Paul Bloom Geoffrey Miller Robert M. Sapolsky Steven Strogatz Stuart Kauffman John H. Holland Rodney Brooks Peter Atkins Roger C. Schank Jaron Lanier David Gelernter Joseph LeDoux Judith Rich Harris Samuel Barondes Paul W. Ewald
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Introduction: by John Brockman ### Part I: The Future, in Theory ### [p.xx] Lee Smolin: The Future of the Nature of the Universe "We will probably know more about the detailed history and properties of the universe than we know now about the history of the surface of our planet." ### [p. xx] Martin Rees: Cosmological Challenges: Are We Alone, and Where? "We can't predict what role life will eventually carve out for itself: It could become extinct, or it could achieve such dominance that it would influence the entire cosmos." ### [p. xx] Ian Stewart: The Mathematics of 2050 "There will be 'virtual unreality' systems, allowing mathematicians to 'visit' abstract conceptual structures such as non-euclidean geometries or ranges of giant primes and manipulate them at will." ### [p. xx] Brian Goodwin: In the Shadow of Culture "Why is animism so threatening to the Western scientific worldview? Is there any sign that the dialectic of science is beginning to bring this view into the light again?" ### [p. xx] Marc D. Hauser: Swappable Minds "Imagine that we could download the neuronal signals from any animal, creating a kind of hard-drive library of their thoughts while they were interacting with the world." ### [p. xx] Alison Gopnik: What Children Will Teach Scientists "The greatest achievement of a unified theory of learning may be to demonstrate that the most brilliant scientists and the most ordinary kids are engaged in the same enterprise." ### [p. xx] Paul Bloom: Toward a Theory of Moral Development "It may be that the nature of moral thought or consciousness is simply beyond our understanding, not because they have a special, mystical status but because we aren't smart enough to understand such things. We might be like dogs trying to understand calculus." ### [p. xx] Geoffrey Miller: The Science of Subtlety "Our more recently evolved, distinctively human capacities--for creativity, kindness, humor, imagination--remain understudied in brain-imaging labs." ### [p. xx] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: The Future of Happiness "In the past, we were like passengers on the slow coach of evolution. Now evolution is more like a rocket hurtling through space, and we are no longer passengers but its pilots." ### [p. xx] Robert M. Sapolsky: Will We Still Be Sad Fifty Years from Now? "Our technology isn't likely to help reduce our stress, despite (or maybe even because of) our expectation that it will." ### [p. xx] Steven Strogatz: Fermi's "Little Discovery" and the Future of Chaos and Complexity Theory "Nonlinearity giveth chaos, and nonlinearity taketh it away." ### [p. xx] Stuart Kauffman: What Is Life? "The biosphere may actually be doing something that cannot be stated at all beforehand. If so, the way Newton, Einstein, Bohr, and Boltzmann taught us to do science is limited." ### Part II: The Future, in Practice ### [p. xx] Richard Dawkins: Son of Moore's Law "Genetics today is pure information technology. This, precisely, is why an antifreeze gene can be copied from an arctic fish and pasted into a tomato." ### [p. xx] Paul Davies: Was There a Second Genesis? "The existence of complex life on Earth probably depends on certain rather special features of our solar system." ### [p. xx] John H. Holland: What Is to Come and How to Predict It "When complex adaptive systems are involved, prediction is fraught with hazard." ### [p. xx] Rodney Brooks: The Merger of Flesh and Machines "The generalization we are facing is that we humans are machines--and as such, subj