An Optimist’s Tour of the Future

When unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality, Mark Stevenson began to ponder what the future holds for our species. Stevenson set out simply, asking, “What’s next?” and then travelled the globe in pursuit of the answers. His voyage of discovery took him to Oxford to meet Transhumanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronted a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback’s smartest farmer. He clambered around space planes in the Mojave desert, got to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delved deep into the possibilities of biotech, saw an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, had his genome profiled, glimpsed the next stage of human evolution … and tried to make sense of what’s in store.

A meticulous researcher, in Optimist’s Tour… Stevenson sifts the genuine concerns about new technologies from fear-mongering – offering up a balanced take on everything from nanotech ‘grey goo’ to worries about population and resource crises, pandemics, climate change and new forms of terrorism. “I’m not saying the future will be better,” he says “but I do know there’s everything to play for.”

Insightful and often very funny, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future is a wonderfully readable and completely enthralling portrait of where we’ll be when we grow up – and why it doesn’t have to be scary.