Review: Tomorrow Now–Envisioning the Next Fifty Years

5 Star, Future

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Some Real Gems,

January 19, 2003
Bruce Sterling
I know and admire the author, whose other non-fiction book, “Hacker Crackdown” was an extraordinary contribution to social understanding, of both the abuse of uninformed government power, and the potential enlightenment that could be achieved by hackers (who are like astronauts, pushing the envelope in cyberspace).This book is uneven. There are some truly brilliant gems, but there is also a lot of rambling, and I fear that the author's brilliance as a science fiction writer may have intimidated the publisher and editor into settling for what they got, instead of what the author is truly capable of producing when diligently managed. However, after thoroughly reviewing the book to write the review, I ended up going for 5 instead of 4 stars because this kind of writing is uncommon and provocative and my lack of patience may be the external limiting factor.

There are a number of gifted turns of phrase and ideas, and so I do recommend this book for purchase, for reading, and for recurring review. The author focuses on generic engineering, imagining an order of magnitude of achievement beyond what is now conceptualized; he properly redefines education in the future as being disconnected from the schools that today are socializing institutions, beating creativity out of children and doing nothing for adults that need to learn, unlearn, and relearn across their lifetimes; he is brilliant in conceptualizing both crime as necessary and exported instability as tacitly deliberate–Africa as the whorehouse and Skid Row of the world; he recognizes oil as the primary source of instability and inequality, sees all politicians as devoid of grand vision (and we would surmise, character as well); he is hugely successful in talking about the mythical “American people” that do not exist, about moral panics after Enron or 9-11 that achieve no true reform; and his focus on the information age basics that make it cheaper to migrate business than people, that make it essential for the Germans to see through Microsoft's insecure code and thus to opt for LINUX or open source code for their military as well as their government systems in general.

He ends brilliantly in conceptualizing a new world order within a new world disorder, in which very rich individuals combine with very poor recruits from a nationless diaspora, a new network that looks like Al Qaeda but has opposite objectives.

In the larger scheme of things, as the author concludes, Earth is debris and the humans are on their way to being the Sixth Extinction. Party while you can.

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