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Prometheus Books
Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World

Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World

by Douglas Mulhall


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What Alvin Toffler's Future Shock was to the 20th century, Our Molecular Future will be to the 21st century.

What will happen to our jobs, health care, and investments when the molecular revolution hits?
How might artificial intelligence transform our lives?
How can molecular technologies help us cope with climate changes, earthquakes, and other extreme natural threats?
Our Molecular Future explores some intriguing possibilities that answer these questions and many others. Douglas Mulhall describes the exponential changes that are about to be wrought by the nanotechnology and robotic revolutions, which promise to reduce the scale of computing to the nanometer – a billionth of a meter – while increasing computing power to almost unimaginable levels.

The resulting convergence of genetics, robotics, and artificial intelligence may give us hitherto undreamed-of capacities to transform our environment and ourselves. In the not-so-distant future, our world may include machines that scour our arteries to prevent heart disease, cars and clothes that change color at our whim, exotic products built in our own desktop factories, and enhancements to our personal financial security despite greatly accelerated obsolescence.

But while technology is making these fantastic leaps, we may also encounter surprises that throw us into disarray: climate changes, earthquakes, or even a seemingly improbable asteroid collision. These extremes are not the nightmare scenarios of sensationalists, Mulhall stresses, nor are many of them human induced. Instead, they may be part of nature's cycle – recurring more often than we've thought possible.

The good news is that this convergence of catastrophe and technological transformation may work to our advantage. If we're smart, according to Mulhall, we can use molecular machines to protect ourselves from nature's worst extremes, and harness their potential benefits to usher in an economic renaissance.

This visionary link between future technology and past disasters is a valuable guide for every one of us who wants to be prepared for the twenty-first century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573929929
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 08/28/2002
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 5.61(w) x 8.37(h) x 1.03(d)

About the Author

Douglas Mulhall is a sustainable development specialist and technology journalist. He has managed scientific institutes that pioneered adaptive technologies such as water recycling and flood prevention, in collaboration with governments, research laboratories, and multinational companies He has written articles for professional journals, newspapers, and magazines, including the Futurist and Nanotechnology magazine.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations9
About the Title11
Introduction: Collision of Futures21
Part 1.The Molecular Age
Chapter 1.Singularity27
Chapter 2.Molecular Building Blocks30
Chapter 3.What Comes First and What Does It Mean for Each of Us?52
Chapter 4.What Comes Next? Megatrends That Could Alter Our Lives81
Chapter 5.The Nanoecology Revolution113
Chapter 6.Reviving Tropical Islands120
Chapter 7.Who's Driving the Molecular Machine?124
Part 2.Nature's Time Bombs
Chapter 8.Are We Getting More or Less Vulnerable?143
Chapter 9.Shaking Up Tokyo and the Globalized Economy150
Chapter 10.So, You're Bored by Doomsday?156
Chapter 11.An Elephant in the Room of Environmentalism174
Chapter 12.Lost Messages from Ancient Times180
Part 3.Blueprints for a Molecular Defense
Chapter 13.Why Go There?189
Chapter 14.Tools for Defusing Time Bombs191
Chapter 15.Lessons from Tokyo-Learning to Predict the Big One217
Chapter 16.The Long Valley Caldera Defense-Avoiding a Dark Age221
Chapter 17.How to Avert Armageddon-Have an Asteroid for Lunch226
Part 4.Getting from Here to There
Chapter 18.The Right Questions233
Chapter 19.Overcoming Cultural Amnesia255
Chapter 20.Bypassing the Road to Hell263
Chapter 21.Using Open Source282
Chapter 22.Redesigning Democracy for Artificial Intelligence286
Chapter 23.Liberating Each One of Us293
Appendix A.Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics315
Appendix B.Excerpt from Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology316
A Brief Sampling for the Scientifically Inclined Reader371

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