Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

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Zach Weinersmith's web comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is a periodic stop for me, so when I noticed that Portsmouth Public Library owned a copy of this book, I grabbed it. Zach is a co-author, with his wife Kelly, who is a "behavioral ecologist".

That must be an interesting household.

Those ten technologies are explored in … wait, let me count … yes, ten chapters. Conveniently titled: cheap access to space; asteroid mining; fusion power; programmable matter; robotic construction; augmented reality; synthetic biology; precision medicine; bioprinting; and brain-computer interfaces. (A windup chapter discusses a hodgepodge of topics they left out, like quantum computing.) Zach and Kelly interview cutting-edge researchers and technologists in these areas. The book is © 2017, but that's OK; most of this stuff is still in the future.

One exception: the synthetic biology chapter discusses the possibility of designer disease-causing organisms. The latest news, guys, tells me (with "low confidence") that's already happened. I kind of wish we'd gotten fusion power instead.

Their descriptions are a volatile mix of geeky science, out-there engineering, and hilarity. Zach's wacky cartoons appear at appropriate spots in the text. I recommend reading the book in small portions; if you're like me, even very funny stuff gives rise to humor fatigue after a while. (For some reason, there's no Wikipedia page about that; see museum fatigue for a close analog.)

There is a website for the book. Where you can get an app that will demonstrate augmented reality on your phone or tablet. Very nice!

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:26 AM EDT