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The world is an uncertain place, which is why the future and the unknown absolutely fascinate us. Veteran television journalist Mike Wallace asked the question "What will life be like 50 years from now?" to sixty of the world's greatest minds. Their responses offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural, scientific, political, and spiritual moods of the times. Edited and with an introduction by Mike Wallace, this book provides an imaginative and thought-provoking look into our collective soul and the critical issues that underlie our hopes, prayers, fears, and dreams for life in the 21st century.
Contributors include former presidents, leading scientists, noted writers and artists, respected religious leaders, and current political figures, including:
Vint Cerf, Vice President of Google; known as a "Father of the Internet"Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a geneticist who led the Human Genome ProjectDr. Wanda Jones, Director of the Office on Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesRay Kurzweil, an inventor whose developments include the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and the first text-to-speech synthesizerGeneral James E. Cartwright, Commander of United States Strategic CommandKim Dae-jung, the former President of the Republic of KoreaRonald Noble, Secretary General of InterpolNorman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize winner; called "the father of the Green Revolution"Carol Bellamy, former Executive Director UNICEF, first former volunteer to serve as director of Peace Corp, and current president and CEO of World LearningGerardus 't Hooft, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands; Nobel Prize in PhysicsCraig Newmark, Internet pioneer and founder of craigslist
These short meditations on the world in 50 years are overwhelmingly devoted to developments in human health, climate change and technology, with a disappointing scarcity of speculation about any social or spiritual transformations. Scientists, who make up more than half of the contributors, predict that genetic engineering will be commonplace and AIDS obsolete, although infectious diseases will adapt and prosper. Marriages will be arranged by compatible genotype; the oceans will rise; cats will no longer be kept as pets they will have been identified (along with hamsters and birds) as transmitters of everything from Parkinson's to schizophrenia. China and India will be the new superpowers, and the U.S. will finally adopt the metric system. Although many writers note that certain species of plants and animals will be extinct in 50 years, only one laments that several languages will also be dead. This privileging of the scientific viewpoint makes the contributions from immunologist Peter Doherty and writer Michael Shermer all the more welcome as they attempt to focus on humanity rather than technology, imagination more than data. Perhaps it is easier to chart the course of climate change than social change still the inhabitants of the planet and the future of their governments, beliefs and values deserve as much attention as the planet itself.