Imagine direct communication links between the human brain and machines, or tailored materials capable of adapting by themselves to changing environmental conditions, or computer chips and environmental sensors embedded into everyday clothing, or medical technologies that eliminate currently untreatable conditions such as blindness and paralysis. Now imagine all of these developments occurring at the same time. Far-fetched? Not so. These are actually the reasonable predictions of scientists attempting to forecast a few decades into the future based on the rapid pace of innovation.
Author Stanley Schmidtphysicist, writer, and Editor of ANALOG: SCIENCE FICTION AND FACTexplores these and many more amazing yet probable scenarios in THE COMING CONVERGENCE: THE SURPRISING WAYS DIVERSE TECHNOLOGIES INTERACT TO SHAPE OUR WORLD AND CHANGE THE FUTURE (Prometheus, $27.95), which NEW SCIENTIST says, "does an excellent job of highlighting how all sorts of technologies have historically converged to create new and unanticipated possibilities." In this fascinating guide to the near future, Schmidt uses his scientific knowledge and expertise to show how past convergences have led to today's world, then considers tomorrow's main currents in biotechnology, cognitive science, information technology, and nanotechnology. Looking even further downstream, he foresees both exciting and potentially dangerous developments:
Schmidt notes that even a routine technology such as the CAT scan is the result of three wholly separate innovations started many decades ago which recently converged: the X-ray, the computer, and advances in medicine. On a more ominous note, he a
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