Chunka Mui

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A Brief History

of a Perfect Future

Inventing the world we can proudly leave our kids by 2050

What if, instead of trying to predict the future, we could just pick the one we want – and then invent it? Well, we can. This book describes seven stunning technological advances that will occur by 2050 and shows how to combine them, starting now, to build a future that will let billions thrive.

The smartphone in your pocket could guide 120 million Apollo-era spacecraft to the moon and back, all at the same time. And whatever replaces that phone in 30 years will be a million times more powerful. Many other technologies are on similar trajectories, and the core tools of genomics – which let us understand and even manipulate genetic code – are actually improving far faster, with broad implications for our health, for the foods we eat, and for just about everything else.

They do the million-fold imagining for the reader, describing seven so-incredible-as-to-be-almost-magical technological building blocks that will be available to all of us in 2050. These building blocks—in computing, communication, information, genomics, energy, water, and transportation—are following what the authors have dubbed the Laws of Zero. The technologies are increasing in power so fast in cost that you can count on them heading toward zero(ish) cost over the next three decades, meaning that infinite(ish) amounts of those resources will be available.

The book paints visions of how the world could look if we all start planning now and experiment our way toward taking full advantage of the technological marvels that will be available. The authors provide what they call “future histories” — short, provocative “news” articles set in

2050 that describe how key aspects of the world might look in areas such as transportation, health care, climate, and trust.

It’s easy to imagine falling into dystopian scenarios, a la those depicted in classics like 1984 and Brave New World. This book provides an optimistic vision of the future, very much grounded in facts and the lessons of history, while showing how individuals, companies, and governments can make this vision a reality.

The authors aren’t claiming they can predict the future. They very much abide by the oft-used line that “it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” No, rather than predict the future, they want to draw on a lesson they learned from personal computing pioneer Alan Kay: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” The authors want to invent a perfect future. More precisely, they want to help you invent it.

Chunka Mui, Paul Carroll and Tim Andrews are futurists, strategists, and technologists looking to make a difference. They’ve spent decades working separately and together on some of the hardest problems of the world’s largest organizations and most mission-critical governmental agencies. They’ve written a total of eight books, including Unleashing the Killer App, Big Blues, and Billion-Dollar Lessons. Now, they’re applying their experience and talents to an even more important topic: the futures of their kids, and yours.

Winston Churchill predicted: “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it myself.” Their goal is to help you shape the future by writing its history – before it happens.

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