Sunday, April 13, 2008

The velocity of the future

Today's Washington Post has an engaging story by Joel Achenbach contemplating how quickly science is changing the world, and how ill-equipped we humans are for dealing with that. (There's also a great sidebar by scientist/futurist Ray Kurzweil, who pretty much represents the most optimistic possible interpretation being advanced by any serious scientist.) Many of the issues discussed are about health, longevity and climate science, but the subject also hits at the core of the changes in communications an information technology that define our lives today. I'd recommend reading the package.

Here's a taste:

What's unnerving is the velocity at which the future sometimes arrives. Consider the Internet. This powerful but highly disruptive technology crept out of the lab (a Pentagon think tank, actually) and all but devoured modern civilization -- with almost no advance warning. The first use of the word "internet" to refer to a computer network seems to have appeared in this newspaper on Sept. 26, 1988, in the Financial section, on page F30 ...

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