Sunday, October 12, 2003 book review: "Tomorrow's People: How 21st-Century Technology is Changing the Way We Thinks and Feel" book review: "Tomorrow's People: How 21st-Century Technology is Changing the Way We Thinks and Feel" "...“Tomorrow's People” is set firmly in the dystopian tradition of Huxley and Orwell. Baroness Greenfield's purpose is to issue a warning: that the coming integration of IT and biotechnology will have such a profound effect on the way we think and live that “we are standing on the brink of a mind makeover more cataclysmic that anything in our history.”
Baroness Greenfield is acutely aware of the perils of futurology. Visions from the 1950s of a world in which robots performed the domestic chores, meals were taken as pills and we zoomed around in personal helicopters were touchingly wide of the mark. Critically, nobody from that era foresaw the rise and ubiquity of the computer. Thomas Watson, the legendary boss of IBM, once famously predicted that there might turn out to be a world market for just five computers.
In Baroness Greenfield's vision of the future there is no dividing line between the real and the virtual, and most of our experiences are shaped either by a souped-up version of the internet or by smart drugs. We will rarely have to leave our homes, which will become an extension of our minds and bodies. Entertainment will be on tap to match our moods, while our physical environment, from the view through our windows to the shape of our rooms and the furniture inside them, will have the protean ability to adapt itself to our desires and needs. There will be no cancer or baldness or obesity. Nano-machines inside our bodies will change our appearance at will. Our bodily functions will be monitored and any incipient malfunctions dealt with by clothes that both dispense drugs and have the happy knack of cleaning themselves.

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