What future The year's best ideas to reclaim, reanimate & reinvent our future

Book - 2017

"... The pieces we've brought together here in What Future are some of the best, most interesting, and most prophetic essays and articles we've found about the future : what it might look like, how we might think about it, and what it might mean. We limited our selection to work published in 2016, with a few exceptions, and tried to balance the mix to address some of the most salient issues we see facing human civilization and American culture over the short-to-middle-term horizon."--page 13.

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  • Introduction
  • Our Generation Ships Will Sink
  • My Life on (Simulated) Mars
  • Genetic Engineering to Clash with Evolution
  • The Virtual World in a Real Body
  • The Neurologist Who Hacked His Brain-and Almost Lost His Mind
  • Our Automated Future
  • Let Them Drink Blood
  • Black Americans and Encryption: The Stakes Are Higher than Apple v. FBI
  • Policing the Future: In the Aftermath of Ferguson, St. Louis Cops Embrace Crime-Predicting Software
  • Donald Trump Ushers in the Anti-Future Age
  • The Battle for the Great Apes: Inside the Fight for Non-Human Rights
  • One Swede Will Kill Cash Forever-Unless His Foe Saves It from Extinction
  • The One-Armed Robot That Will Look After Me Until I Die
  • Selfless Devotion
  • What Would Self-Driving Cars Mean for Women in Saudi Arabia?
  • Fear of a Feminist Future
  • The Disturbing Science Behind Subconscious Gender Bias
  • Recalculating the Climate Math
  • The Future Consumed: The Curse of Consumption Will Save the World, If Consumers Don't Eat It First
  • Can Wind and Solar Fuel Africa's Future?
  • Anthropocene City: Houston as Hyperobject (or, When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas)
  • Hauntings in the Anthropocene: An Initial Exploration
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Introducing this vital collection of forward-looking writing published in 2016, editors Bosch and Scranton (Fire and Forget) pull no punches: "The future is already here," they write, "and it's confusing as hell." They've gathered together a solid collection of writers-Elizabeth Kolbert, Bill McKibben, and Laurie Penny, among others-to explore "what the future means as an idea" and how to come to terms with it. Formats range from short fiction to long investigative essays, and subjects include virtual reality, global warming, and "crime-predicting software." Sarah Aziza investigates what self-driving cars would mean for women in Saudi Arabia, while Jeff VanderMeer looks at how "weird fiction" can make reality more understandable. Though a few pieces aren't as polished as one might expect given their authors' reputations, such as Kim Stanley Robinson's choppy essay "Our Generation Ships Will Sink," about space travel, their ideas they express and the explorations they undertake will endure. Indeed, Scranton's essay "Anthropocene City," subtitled "When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas," has already taken on the ring of prophecy thanks to Hurricane Harvey. The overall tone is worried but optimistic. Don't look for utopian fantasies here-look for topical, intelligent projections of a realistically better future. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A sober, no-holds-barred view of the world that lies ahead.In this provocative but uneven anthology, more than 20 writers consider living with robots, predictive policing, the potential automation of half of all present American jobs, and other aspects of life in the future. Seeking to "broaden the conversation" beyond the usual white, male, affluent, highly educated deciders who chart humanity's course, editors Bosch, who writes on emerging technologies at Slate's Future Tense, and Scranton (English/Notre Dame Univ.; War Porn, 2016, etc.) draw from mainstream media (the New Yorker, the Atlantic) as well as Boing Boing, Narratively, the Establishment, and the Dark Mountain Project. Their selections range from Bill McKibben's solid but predictable report on climate change and Elizabeth Kolbert's informative consideration of books about automation to lesser-known writers on such topics as fear of a feminist future, the "unquenchable thirst for simplified belief systems" typified by Donald Trump and his followers, and the ethical concerns raised by the latest application for genetic engineering: gene drives that can force a trait through a population. Unlike the innocent, optimistic forecasts found in many magazines of past decades, these anticipate the real possibility of unexpected or unintended consequences: we are now living in "a society distracted and undermined by its technology," write the editors. The best articles raise serious questions about future outcomes: a Nature writer wonders whether African nations will actually be able to leapfrog into solar and wind power and avoid some environmentally destructive practices of the developed world. Or will such efforts be rendered useless by the continent's inadequate electricity grids and transmission lines? In Slate, Sarah Aziza suggests that growing use of driverless cars in Saudi Arabia could be a boon for women unless Saudi officials adapt autonomous technology to " protect' and surveil women." Other contributors include Jeff VanderMeer, Kim Stanley Robinson, and David Biello. A mixed bag studded with insights. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.