Friday, February 5, 2010

Books on futurology

Contemporary Futurist Thought: Science Fiction, Future Studies, and Theories and Visions of the Future in the Last Century
by Thomas Lombardo (Paperback - June 23, 2006)

Book Description

Contemporary Futurist Thought describes recent thinking about the future, dealing with both the hopes and the fears expressed in modern times concerning what potentially lies ahead. There are many such hopes and fears - perhaps an overpowering number, competing with each other and swirling about in the collective mind of humanity. Psychologist and futurist Tom Lombardo describes this mental universe of inspiring dreams and threatening premonitions regarding the future. The book begins with an in-depth examination of the highly influential literary genre of science fiction, which Dr. Lombardo identifies as "the mythology of the future." He next describes the modern academic discipline of future studies which attempts to apply scientific methods and principles to an understanding of the future. Social and technological trends in the twentieth century are then reviewed, setting the stage for an analysis of the great "contemporary transformation" occurring in our present world. Given the powerful and pervasive changes taking place across the globe and throughout all aspects of human life, the questions arise: Where are we potentially heading and, perhaps more importantly, where should we be heading? The final chapter provides an extensive review of different answers to these questions. Describing theories and approaches that highlight science, technology, culture, human psychology, and religion, among other areas of focus, as well as integrative views which attempt to provide big pictures of all aspects of human life, the book provides a rich and broad overview of contemporary ideas and visions about the future. In the conclusion, Dr. Lombardo assesses and synthesizes these myriad perspectives, proposing a set of key ideas central to understanding the future. This book completes the study of future consciousness begun in its companion volume, The Evolution of Future Consciousness. These two volumes, rich in historical detail and concise observations on the interrelated


The Coming Convergence: Surprising Ways Diverse Technologies Interact to Shape Our World and Change the Future
by Stanley Schmidt (Hardcover - Apr. 17, 2008)

Book Description

It's far easier to describe the past than to predict the future: this principle is unwittingly demonstrated by Schmidt, a physicist and longtime science fiction editor (Analog: Science Fiction and Fact). His book is best when discussing how past technologies have come together, usually in unforeseen ways, to enable social change. Joseph-Marie Jacquard's late–18th-century work on automatic looms controlled by punch cards, for example, can be traced forward to the development of early computers. Schmidt is glib but far less informative when projecting where the confluence of current technologies is likely to take us. He touches on nanotechnology and improvements in computing power, among other fields, and offers projections about how medicine, communication and interpersonal relationships are apt to change, but he largely does so superficially and perhaps overly optimistically: "In the kind of world we can aspire to, everybody will have enough and nobody will have to work very hard to get it." Though he acknowledges that some convergences can be harmful, he dismisses this downside with equal ease, concluding simply that we need to be vigilant about the choices we make.


Learning from the Future: Competitive Foresight Scenarios
by Liam Fahey and Robert M. Randall (Hardcover - Oct. 1997)

Book Description

"Scenarios are now a part of every successful manager’s toolkit. This book is the first comprehensive guide to the latest developments in scenario thinking written by today’s leading practitioners in the field." ­Napier Collyns, a pioneer of scenario planning at Dutch/Shell now Managing Director, Gloal Business Network (GBN) "In twenty years of helping companies create and plan for their futures, I have never come across a book that dealt with the use of scenario-based planning as comprehensively as this one." ­David Kelley CEO, IDEO Product Development the creators of the Apple Mouse "This book is the greatest reference today on scenario planning­the preeminent tool for those who believe that the future belongs to those with the imagination to create it. The combination of scenario planning and strategy formulation can be a wondrous right brain process that galvanizes teams with a compelling vision and common purpose." ­David E. Schnedler Director, Corporate Planning Sun Microsystems, Inc. "Organizations must create intellectual and organizational tension around distinctly different views of the future. Learning from the Future demonstrates why scenarios are ideally suited to generate such tension and how to use scenario learning as a steppingstone to superior strategies." ­Richard Pascale, Associate Fellow of Oxford University and author of Managing on the Edge: How the Smartest Companies Use Conflict to Stay Ahead "An invaluable guide to the mind-stretching benefits of scenarios that are fully embedded in the strategic thinking process. It should be required reading for any management team embarking on scenario development so they can realize the benefits and evade the pitfalls." ­George Day, Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor and Director of the Huntsman Center for Global Competition and Innovation Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction
by David Orrell (Paperback - Feb. 25, 2008)

Book Description

In the spirit of Freakonomics and A Short History of Progress, The Future of Everything is a compelling, elegantly written history of our future.

For centuries, scientists have strived to predict the future. But to what extent have they succeeded? Can past events--Hurricane Katrina, the Internet stock bubble, the SARS outbreak--help us understand what will happen next? Will scientists ever really be able to forecast catastrophes, or will we always be at the mercy of Mother Nature, waiting for the next storm, epidemic, or economic crash to thunder through our lives?

In The Future of Everything, David Orrell looks back at the history of forecasting, from the time of the oracle at Delphi to the rise of astrology to the advent of the TV weather report, showing us how scientists (and some charlatans) predicted the future. How can today's scientists claim to anticipate future weather events when even thee-day forecasts prove a serious challenge? How can we predict and control epidemics? Can we accurately foresee our financial future? Or will we only find out about tomorrow when tomorrow arrives?