Book Review “What’s Next?” by Jim Al-Khalili

“If you want a picture of the future,
imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell

The book is a set of essays, written by 18 authors and focused on the future of our planet. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the future is out there, waiting for us. All times (past, present and future) are pre-existing and already permanent in a static 4-dimensional spacetime. And yet, we all (or our consciousness) stuck in an ever changing NOW.

I think, the science will never be able to see what is ahead of us. And they can’t predict the future. Not 100%. Why? Because the human nature is so rich and varied that very often events happen in ways NO ONE can predict (what about Einstein? lol

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought,
but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Albert Einstein

This book doesn’t serve the purpose to be some kind of “Nostradamus”, but it warns us about the way our world will be shaped (by nature or by human’s activity).

We all are scared a bit about the future: for us, for our kids or the next generations. We are already in the stage where robots are replacing humans, where the worlds population grows in size and in greed…Science is moving fast.

What is Evil and what is Good?
We don’t know.
It’s the way we use our scientific knowledge that matters.

There’re 5 parts in this book:
1. The future of our Planet (demographics, climate change)
2. The Future of Us (genetics, medicine)
3. The Future Online (quantum computing and internet)
4. Making the Future (engineering, transport and energy)
5. The Far Future (time travel, living in space and the apocalypse)

“Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.”
Mattie J. T. Stepanek

I’m going to rate this book 3 from 5, because some of the articles are quite boring (but readable) and tend to be written in the dry academic style. No real surprises in this book as well, if you’re the sort of person who reads the science regularly. 

I loved Philip Ball article about demographics. Here’s an example – why:

  • by 2035 around 60% of the worlds population will live in urban areas (in 1970 only 2 cities had more than 10 million inhabitants: Tokyo and New York. In 2017 – 37 such megacities)
  • 45% of british people aged 16-24 felt happiest when they were online (“Generation Z” – who never known a time without mobile network)
  • before mobile phones and social media, we never really recognised how ‘narcissistic’ we are, how desperate we are to escape the reality of our surroundings and to assuage a sense of loneliness.
  • People want everything. That’s their problem.

The most important question of the Far-future is “Who will we be?” … when the teleportation and immortality is possible. And this book probably can’t answer the question, but it can show us what we can become.


Next post – “Sexting Haikus” 2, Saturday


Book Reviews

Victoria Ray NB View All →

Living in Sweden. Awesome. Happy. Writing. Ayurvedic food. Healthy lifestyle. Dogs. Literature. Drawing. Meditation/Yoga.

27 Comments Leave a comment

    • awesome days tho.. I’ve got my first in 2007 i think 🙂 I think we dont need mobile, we just used to it – the comfort 🙂
      but its a great tool when family is living in diff country for example, like mine..

  1. Just an observation … I’m a scientist, my career started using a slide-rule and observation, and a belief in knowledge … at its end I’ve come to believe knowledge is subjective, a quirk of observation, observation dependent upon the nuances of instrumentation, and what a human wants to, needs to believe. Scientists – I’ve met all kinds, all nationalities, all disciplines, wide-eyed students to Nobel laureates – we all share one thing – we are human and know next to nothing but believe many things -don’t tell anyone – okay!

  2. Philip Ball’s points do makes us retrospect. Really the narcissist hone. About the book that u reviewed, it felt that the author is apprehensive about the future and paranoid that nothing good is going to come out. I hope his paranoia is not so much true and we indeed would find ways.

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