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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

The Extreme Future

An interesting, or even frightening, book this week. The Extreme Future by Dr. James Canton PhD (Penguin Books Plume label, September 2007, ISBN 978-0-452-28866-9) has as its subtitle ‘The top trends that will reshape the world in the next 20 years’.
The good doctor is a futurologist, and is described as a global futurist, social scientist and visionary business advisor, whose talents have been sought by the presidents of many large corporations and even presidents of the United States of America. As far as crystal ball-gazers go, Dr. Canton’s CV certainly outranks Gypsy Petulengro!
The post 9/11 world is minutely examined, and it is certainly true that particular act of terrorism changed the world on that day. Nobody is insulated from the pervasiveness of the terrorist, leastwise you and I, as it is the impact on the ordinary citizen that gives terrorists their power.
Dr. Canton admits that he has taken over from where Alvin Toffler (Future Shock) left off. He looks at technology, and points the reader to where he thinks technology will lead us, be that biotechnology, nanotechnology, stem cells, or IT-neurotechnology, where the future doctors can implant more than a microchip, even increased intelligence itself, in your brain.
The book is full of breakout boxes on most pages, with lists or examples of what life will be like in the future, including androids and what happens when you have a relationship with one.
Longevity medicine will be a driver of the future, whereby you can have your DNA mapped, and perhaps buy some more over the net on eBay. Stolen DNA then becomes a commercial product which can be sold, including identities.
China as a super-power gets its own chapter, and Dr Canton seems fairly sure that China will continue to grow, though he is not quite as sanguine about the future of America.
Barbara A Propes, president of the World Affairs Councils of America writes, “Canton’s optimistic prescription for a successful global future comes as a refreshing change from the often dismal reports alive in the world.” I honestly began to wonder if we were reading the same book! For me, Canton was another prophet of doom, and although he gave many prescriptions as to what must happen, there was no clear way to produce this. I have no argument against his 12 strategies essential to ending terrorism by 2025, other than the fact they were Utopian. He writes, “The one strategy that will facilitate all the others by 2025 is the last.” And that was “The end of poverty and an increased standard of living.” However, his other chapters gave me no indication that this was going to happen, or more importantly ‘how’. World-wide democracy is coming, writes Dr. Canton, but nary one word as to how to convert much of Sub-Saharan Africa, or even our neighbor Burma.
For B. 525 on the Bookazine shelves, it does make for a thought-provoking read, though I must add that the paper stock was such poor quality, the book will not last the next 20 years to compare the future world with Dr. Canton’s future predictions.