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Thread: Futuristic Technology Science Book Recommendations Please. :)

  1. #1
    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Futuristic Technology Science Book Recommendations Please. :)

    Okay, as the title suggest, I'm looking for a very specific type of science book - one that deals with future tech.

    Now, obviously, some of that will be speculation (predicting the future always is) but what I'm looking for are books that take a close look at what is theoretically possible in science, even if human tech isn't there yet.

    I want them for research. I plan to write a philosophy book one day (probably in a few years, but it's never too early to start researching!) about future tech. Now obviously, I won't be going into huge detail about the actual mechanics of things, but the theoretical possibilities are something that I really want to get right.

    I'm not expecting my book to be groundbreaking, but more as a collection of thoughts on problems we may run up against in inventing this sort of technology.

    I have some understanding of physics, but not enough to have any real qualifications. I'm currently studying philosophy at University, which is where the idea for this book came from. In a few years, I'll have my degree, and will hopefully be able to get this right.

    Anyway, that's enough about me. Does anyone know of any books that might help in my research? Philosophical or scientific, either way. It'd be greatly appreciated if anyone can point me in the right direction.

    Thanks in advance.
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    I have never seen such a book; although some probably have been published, but I have seen magazine articles about such things. You might look at the websites of science and technology magazines from Scientific American to Popular Mechanics.

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    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Hmm. Thanks for the tip. I used to read New Scientist all the time, which was generally interesting. Might have to expand on to some other science mags, maybe get a subscription to a few for 6 months before starting the book.

    And yeah, I was afraid that there wouldn't be many books in the vein of what I was looking for... I recall reading one in my collection that touched on such things (the future of computing, mostly) - I think it was The Fabric Of Reality by David Deutsch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    Hmm. Thanks for the tip. I used to read New Scientist all the time, which was generally interesting. Might have to expand on to some other science mags, maybe get a subscription to a few for 6 months before starting the book.

    And yeah, I was afraid that there wouldn't be many books in the vein of what I was looking for... I recall reading one in my collection that touched on such things (the future of computing, mostly) - I think it was The Fabric Of Reality by David Deutsch.
    Yes, there are books about the future of computing; things like Kurzweil's idea of the "singularity", but you can find as much be reading SF.

    I haven't subscribed to science mags for quite a while, but they often had yearend issues that would review what had happened and look into the future. I don't even know what mags are still being published.

    ANother source you might try would be the websites of SF writers.

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    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    Hmm. Hadn't considered SF writers' websites... I knew that some hard SF would yield a few results, but yeah, didn't consider the writer's site.
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    God of the Oceans
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    Those sites wouldn't be my first choice, but some SF writers are seriously thinking about the future.

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    Yeah. I sort of dismissed the SF resources initially because I figured that there'd probably be more creativity than I was looking for. But the author's site might be a good stopping point, if they make sure to mention stuff like, "Now, this part I'm not so sure about..." and the like.
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    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Huff Post science blogs link to other sites and articles, many of which have pro and con stances on new technology...

    A quick google search of, books on future technology, finds more books than one could read in a life time. I suspect it really depends on what type of technology you are talking about...
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    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    I was leaving google as a bit of a last resort, because it'd be very hard to figure out what to get.

    But the sort of tech I was interested in would be "game changer" technology. The sort of things that completely revolutionise how we do things.

    Obviously, some of that would include theoretical arguments about the sort of things you'd find in Star Trek - teleportation, matter creation (I think they call them replicators), warp jump sort of stuff... That sort of thing.

    But alongside that, I'd want to be looking at how far we can push the sort of thing we already use. Like, I know that computers have a law that says every 2 years they'll either get twice as powerful or half the size. (Forget what the law's called.) Things like that - how far we can push technology without any of the "game changer" technology having been invented yet.

    Aside from that vague guide... I'm not too sure what exactly I'm looking for. That's another reason I was hoping for recommendations.
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    figuring it all out Eldrich's Avatar
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    As a physicist a few months from getting my PhD, who also received an undergraduate degree in philosophy, I have thought about this kind of stuff a fair amount am curious to know more about what you were thinking of doing for this book.

    I remember reading a review of the book "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100," byMichio Kaku, which sounds like what you're looking for. I seem to remember that the reviewer had some specific complaints in regards to the treatment of some specific technologies, but I don't remember exactly what. I haven't read it though, so cannot speak for it one way or the other. Following clicks on amazon, I also found, "The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century" by George Friedman which sounds similar. I'm sure randomly clicking around will yield other similar books.


    I might also add MIT's Technology Review to your list of websites to read. And keep an eye on really out-there grant proposals, like the EU's 'Flagship' projects which I just read a Science story about this morning, where they're going to fund two ideas at 1 billion Euros over 10 years. There are other similar funding mechanisms that tend to bring out the zaniest ideas.

    A few months ago, I saw a talk by someone working with the DoD which is trying to develop the technology to forecast technological development, which is needless to say, a really really hard problem. So I did a brief internet search and found the document "Forecasting Science and Technology for the Department of Defense" which you can google for more info. Maybe you can find more about the program somewhere.

    And if you haven't already read it, I would probably recommend, "The innovators Dilemma" by Christensen. It's more business than technology prediction, but it explains how game changing technologies actually happen and is a really interesting read.

    By the way, the law you're referring to is Moore's law. In it's original conception, it was stated that the number of transistors in a given area doubles every two years. It has held remarkably accurate for ~40 years. Around the year 2020, this law predicts that the size of a transistor will be about the size of a single atom. When that happens, quantum mechanical effects become impossible to ignore, and you can't really go any smaller, so many believe that a new paradigm will be needed. This could possibly come from quantum computing.

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    If you're still looking for book recommendations, I'd second Michio Kaku's Physics of the Future and add his Physics of the Impossible to the list. They cover similar territory, yet different at the same time. I really like how Physics of the Future is broken down into near future, what could be expected around the mid century and towards the end of the century.

    Yttar

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    Check out DARPA's public web page. Check out Jane's Weekly. Check out any of a dozen different technology pages on the web. Heck, just look at the reviews for what came out at ECS last month or whenever. There are thousands upon thousands of things coming to the surface right now that we're science fiction only 10 years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldrich View Post
    By the way, the law you're referring to is Moore's law. In it's original conception, it was stated that the number of transistors in a given area doubles every two years. It has held remarkably accurate for ~40 years. Around the year 2020, this law predicts that the size of a transistor will be about the size of a single atom. When that happens, quantum mechanical effects become impossible to ignore, and you can't really go any smaller, so many believe that a new paradigm will be needed. This could possibly come from quantum computing.
    Quantum computing will be a blip on the technological map becauses it ignores other paradigms to it's own demise.
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    figuring it all out Eldrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by milkweed View Post
    Quantum computing will be a blip on the technological map becauses it ignores other paradigms to it's own demise.
    I don't really understand what you mean, that it ignores other paradigms to it's own demise, would you elaborate?

    I agree that quantum computing's place in future technology is far from certain, but its hardly the case that it can be completely written off. If some technology allows Shor's algorithm to be implemented on any sort of feasible scale, the entire security structure of the internet will have to be rewritten. If quantum simulations can shed light to developing high temperature superconductivity, the entire energy grid could be replaced. They could predict and invent new exotic materials. Who knows, maybe in the next 50 years other quantum algorithms will be discovered that make it worth while to replace super computers with quantum computers. And on some level, as electronics get smaller and, the fact that they will behave quantum mechanically will just be a truth that has to be dealt with.

    Given, that's a lot of 'ifs,' and I have no idea what working quantum computers might actually look like, but if we're talking 50-100 year forecasts, it's really difficult to predict what is going to transform the technological map, which was the original point of this thread. 50 years ago, regular computers were room sized machines that could only perform simple calculations, not unlike the quantum computer experiments in existence today.

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    Wow, I totally forgot about this thread... My bad.

    Thanks for the extra suggestions. It's still a distant idea in my mind, and I'm still only halfway through my degree, so yeah...

    It looks like I could easily spend a solid year of researching stuff for this particular book idea and still not even scratch the surface!
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    'The Singularity is Near' by Ray Kurzweil is interesting, I also read a book called 'Love and Sex with Robots' by David Levy, he says we'll all be doing the bad thing with robots within the next 30 years (I think he should speak for himself). There's 'Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology' by Eric Drexler, I know he's had an influence on 'hard' sci-fi writers like Neal Stephenson.

    A similar book to 'The Fabric of Reality' by David Deutsch is 'The Emporer's new mind: concerning computers, minds and the laws of physics' by Prof Roger Penrose, that touches on the philosophical implications of advancing technology.

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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    *tries to use nanobots to turn my small amount of savings into self-replicating $50 notes*

    *fails*

    Damn. I don't think I can afford all these books!
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    I subscribe to Popular Science and they have a column about new technology that's coming up. For my novel(research), I used number of websites :
    insidetechtalk.com
    science daily
    world science, etc.
    The best in my opinion are TED talks about upcoming technology

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    The New Scientist mag is all you need.
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    New Scientist, Science, Nature, Scientific American would all be good sources, but Popular Mechanics is pretty good, though spotty, as well.

    The TED Talks are another great source for emerging technologies.

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    Here's a few sites I read when I remember to do so:
    http://www.kurzweilai.net/
    http://singularityhub.com/
    http://www.robots.net/

    Reading all the articles on THIS site would be a full-time job - many popular science articles I see online point to this as the "source" article (though of course the "true" source is often an article in a peer-reviewed journal). I just read the ones I that find the headlines/summaries interesting:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/

    Drexler's vook "Engines of Creation" is available free online:
    http://e-drexler.com/p/06/00/EOC_Cover.html

    And for the pre-Drexler history of nanotechnology, here's Richard Feynman's 1959 talk on tiny things:
    http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/feynman.html

    For things covering both scientific and philosophical ideas, there's "The Mind's I" by Dennett and Hofstadter.
    http://www.amazon.com/Minds-Fantasie.../dp/0465030912
    "Computer Power and Human Reasoning" is older but interesting. What's fascinating is his description of Eliza, a computer program to do "psychoanalysis" that "fooled" lots of people into thinking it understood them, including his secretary.
    "The Emperor's New Mind" is a short-course in quantum physics, only to use quantum physics to give an argument against the possibility of "strong" artificial intelligence that a lot of people don't buy, but it's an interesting and "important" book nonetheless.
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    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    I thought of a couple more things:
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    ...
    I want them for research. I plan to write a philosophy book one day (probably in a few years, but it's never too early to start researching!) about future tech. ...
    Megaditto's. Science/technology are huge and growing fields. If you're going to write something about it (hey, I should do so myself), you should have the best overview you can.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Face View Post
    ...Might have to expand on to some other science mags, maybe get a subscription to a few for 6 months before starting the book.
    Subscriptions cost real money so I can see where you would hesitate (I page through a few magazines at the library whenever I stop by), but as some of the links show, there's TONS of stuff you can read online, so don't hesitate to start doing that now.

    Here's a couple people on Twitter who link to some of the latest science stories:

    Jennifer Ouellette, author of "The Calculus Diaries" (I haven't read it):
    https://twitter.com/JenLucPiquant

    Barry Ptolemy, maker of the film "Transcendent Man" about Ray Kurzweil and his ideas (I've seen it):
    https://twitter.com/TranscendentMan
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  23. #23
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    Are you looking specifically for articles and non-fiction books? One of my new favorite authors is Michael Crichton. His books are fiction, but the technology and ideas involved in the plots are based on new/developing/theoretical science and technology and are well-researched.
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