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The Future of Technology (Economist)

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Tom Standage

From the industrial revolution to the railway age, through the era of electrification, the advent of mass production and finally to the information age, the same pattern keeps repeating itself. An exciting, vibrant phase of innovation and financial speculation … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Tom Standage
Publisher: Bloomberg Press
1 review about The Future of Technology (Economist)

"no longer looking for HAL...."

  • Jul 1, 2006
In this volume edited by Tom Standage, the material is carefully organized and presented within three Parts. As "the revolutionary ideas of a few years ago have now become conventional wisdom," the focus in Part 1 is on the implications of widespread adoption of technology. "The growing ubiquity and sophistication of consumer-electronics devices is the topic of the second part of the book." That is to say, the emergence of "digital lifestyle" within a "digital home." Once information technology has percolated into everything (e.g. wireless sunglasses that double as head phones to radio-tagged cereal boxes), "what new technology will lead the next great phase of transformation, disruption, and creativity?" Then in Part 3, the focus is on various new "contenders" such as biotechnology, energy technology, and nanotechnology.

All of this material consists of various surveys and articles which appeared in The Economist between 2002 and 2005. "Collectively they illustrate how the technology industry is changing, how technology continues to affect many areas of everyday life - and, looking further ahead, how researchers in several promising fields are developing the innovations that seem most likely to constitute the future of technology." It is important to keep in mind that the value of survey results -- such as those generated by four surveys and provided in Part 1 ("Coming of age," "Make it simple," and "A world of work") -- is derived from what they suggest about what Joel Barker characterizes as "paradigm shifts." That is, the survey responses indicate both emerging and apparent trends and patterns.

Tom Standage and his seven collaborators are to be commended on the precision of their thinking and the eloquence of their writing. I especially appreciate, also, their caution when sharing their thoughts about the future of technology. No doubt they recall (as Standage does in the Foreword) "the hype of the internet boom [which contained] a kernel of truth, although harnessing the new technology proved harder and is taking longer that the cheerleaders of the 1990s anticipated."

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Kellogg on Technology & Innovation co-edited by Ranjay Gulati, Mohanbir Sawhney, and Anthony Paoni. Also, Seeing What's Next co-authored by Clayton C. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth, Geoffrey A. Moore's Dealing with Darwin, and Constantinos C. Markides and Paul A. Geroski's Fast Second.

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