Diamandis and Kotler – The Future is Faster than You Think

In science fiction, as any form of writing, the key elements are compelling characters and a believable story. What separates this genre from others is the power with which it captures the imagination, especially for those blessed to have read works by such giants as Isaac Asimov,
Ray Bradbury and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and to have witnessed the real-life adventures of John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.

Like the power to reanimate dead human tissue, science, or “speculative,” fiction also carries certain inherent risks. The writer faces the challenges of balancing that sense of wonder with the demand for credibility. The reader must still be able to suspend disbelief.

Fortunately for those of us who aren’t scientists, there is no shortage of non-fiction resources describing near-future technologies. None I have seen does this better than The Future is Faster than You Think, by Peter H. Diamindis and Steven Kotler. The authors describe breakthroughs that, within the next twenty years, will become as commonplace as today’s cell phones and the internet.

Through “the power of convergence” we (and our protagonists) will enjoy such transformative conveniences as the ability to generate replacement organs from stem cells, the same science that will produce steaks and chicken more delicious and nutritious than what we have today without butchering their hosts.

Of even greater interest to me, as a college professor, is the potential of AI-driven, individually adaptive textbooks. What makes these things easier to believe is that, unlike time travel and shapeshifting, they build on things we already have. In a classic example of life imitating art, the interactive textbook idea parallels the Young Woman’s Illustrated Primer, from Neal Stephenson’s 1995 classic, The Diamond Age.

Writers, like teachers, can change the world. Who knows what other technologies will arise from ideas whose original purpose was to entertain a reader by putting an identifiable character into an unfamiliar situation?

The Future is Faster than You Think is available online and through bookstores near you.