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If we are to believe the projections outlined in Damien Broderick's The Spike, the acceleration of change is increasing so sharply that the future is not just unknowable but unrecognisable. Dr Broderick pulls together his vast learning to expand on Vernor Vinge's notion of the technological Singularity and to share with us his necessarily clouded vision of a posthuman future. Writing with a rare enthusiasm unmuted by years of dystopian fiction and news reports, Broderick peels back the layers of jargon enshrouding recent advances in nanotech, biotech and all the other tech that's daring us to keep up.
It's hard for the reader to avoid feeling swept up in the rush of novelty, and that of course is the author's point. As we learn to modify even our deepest natures, how can we ever hope to maintain intellectual distance from our technology? Forewarned is forearmed, and Broderick hopes that awareness of the maelstrom will keep us from drowning; this might be the best cure for post-millennial despair. In any case, not everyone believes that the world of 2050 will be incomprehensible to those of us who lived through part of the 20th century. Will the curve spike, as Broderick suggests, or will it plateau? We should know in relatively little time, as we find ourselves either downloaded into space-travelling robots or watching the latest incarnation of holographic Star Trek. --Rob Lightner [via]