Futurist: We’re not going to hell in a handcart after all

The refreshingly upbeat Mark Stevenson breezed through Wellington just before Easter, giving his take on why the world’s NOT going to hell in a handcart.

Mark StevensonThe author ofAn optimist’s tour of the future, Stevenson has been accused by some of having rose-tinted glasses.

“But we should have an unashamed optimism about the future,” says the British-based writer, comic and scientist. In his book, he mentions some of the work being carried out by Blenheim-based Aquaflow as well as Carbonscape.

He gave numerous examples of humans taking better control of the planet’s biology.

The cost of genetic mapping is outstripping Moore’s Law by a factor of four, he says. Mapping an individual’s entire genetic sequence currently costs $3000, but will soon be $1.

Stevenson also argues that the world doesn’t have an energy crisis.

“We have an energy conversion crisis,” he says.

In 20-30 years time, the cost of solar energy should make it an utterly acceptable option.

One thing he is worried about, however, is whether institutions are that good at innovation.

At that level, we have become terrified of making mistakes, he says.

“But, if we’re not prepared to make mistakes, we’ll never come up with something original.”

Increasingly, Stevenson believes that individuals will be defined, “not by what you own, but by what you create".

Biotechnology and nanotechnology are currently where information technology was in 1965, and in that regard, “the future is up for grabs".

“The future could be better, it is up to us and individuals to do it. Our future will be defined by the values we choose.”

This post originally appeared on Sciblogs.

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