Our Molecular Future

How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World

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What do a drought in New York and an earthquake in Seattle have to do with a "nanotube" a few billionths of a meter long at the University of Tokyo?

Our Molecular Future reveals a striking new possibility: We are on the verge of being able to pro

Our Molecular Future reveals a striking new possibility: We are on the verge of being able to protect ourselves from nature’s worst attacks. Tools such as carbon nanotubes may help us cope in ways that until now have been described as science fiction.

If we succeed, we might solve a troubling question about scientific research: Why risk it? Why risk powerful new technologies that may destroy us?

With compelling evidence, Douglas Mulhall shows that the answers to such questions may be found by focusing on what the environment does to us, rather than only what we do to the environment.

His book shows where our technologies might be heading, what may stop us from getting there, and how to use the benefits to minimize the downsides.

The good news is that we may enter a future that's so fantastic, it's unbelievable.

The bad news is that many of us don't believe it, and so we may not be ready to cope.

By revealing the threads that tie our fate to new technologies, this book helps us get ready.

First, we have to ask the right questions. Mulhall emphasizes that this book defines those questions, rather than pretending to have quick or detailed answers.

Here are examples:

Molecular technologies aren’t just confined to a few university think tanks. Nor are they confined to an elite among the superpowers, big business, or government. Their roots are embedded in the fabric of our industries, research institutes, and military. They are found in wealthy and poor nations alike. The foundations for these technologies are so pervasive that it’s hard to describe them without starting an encyclopedia.

Our Molecular Future condenses this knowledge and gives us broad overviews of who’s doing what, where. By so doing, the book shows us why these technologies pose such deep challenges to conventional thinking about business and environment.

Yet, how vulnerable is this technological juggernaut to being thrown backward or blasted down the wrong path by nature’s violent attacks?

In ninety seconds, the Great Kanto Earthquake annihilated Japan’s centralized economy in 1923. It was so severe that the country was in no shape to weather the Great Depression. Such instability helped open the door for a military government. After the military took over, war in Southeast Asia—and then the Pacific—broke out.

Might this recur today? What about similar such risks in America? What if the largest earthquake in America’s history was to hit again? Surprisingly, it didn’t occur in San Francisco, or on the quake-prone West Coast. Our Molecular Future reveals the location and the implications.

Property loss is increasing worldwide, due to unrestricted development in risky hurricane and earthquake zones. Perversely, this can actually improve economic conditions for some sectors in the short term, by fueling construction booms after disasters. Such short-term rebounds are often generated by insurance settlements.

Yet underneath, a cancer grows. This foundation for economic stability—insurance—is collapsing. Our Molecular Future reveals the depth of the situation.

To inoculate ourselves against nature’s occasional tantrums, and avoid collapse of the insurance industry, we may have to construct powerful molecular defenses. Yet, these defenses themselves may threaten our existence, due to their potential for abuse. Some say that the risks outweigh the potential gains.

So, if it’s such a risk, why go there?

Evidence suggests there may be no alternative. Our Molecular Future explains why.

By tracing disruptions of the past and advances of the present through to technologies of the future, it becomes more than a book: it's a whole new field of study; a multifaceted approach to our past, our present, and our potential futures.

Because of this, the book appeals to a wide range of readers.

Read it if you are...

...striving to understand the molecular world that we may soon live in

...wondering about your job prospects or health care in an age of disruptive technologies

...looking for ways to cope with climate extremes or natural disasters

The book also has special relevance if you’re one of these individuals:

A business or economics student: Here are ideas about what startups might flourish in a molecular economy. "Genetic computing" may make most manufacturing processes and patents obsolete. Moreover, new industries might emerge from our capacities to cope with natural hazards.

A lecturer or student in environment, natural science, and ethics. The book is a valuable supplement to course materials:

--For environment, it identifies challenges to the Precautionary Principle and the doctrine of sustainable development.

--For natural science, it summarizes new discoveries about naturally occurring climate changes and ecological disruptions that are changing our views about the stability of the natural world. --For scientific ethics, it gives an overview of the ethical questions associated with development of powerful new tools.

An executive positioning your company for the approaching molecular era. Here is information about startups that might flourish in a molecular economy.

An insurer or corporate manager who plans disaster recovery strategies. This summarizes natural risks and technologies that may alter the way that businesses prepare for them. A health care provider. Research into nanobacteria and robotic surgery may alter the way we treat disease. A scientist confronted by environmental opposition to your technologies: Here's one way out of the impasse between the life sciences and environmentalists. An environmentalist who forecasts how technology might alter the ecology: Molecular technologies and natural changes may upend the Precautionary Principle and the doctrine of sustainable development.

The book also has an extensive index and endnotes, with links to authoritative Web sites. ...Continua

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