Future Imperfect describes and discusses a variety of technological revolutions that might happen over the next few decades, their implications and how to deal with them. Topics range from encryption and surveillance through biotechnology and nanotechnology to life extension, mind drugs, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. One theme of the book is that the future is radically uncertain. Technological changes already begun could lead to more or less privacy than we have ever known, freedom or slavery, effective immortality or the elimination of our species, and radical changes in life, marriage, law, medicine, work and play. We do not know which future will arrive, but it is unlikely to be much like the past. It is worth starting to think about it now.
David D. Friedman
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRES
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Part I. Prolog: 1. Introduction; 2. Living with change; Part II. Privacy and Technology: 3. A world of strong privacy; 4. Information processing: threat or menace? or if information is property, who owns it?; 5. Surveillance tech: the universal panopticon; Part III. Doing Business Online: 6. Ecash; 7. Contracts in cyberspace; 8. Watermarks and barbed wire; 9. Reactionary progress - amateur scholars and open source; 10. Intermission: what's a meta phor?; Part IV. Crime and Control: 11. The future of computer crime; 12. Law enforcement x 2; Part V. Biotechnologies: 13. Human reproduction; 14. The more you know ...; 15. As gods in the garden; 16. Mind drugs; Part VI. The Real Science Fiction: 17. The last lethal disease; 18. Very small Legos; 19. Dangerous company; 20. All in your mind; 21. The final frontier; 22. Interesting times.
'What a delightful and absorbing book! Friedman looks to the future with a science fiction writers sense of the possible combined with a social scientists understanding of what it all might mean.' N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University 'Professor Friedman has written a valuable book that explores some of the most interesting issues connecting technology and society in the years and decades to come. His explanations of the technologies are accessible to ordinary readers, and he tees up the societal issues in a lively way. While not everyone will agree on the magnitude of the threats, his treatment of the subjects will make everyone think, from the most expert Internet lawyer to the most enthusiastic geek - indeed anyone who cares about his or her future in a democratic society.' Henry H. Perritt, Jr, Chicago-Kent College of Law 'David Friedman turns his formidable analytical abilities on a number of futures. They won't all happen - but at least one of them almost certainly will. Friedman applies law to economics and economics to the law, to the benefit of our understanding of both. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the future - or any one of several futures. It doesn't hurt that it's a good read, either.' Jerry Pournelle, best selling science and science fiction writer, high tech columnist