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An Optimist's Tour of the Future

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Mark Stevenson divides his time between running agencies for science communications and cultural learning and performing and writing comedy. He lives in Telegraph Hill, south London.

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One curious man's journey to find out 'what's next?'

About the Author

Mark Stevenson's life is an exercise in balancing accessible entertainment and extreme geekiness. After graduating with a first class honours degree in Technology, he mixed two careers, one as an expert in prime number cryptography, the other fronting a pop band. He then took to stand-up comedy, deriving almost all of his material from science and maths. Mark also runs two companies committed to helping people find new ways of thinking: Flow Associates, a cultural learning consultancy, and ReAgency, for science communication talent. The Optimist's Tour of the Future is his first book.


Blind optimism is the last thing the world needs - a recipe for disappointment. But what about optimism based on careful reasoning? On digging below the surface for the ideas and the trends that really do add up to something promising? That's what's on offer here. Stevenson wears no blindfold. His tools are curiosity, open-mindedness, clarity and reason. That makes his journey intriguing ... and ultimately exhilarating -- Chris Anderson, TED Curator Mark Stevenson is a futurist endowed with optimism. Where some people fear that robotics and artificial intelligence will dehumanize the world, he sees an enhancement of freedom; where some see nanotechnology as an army of sub-micron Lilliputians controlling our every action, he sees an invisible array of artisans performing miracles in tight spaces. It's refreshing to be led to the far side by someone who sees the bright side! -- Henry Pollack, Nobel Prize Winner This is a brilliant book, and Mark Stevenson is the perfect guide to a dizzying future that is already here. Genetic innovation. Social robots. Nano-factories. The ideas come so quickly, with such great humor - it's like the smartest dinner party you've ever attended. -- Peter Miller * The Smart Swarm * Uplifting and liberating. Mark Stevenson is the perfect tour guide: optimistic without being naive, fun but not silly, entertaining yet also an educator. By the end I was utterly convinced that, given the opportunity to flourish, human ingenuity can disperse the clouds that hang over us today. This is a book to gladden the gloomiest heart -- Michael Brooks A rollicking roller-coaster ride around the cutting edge of science with dozens of laugh-out-loud moments -- Jim Ferguson * Scotsman * Makes a good case for believing that we can have a future worth making an effort to reach -- Jon Turney * Guardian * Infectiously enthusiastic -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times * Refreshingly upbeat * Big Issue * A refreshing reminder that the future will always belong to the optimists * New Scientist * The future is here and all around us. It's just, as William Gibson puts it, not evenly distributed yet. And why not? This is the book's killer punch: we have 21st century tech, but our familiar world - from schooling, to work, to our ideas of retirement - hasn't changed since the industrial revolution. The future cannot happen until we change our minds to meet it * Focus *

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