Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Review: The Physics of the Future

This was a horrible book. I gave up on it a third of the way through. I'm not sure why people give the author high marks. Perhaps his earlier works are better and he phone this one in.

The book claims to look at scientific advances in a number of fields (computers, biology, etc), and drawing from interviews with hundreds of leading scientists, make predictions about the next 90 years.

What it does instead is the worst kind of pop-science futurism. The author picks and chooses from science that supports his favorite hypotheses, and then draws them out to extreme predictions. In doing so he pays almost no attention to factors that could influence other directions, gives no insight into his calculations (if any were done) on how to get to the endpoint. I'm OK with the idea of making concepts accessible to the layperson, but the leap from there to "trust me, I'm a scientist" is one that goes too far.

In addition, the areas of the book he covered that I have some expertise in (silicon design & manufacturing, augmented reality, virtual reality) were so riddled with error, unimaginative future use cases, and misuse of terminology, that I couldn't trust him on other areas in which I'm not an expert.

To add insult to injury, he uses a horrible amount of adverb-laden hyperbole. The first chapter alone had enough "we will have the power of the gods of mythology!" mentions that I almost didn't make it to chapter two.

Not recommended!

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

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