We have some serious work to do. Far too many people lead miserable lives because they lack the most basic necessities to deal with hunger, thirst, shelter, disease, or disability. In addition, the prosperity currently enjoyed by many of us may not be taken for granted in the future. The experts in this book have identified a range of breakthroughs that are urgently required if we are to improve the fate of humanity in the decades ahead and look to the future with greater confidence. There will be some hard choices, and some lines of research will probably need to be pursued at the expense of others. Industry should change and adopt new strategies. And we as a society should accept and foster that change. The evolution of technology, industry, and society is a complex process full of feedback mechanisms and surprises. It’s vital that we understand the most promising ways to facilitate the necessary changes of direction. The technologies proposed in this book aren’t straightforward; otherwise, they would have been identified much sooner. The days when you could produce a brilliant invention in your garden shed have largely gone. Anyone wishing to improve the current state of technology needs a solid pedigree and will need to labor long and hard with a group of dedicated colleagues, in many cases relying on extremely expensive equipment. Breakthroughs demand the stamina, laborious testing, and inspiration of countless scientists and engineers. Hundreds of thousands of design hours can go into a new microchip, car, or power-generation technique. Developing new technology is a complex process. That complexity is exemplified by the development of the laser. Einstein predicted the principle of stimulated emission on which lasers are based long before World War II. But it was many more decades before working lasers were created and longer still before they were put to practical use. Once we had them, however, we found we could use them in new scientific instruments that opened up fresh areas of research.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.