THE FUTURE FILE: A Guide for People with One Foot in the 21st Century by Paul Dickson

THE FUTURE FILE: A Guide for People with One Foot in the 21st Century

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Books like Toffler's Future Shock and the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth have fueled interest in what can loosely be called ""future studies."" RAND researchers and graduate students alike are burning up computer time in the process of mapping out possible futures for the economy, demography, personal lifestyles, and just about everything else. Cashing in on the boom, Dickson, a writer with an abiding interest in the latest gadgets, has attempted to pull together all of this activity; listing organizations (like Earthrise, and Committee for the Future), periodicals (Footnotes to the Future, Technological Forecasting and Social Change), and books concerned with such projects, and providing some sample future prospects, lie describes efforts at ""scenario writing""--such as a series of ten possible global futures produced by Stanford's Center for the Study of Social Policy, with prognoses ranging from a no-growth tomorrow to an industrial Utopia of consumer abundance--and produces a collated year-by-year scenario for the next century, drawing on over a dozen such projects. These efforts are marked by an innocent faith in scientific progress--chemical control over senility by 1988, life expectancy of 100 years by 2050--and a penchant for trivia (artificial hiking paths in the national forests in 1990). Moreover, Dickson includes all sorts of things that are quite dissimilar and some that are immaterial. Business and government have always tried to look ahead--the computer has only given them a wider range of probabilities--while some of Dickson's institutional examples, such as the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, are far from the futuristic faddists he makes them out to be. The incidental game-playing clouds the forecast.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1977
Publisher: Rawson -- dist. by Atheneum