We asked science journalist and writer, Jon Turney, to comment on his current work and ideas that have influenced him…
Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
I’ve been pondering the effect of the ever-accumulating archive of past attempts to depict the future on our attitude to contemporary forecasting efforts.
What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
Aubrey de Grey’s advocacy of unlimited life extension is intriguing. I don’t believe it is possible, or even desirable. But thinking about it convinced me that increasing lifespan to some extent (say 120 years for starters) is pretty likely, pretty soon, with far-reaching consequences.
What is the most important book/article of ideas that everyone should read and why?
David Christian’s Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. The best attempt yet at a one volume history of everything, on the range from cosmology to human society. Gives new meaning to the phrase ‘long-term thinking’.
And finally, each year we ask everyone involved – audiences as well as speakers – one question. Charles Masterman, Liberal Party politician and journalist, asked in his book The Condition of England 100 Years Ago: “What will the future make of the present?” What is your answer to this?
My best guess is that the span from roughly 1975-2050 will come to be seen as the end of the late modern period. Whether it ends well or badly is still up for grabs.