As the Future Catches You
Juan Enriquez
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buy *As the Future Catches You: How Genomics and Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Your Work, Your Investments, Your World* online As the Future Catches You: How Genomics and Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Your Work, Your Investments, Your World
Juan Enriquez
Crown Publishing
260 pages
October 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Juan Enriquez believes that technology is not kind.  Rather, he says, it destroys existing systems while creating even more powerful new ones. Scientific and medical technology will continue to have pervasive and, at times, dramatic effects on you, your health, and longevity and will profoundly impact nations, human rights, and global economies. As The Future Catches You reports interesting global statistics, trends, and human consequences attributable to technological discoveries, patents, and innovations. For example, by using the digital alphabet of ones and zeroes, and more powerful means of rapid, accurately transmitted information, the electronics industry established a new world language and communications system. One could transmit all U.S. telephone conversations on a peak hour and day across a single fiber-optic cable, or the entire contents of the Library of Congress in six seconds. This global coming together via a common language correlates with the emergence of large, industrial conglomerates like Time-Warner and internet giant AOL, the latest of many world-wide mergers.

Curled Up With a Good BookEnriquez believes the most important discovery of the twentieth century was in the science of genetics. James Watson and Francis Crick's identification of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and the subsequent mapping of DNA's genetic code of life, the human genome, ushered in a spectacular revolution. The human genetic code of DNA, represented by three billion letters, or combinations of A, T, C, and G base pairs, is replicated twice within each one of our fifty trillion cells. The author describes competition among public and private figures, scientists, and government bureaucrats who tried to take credit for or delay the complete mapping of the human genome by the Celera lab early in 2001.

The author documents how expanding technical, scientific, and medical databases interface and make rapid, ground-breaking forays into new sciences, education, and specialized fields of study. He describes how biology divided into theoretical and applied disciplines driven by applied math, statistics, computer science, and robotics. Two new fields, bioinformatics and biocomputing, emerged. Users of bioinformatics take gigantic amounts (teraflops and exabytes) of data to predict what biologists will find when they carry out future wet-lab experiments. Since the genome is the world's most powerful compact code and information-processing system, biocomputing specialists may grow computers organically to store and process vast amounts of data on a nano scale; that is, in dome-like structures built on a tiny carbon molecule. Such infinitesimal structures may be able to fix (heal?) themselves. Complete robotic machines the size of a speck of dust may some day work efficiently within the human body. The convergence of minute computer chips, inkjet printers, electron microscopes, optical devices, polishing pads and liquids may enable one to maintain seven-stories worth of electronics which in the form of a chemistry lab could cool, distill, and precipitate in a chip the size of a quarter.

As The Future Catches You spells out important consequences for these unprecedented technological, scientific, and medical (cloning, for example) revolutions. It describes how this knowledge economics quickly encourages wealth, power, and influence for a few and leaves behind more impoverished industrial, undeveloped, and natural resources-only based nations. These consequences historically have led to human rights abuses, losses of freedom, civil wars, terrorism, and severe reductions in education and quality-of-life for the masses. Attention to this book's dynamic content, sobering contrasts, challenging trends and forecasts should be addressed by all readers who care about the future today.

© 2002 by David L. Johnson, Ph.D., for Curled Up With a Good Book

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