Contentious Global Issues
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 18: What Lies Ahead?
A.G. Gilbert Introduction Attempting to look into the future is a brave, even a foolish, endeavour. But that is what I have been asked to do. The problem with forecasting is that something always turns up that is not expected. In the past it was often war or pestilence, today it is more likely to be technological change. Sometimes we know that something is going to happen but we do not know when or how seriously it will aﬀect us. Urbanization and global warming are the two most obvious examples here. Sometimes we fear something is going to happen and then it doesn’t – the Millennium Bug was going to stop all computers at midnight 2000 but, mysteriously nothing happened; no planes fell out of the sky even in Brazil and Italy where they had taken virtually no precautions. Given the dangers with futurology I am going to take a careful line. I am going to avoid science ﬁction, stick mainly with current trends and venture nothing much beyond a generation ahead, say 2020. My references to the literature will be relatively sparse and hopelessly partial. My defence is simply that academic writing, indeed all writing, is out of control. In every country where I work, more journals, books and chapters are emerging on every conceivable subject than ever before. As such, it is impossible to keep up with the writing in any of the theme areas that I am required to cover. If, therefore, no reference is made to...
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