What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists up at Night

Edited by John Brockman. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (528p) ISBN 978-0-06-229623-8
Those without enough to worry about will have fuel for many a future sleepless night after perusing this thick collection of concerns from 150 influential philosophers, futurists, and scientists compiled by Brockman, the CEO of literary agency Brockman Inc. and founder of online science salon Edge.org. The essays vary in length, from film director Terry Gilliam’s wry, sentence-long “I’ve Given Up Worrying,” to a handful of five- and six-page screeds. The subjects fall into predictable categories, from the dangers of our dependence on the Internet and the possibility of a technological Singularity, to concern for how technology could change children’s brains and reduce the overall level of general knowledge. Security technologist Bruce Schneier and others raise questions of privacy in a world of commodified information; others worry about the rise of superstition and anti-science sentiments and the growing lack of informed science coverage in the news. Contributors run the gamut from science fiction author Bruce Sterling and technological sociologist Sherry Turkle to composer Brian Eno and physicist Lisa Randall. While some arguments are more compelling than others, Brockman offers an impressive array of ideas from a diverse group that’s sure to make readers think, argue, and—presumably—worry. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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