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The Sun, The Genome, and The Internet: Tools…

The Sun, The Genome, and The Internet: Tools of Scientific Revolution (New…

by Freeman J. Dyson

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187194,721 (3.5)4



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I was surprised by this book. I thought it would just be all "wow, technology, cool." But it was actually about how to thoughtfully and ethically use technology to bring about social justice. Technology shouldn't just be about making new toys for the rich, but it should be about developing ways to level the playing field for everyone in the world. One thing I found that was very interesting was the accounts of how technological advances will often liberate one group of people while taking away the freedom of another group. One example given in the book was the rise of househould appliances in the early twentienth century. The servant class was done away with (in those days, middle class families might have multiple servants), but middle class women then lost much freedom when they had to return to household duties.

Dr. Dyson, a physicist, sees solar energy, genetic engineering, and the Internet as the tools to bring about this social revolution. I would be interested in seeing an updated version of this book because this was written over ten years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Internet access still isn't freely available everywhere, but it sure is better than it was in the late 90's. ( )
  __Lindsey__ | Apr 17, 2013 |
"speculates on what technologies (currently in their infancy) have the potential to become world-transforming in the near future."
added by wademlee | editLibrary Journal, Wade Lee
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0195139224, Paperback)

One fashionable school of thought holds that scientific revolutions are spurred primarily by shifts in the basic concepts that science understands the world with, and that those shifts are largely the outcome of struggles in the social and political realms. Freeman Dyson, however, is having none of it. For him, scientific breakthroughs owe just as much to the introduction of new technologies--the telescope in early modern Europe, for instance; the computer more recently. He's not the first to make that argument, but his lifetime of accomplishments as an eminent theoretical physicist puts some heft behind his claims.

Dyson likewise argues that new technologies can have as much of an effect on the social and political realms as new ideologies do. In particular, he cites three burgeoning technologies--solar energy, genetic engineering, and the Internet--for their potential to affect a more equitable worldwide distribution of wealth and power in the coming century. His visions of the future meander a bit, and they include such seemingly outlandish possibilities as forests of genetically enhanced trees oozing high-octane fuel from their roots and laser-launched earthlings colonizing the comets of the Kuiper Belt. But it's the business of visionaries to be outlandish, after all, and you have to admit: this one does have better credentials than most. --Julian Dibbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this visionary look into the future, Freeman Dyson argues that technological changes fundamentally alter our ethical and social arrangements and that three rapidly advancing new technologies - solar energy, genetic engineering, and worldwide communication - together have the potential to create a more equal distribution of the world's wealth. Written with passionate conviction about the ethical uses of science, The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet is both a brilliant reinterpretation of the scientific process and a challenge to use new technologies to close, rather than widen, the gap between rich and poor.… (more)

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