Eric Drexler on foresight
There has been a good buzz around the virtual edition of Engines of Creation by Eric Drexler. Even though I am not into nanotech stuff, the book is worth to read for other concerns. An excerpt from chapter 3:
AS WE LOOK FORWARD to see where the technology race leads, we should ask three questions. What is possible, what is achievable, and what is desirable? (...) These three questions - of the possible, the achievable, and the desirable - frame an approach to foresight. First, scientific and engineering knowledge form a map of the limits of the possible. Though still blurred and incomplete, this map outlines the permanent limits within which the future must move. Second, evolutionary principles determine what paths lie open, and set limits to achievement - including lower limits, because advances that promise to improve life or to further military power will be virtually unstoppable. This allows a limited prediction: If the eons-old evolutionary race does not somehow screech to a halt, then competitive pressures will mold our technological future to the contours of the limits of the possible. Finally, within the broad confines of the possible and the achievable, we can try to reach a future we find desirable.