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

John Brockman, ed.
Publisher Harper Perennial  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780062296238
Pages/Publication Date 499/2014
Daedalus Item Code 49489
This item is not available.
What should we be worried about? Which of our popular fears are essentially groundless, and more to the point, what are the genuinely worrisome scenarios that nobody seems to consider? That is the question posed to the world's most influential minds by John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, "the world's smartest website" (Guardian, London). Among some 150 topics here are Steven Pinker on the real risk factors for war, Seth Lloyd on the threat of a financial black hole, Alison Gopnik on the loss of childhood, Lawrence Krauss on the dangers of what we don't know about the universe, and Matt Ridley on the alarming re-emergence of superstition. Daniel C. Dennett and George Dyson ponder the impact of a major breakdown of the Internet, while Sherry Turkle explores what's lost when kids are constantly connected to it, and Tim O'Reilly foresees a coming new Dark Age.

"Brockman introduces this ... substantial and engrossing anthology ... by noting, 'Nothing can stop us from worrying, but science can teach us how to worry better, and when to stop worrying.' The array of subjects 150 leading thinkers and scientists identify as worrisome is vast and varied, while the outlooks expressed in their pithy thought-pieces are provocative and enlightening. Psychologist Steven Pinker identifies hidden threats to peace. Cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees shares his concern about climate change. Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett and science historian George Dyson ponder the risky vulnerability of the Internet. Biologist Seiran Sumner shudders over the dangers of synthetic biology. Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore considers 'how our rapidly changing world is shaping the developing teenage brain.' Theoretical physicist Lisa Randall is one of many who fret that there won't be future funding for major long-term research projects. Water resources, viruses, low science literacy, and our failure to achieve global cooperation are all addressed with striking clarity. By taking this bold approach to significant quandaries, Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives."Booklist (starred review)

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