The End of the Future: The Waning of the High-tech World

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Praeger, 1995 - Social Science - 125 pages

This book represents the first calm, detailed, and rational description of the imminent end of western industrial civilization as we know it. Despite this alarming premise Gimpel is far from pessimistic, save in the short term: with the sure hand of the historian, he emphasizes how humanity has always recovered from its previous collapses in the past, and will certainly do so again. The unique value of this book is that it gives us a baseline from which we can now work into the future.

This book represents the first calm, detailed, and rational description of the coming end of our current world culture. The author seeks to show that, particularly when we compare actual technological reality in the 1990s with the heady predictions of futurologists back in the 1960s, technology has levelled off, reached a plateau--even in the leading-edge areas like infomatics, space, and medicine.

Even that plateau will prove to be temporary, claims Gimpel, and the end of western industrial society as we know it will inevitably ensue. However exceptional, our civilization has no reason to expect that it will evolve any differently from every civilization before it: decadence and decay have engulfed them all, one after the other. The unique value of this book is that it gives us a baseline from which we can now work into the future. The conclusion, which is not pessimistic--save in the short term--points out that humanity has always recovered from such collapses, and gone on again to reach new heights. By way of making his case, Gimpel leaves us with a final simple thought: The future, he asserts, is China.

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About the author (1995)

JEAN GIMPEL is a historian of technology and the cycles of civilization. He is the author of several works devoted to the scientific culture of the Middle Ages, including two bestselling books, The Cathedral Builders and The Mediaeval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages.

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