Kosko's book: a personal comment

Vladik Kreinovich (vladik@cs.utep.edu)
Sun, 1 Feb 1998 12:03:52 +0100 (MET)

> re: Kosko
> BTW: What is the book he is pushing?

"Nanotime" by Bart Kosko (Avon Publishers, 1997) provides a gloomy
but unfortunately reasonably realistic version of the future.

Sure, this book is not the first dystopia but usually, one can laugh off
the gloomy predictions based on a non-scientist writer's frequent
mumbo-jumbo-type free and non-sensical use of scientific words.

It is not so easy to dismiss gloomy predictions coming from a
professional scientist who is actually trying to design all
these gadgets that his heroes and anti-heroes use.

It is all too easy for one crazy dictator to start a major war and
murder millions. Sci fi? So far, yes, but, alas, only too realistic.

However, gloomy does not necessary mean pessimistic: the main purpose
of this book is not to scare but to warn: the 21 century will
definitely bring forth technological progress as our 20th did, but
this technological progress does not necessarily mean that people
will be happier. Our century has shown that technological
progress means an easier Big Brother-type control,
that progress makes it easier for one crazy dictator of a poor
country to launch a war. We should be aware of it. We
should try to avoid negative consequences of progress, but we
should also be realistically prepared for the negative consequences.
This is what Bart Kosko does, he is not only designing the gadgets,
he is also on a political mission, both in his newspaper and magazine
article and in this book, a mission to warn and to avoid.

And after all, as bloody and gloomy as the future gets, the book ends
of the positive note: the hero, often defeated, managed to
survived with new micro-chip-induced power of nanotime
reasoning in his brain (thence the title); not
all is lost, and maybe he will even get his girlfriend and child
back, and maybe the world will still become - if not a paradise on
Earth, but at least - a (slightly) better place. But it won't be easy.

It is a very thought-provoking book, definitely worth reading.