Hardcover è The Visioneers ePUB Þ

Hardcover è The Visioneers ePUB Þ


The Visioneers [Read] ➵ The Visioneers By W. Patrick McCray – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk The story of the visionary scientists who invented the futureIn 1969 Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill began looking outward to space colonies as the new frontier for humanity's expansion A decade la The story of the visionary scientists who invented the futureIn Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill began looking outward to space colonies as the new frontier for humanity's expansion A decade later Eric Drexler an MIT trained engineer turned his attention to the molecular world as the place where society's future needs could be met using self replicating nanoscale machines These modern utopians predicted that their technologies could transform society as humans mastered the ability to create new worlds undertook atomic scale engineering and if truly successful overcame their own biological limits The Visioneers tells the story of how these scientists and the communities they fostered imagined designed and popularized speculative technologies such as space colonies and nanotechnologiesPatrick McCray traces how these visioneers blended countercultural ideals with hard science entrepreneurship libertarianism and unbridled optimism about the future He shows how they built networks that communicated their ideas to writers politicians and corporate leaders But The Visioneers were not immune to failure or to the lures of profit celebrity and hype O'Neill and Drexler faced difficulty funding their work and overcoming colleagues' skepticism and saw their ideas co opted and transformed by Timothy Leary the scriptwriters of Star Trek and many others Ultimately both men struggled to overcome stigma and ostracism as they tried to unshackle their visioneering from pejorative labels like fringe and pseudoscience The Visioneers provides a balanced look at the successes and pitfalls they encountered The book exposes the dangers of promotion oversimplification misuse and misunderstanding that can plague exploratory science But above all it highlights the importance of radical new ideas that inspire us to support cutting edge research into tomorrow's technologies Library Journal.

  • Hardcover
  • 351 pages
  • The Visioneers
  • W. Patrick McCray
  • English
  • 09 March 2016
  • 9780691139838

10 thoughts on “The Visioneers

  1. Brian Clegg Brian Clegg says:

    It may sound like a job at a Walt Disney theme park where designers are called imagineers but ‘visioneer’ is Patrick McCray’s portmanteau word combining ‘visionary’ and ‘engineer’ – not a hand waving futurologist but a scientist or engineer who is coming up with blue sky ideas that are nonetheless based on the projection of solid science and engineeringThe two key figures here are physicist Gerard O’Neill who devised space colonies and engineer Eric Drexler who was at the forefront of the nanotechnology movement both dating back to the heady days of the 1970s Their ideas are put in the contrasting context of limits – an influential group the Club of Rome had recently published dire warnings of the limited resources available to human beings and arguably both these threads were about ways to escape the limits either by reaching outside the Earth or into the microcosmThe opening of the book promised a lot – it looked as if it was going to be really exciting and engaging But overall McCray doesn’t really deliver The problem is that this is essentially a social history rather than a piece of popular science writing Historian McCray makes it clear early on he isn’t going to be dealing much with the actual science and technology which is perhaps just as well when one the few mentions he has of actual science is a distinct blooper in saying ‘Unlike time travel designing a space colony violated no obvious physical laws’ – if the author would care to take a look at How to Build a Time Machine he’d discover time travel violates no physical laws either And that is a big shameWhile what we read provides interesting context if spending far too long on for instance Omni magazine there really is very little about the actual ideas and the science behind them – just glancing references that intrigue but never clarify I appreciate this was what McCray was setting out to do but it is frustrating as the book would have been so much better if had been significantly beefed up on the science sideIf you are looking for a social history of these two big ideas that still seem as far away as they did in the 1970s and a book with the longest index I’ve ever seen go for it But don’t expect to have any detailed grasp of what the ideas actually wereReview first published on wwwpopularsciencecouk and reproduced with permission

  2. Fred Beshears Fred Beshears says:

    The Visioneers by Patrick McCray traces the careers of two visionary engineers Gerard Kitchen O'Neill 1927 1992 and K Eric Drexler 1955 Since both men were strongly influenced by the 1972 classic Limits to Growth McCray sets the stage with a detailed account of the Malthusian vision set forth in Limits in the first chapter Utopia or Oblivion for Spaceship Earth?In the first chapter McCray give Kenneth Boulding credit for coining the term Spaceship Earth which first appeared in print in his classic 1966 article The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth In this article Boulding contrasts the cowboy economy which he associates with reckless exploitative romantic and violent behavior with the spaceman economy where the earth is a single spaceship without unlimited reservoirs of anything Boulding however did not claim that the Earth was a closed system since it constantly receives a tremendous energy input from the Sun which explains in part why we witness the growth of knowledge both in Earth's ecosphere the gene pool made up of DNA fragments and in the noosphere the knowledge stored in brains and human artifacts such as books and computers But Limits authors Donella and Dennis Meadows did tend to model the Earth as being analogous to a closed system and accordingly their famous World3 model emphasized the exponential growth of population and economic consumption of finite resources Although the Meadows' did factor in the growth of knowledge they made the conservative forecast that it would only grow at a linear paceLimits was attracted by mainstream pro growth economists for failing to place sufficient faith in new technologies that would enable society to make resource substitutions that would make economic growth if not population growth feasible for the indefinite future According to Robert M SolowThe authors load their case by letting some things grow exponentially and others not Population capital and pollution grow exponentially in all models but technologies for expanding resources and controlling pollution are permitted to grow if at all only in discrete incrementsBut Boulding and the followers of the Meadows were not persuaded and the debate continues on to this day The problem is perhaps best summarized by Boulding's observations Anyone who thinks that exponential economic growth can go on forever on a finite planet must either be a madman or an economistBut as well educated engineers O'Neill and Drexler did see an unlimited future To a large extent Limits provided the catalyst to both men to find answers to the grand challenges introduced by that book For O'Neill the answer to Limits would be the humanization of space Although he repeatedly denied that space colonization would be an answer to all of societies ills his best know work The High Frontier is often seen as yet another technological utopia But most tech utopias are mere literary blueprints; O'Neill's vision provided much detailed designs machinery schematics engineering studies and cost analyses In addition to the High Frontier O'Neill wrote numerous articles such as Space Colonies and Energy Supply to the Earth which appeared in Science in 1975 In this article he lays out his vision for space based power stations that would not only provide energy to space colonists they would also beam power back to earthFor O'Neill's graduate student K Eric Drexler the answer to Limits would come not only from the very large but also from the very small Inspired by Richard Feynman's 1959 article Plenty of Room at the Bottom Drexler became interested in nanotechnology a concept he popularized in his 1987 classic Engines of Creation However the term nanotechnolgoy does not appear in Engines but it does in later works such as The Unbounding Future The Nanotechnology Revolution The Path to Molecular Manufacturing and How It Will Change Our World published in 1991 Drexler's 1991 doctoral thesis at MIT was published as a book Nanosystems Molecular Machinery Manufacturing and Computation 1992According to Patrick McCray these two men deserve the title Visioneer in part because they used their science and engineering to develop detailed design and engineering studies to explain their expansive vision of the future But in addition to this they also promoted their ideas by building communities and organizations that connected writers politicians business leaders interested citizens and sometimes some unwelcome true believers They also attracted critics In Drexler's case there were critics who offered a different vision of how nanotechnology would come into being Conrad W Schneiker for example believed that the scanning tunneling microscope STM and its cousin the Atomic Force Microscope could be used as a tools to arrange matter at the molecular level Also Nobel laureate Richard E Smalley offered yet another approach to nanotechnology that was rooted much in chemistry physics and material science p 223O'Neill attracted both critics and a few true believers that wanted to ride his coat tails One true believer Timothy Leary embraced O'Neill's vision of space colonization but saw it as part of his larger vision that included Space Migration Intelligence Increase and Life Extension Leary banded this combination of themes as SMI^2LEIn 1988 Leary's ideas would be picked up by the transhumanist magazine Extropy which covered topics such as intelligence increase technologies life extension cryonics and bio stasis nanotechnology space colonization economics and politics especially libertarian cybersex and sexbots and the intelligent use of psychochemicals By the late 1990s transhumanists started to embrace a radical concept called the Singularity The term was first introduced to the general public however in 1983 in an Omni article by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge where he considers a future in which technological change accelerates at an exponential rate He states When this happens human history will have reached a kind of singularity and the world will pass far beyond our understandings McCray believes that Ray Kurzweil is the visioneer who is currently bringing the Singularity vision into being Like O'Neill and Drexler part of Kurzweil's motivation is to push back against the pessimistic vision set forth in Limits But to his credit Kurzweil makes a point of bringing Limits supporters such as environmentalist Bill McKibben to speak at events organized by the Singularity Summit and Singularity University The latter was organized in 2009 by Kurzweil and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis with financial backing from Google Their curriculum is based on a core set of books to help students understand the development of exponentially advancing technologies and how they can be applied to address humanity's grand challenges So whereas O'Neill advocated the humanization of space Kurzweil's followers advocate the transhumanization of spaceNow that I finished reading McCray's book I'm still struck by Boulding's remark Anyone who believe that exponential economic growth can go on forever on a finite planet must either be a madman or an economist To mainsteam society and to most environmentalists space colony buffs nanotech nerds and transhumanists probably do seem to be mad However as I recall Boulding had a very balanced view of the need for both social and scientific engineering Further his vision of the spaceman economy extended into space He believed that we would eventually reach for the stars My hope is that we are able to do so not out of desperation but out of curiosity

  3. Chunyang Ding Chunyang Ding says:

    An excellent history of science focusing on space exploration and nanotechnologies that is for better or for worse very much a research manuscript The work is done well and is meticulous in its research but it is very very dry However what it excels in is its analysis of Drexler and O'Neil I found it fascinating how the creation of a new kind of technology would rapidly outpace and consume the founders of the idea as well as the critical junction of popularizing a scientific field Working in uantum computing myself I cannot help but imagine the difficult balancing act by the founders here Devoret and Schoelkopf among them that is reuired to gain research funding and public interest while avoiding the pittraps of over simplification of a complex term Drexler in particular seemed like a pariah or a scapegoat forced to bear the shortcomings of the overenthusiastic publicRead this if you want to better understand the complex role between cutting edge science and society This isn't a simple biography but a much nuanced history

  4. Nicky Nicky says:

    I really enjoyed this book McCray looks at different figures he deems “visioneers” or people who have a vision of the future and use their resources in most cases to enact it The focus of the book is 1960s 1980s with a little bleed over in either direction I would have liked a little present implications of this work to be explored but I thought that this idea was interesting His last section explaining the mostly whiteness and maleness of his visioneers was also useful

  5. Ietrio Ietrio says:

    I was intrigued by the title Only the title is a lie It's not about an elite group of governmental bureaucrats pushing papers to justify their large pension plans 2019 And the decades are slowly increasing since humans have went further than the lower orbit

  6. Kirsten Zirngibl Kirsten Zirngibl says:

    Though I wish this book had done than gloss over the 21st century transhumanismsingularitarianism it provides an excellent historical context for today's brand of futuristic idealism The book doesn't focus on science fiction authors but instead real scientists and engineers from about the 1960's to the early 1990's which I appreciate since that sphere tends to be overshadowedI found sense in its explanation for why America lead the visioneering movements though I'm sure that's less of a trend todayI may have given it a higher rating than it warrants because most of the history took place before I was born Much of the information was new to me Someone who grew up following these movements during the 70's and 80's may not have gotten as much out of it

  7. Cyrus Cyrus says:

    I was a big fan of Dr O'Neil's High Frontier and have always been intrigued by Drexler's ideas about nanotechnology This book discusses the two of them and describes their roles as both engineers and visionaries coining the term visioneer to describe their roles in the advancement of science and big new ideas the book is an interesting look at the way new technologies are introduced and how science is actually performed in society

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10 thoughts on “The Visioneers

  1. Brian Clegg Brian Clegg says:

    It may sound like a job at a Walt Disney theme park where designers are called imagineers but ‘visioneer’ is Patrick McCray’s portmanteau word combining ‘visionary’ and ‘engineer’ – not a hand waving futurologist but a scientist or engineer who is coming up with blue sky ideas that are nonetheless based on the projection of solid science and engineeringThe two key figures here are physicist Gerard O’Neill who devised space colonies and engineer Eric Drexler who was at the forefront of the nanotechnology movement both dating back to the heady days of the 1970s Their ideas are put in the contrasting context of limits – an influential group the Club of Rome had recently published dire warnings of the limited resources available to human beings and arguably both these threads were about ways to escape the limits either by reaching outside the Earth or into the microcosmThe opening of the book promised a lot – it looked as if it was going to be really exciting and engaging But overall McCray doesn’t really deliver The problem is that this is essentially a social history rather than a piece of popular science writing Historian McCray makes it clear early on he isn’t going to be dealing much with the actual science and technology which is perhaps just as well when one the few mentions he has of actual science is a distinct blooper in saying ‘Unlike time travel designing a space colony violated no obvious physical laws’ – if the author would care to take a look at How to Build a Time Machine he’d discover time travel violates no physical laws either And that is a big shameWhile what we read provides interesting context if spending far too long on for instance Omni magazine there really is very little about the actual ideas and the science behind them – just glancing references that intrigue but never clarify I appreciate this was what McCray was setting out to do but it is frustrating as the book would have been so much better if had been significantly beefed up on the science sideIf you are looking for a social history of these two big ideas that still seem as far away as they did in the 1970s and a book with the longest index I’ve ever seen go for it But don’t expect to have any detailed grasp of what the ideas actually wereReview first published on wwwpopularsciencecouk and reproduced with permission

  2. Fred Beshears Fred Beshears says:

    The Visioneers by Patrick McCray traces the careers of two visionary engineers Gerard Kitchen O'Neill 1927 1992 and K Eric Drexler 1955 Since both men were strongly influenced by the 1972 classic Limits to Growth McCray sets the stage with a detailed account of the Malthusian vision set forth in Limits in the first chapter Utopia or Oblivion for Spaceship Earth?In the first chapter McCray give Kenneth Boulding credit for coining the term Spaceship Earth which first appeared in print in his classic 1966 article The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth In this article Boulding contrasts the cowboy economy which he associates with reckless exploitative romantic and violent behavior with the spaceman economy where the earth is a single spaceship without unlimited reservoirs of anything Boulding however did not claim that the Earth was a closed system since it constantly receives a tremendous energy input from the Sun which explains in part why we witness the growth of knowledge both in Earth's ecosphere the gene pool made up of DNA fragments and in the noosphere the knowledge stored in brains and human artifacts such as books and computers But Limits authors Donella and Dennis Meadows did tend to model the Earth as being analogous to a closed system and accordingly their famous World3 model emphasized the exponential growth of population and economic consumption of finite resources Although the Meadows' did factor in the growth of knowledge they made the conservative forecast that it would only grow at a linear paceLimits was attracted by mainstream pro growth economists for failing to place sufficient faith in new technologies that would enable society to make resource substitutions that would make economic growth if not population growth feasible for the indefinite future According to Robert M SolowThe authors load their case by letting some things grow exponentially and others not Population capital and pollution grow exponentially in all models but technologies for expanding resources and controlling pollution are permitted to grow if at all only in discrete incrementsBut Boulding and the followers of the Meadows were not persuaded and the debate continues on to this day The problem is perhaps best summarized by Boulding's observations Anyone who thinks that exponential economic growth can go on forever on a finite planet must either be a madman or an economistBut as well educated engineers O'Neill and Drexler did see an unlimited future To a large extent Limits provided the catalyst to both men to find answers to the grand challenges introduced by that book For O'Neill the answer to Limits would be the humanization of space Although he repeatedly denied that space colonization would be an answer to all of societies ills his best know work The High Frontier is often seen as yet another technological utopia But most tech utopias are mere literary blueprints; O'Neill's vision provided much detailed designs machinery schematics engineering studies and cost analyses In addition to the High Frontier O'Neill wrote numerous articles such as Space Colonies and Energy Supply to the Earth which appeared in Science in 1975 In this article he lays out his vision for space based power stations that would not only provide energy to space colonists they would also beam power back to earthFor O'Neill's graduate student K Eric Drexler the answer to Limits would come not only from the very large but also from the very small Inspired by Richard Feynman's 1959 article Plenty of Room at the Bottom Drexler became interested in nanotechnology a concept he popularized in his 1987 classic Engines of Creation However the term nanotechnolgoy does not appear in Engines but it does in later works such as The Unbounding Future The Nanotechnology Revolution The Path to Molecular Manufacturing and How It Will Change Our World published in 1991 Drexler's 1991 doctoral thesis at MIT was published as a book Nanosystems Molecular Machinery Manufacturing and Computation 1992According to Patrick McCray these two men deserve the title Visioneer in part because they used their science and engineering to develop detailed design and engineering studies to explain their expansive vision of the future But in addition to this they also promoted their ideas by building communities and organizations that connected writers politicians business leaders interested citizens and sometimes some unwelcome true believers They also attracted critics In Drexler's case there were critics who offered a different vision of how nanotechnology would come into being Conrad W Schneiker for example believed that the scanning tunneling microscope STM and its cousin the Atomic Force Microscope could be used as a tools to arrange matter at the molecular level Also Nobel laureate Richard E Smalley offered yet another approach to nanotechnology that was rooted much in chemistry physics and material science p 223O'Neill attracted both critics and a few true believers that wanted to ride his coat tails One true believer Timothy Leary embraced O'Neill's vision of space colonization but saw it as part of his larger vision that included Space Migration Intelligence Increase and Life Extension Leary banded this combination of themes as SMI^2LEIn 1988 Leary's ideas would be picked up by the transhumanist magazine Extropy which covered topics such as intelligence increase technologies life extension cryonics and bio stasis nanotechnology space colonization economics and politics especially libertarian cybersex and sexbots and the intelligent use of psychochemicals By the late 1990s transhumanists started to embrace a radical concept called the Singularity The term was first introduced to the general public however in 1983 in an Omni article by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge where he considers a future in which technological change accelerates at an exponential rate He states When this happens human history will have reached a kind of singularity and the world will pass far beyond our understandings McCray believes that Ray Kurzweil is the visioneer who is currently bringing the Singularity vision into being Like O'Neill and Drexler part of Kurzweil's motivation is to push back against the pessimistic vision set forth in Limits But to his credit Kurzweil makes a point of bringing Limits supporters such as environmentalist Bill McKibben to speak at events organized by the Singularity Summit and Singularity University The latter was organized in 2009 by Kurzweil and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis with financial backing from Google Their curriculum is based on a core set of books to help students understand the development of exponentially advancing technologies and how they can be applied to address humanity's grand challenges So whereas O'Neill advocated the humanization of space Kurzweil's followers advocate the transhumanization of spaceNow that I finished reading McCray's book I'm still struck by Boulding's remark Anyone who believe that exponential economic growth can go on forever on a finite planet must either be a madman or an economist To mainsteam society and to most environmentalists space colony buffs nanotech nerds and transhumanists probably do seem to be mad However as I recall Boulding had a very balanced view of the need for both social and scientific engineering Further his vision of the spaceman economy extended into space He believed that we would eventually reach for the stars My hope is that we are able to do so not out of desperation but out of curiosity

  3. Chunyang Ding Chunyang Ding says:

    An excellent history of science focusing on space exploration and nanotechnologies that is for better or for worse very much a research manuscript The work is done well and is meticulous in its research but it is very very dry However what it excels in is its analysis of Drexler and O'Neil I found it fascinating how the creation of a new kind of technology would rapidly outpace and consume the founders of the idea as well as the critical junction of popularizing a scientific field Working in uantum computing myself I cannot help but imagine the difficult balancing act by the founders here Devoret and Schoelkopf among them that is reuired to gain research funding and public interest while avoiding the pittraps of over simplification of a complex term Drexler in particular seemed like a pariah or a scapegoat forced to bear the shortcomings of the overenthusiastic publicRead this if you want to better understand the complex role between cutting edge science and society This isn't a simple biography but a much nuanced history

  4. Nicky Nicky says:

    I really enjoyed this book McCray looks at different figures he deems “visioneers” or people who have a vision of the future and use their resources in most cases to enact it The focus of the book is 1960s 1980s with a little bleed over in either direction I would have liked a little present implications of this work to be explored but I thought that this idea was interesting His last section explaining the mostly whiteness and maleness of his visioneers was also useful

  5. Ietrio Ietrio says:

    I was intrigued by the title Only the title is a lie It's not about an elite group of governmental bureaucrats pushing papers to justify their large pension plans 2019 And the decades are slowly increasing since humans have went further than the lower orbit

  6. Kirsten Zirngibl Kirsten Zirngibl says:

    Though I wish this book had done than gloss over the 21st century transhumanismsingularitarianism it provides an excellent historical context for today's brand of futuristic idealism The book doesn't focus on science fiction authors but instead real scientists and engineers from about the 1960's to the early 1990's which I appreciate since that sphere tends to be overshadowedI found sense in its explanation for why America lead the visioneering movements though I'm sure that's less of a trend todayI may have given it a higher rating than it warrants because most of the history took place before I was born Much of the information was new to me Someone who grew up following these movements during the 70's and 80's may not have gotten as much out of it

  7. Cyrus Cyrus says:

    I was a big fan of Dr O'Neil's High Frontier and have always been intrigued by Drexler's ideas about nanotechnology This book discusses the two of them and describes their roles as both engineers and visionaries coining the term visioneer to describe their roles in the advancement of science and big new ideas the book is an interesting look at the way new technologies are introduced and how science is actually performed in society

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