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The Story of Technology: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds

Daniel M. Gerstein



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Prometheus Books
15 February 2020
Social forecasting, future studies; Mathematics & Sciences; Philosophy of science; Impact of science & technology on society
A leading technology expert examines ways to manage the rapid proliferation of technology and come to grips with its pervasive influence.

Technology--always a key driver of historical change--is transforming society as never before and at a far more rapid pace. This book takes the reader on a journey into what the author identifies as the central organizing construct for the future of civilization, the continued proliferation of technology. And he challenges us to consider how to think about technology to ensure that we humans, and not the products of our invention, remain in control of our destinies?

In this informative and insightful examination, Dr. Daniel M. Gerstein--who brings vast operational, research, and academic experience to the subject--proposes a method for gaining a better understanding of how technology is likely to evolve in the future. He identifies the attributes that a future successful technology will seek to emulate and the pitfalls that a technology developer should try to avoid. The aim is to bring greater clarity to the impact of technology on individuals and society.

In particular, he considers three technologies now converging that will shape the future: biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things. He asks: Will we continue to develop new technologies in these fields merely because basic research shows that we can, or should we first consider the likely effects of these technologies on the quality of life at the individual, societal, and global levels? Dr. Gerstein makes a compelling case that rational and informed evolution of our technological options is the best course for ensuring a brighter future.
By:   Daniel M. Gerstein
Imprint:   Prometheus Books
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 233mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   680g
ISBN:   9781633885783
ISBN 10:   163388578X
Pages:   360
Publication Date:   15 February 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Dr. Daniel M. Gerstein is a national security professional and technology expert who has served the United States not only in senior government positions but also in uniform, in industry, in academia, and in think tanks. As a senior government civilian official, he was acting undersecretary and deputy undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. In this position, he directed the organization's annual budget of over $1 billion. During his time in the US Army, he served on four continents while participating in combat, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and homeland security. He also held high-level assignments in the Pentagon for more than a decade. Dr. Gerstein has extensive experience with international negotiations, notably as a member of the Holbrooke Delegation that negotiated the peace settlement in Bosnia. He is a frequent news contributor, and he has published numerous books, articles, and commentaries on a wide variety of national and homeland security issues. He also is a member of several corporate boards and advisory committees.

Reviews for The Story of Technology: How We Got Here and What the Future Holds

A must-read. As a specialist in both national security and technology, Daniel M. Gerstein is uniquely qualified to explain the societal changes occurring within the United States and across the globe. He expertly describes the ongoing competition taking place in research and development centers worldwide. In doing so, he emphasizes the importance of getting it right--that is, promoting science and technology that will lead to even greater advances while also ensuring that the future remains friendly for later generations. --Joseph I. Lieberman, senator from Connecticut (1989-2013) Much of the 21st-century world is enabled, structured, or defined by technology. Gerstein offers a highly readable history and analysis of technology, explored through his own experiences as a military officer, a senior civilian government official, and a private citizen. Rich in anecdotes and examples, this book provides expert and nonexpert readers with a clear explanation of both where technology comes from, and how to smooth the path from scientific discovery to user-friendly applications. Finally, Gerstein makes some eminently reasonable recommendations about how we might more responsibly manage the powerful, dual-use, and disruptive advancements that will surely be part of our future. --Tara O'Toole, MD, MPH, senior fellow and executive vice president at In-Q-Tel and former undersecretary of the DHS Science and Technology Directorate Gerstein brings a unique perspective to The Story of Technology, as both a national security expert and a technologist. He examines, in a compelling fashion, the inextricable link between humans and technological advancement--and specifically how the latter has granted America security, economic, and societal advantages. But he also cautions, rightly, that many of the foundations on which these advantages have been built are eroding, threatening our interests and perhaps even redefining what it means to be human. This book is a must-read for our national leaders, technology specialists, and general readers alike. --General David Petraeus, US Army (ret.), former commander of the troop surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former director of the CIA For decades, computer power doubled every eighteen months, to the point that the internet and smartphones have practically become extensions of our bodies. Now the power of biotechnology is doubling just as fast, bringing with it not only new medical breakthroughs but also rogue scientists who are experimenting with altering the human genome. All the while, a tidal wave of artificial intelligence rolls toward us. Gerstein helps us understand how we got here, what may be coming next, and how we might cope with it. --Christopher Chyba, professor of astrophysics and international affairs, Princeton University The clearest, most comprehensive overview of technology, and the government's role in developing it, that I've seen. Rich with insights from Gerstein's personal experiences in the military and in the Department of Homeland Security, it's a must-read for entrepreneurs looking for traction with the government, and for anyone seeking to understand what technology's all about. --Gen. Wesley K. Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gerstein takes the reader on a fascinating journey from a hot debate over blockchain technology at a wine bar to an inside look at the ins and outs of the Department of Homeland Security. In describing technology as being both a constant companion throughout human existence, and, at times, an unwanted interloper, Gerstein provides interesting bookends to his analysis. He argues that the future of technology is not preordained and that the type of future that humankind desires must be carefully considered as part of an important policy debate. --Governor Thomas Ridge, first Secretary of Department of Homeland Security

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