In This Review

Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence
Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence
By Peter Schwartz
Gotham Books, 2003, 245 pp

This engaging romp through the future of the world (or at least the next several decades) takes on the big picture, from science and technology to economic and political developments. There is some good news: we can look forward to a long economic boom, the development of noncarbon energy sources, and a cleaner environment. There is also some bad news: terrorism will continue and "disorderly" countries ruled by criminals will proliferate. Other developments are more ambiguous, such as increased longevity -- raising the prospect of working centenarians -- and massive migration within and between countries. Schwartz's premise is that we can learn a lot about the future from a close and thoughtful examination of current trends and recent developments, even though details will ultimately depend on proximate events. Some of the predictions run against current conventional wisdom -- for example, that Russia will likely join the EU. And there are inevitable glitches, such as identifying Iran as the most promising country in the Arab world -- unless Schwartz knows something about the future he has not revealed.