The Imagined Future A review of 2030: Technology That Will Change the World by Rutger Van Santenm, Djan Khoe and Bram Vermeer

Imagined Future, Credit: Skye D., FlickrCCWith technology accelerating us into the future at an ever-quickening pace, the book 2030: Technology That Will Change the World (Oxford University Press, $29.95) contains a few surprises. In its discussion of automobile manufacturing, authors Rutger Van Santenm (a computational catalytic chemist), Djan Khoe (a professor of electro-optical communication) and Bram Vermeer (a Dutch science journalist) find that little has changed since the days of Henry Ford. Car manufacture is so ordered, in fact, that certain changes will almost certainly never be made, despite how they might add to efficiency or reduce waste. They write: “An engineer who would like to cast the wiring into the chassis has no chance of ever seeing that done, any more than a designer has who wants to manufacture the chassis and body as a single unit. Changes like that would change the sequence of operations, which automatically rules them out.”

The authors don’t always offer a clear solution—in this case, they argue for lighter vehicles, smarter designs and less-rigid factories—but they get to the heart of what’s the matter with the way we produce stuff and the shifts we’ll need to see if we’re ever to approach real sustainability.