Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Are we on our way to Utopia or Back to the Dark Ages?

“James Martin: The Change Agent”, is now available on Kindle as an e-book – a highly suitable format for a text which provides a dramatic view of what the future holds for all of us.

The story started when I received an urgent invitation to a mysterious private island in Bermuda from an old friend who had recently donated more than £100-million to Oxford University.

The island gradually revealed its labyrinthine secrets as the host, futurist James Martin, explained the choice that faces us all: to create the greatest Utopia ever, or plunge ourselves back into the Dark Ages, maybe even destroying Homo sapiens completely.

At the same time he explained how a shy boy from a poor family in Ashby-de-la-Zouche had come to be Oxford University’s biggest ever donor, (bigger even than Sir Thomas Bodley), and the founder of the extraordinary Oxford Martin 21st Century School. He is basically investing in ideas. The School’s many interdisciplinary institutes, and more than a hundred fellows across the collegiate university, are studying potential global catastrophes like climate change, bio-engineering, pandemics, mass migration and the possibility of human extinction before the end of the 21st Century. At the same time they are trying to harvest the incredible opportunities arising from new technologies and innovations, as well as studying social change and striving to improve our understanding of how to deal with systemic risk.

Along the way Jim has encountered people as varied as Bertrand Russell, and David Bowie, Bill Gates and Lee Kuan Yew. From prime ministers and presidents to cold war spies and business leaders, he has been called in to advise them all and his books have been read by millions.

"The Change Agent" also reveals the extraordinary secret history of Agar’s Island that he uncovered beneath the rocks and rampant vegetation and tells the story of how he has restored the underground labyrinth to its former glory and turned the entire island into his own eccentric, ecological, private paradise. Above all, however, it is a gripping conversation about the man’s ideas, which are the reason so many millions of people read his books and attend his lectures.

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