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A Brief History

of a Perfect Future

Inventing the world we can proudly leave our kids by 2050

What if, instead of trying to predict the future, we could just pick the one we want—and then invent it? Well, we can.

Think of the wealth of technological resources already available to us. The computing power in that smartphone in your pocket could have guided 120 million Apollo-era spacecraft to the moon and back. A gigabyte of memory cost $300,000 in the 1980s—today, it costs a fraction of a penny. Now, try to imagine 2050, when your computing devices will be a million times more powerful or available at one-millionth of today’s prices.

In this deeply researched and compelling book, the authors do the imagining for you, describing seven so-incredible-as- to-be-almost-magical capabilities that will be available by 2050 in computing, communication, information, genomics, energy, water, and transportation.

You may finally get that flying car, have ample water even in a desert, and be treated for disease through microscopic robots in your bloodstream.

Drawing on their decades of experience helping major organizations formulate strategies for innovation, the authors demonstrate how to use combinations of those seven capabilities to imagine “perfect” futures, whether that means reversing climate change, resolving today’s disinformation crisis, or living 20 years longer. This book paints visions of how the world could—and should—look as we pass the planet on to future generations.

We can use those visions to start inventing a perfect future—today.

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Read What our readers say

Bran Ferren, Chief Creative Officer, Applied Minds and former President of Research and Development, The Walt Disney Company
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"“A Brief History of a Perfect Future” presents us with a rare gift in this era of pervasive negativity, anonymous grousing, and divisiveness. It offers a positive and optimistic view of our future, grounded in facts and the lessons of history. It is both inspirational and aspirational on how we can be proactive to make this vision a reality. Highly recommended! Reading it should put a spring in your step and a smile on your face!”"
James Madara, MD, CEO, American Medical Association
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"“A Brief History of a Perfect Future” takes a future-back approach in which commonly perceived constraints on the future state are released, permitting the starting point of that perfect future. I really liked the illuminating stories, how this feels a logical extension of the authors’ previous books, and the great writing paired with the imaginative Law of Zero concept. A compelling, interesting read that is also quite a bit of fun!”"
Kristine Martin Anderson, EVP and leader, Civil Services, Booz Allen Hamilton
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“This book reminds us that the future is our choice. It inspires the bold thinking and creativity required to change our world for the better. This is a must read for public and private sector leaders with the awesome opportunity to shape the trajectory of progress.”
Dan Bricklin, Inventor of the spreadsheet
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"As one who has seen first-hand how even one tool can change the world, it's exciting to read the future histories of the seven drivers laid out in this insightful book. We can combine them for a wonderful future—if we take the right steps!”
Linda A. Hill, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, and author of Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
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“We are the designers of our future. The authors help us be idealistic, yet pragmatic, in reimagining our future. Most importantly, they show us a smart path forward; the time has come to “think big, start small and learn fast.” Thanks to the unprecedented speed of innovation, “near-miracles” are possible. We can get to our Future Perfect, if we start now to make the right choices.”
Andrew Winston, Sustainability strategist, author of Green to Gold and Net Positive
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“… a tremendously fun journey through a future that’s both plausible and necessary if we want to create a thriving world. This book provides a much-needed jolt of optimism about humanity’s ability to overcome our greatest challenges.”
Vince Barabba, Commissioner, California Citizens Redistricting Commission, former Director of the U.S. Census Bureau (twice) and former senior strategy and marketing executive at General Motors, Kodak and Xerox, past president of the American Statistical Association, and member of the Market Research Council’s Hall of Fame
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“This book provides clear and constructive action and direction for individuals, companies and governments. If you fall into any of these categories (and who doesn’t?), it is well worth reading.”
Kathleen Blake, MD, MPH, Vice President, Healthcare Quality, American Medical Association
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“If you are an unapologetic optimist who believes mankind’s tough challenges are made to be solved, this book is for you. For the pessimist in search of a cure, read this first!”
Larry Cohen, CEO, Health2047
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“A thoroughly readable, enjoyable and stimulating book. Future histories are a clever way to stimulate thought provoking discourse and focus innovation on areas that will be of importance to the quality of life to come.”
L. Gordon Crovitz, co-CEO of NewsGuard and former publisher of The Wall Street Journal
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"What a timely book. Even techno utopians have become techno cynics, wondering whether technology has caused more harm than good. By imagining how we can do better, the authors propose histories of what our future can be through the creative technique of drafting news articles set far in the future, after we have fixed today's problems. One is headlined, 'Even Zuckerberg Can Be Redeemed,' reporting that Facebook eventually provided its users with information about the credibility of news and other sources appearing in their feeds, finally giving people the tools to overcome the infodemic of misinformation and hoaxes that back in 2021 made social media such a cesspool. Bring some optimism to the reading of this book: In the perfect-history news story about Mark Zuckerberg's retirement in 2050, his children were even able to say they were proud of him."
Gordon Jones, Dean College of Innovation + Design at Boise State University and Inaugural Director, Harvard University Innovation Lab (i-lab) 2011-2015
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“In a world grappling with a multitude of pressing global challenges, A Brief History of a Perfect Future unpackages key areas of scientific and technological advancement that represent our best hope for designing a better world. Insightful, provocative, and hopeful, this book will reinforce the readers’ belief in the power of human ingenuity while inviting innovative leaders to ‘see into the future’ and start designing their place in it. A must read for private & public sector leaders and individuals looking to expand their insight, frame the future, and accelerate their thinking about designing a world that we all would want by 2050.”
Karen Kmetik, Group Vice President, Improving Health Outcomes, American Medical Association
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“A few years ago, Chunka Mui and Paul Carroll introduced me to the value of writing about my endeavor as a Future Perfect headline and story (motivational) and a Future Pathetic headline (scary...). Both were invaluable. In this book they, together with Tim Andrews, equip us with the science and the formulas to create not just the headlines and stories of the Future Perfect but to actually create that world....to step up and step into it (exciting!).”
Andy Lippman, cofounder and associate director, MIT Media Lab
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“What happens when once-scarce resources become free and freely available? This book looks past the immediate trends of today and presents a provocative look at the implications of our technological future, peppered with eye-popping examples. A readable must-read for all ages.”
Florian Quarré, Chief Strategy Officer, Exponential AI
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“Life feels polarized by geopolitical, global, and local social events, and it often seems like we don't have much say in the future ahead of us. "A Brief History of a Perfect Future" starts by removing the fog of over-information and noise that clouds our minds by reminding us of incredible advances our societies conquered across topics as diverse as technology, healthcare, and societal matters. The authors level the playing field and allow us to regain the ability to envision the future we want as individuals, community and business leaders and act to achieve the future we desire. They leave us with tools and refreshing thought-provoking considerations on how we achieve the future we desire.”
Toby Eduardo Redshaw, CEO, Verus Advisory and former SVP Enterprise Innovation and 5G Solutions, Verizon
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"This book is a must read. It connects the rapid changes of the next few years to the next thirty and shines a light on the emerging possibilities, risks and responsibilities that will determine success or failure, vibrancy or chaos.”
Ken Sharigian, Chief Strategy Officer, American Medical Association
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“The authors have outlined a positive view of the future and ask us to envisage an optimal pathway to it. A refreshing and novel approach to guide our actions and plans as a society and as individuals.”
John Sviokla, partner, Manifold Group and former US Chief Marketing Officer, PwC Advisory
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“Yogi Berra famously said, ‘The future ain’t what it used to be.’ This wonderful book is a practical companion for the curious soul about what may come. It combines a keen analysis of fundamental trends in technology and practical imagination to help us all navigate a world disrupted.”
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