The Future – A 360° View (2009)
Studio: The Discovery Channel/Image Entertainment (2 DVDs)
Episodes: Extreme Tomorrow, Future Life on Earth, Future Intelligence, Future Cars, Future Flight, Future Ships, The Energy Solution, 21st Century Shelter, The Quest for Water, Surviving Natural Disasters
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 2.0
Length: 7 hours total
This TV series should be of prime interest to anyone concerned about the future of mankind and how scientific advances might make life better for everyone on earth. Of course, like many of the things covered in Popular Science over the years, some of these may never come to fruition, but it is most interesting to learn how far some solutions to mankinds’ problems have come and of the realy possibility of solving some major world challenges. For example, in The Energy Solution, one sees how in some quarters innovative solutions to replacing our dependence on oil are not being ignored but moving full speed ahead. I had no idea the generation of electrical power from wind farms, tidal currents, the sun and even undersea methane hydrate sources had progressed as far as it has.
The episode on intelligence gets us into robots, and we see a Japanese robot – the height of an eight-year-old in order not to be threatening to adults – conducting a symphony orchestra, and learn that South Korean robotics engineers promise a personal robot in every South Korean home in a few years. The very first episode is a sort of preview of the rest, and the three on cars, flight and ships are self-explanatory. The Quest for Water is a most important subject, dealing with the terrible problems of running out of water worldwide due to climate change, overpopulation and poor management. And the efforts to meet the challenges of natural disasters is another promising area, where substantial advances are being made against earthquakes, hurricanes and other catastrophic events against which mankind seemed previously helpless.
It adds a visual interest to the series that it is shot in 16:9 aspect ratio, in keeping with the futuristic theme. We may have already seen a few of the clips on public TV, but the organization and presentation of this series is most worthwhile.
– John Sunier