Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Future Imperfect
Technology and Freedom in an Uncertain World

  • Date Published: September 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107601659


Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

Please email to enquire about an inspection copy of this book

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Future Imperfect describes and discusses a variety of technological revolutions that might happen over the next few decades, their implications and how to deal with them. Topics range from encryption and surveillance through biotechnology and nanotechnology to life extension, mind drugs, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. One theme of the book is that the future is radically uncertain. Technological changes already begun could lead to more or less privacy than we have ever known, freedom or slavery, effective immortality or the elimination of our species, and radical changes in life, marriage, law, medicine, work and play. We do not know which future will arrive, but it is unlikely to be much like the past. It is worth starting to think about it now.

    • Written in non-technical language for the intelligent layman
    • Covers many different technologies and the different futures they might bring, good and bad and, in most cases mixed
    • Focus not on promoting or preventing technical change, but on what world will be like if various technologies continue to develop and how we might adjust
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Professor Friedman has written a valuable book that explores some of the most interesting issues connecting technology and society in the years and decades to come. His explanations of the technologies are accessible to ordinary readers, and he tees up the societal issues in a lively way. While not everyone will agree on the magnitude of the threats, his treatment of the subjects will make everyone think, from the most expert Internet lawyer to the most enthusiastic geek – indeed anyone who cares about his or her future in a democratic society.' Henry H. Perritt, Jr, Chicago-Kent College of Law

    'David Friedman turns his formidable analytical abilities on a number of futures. They won't all happen – but at least one of them almost certainly will. Friedman applies law to economics and economics to the law, to the benefit of our understanding of both. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the future – or any one of several futures. It doesn't hurt that it's a good read, either.' Jerry Pournelle, best selling science and science fiction writer, high tech columnist

    ' … Friedman rightly emphasizes that future developments are contingent and their ramifications uncertain...Recommended …' D. Bantz, Choice Magazine

    ' … 22 very interesting chapters on various futures … Friedman explains, clarifies, enlightens, and entertains … This is a delightful book, written by a creative mind …' Ross Levatter, Liberty

    ' … Friedman gleefully sorts out a host of messes having to do with a wide range of world-changing technologies … the death of copyright protection; nanotechnology; cloning, genetic engineering, and other advanced reproductive therapies; cognitive enhancement through pharmacology; the growing difficulty (due in part to tools that allow users to veil their identities) of enforcing contracts in cyberspace. Friedman is honest enough not to claim to be a seer – the future is both imperfect and uncertain. But he frames the possibilities even-handedly, with energetic comprehensiveness.' Lew McCreary, Harvard Business Review

    'What a delightful and absorbing book! Friedman looks to the future with a science fiction writers sense of the possible combined with a social scientists understanding of what it all might mean.' N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University

    'David Friedman turns his formidable analytical abilities on a number of futures. They won't all happen - but at least one of them almost certainly will. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the future - or any one of several futures. It doesn't hurt that it's a good read, either.' Jerry Pournelle, best selling science and science fiction writer, high tech columnist

    'Provocative would be another term for 'Future Imperfect', in which Friedman lays out a tantalizing range of either/or futures - greater personal privacy and choice protected by encryption and private contracts, or a Big Brotheresque world in which surveillance technologies and databases catalog our behaviors' San Francisco Chronicle

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107601659
    • length: 358 pages
    • dimensions: 222 x 146 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Prolog:
    1. Introduction
    2. Living with change
    Part II. Privacy and Technology:
    3. A world of strong privacy
    4. Information processing: threat or menace? or if information is property, who owns it?
    5. Surveillance tech: the universal panopticon
    Part III. Doing Business Online:
    6. Ecash
    7. Contracts in cyberspace
    8. Watermarks and barbed wire
    9. Reactionary progress - amateur scholars and open source
    10. Intermission: what's a meta phor?
    Part IV. Crime and Control:
    11. The future of computer crime
    12. Law enforcement x 2
    Part V. Biotechnologies:
    13. Human reproduction
    14. The more you know …
    15. As gods in the garden
    16. Mind drugs
    Part VI. The Real Science Fiction:
    17. The last lethal disease
    18. Very small Legos
    19. Dangerous company
    20. All in your mind
    21. The final frontier
    22. Interesting times.

  • Author

    David D. Friedman, Santa Clara University, California
    David D. Friedman is Professor of Law at Santa Clara University, California. His first book, The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism, was published in 1973, remains in print and is considered a libertarian classic. His scientific interest in the future is also long-standing. Professor Friedman's web page,, averages more than 3,000 visitors a day and his blog, Ideas, at receives about 400 daily visits.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.