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Paul Boyer

. . compelling evidence that the end was near" (1992, p. 225).

A far less horrifying vision of what is to come, however, is offered by popular science fiction such as the Star Trek TV and film series, as well as more optimistic speculators predicting the shape of the coming millennium. In these scenarios, the world does not end in the explosion of a natural disaster, the retribution of a wrathful god, or the devastation of World War III. Instead, these writers foresee a future in which technology provides the means for humankind to triumph over what seems to be an inevitable destruction. Already, the 20th century has witnessed breathtaking advances that have thrust technology into the ordinary household. Personal computers, video cassette recorders, cellular phones, and automatic teller machines have dramatically changed the way that human beings spend their time, interact with one another, and consider the meaning and purpose of their lives. Futurists considering the next century could make a reasonable case that technology will ease daily existence and help lead to greater prosperity for much of society.

Scientific progress has also advanced the understanding of the delicate balance required to keep the earth's ecosystem stable. The growing environmental movement faces some of the same kind of opposition encountered by attempts to continue the m


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