Regular readers of Futuribles are very familiar with Pierre Papon, a member of the editorial board and a regular contributor to the journal on scientific questions in the broad sense of the term. 2012 has been a productive year for Papon so far as publications are concerned. In addition to some short books on energy aimed at a young audience, he has just published a work of great quality on future prospects in the sciences and technologies, entitled Bref récit du futur. Prospective 2050, science et société [Brief Narrative of the Future. Foresight 2050, Science and Society] (Paris: Albin Michel, 2012).
Michel André has read the book for Futuribles and presents it for us here in broad outline. He particularly stresses Papon’s redoubtable ability to sum up the current state of knowledge and technology in a language that is accessible; to show what “breakthrough fronts” are identifiable today in many fields (physics, medicine, imagining etc.) and what we are able to deduce from them about possible scientific and technological developments over the next few decades; and, lastly, to bring out the way society carries forward –or retards– scientific research and its translation into innovation. A brilliant piece of work and a magisterial lesson in foresight studies.