dents along the way. And while we are alike in many ways that define our common humanity, the path dependence of complex systems tells us that each of us is also unique.
In the old world view it took a builder to make a machine. Someone outside with a plan and the ability to assemble the parts is needed to get to a new machine. In the new world view, self-replication is a new model of change. In biology, self-replication is the norm, whether by simple mechanisms like cell division or more complex sexual methods. Now in nanotechnology and potentially in very smart computer systems, we are beginning to contemplate self-replication in nonorganic systems, and, indeed, runaway self-replication is seen as a threat by some.
The universe, as now understood, is vastly different than both the one Newton described and the one we “knew” as little as 50 years ago. Soon our world view may be distinct from that of Einstein and Bohr. Yet in this dynamic and confusing milieu, it is not clear which technical trends will move forward in a predictable fashion and which will burst forward as a revolution, forcing us to reconceptualize and reperceive our view of engineering. It is a daunting challenge for the engineering profession and engineering education to remain flexible enough to anticipate such changes or, if anticipation fails, to respond as rapidly as possible.
Change is constant, but on an absolute basis our world has changed more in the past 100 years than in all those preceding. By the end of the 20th century, the developed world had become a healthier, safer, and more productive place; a place where engineering, through technology, had forged an irreversible imprint on our lives and our identity. The Swiss engineer Jurgen Mittelstrass once termed the present technology-dominated world as the “Leonardoworld,” to contrast with the time long past where human life was dominated by the natural world (Mittelstrass, 2001). There are many positive aspects of this new world—longer and healthier lives, improved work and living conditions, global communications, ease of transit, and access to art and culture—and this is true for the masses in the developed world instead of only a privileged few. Making it true for the masses in the developing world is one of the great moral and ethical challenges for society as a whole but for engineers in particular.
Looking forward to further changes in science and technology, perhaps revolutionary changes, we are limited by our inability to see the future, but our imagination is reflected in the scenarios in Appendix A.