Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next 37 years than was experienced in the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following represents a decade-by-decade look at how we may evolve.
2013-2020 – More people become techno-savvy in a fully-wired world. Smart phones, the Internet, global trade and automatic language translators give birth to a humanity focused on improving healthcare and raising living standards. Stem cell and genetic engineering breakthroughs emerge almost daily.
Technologies that recognize voice, gestures, and predict our thoughts are bringing more technology-challenged people to the worldwide web. By decades end, holograms simulate real life images of friends, relatives and business associates, allowing them to appear at get-togethers without any travel involved.
2020-2030 – Biotech, personal nanofactories, automated systems make life healthier and easier. Doctors can direct stem cells to regrow worn tissues, bones, muscles and skin. By late 2020s, nanorobots maintain health throughout the body by reprogramming faulty DNA. These 'bots have erased humanity's most dreaded scourge – aging. Age is now important mostly as an indicator of life experience.
Nanofactories began showing up in homes by late 2020s and quickly became indispensable. These replicator machines rearrange atoms from supplied chemicals or inexpensive waste materials and create food, clothing, medicine, and most household essentials; or even another nanofactory, at little or no cost. On voice command, desired product appears within minutes. See artist rendition of a nanofactory here.
Automated systems, such as personal avatars that help manage the maze of new technologies, and household robots that prepare food, clean house, and keep homes secure, have all but eliminated most of life's drudgeries. Robot servants now surpass cars as the most indispensable family acquisition.
2030-2040 – Driverless cars, 'skycars' and brain science advances create better world. Collision-proof vehicles have reduced auto deaths to near zero. Flying cars, powered by an electromagnetic drive, travel streets and highways, and can also rise silently in the air and glide to destinations. Rides are safe in the air and on the ground, with a quantum GPS system evolved from today's military drone technology.
Neuroscientists made huge strides during the 2030s by better understanding the brain. Doctors can now help relationships receive higher levels of satisfaction and impede negative behavior in criminals.
2040-2050 – Adding non-biological parts to our bodies, signals the end of human death. Physicist Paul Davies, in his book The Eerie Silence writes that humanity's future lies in transitioning into non-biological beings. "Biological life is transitory," he says, "It is only a fleeting phase of our evolution."
By 2050, a few bold pioneers began replacing all their biology with stronger muscles, bones, organs, and brains, created economically in nanofactories. Merging with machines demonstrated the many advantages of living in non-biological bodies and convinced more people to choose this powerful option.
Non-bio bodies can auto-repair themselves when damaged. In a fatal accident, consciousness and memories are transferred into a new body. Death has now become no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most people are not even aware they had died. Say goodbye forever to the dreaded Grim Reaper!
Mid-century and beyond – Influenced by Moon and Mars forays, a new era of space exploration infects humanity. Recognizing the risks of a single-planet species, experts believe that developing the high frontier and promoting a Recognizing the risks of a single-planet species, experts believe that developing the high frontier and promoting a space exodus is necessary for humanity to continue its evolutionary path. Terraforming efforts now provide Earth-like temperatures and gravity in space colonies, encouraging more people to live offworld. By 2075, Moon population stands at 5,000, Mars, 20,000.
Clearly, the road to this vision winds around unknown, and possibly even dangerous turns, but strong interest from a society linked together with an ever growing intelligent information highway suggests that this positive future could become reality; and in the timeframe mentioned above. Comments welcome.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
subscribe Facebook Stumble Upon Reddit Digg Tweet Google +
COMMENTSYOUR COMMENTLogin or Register to post a comment.
Next entry: The Technological Singularity - Guest of Honour talk at Los Con 39
Previous entry: Empathy, Mirror Neurons, and the Empathy Pathology
In the last fifty years the world has undergone a great deal of transformation. There has been incredible progress in almost all spheres of life. The vistas of knowledge and advancement have grown beyond human imagination.
What has been witnessed in the past five decades stands testimony to the fact that however wild imagination may be, it only takes a little time to come true. From what were merely stories of yesterday, which go popularly under the name of science fiction or sci-fi, the musings have become reality today.
And what does one know; one day the sci-fi movies that are made today may no longer appeal, as they would already become reality. Just as the pushpak vimanas of the imagination of yore became the flying machines of today, the advancement through superior technology may make the human life undergo unthinkable changes. With technology reinventing itself every few weeks, it is quite likely that in another five decades the world is going to be a changed place.
Life is actually going to be very cushy, as the physical movement to accomplish task would have minimised. The quality of life would have improved tremendously, as all the objects of material comforts are at hand. Automation is expected to banish the word drudgery for all times to come.
Man is scaling the ladder of scientific progress by leaps and bounds. With the enhanced understanding of the human body we are likely to lead healthier lives. Cures for diseases would not be as difficult or unaffordable as they are now.
In all probability, robots and computer controlled machines would be programmed to perform risky operations and procedures with amazing precision and accuracy.
The combination of design tools, rapid and inexpensive DNA sequencing and synthesis, and the already widespread availability of information about laboratory techniques in molecular biology will create an environment where biological engineering will transition from research, to profession, to vocation, to avocation.
In 2050, following the fine tradition of hacking automobiles and computers, garage biology hacking could be well underway. Of course, if there is a benefit then there are enough reasons to watch out for the misuse of the technology too.
The latest bit that has hooked the scientific world over is the nanotechnology, with its unlimited capacity to revolutionise many areas.
Nanotechnology is about rearranging atoms whichever way we want. Often called molecular nanotechnology or molecular manufacturing, it will let us make most products lighter, stronger, smarter, cheaper, cleaner and more precise.
Today, travel in space is very expensive and reserved for an elite few. From making the airplane weight lighter than can be believable, nanotechnology will dramatically reduce the costs and increase the capabilities of space ships and space flight.
Besides these, it can also provide extremely powerful computers with which to guide both those ships and a wide range of other activities in space. We could also witness the development of a medical technology that for the first time would let us directly heal the injuries at the molecular and cellular level, that are the root causes of disease and ill health.
Military applications of nanotechnology raise a number of concerns. It would make possible the building of weapons both inexpensively and much more rapidly.
Rapid and inexpensive manufacture of great quantities of stronger, more precise weapons, guided by massively increased computational power, will alter the way we fight wars. But before the use of this much more complicated and powerful technology to this purpose, one has to systematically anticipate and incorporate safeguards.
Until now, we have witnessed that the already genetically engineered biological viruses pose such a great threat to the lives across the globe. And with technology aiding weapons development, it is quite likely that there would be a multi-polar world where different kinds of weapons capabilities will bargain for gains from one another. The surveillance would have become so overwhelming that privacy is something that will have to be safeguarded with all might.
And with regard to the environment, we will have to make do with all that has been readied for us by the technology (on which the dependence for any kind of solutions is ever increasing). With the widespread abuse of the limited resources, and the finite environment that we have around us, we are likely to remain closeted in spaces that will have all life supporting devices, but possibly, the joy that nature brings to the heart will have become extinct like most other species.
Like it or not, one will have to be ready for the changes and accept them as they come.