Exponentially-advancing technologies could provide an indefinite lifespan by mid-century or before, experts say. Many factors drive this futuristic prospect forward:
1) Everyone believes life is too short, and businesses stand to make billions from medical advances.
2) A recent UN “State of the Future” report describes how science and technology information, spread via the Internet, will evoke interest from people around the world, prompting desires for many to share in the benefits of new medical technologies. More than two billion people access the web today; by 2020, experts predict 5 billion will surf the net, and most will want healthier, longer lives.
3) By 2030, synergies from nanotech, biotech, infotech, and cognitive sciences (NBIC) will launch an unprecedented era of human brain-machine connections, which will fuel even more medical research.
4) Scientists at The National Institutes of Health claim that by 2030, non-biological devices will roam through our bodies protecting us from the ravages of most diseases.
5) Author Ray Kurzweil, in “Fantastic Voyage,” says technology will one day enable us to replace every cell in our body with non-biological materials, signaling the end of death from disease. Though ending disease would prevent most deaths, we would still die from accidents and violence.
6) However, during the 2020s, researchers are expected to gain better understanding of the mind, which many believe, by the 2040s, could lead to uploading memories, feelings, and consciousness into a newly cloned body, should disaster strike the old one. We would end life in one body and immediately begin living in another. Our mind would not even be aware that we had died. Should uploading become socially acceptable, death would be no more disruptive than a bee sting.
As wild as this scenario sounds, advances predicted for the years ahead could not only turn this miracle into reality, but with stem cell and genetic procedures expected over the next two decades, many of today’s aging bodies could be patched up, allowing this future to include most people alive today.
I admit that I like my 82 year-old body. It has served me quite well through the years and still carries me around like a spry 60-something. However, if given the chance to live an indefinite lifespan in a healthy, youthful “super body”, I’d take it in a nanosecond. 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.
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