Of course, no one can predict the future this far in advance with 100% accuracy, but if technologies continue to advance exponentially, which most experts predict they will; and we blend in a few scenarios that push the envelope, an amazing future begins to take form.
Machine intelligence passing a Singularity point by mid-century enabled scientists to: 1) Produce durable bodies that extend life indefinitely. 2) Develop new energy systems that make the world more efficient. 3) Create faster-than-light travel, enabling our species to become a space faring society. 4) Form a global village with a single voice, preparing humanity for an incredible adventure to the stars.
Shedding Biology to Achieve Indefinite Lifespan
Author Ray Kurzweil in “The Singularity is Near” explained how the human body might evolve. Today’s frail body, version ‘1.0’ has unacceptable failure rates (more than 50 million people are expected to die in 2012, most from age-related damages). Biotech and molecular nanotech advances from 2012 to late 2030s will produce a more durable version ‘2.0’ body, immune to many, but not all, of our killer diseases.
This brings us to version ‘3.0’ body. By 2040, people began adding non-biological parts to their bodies, including robotic blood cells and cell repair machines, strong bones, muscles and skin; even new neurons made from carbon nanotubes. These changes did not take place all at once; they occurred gradually with market demands; but by 2060, most people were enjoying life in a non-bio body with zero failure rates.
Even if a destructive accident were to occur, nanorobots guided by tomorrow’s artificial intelligence quickly make repairs, or when necessary, format a new body with the patient’s original consciousness and memories intact, allowing life to continue. By 2070, living in ‘3.0’ bodies has rendered death no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most disaster victims are not even aware they had died.
New Energy Ideas Fuel 21st Century
The desire to replace fossil fuels was hastened by disasters, such as the Japan tsunami and BP oil spill, which evoked wide interest in new ways to power our vehicles and homes.
Interest in desktop fusion sky-rocketed after a 60-Minutes interview of SRI scientist Michael McKubre; who predicted fusion cells would power cars 4-years between charges and slash home energy bills.
Also, being considered are zero-point energy, described as harnessing the power of attraction that exists when two objects get close to each other, and an ‘over the top’ levitation scheme that defies gravity. Many believe this wild idea could one day produce rockets without need for propellants.
Faster-Than-Light Travel Launches Space Faring Society
Faster-than-light travel has forever thrilled humans. FTL is necessary because of the huge distances between stars. Astronomers have found hundreds of Earth-like planets within 1,000 light years of Earth; but in order to explore these worlds, we must make the distances manageable. Scientists believe this will happen with examples like the 2070s Helm Hyper Drive ship, which could travel to Mars in just 3 hours.
Other options include dark energy; the force behind the universe’s expansion, which could propel ships at faster than light-speeds. And if humans can survive extreme acceleration produced by what is called a Special relativity Theory system, they would travel the 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri in only 18 hours.
The choice was ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of all humanity. Key changes were needed and advanced nanotech and AI helped make those changes.
By 2100, humans have evolved from separate squabbling cultures into a peaceful global village utilizing 100% of Earth’s energy. All people now enjoy a scarcity-free life. Humanity has become what futurists describe as a Type-1 Civilization, a society working as one voice eager to explore the cosmos.
Can all these events become reality as we venture into the future? Positive futurists predict they can.
Dick Pelletier is a weekly columnist who writes about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He's also appeared on various TV shows, and he blogs at Immortaltech.
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