In a recent interview, economist Jeremy Rifkin suggested that, “Our way of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next several decades than in the previous thousand years.”
Institute for Molecular Manufacturing’s Senior Research Fellow Robert Freitas believes that by late 2020s, we could begin enhancing our bodies with artificial ‘respirocytes’ that store more oxygen than biological blood cells. This would enable us to go four hours without breathing and run full speed almost indefinitely without taking a break.
Then, Freitas says, one-by-one, over a period of several years, we could replace different organs and body parts with improved non-biological material.
Our new lungs could operate efficiently without breathable air and our skin could be made of special nanomaterials, extremely sensitive to the touch, but with strength that could withstand extreme temperatures and be invulnerable to cuts, scratches; even penetration by bullets.
This new body would be maintained 24/7 by nanobots able to make instant repairs when necessary. The period for body enhancement could range about twenty years from the time we first strengthened our heart and muscles to the completed body arrangement.
Enhancements would be initiated by taking a daily pill that would include materials and instructions for nanobots to format the new cells and place them alongside existing biological cells to be replaced. We would not even be aware that our body is changing, but in about six months or so for each major change, we would be enjoying the benefits of the new organs, tissues, etc.
The merging of mortals and machines will mean new ways of living, fighting, working, thinking and loving and new ways of being born, growing old, and dying. It may mean the end of all these things and the dawn of a world beyond what our unimproved, merely biological brains of today can imagine.
Think of the advantages of non-biological bodies. We could live in space without space suits or protection of any kind. We would not require food, water, or breathable air. In addition, these new bodies could be designed to accommodate different gravity, depending on the size of the planet we are exploring or living on. How wild is this? Humanity deserves nothing less. 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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