How ‘bout life in a body that can never age or get sick: Imagine living in a body fashioned from ‘designer genes’ that can never age or get sick. Now picture yourself thinking with a mind that processes data millions of times faster than today’s brains; and finally, consider a world with virtual reality indiscernible from reality and a technology that would enable you to change body size and skin color by simply using thoughts or voice commands.
Though these possibilities may seem too advanced to happen in our lifetime, experts believe that expected breakthroughs in nanotech, biotech, information technologies, and cognitive sciences (NBIC) could make this radical future become reality by as early as mid-century or sooner.
Author Ray Kurzweil, in his book, The Singularity is Near, describes how our bodies will evolve. Today’s frail human body version 1.0 carries an unacceptable failure rate; over 50 million humans died last year, most from age-related diseases. In the coming decades, biotech and nanotech revolutions will provide a more durable version 2.0 body, which will extend healthy lifespans and significantly lower death rates.
This brings us to version 3.0, a shape-shifting nanobot-assisted body boasting a zero failure rate. According to Kurzweil, this miracle body could arrive by 2040. On voice command, billions of nanobots would rearrange skin, muscles, and bones to create changes in our appearance. We could become black, white, tan, young, or old. We could even switch genders to explore life as a member of the opposite sex.
In addition, this body would be indestructible. Should disaster strike, our atoms would simply rearrange themselves, returning us to mint condition with our original stored consciousness and memories intact.
Entertainment would be amazing in this future. Neuro-bots monitoring our brain cells would create incredible virtual reality environments. For reality, these bots would remain idle; to enter a simulation, they would suppress inputs from actual senses and replace them with signals appropriate for the virtual scene. Our brain would believe the simulation is real. Think Star Trek Holodeck.
As we journey through the last half of the 21st century, tomorrow’s technologies will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, think, act, and fight. Could all these futuristic events happen in such a short time? Positive futurists predict that they will. Comments welcome.
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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