Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next five decades 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 offers some of the incredible possibilities we can expect.
2013-2023 – 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 replacing the keyboard and mouse; and by decade's end, simulated holograms, indiscernible from reality will appear as interactive characters, bringing friends, relatives, and associates into our get-to-gathers without need to travel.
2023-2033 – Biotech, personal nanofactories, automated systems make life healthier, easier. Doctors direct stem cells to regrow worn tissues, bones, muscles and skin. By late 2020s, nanorobots maintain health throughout the body; and by reprogramming faulty DNA, these 'bots have eliminated humanity's most dreaded scourge – aging. Age is now important mostly as an indicator of life experience.
Nanofactories began appearing in homes in 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 another nanofactory, at little or no cost. On voice command, desired product appears within minutes. See artist rendition here.
Automated systems, such as personal avatars that help manage the maze of new technologies, and household robots, which assume food prepration, cleaning, and security duties have eliminated most of life's drudgeries. Affordable robots now surpass cars as the most indispensable family acquisition.
2033-2043 – Driverless cars, 'sky cars', and brain science advances create a Sci-Fi-like world. Collision-proof cars have reduced auto accidents to near zero. Flying cars, powered by superconductive electro-magnetic drive, travel streets and highways, and can also rise silently in the air and glide to destinations. Rides are safe, both in the air and on the ground, with quantum GPS technology.
Neuroscientists made huge strides during the 2030s in better understanding the human brain. By adjusting neurons, doctors can increase joy in marriages and friendships, and diminish hate in criminals. This new mind science has enhanced happiness levels, while lowering crime and violence worldwide.
2043-2053 – Merging with machines becomes reality, signaling 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 evolution."
By 2050, a few bold pioneers began replacing biology with stronger non-biological muscles, bones, organs, and brains, created in nanofactories. Merging with machines demonstrated the 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; and in a fatal accident, consciousness and memories can be transferred into a new body. By 2050, death has become no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most people are not even aware they had died. Say goodbye to the Grim Reaper.
2053-2063 – Influenced by Moon and Mars forays, a new era of space exploration infects humanity. Recognizing that a single-planet species cannot survive, experts believe exploring the high frontier and promoting a mass space exodus is necessary for humanity to continue its successful evolutionary path. Terraforming efforts have provided Earth-like environments in our space colonies, encouraging more people to live offworld. By 2063, Moon population stands at 5,000, Mars, 20,000.
The coming five decades promise to change our lives beyond the wildest imaginings of science fiction. Clearly, the road to this vision winds around unknown, and possibly even dangerous turns, but strong public interest suggests that this positive future could become your reality by 2063. 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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