Positive future watchers believe we will see more progress in the next three decades than was experienced over 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 timeline looks at some amazing possibilities as we venture ahead in what promises to become an incredible future…
2014-2020 – More people will access technologies than ever before. Smart phones, the Internet, global trade and automatic language translators will spawn a humanity focused on improving healthcare and raising living standards. Stem cell and genetic engineering breakthroughs will emerge almost daily.
Technologies that recognize voice, gestures, and predict our thoughts are bringing more technology-challenged people to the worldwide web. And in the social world, holograms will allow images of friends, relatives and business associates to appear at get-togethers without need for travel.
2020-2030 – Biotech, personal nanofactories, automated systems make life healthier and easier. Doctors can direct stem cells to regrow worn tissues, bones, muscles and skin. By late 2020s, nanorobots maintain health throughout the body by reprogramming faulty DNA. These 'bots have erased humanity's most dreaded scourge – aging. Age is now important mostly as an indicator of life experience.
Nanofactories began showing up in homes by 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 even another nanofactory, at little or no cost. On voice command, desired product appears within minutes. See artist rendition of a nanofactory here.
Automated systems, such as personal avatars that help manage the maze of new technologies, and household robots that prepare food, clean house, and keep homes secure, have all but eliminated most of life's drudgeries. Robot servants now surpass cars as the most indispensable family acquisition.
2030-2040 – Driverless cars, 'skycars' and brain science advances create safer world. Collision-proof vehicles have reduced auto deaths to near zero. Flying cars, powered by an electromagnetic 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, using quantum GPS that evolved from today's drone technology.
Neuroscientists made huge strides during the 2030s with a more thorough unraveling of the brain's mysteries. Doctors help relationships improve satisfaction, and impede negative behavior in criminals.
2040-2050 – Adding non-biological parts to our bodies, signaled 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 our evolution."
By 2050, a few bold pioneers began replacing all their biology with stronger muscles, bones, organs, and brains, created economically in nanofactories. Merging with machines demonstrated the many 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. In a fatal accident, consciousness and memories are transferred into a new body. Death has now become no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most people are not even aware they had died. Say goodbye forever to the dreaded Grim Reaper!
Mid-century and beyond – Influenced by Moon and Mars forays, a new era of space exploration infects humanity. Recognizing the risks of a single-planet species, experts believe that developing the high frontier and promoting a space exodus is necessary for humanity to continue its evolutionary path. Terraforming efforts now provide Earth-like temperatures and gravity in space colonies, encouraging more people to live offworld. By 2075, Moon population stands at 5,000, Mars, 20,000.
Clearly, the road to this vision winds around unknown, and possibly even dangerous turns, but strong interest from a society linked together with an ever growing intelligent information highway suggests that this positive future could become reality; and in the timeframe mentioned above. 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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