Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies

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Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
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2013-2063: trekking through the next 50 years

Dick Pelletier

Ethical Technology

August 27, 2013

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.


Complete entry


Posted by Giulio Prisco  on  08/27  at  10:02 AM

Dick always sounds a bit too optimist to me, but that’s is the right spirit!

I imagine a similar timeline, but stretched two or three times.

Posted by Kris Notaro  on  08/27  at  03:17 PM

I love Dick’s article’s because they are stripped of politics and the like, and to be honest, I am a techno-optimist who thinks the future will bring with it cyborg gadgets (not made in human sweatshops, but by unconscious robots) the ability to upload information to ones brain so that we are all experts, even experts in what we teach our children: sharing. And sharing is what politics is really about smile

Posted by schopenbecq  on  08/27  at  05:23 PM

“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.”

Am I the only one finds this somewhat disturbing?

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  08/27  at  08:37 PM

  In their recent ground-breaking book, Enhancing Human Capacities, co-authors Julian Savulescu, Ruud ter Meulen, and Guy Kahane explore how society will benefit when we use technology to alter moods, boost memory, and increase intelligence levels; along with the ethical concerns these technologies raise.

  Kahane says scientists are discovering new behavior-altering procedures that make us more likeable, sociable; open to other people’s views; and will curb many of our desires for vengeance and violence.

  Drugs that affect our moral thinking and behavior already exist, but we tend not to think of them in that way. Prozac lowers aggression and bitterness, making people more agreeable. Oxytocin increases feelings of social bonding and empathy while reducing anxiety.

  Some question, though, whether society will want a pill that would make them morally better. Being more trusting, nicer, and less aggressive could make people more vulnerable to exploitation.

  However, proponents believe the benefits are too important to ignore. Pursuing these technologies holds great promise to curb crime and violence throughout the world, improve personal and career relationships, and raise happiness levels everywhere.

Posted by dobermanmac  on  08/28  at  01:59 AM

I personally think that the major game changer will be either enhanced human minds (either through mechanical/chemical enhancement, improved social networking, or genetic improvement), or smarter than human AI.

The Law of Accelerating Returns goes on steroids when we get enhanced intelligence (which may very well think of a way to further enhance intelligence).  By the way, this is slowly happening now, but you can expect to see it vastly increase in the next decade or two, throwing off the entire above timeline (as is fitting for the concept of the Singularity).

Posted by DrJohnty  on  08/28  at  09:25 AM

A lot of interesting comments and after making my own study regarding exponential growth I tend to agree 100% with Ray Kurzweil and feel it is not a case of if we make the types of progress Ray refers to but how quickly and my feeling is that based on the ever accelerating rate of progress he is very likely not far out on his estimates. I find it odd how even though I am sure everyone here understands the difference between linear and exponential even I personally find it hard not to think in a linear fashion. I think the interesting thing to me was that when I compiled a list of breakthroughs a couple of years back at I found it hard not to consider the degree of progress in the 20th century as having a bearing as far as the degree of progress on the 21st century and clearly that is not the case based on the first thirteen years and the vast rate of progress.

Posted by hankpellissier  on  08/28  at  12:47 PM

I rather agree with dobermanmac - I see a Human Brain Power explosion coming soon, a bio-intelligence Singularity.

China is investing $250 billion per year in higher education

a large percentile of their massive graduate and PhD population will be engineers, with entrepreneurial training. Innovation will accelerate.

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