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End of Eating Food
Dick Pelletier   May 25, 2013   Ethical Technology  

Eating food could be replaced by nanorobot nutrient delivery system.


By early 2030s, experts predict nanorobots will be developed to improve the human digestive system, and by 2040, as radical as this sounds, we could eliminate our need for food and eating.

   This is the vision of futurist Ray Kurzweil and nutritionist Terry Grossman, M.D., in their popular book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. In the coming decades, the authors claim, “We will be able to reengineer the way we provide nutrients to our trillions of cells.”

   Current method of extracting nutrients from food is not working very well. Nearly two thirds of Americans are overweight and it has become extremely difficult for most people to achieve proper nutrition as we trek through our 21st century maze of confusing health options.

   However, by mid-2030s, nutritional needs tailored solely to meet each person’s requirements will be more clearly understood. The required nutrients could then be provided inexpensively by a nano-replicator and delivered directly to each cell by nanorobots; thus eliminating the need to eat food.

   Americans love to improve their bodies. We take drugs and vitamins to enhance performance; replace joints, teeth, skin, arteries, and veins as needed. We dream of new hearts, livers, pancreas, and brains, expected from biotech advances. Now we can add a new digestive system to the mix.

   To implement this futuristic technology, we would wear a special “nutrient belt” loaded with billions of nutrient-bearing nanorobots, which would enter and leave the body through our skin.

   However, this concept may not be accepted easily. Many will want to hang on to their food-eating pleasures, so scientists propose a solution; create a special digestive tract to receive real food, but bar those nutrients from entering the blood stream. Nanorobots would convert this food into molecules and route it back to the “nutrient belt,” which would be replaced periodically with a fresh one.

   Could humanity shed its dependency on food? Though this concept sounds extreme, it would slash food budgets, end world hunger, improve the ecosphere by reducing agricultural activities; and most important, every human being would live in a forever-healthy non-obese body. 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.


Getting rid of the digestive tract is my greatest goal.

This actually doesn’t really appeal to me.  I can understand its implications in medical situations but I can’t envision humanity as a hole completely forgoing eating things.  Heck I just had an extremely delicious graduation dinner at Ken of Japan.  I don’t want to give up stuff like that and I don’t know anybody that would either.

We have to get over this food fetish.  Come on vat food and genetic engineering to enable our own bodies to produce most of the nutrients we need.  Turning back on vitamin c production would be a good start.

@Christian Corralejo,

Granted, eating is a pleasure that we all enjoy; but is it worth dying over? Ask any morbidly-obese person, or anyone suffering from diabetes, or other food-related illness, how they feel about their body. Most would give almost anything to live in a ‘normal’ healthy body.

However, the article suggested an alternate for food lovers: to install a special digestive tract to receive real food, but bar those nutrients from entering the blood stream. Nanorobots would convert this food into molecules and route it back to the “nutrient belt,” which would be replaced periodically with a fresh one.

I see the future unfolding in very positive ways.

As we make more of today’s conveniences become part of our lives – cell phones, home appliances, cars with more and more automated features – we gain more efficiency, enjoy better health, and feel more satisfied and happier. Life is becoming more enjoyable with exponentially-advancing technologies as we trek through the years.
Where will this evolutionary trip take us? I believe humanity won’t be satisfied until all diseases (including death) are eliminated. As we trek through the latter half of this century with brains millions of times more powerful than today’s mushy biological mess, we may wonder how we ever survived our crude past.

With luck and positive thoughts, most people alive today can survive and join this “magical future.”

Comments welcome.

In Rome they would pig out, then go and vomit the food up and then pig out again.  Also, we could have VR meals (even better that the real thing.)  A lot of possibilties, but I have had colon surgery, and the gastrointestinal tract has to go.  IMHO

This topic makes little sense in my opinion. Unless where contemplating mind uploading, technological surrogates and cyborg forms, then absorbing or “eating” foods to provide and store fats as potential energy is not only beneficial but practicable - what makes anyone think otherwise?

“Current method of extracting nutrients from food is not working very well. Nearly two thirds of Americans are overweight and it has become extremely difficult for most people to achieve proper nutrition as we trek through our 21st century maze of confusing health options.”

Not working very well? I beg to disagree that Human biology, evolved over hundreds of thousands of years is not efficient?

What 21st Century Humans are eating, consuming, and being “force fed” by Corporate Junk food suppliers and retailers and to serve greedy Profiteering, IS a concern regarding Human well-being, diets and nutrient deficiency and the root cause of obesity? NOT! inefficiency of Human biology?

So, regarding the demise of “eating” foods and placing the impracticable and the polarization of extremes to one side for a moment, it may be feasible and more practicable to..

1. Improve upon quality food production and dissemination for all Humans?

2. Improve upon Human well-being through use of supplements and vitamins with and in foods?

3. Focus on junk foods and Profiteering as root cause for obesity, over-indulgences, and related eating and diet disorders, social neuroses, diabetes and other disease and long term health concerns?


Cygnus illustrates the branch in evolution up ahead. The meek will inherit the earth and the FAT of the land… Those with progressive spirit will tap into inorganic sources of energy. Why? because it is more elegant.

@ CygnusX1

I couldn’t agree with you more.

Cygnus and Christian,

I think eating should be optional.

Not trying to shove anything down your throats.

James, Christian & Billmerit

I suppose my outlook may appear somewhat “closed-minded” compared with future possibilities, However where the biological persistence of Humans and cellular biology is concerned, I cannot fathom how drastic changes to nutrient delivery will not affect the efficiency of Human biological cells and change to their detriment?

How wasteful is the Human biology and digestive system? Any waste product and nutrients not absorbed is not really waste anyhow, as bacteria and phages thrive on such waste, to the ultimate benefit of Human well-being and survival, and fight against plague and disease?

The current consumer economy couldn’t sustain a lack of food.  OTH, we Americans only eat something like less than 1% of the available food on the planet.  Plus, cultural preference when it comes to food led to collapse in the past (for instance the Vikings in Greenland refused to eat fish, as did the Irish during the Potato Famine).

Let me add that something like half of all people 80 years or older suffer from dementia caused by prions - misfolded proteins, which undoubtedly come from diet.

It’s a great idea HOWEVER most humans won’t go for it.  It’s a social gathering and connected to culture.  It’s to large of a social function.  I could go on and on about how humans incorporate food into society, culture and just about everything.  You would have to have something to replace it and I still think most humans would not go for it.

Mr. Pelletier seems to be arguing that we need to make a transition, eventually, to nutrient belts in order to achieve health.  He points out the epidemic of obesity to prove his point that eating as whole “is not working very well”.  For whatever benefits a future of nutrient belts might have, Pelletier’s argument for adopting them is not convincing. 

Eating is “not working very well” for the too many people who aren’t eating well.  Eating works just fine for achieving health if people eat a healthy diet.  Getting people to eat a healthy diet has more to do with policy decisions, for example subsidizing fruits and vegetables, and believe me, switching everyone to nutrient belts is probably not a political home-run. 

Frankly, nano-digestion sounds disgusting.  Probably, it won’t at some point, but it certainly does now.  Blocking the nutrients that I eat and channeling them off into some nutrient container just about kills my appetite.  It conjures up images of a catheter for me.  But granted, someday it might be more palatable as we all become a bunch of machines anyhow.

I think this is one of those things not to be taken over seriously. As it is with immortality, which some claim to be unbearable and they’ll rather die “as nature intended”, it is an option for those who feel they want to take the next step in improving the human condition.

If one could live without eating, countless of hours would be liberated into pursuing other goals than maintaining the fragile “natural” body.

Like every other technological advancement some people will be able to take advantage of it by being adaptable, while most others will have to be satisfied with the status quo since they do not have the ability to adapt.

I have noticed a stark difference between those who were born before the computer age, and those who were born during it.  Some oldsters are able to adapt to computers, the internet, and social networking and data searching and grazing, while a majority simply aren’t able to make the paradigm change and enjoy these powerful tools.

For instance, my wife (and a few others I know) aren’t able to read ebooks, being confined psychologically to paper ones.  Whereas I have an ebook library of several tens of gigabits that I enjoy.  I also know a few oldsters who simply won’t join facebook or utilize other social networking internet spaces due to privacy concerns.

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