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21st Century: a brief trek through our technology-rich future
Dick Pelletier   Apr 13, 2014   Ethical Technology  

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there’s no question that humankind has made tremendous strides in developing new technologies. While machines can replicate many movements and actions of humans, the next challenge lies in teaching them to think for themselves and react to changing conditions.

Ray Kurzweil

    The field of artificial intelligence will one day give machines the ability to think analytically, using concepts and advances in computer science, robotics and math. Perhaps there is no better example of this than Google's hiring of Ray Kurzweil as Director of Engineering. While we have already made much progress into artificial intelligence, there's more to come as we wind our way through the decades ahead.

    The following timeline reveals achievements and events that could become reality as we maneuver through what promises to become an incredible high-tech twenty-first century future:

The 2010s (2014 to 2020)

    Robotics, artificial intelligence wields huge impact on our lives. 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, 3-D printing, and genetic engineering advances emerge almost daily.

The 2020s

    Nanotech, computers, robots make life easier. Medical nanotech improves healthcare, ending many causes of death; quantum computers unravel the mysteries of consciousness, lowering crime rates worldwide; and household robots surpass cars as the most indispensable family purchase.

The 2030s

    Improved transportation, longer lifespan, stronger security systems make the world safer, more enjoyable. Driverless collision-proof cars have reduced auto deaths to near zero; hyperjets fly to anywhere on Earth in an hour or less; and except for violence and accidents, most people now enjoy an indefinite lifespan. Future homes provide more comfort, convenience and security to our lives.

The 2040s and 2050s

    Human-machine merges bring us closer to conquering death. Humanity's future lies in transitioning into nonbiological beings, writes physicist Paul Davies in his book The Eerie Silence. "Biological life is transitory," he says, "It is only a fleeting phase of evolution."

    By 2050, many bold pioneers begin replacing their biology with nonbiological muscles, bones, organs, and brains. Non-bio bodies automatically self-repair when damaged. In fatal accidents (or acts of violence), consciousness and memories can be transferred into a new body. Death for non-bio's is no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most patients are not even aware they had died.

The 2060s and 2070s

   ‚Äč Humanity heads for the stars. Successful Moon and Mars forays bring a new era in world peace as countries begin collaborative efforts to develop space. By 2060, innovative terraforming technologies provide pleasant atmospheres on offworld communities with breathable air and Earthlike gravity.

The 2080s and 2090s

    Faster-than-light travel developed. Scientists selected fusion power and zero-point energy as the most probable technologies that could enable space ships to break the light-speed barrier.

    For example, a 2080s hyper-drive vessel or warp-speed ship might reach Alpha Centauri (four light-years away) in just 30 days, or make the six-month trip to Mars in three hours. Officials at NASA's Glenn Research Center have explored other options to travel faster than light-speeds and believe that, in the future, humans may even harness wormholes, enabling instant access to vast distances in space.

    Can we expect the future to unfold in this manner? This writer believes we can.


Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.


And still, my Roomba gets stuck under the table.

Faster than light travel would mean there is no privacy in the universe. FTL is a great idea, but to me it’s a tossup whether it’s desirable.

Black Swans inevitably shape history much more than linear progression.  LENR is coming!

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