Earth 2050 - powerful bodies, minds; exciting opportunities

August 11 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 3

By Dick Pelletier

What will our world be like in 2050? Nobody can predict for sure, but by projecting present-day knowledge, we can make plausible guesses how our planet might evolve and what life will be like in 42 years. We begin our trip by focusing on science breakthroughs that changed our world and offered new insights into what it means to be human.

Earlier in this century, encouraged by healthcare moving from reactive to proactive and the huge rush of data-basing information, scientists quickly unraveled the mysteries of the 100,000 or so proteins produced by our genes. Proteins are the microscopic workhorses behind everything we do – from sweating to thinking.

By 2030, breakthroughs in stem cell research, gene therapy, and nano cell-repair machines enabled the reversal of damages caused by aging. Shortly after that, every human disease became manageable.

By 2040, indefinite lifespan was finally realized when advanced neural research enabled nanobots to continuously scan minds and transmit all our life moments into a storage facility, ready for instant transfer to a new body should disaster strike. No human has suffered an unwanted death in the past 10 years.

Two planet-shaking events occurred in the 2030s that fast tracked evolution: quantum computing, which allows complex simulations of future events, and the Singularity, which describes the point when machine intelligence outpaced human thinking, and also gave our “silicon cousins” the ability to re-produce their robotic bodies, adding increased intelligence to each new generation.

These events helped us realize that tapping into powerful “computer” logic would add huge benefits to our lives. It became apparent that non-biological “housing units” would provide a more secure and rewarding life. Why fix bodies that suffer environmental damage, experts ask, when we can place the same atoms that make up human cells into “invincible” silicon cells that never need repair.

By fashioning our bodies in the likeness of early 21st century humans, 2050 citizens do not feel they are living in a machine; they feel very human, but with far greater physical and mental powers. Philosophers claim the most intelligent species on Earth has now switched from humans to machines, but most people say, “Who cares, I’m still me, and I’ve got my loved ones.”

Our 2050 society is moving closer towards astronomer Nikolai Kardashev’s Type I Civilization. We are utilizing more of the solar energy that strikes our planet each decade and this will soon enable us to control the weather and prevent hurricanes and earthquakes.

Nano-replicators that provide food, clothes, housing, and material goods at little or no cost have sat on kitchen counters since the mid-2020s. And a terabyte-speed Internet connects us to our technologies, provides everyone with free information, and gives a voice to the disenfranchised.

Wars and violent crimes have ceased due to diminishing interest in fundamentalist religions and the emergence of a huge planetary senior/boomer class more interested in travel and exploring the unknown than overpowering people.

Positive futurists envision a post-2050 era that will expand life in moon and Mars colonies, enable first contact with alien life, and allow a few bold individuals to time-travel into the past and future.

Could these incredible events happen? Every scenario mentioned in this article is consistent with known laws and theories of physics and biology, and are within the capabilities of human accomplishment. This “magical future” can become reality in our lifetime – get ready to enjoy.

Which events in this piece have the best chance of happening?

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Comment Thread (6 Responses)

  1. Michio Kaku talks a lot about the different civilisation types. He says we’re actually quite primitive, leaving lots of scope for advancement. In fact there’s no evidence at all that we’re anywhere near some sort of technological limit (unless you count the “heat dissipation” arguments in computing from the 1970s as an insurmountable limit).

    To my way of thinking, we don’t have an energy crisis, we simply need to advance out technology, against a ticking clock. The planet is two thirds water, yet we have a water crisis. We receive staggering amounts of energy from the sun every second, yet we have an energy crisis. We’re primitive. We burn the dead remains of extinct animals to move our little cars around.

    Of course this situation is changing rapidly, and we’re probably a type 0.something civilisation, maybe 0.7? As you indicate, as we advance the civilisation type, we gain much more control. Kaku also says that we are passing from the age of discovery to the age of mastery, where we are in control.

    Posted by: CptSunbeam   August 11, 2008
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  2. I think one of the most interesting ideas in this scenario is the idea people will be comfortable with transferring their minds to new silicon based bodies. I can envision a movement of people that wish to remain “organic”.

    Posted by: Mielle Sullivan   August 11, 2008
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  3. Yes Mielle, converting to non-biological bodies will not be an easy decision for many people, however positive futurists believe that eventually (over a period of ten years or so) nearly everyone will recognize the value of improving their bodies in this manner and will enthusiastically join this ‘health movement.’

    Sadly those that don’t convert will simply die out as we reach the 22nd century and beyond. At sometime during the 2200s, all Earthlings will consider themselves a non-biological species.

    Posted by: futuretalk   August 11, 2008
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  4. Certainly a very appealing scenario. I am not that optimistic about getting rid of religions so easily. Denial is an intrinsic symptom of religious thinking therefore I would not be surprised if many chose to deny progress and to refuse it accomplishments.

    Posted by: Atilio   August 11, 2008
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  5. Humans will always be free to choose a path that leads to an improved life, or one where the grim reaper becomes inevitable.

    Posted by: futuretalk   August 11, 2008
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  6. I think we’re seeing some slow progress against religion because of advancing knowledge and global communications, but to really hit the “knee of the curve” will take somehow curbing religious indoctrination of children without, at the same time, trampling on parental rights.

    Posted by: gremlinn   August 12, 2008
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