Dick Pelletier: Over the next 15 years, exciting advances in biotech, nanotech, robotics, and artificial intelligence will radically change the way Americans live, work and play.

Deaths from cancer, heart disease, and most other illnesses will diminish or disappear completely, and nearly everyone, regardless of age, will look forward to perfect health and an unprecedented lifespan of 200 years or more.



Centenarians, with genetically-rejuvenated bodies, and enhanced memories of their struggles through early 20th century life, have become the fastest-growing age group, and are admired and respected everywhere for their wisdom.



Artificial intelligence is changing the employment scene. Machines excel in jobs like strategizing, writing, and solving problems, and will displace many humans (including this writer). However, “human care” skills; communicating, consulting, companionship, creative arts, and other services – jobs where humans are preferred over machines – will offset most job losses.



Our entertainment world promises incredible changes too. As early as 2015, inexpensive chips will eliminate cable, satellite, VCR, and DVR boxes and merge everything – TV, phone, radio, and Internet, into a single invisible voice-interactive device that also understands thoughts.



By 2020, we will view pictures from this futuristic system as 3-dimensional holographic images projected into the middle of a room, or directly onto our retina with “active contact lenses” as we stroll about.



This futuristic marvel will be available on demand anytime, anywhere. Using thoughts or voice, we will communicate with business associates, friends, or relatives anywhere on Earth, call up any movie or TV program ever produced, or satisfy our hunger for entertainment on the edge with virtual reality (VR) that is indiscernible from reality.



Imagine you’re on a roller coaster; you pass the top and the track suddenly disappears. You’re not sure whether this is real, or just part of the ride, then you quickly feel yourself thrust forward as excitement resumes.



Other VR programs could enable you to board the Star Ship Enterprise and journey to “where no man has gone before;” or experience wild romance with a distant loved one – all without ever leaving home. Events like these could appear on command or be programmed as a surprise by your robot.



Household robots will surpass the family car in importance by 2020. In fact high end ‘bots with advanced super-intelligence will be licensed to drive collision-proof cars to run errands for their masters.



Average robots will cost $10,000, very affordable in 2020 dollars. They will understand our moods, recognize when we are happy, angry, hungry or tired, and handle limited conversations; even perform “jobs for hire” to increase family incomes. Most people form strong bonds with their ‘bots and find them indispensable. Congress is now considering a “bots-rights” bill which would define robot social status.



Other changes expected by 2020 include brain-enhancements enabling “thought talk” communication with each other, and controlling electronics with just our thoughts. Political officials are also considering a proposal that would give other countries a say in American decision-making. Some believe this would increase American influence and help form a tighter “global village.”



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