If you live 20 more years, you may never die. Much decorated entrepreneur and technologist Ray Kurzweil sums up how new technologies might play out between now and 2025 in this simple futuristic claim.
Kurzweil looks at existing technology curves and trends to piece together a convincing picture of what humans could conquer through advancing technologies: disease, suffering, ugliness, stupidity, pain, being fat, forgetfulness, even death. “If you live well for the next 20 years”, he says, “You could become immortal, or at least live as long as you want, because technologies are moving that fast”.
In a time when ethical debates over stem cell research, genetic modification, cloning, and nanotechnology dominate scientific discussions, Kurzweil offers a bold, positive vision of potential technological developments that could raise humanity’s goals to unimaginable heights.
To understand why this radical future is unfolding so quickly, it helps to look at how technologies have already advanced. In the 1970s, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore correctly calculated that computer chip power/value would double every 18 months, and his prediction has remained true to this day. Similar scenarios to what scientists have termed “Moore’s Law”, are now happening in many other technologies.
Speed to sequence the human genome doubled every year, finishing what some thought would take more than 100 years in a measly 14 years. Experts believe 21st century technologies will advance 1,000 times faster than what was experienced in the 20th century.
Four technologies make possible our achieving these life-changing miracles – genetics, biotech, nanotech, and infotech. Genetics will one day provide the means to change genes in adults: we will create not only designer babies, but designer baby boomers and seniors as well.
Biotech breakthroughs in stem cell research promise to replace aging and worn organs, bones and skin with new, youthful versions; and future nanobots will insure that every cell in our body remains healthy.