“To survive the economic crash and live to be three hundred years old.” That is what I listed as my ambition in my high school yearbook when I graduated in 1982. So far, I am on track to do both. My logic was relatively simple. With the growing complexity of the world economy and the increasing dependence on computers to control the flow of everything, I reasoned that it was just a matter of time before the complexity outgrew our ability to manage it, and some unforeseen event would trigger a worldwide chain reaction resulting in a major economic collapse. I thought we might have been witnessing that collapse in 2008, but the willingness of global government and financial leaders to break their own rules to save themselves has kicked the can down the road a bit.
I also reasoned that advances in medical technology would enable significant increases in the human lifespan, and I figured that the average life expectancy would stay ahead of me for about three centuries before I caught up with it. As it turns out, I was a bit conservative on that one.
I mention these things to give a bit of background on where I’m coming from so you have some context for where I hope to take you. For almost as far back as I can remember I have been interested in where we are going as a species, and particularly, what new technologies will get us there. In the 80s I was reading mostly books about science, and then technology. In the early 90s I was introduced to the concept of molecular manufacturing when I read Unbounding the Future by K.Eric Drexler. That book changed the way I see the world, and led me to understand the inevitable economic and social transformation that will soon determine your future and the future of humanity.
I continued to study science as well as emerging technologies, and began to understand their relationship and specifically how technology is both created and limited by the social and physical sciences. In the 2000s I began to attend conferences on the future and on some of the most impactful areas of emerging technology, including nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and human enhancement. I have had the opportunity to discuss the future of humanity with some of the world’s leading futurists as well as thinkers, researchers and inventors whose ideas are changing what it means to be human. This has included some fascinating and often mind-boggling conversations with developers who plan to create computers with human level intelligence, a nanotechnologist who is developing artificial blood cells for the US military that may someday enable you to survive a heart attack, a researcher who expects to reverse the effects of human aging, and a university professor whose goal is to create brain implants that will enable us to transfer our thoughts to one another.
To the average person some of these things may sound crazy but the people who are developing them certainly are not. These are exceptionally intelligent and articulate individuals who are very serious about their research, the results of which will most certainly affect your life, and definitely that of your children. I came to realize that there is a vast communication gap between those who will have the biggest impact on the future of humanity and those who will be impacted; the general public, who are largely unaware of the inevitable changes that will transform our society and economy much sooner than most people would expect. I also realized that this gap is not intentional on the part of the researchers. Most of them have written books about their research and regularly make presentations at conferences that are open to the public, but due to the specialized nature are mostly attended by futurists and technophiles. One interesting aspect of these conferences is the depth of conversation and debate regarding the merits and dangers of some of these technologies. What is very clear is that even among the experts there is no consensus on how or whether some of these technologies should be developed and managed.
I constantly monitor both mainstream media and highly specialized sources of information on emerging technologies. The mainstream media coverage of the most important issues is spotty at best and rarely investigates or explains sufficiently the implications of these technologies and their successors on our future. In some cases the topics are too technical or complex to be well understood by the journalists who write about them, and misinformation and missed messages are abundant.
On this website, I will explain in plain English what I see as the most important implications of current research and technological developments. I will cover only things that I expect will have a significant impact on your lifestyle in the foreseeable future. While I will cover near term things like electric cars and solar power (both of which will affect you sooner than you might think), as well as emerging technologies like personal genomics, bioinformatics, cogniceuticals, and telemedicine, I will focus mainly on the technologies that will have the biggest impact on our lives, which include a number of radical technology revolutions that are just a few decades away: superlongevity, molecular manufacturing, Transhumanism and the Singularity. My goal is to raise awareness, and to encourage discussion to engage more of the general public in the debates around these technologies and their associated risks and benefits, as the decisions surrounding the development and management of these technologies are much too important to be left to a selected few.
Welcome to the conversation.