Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Future of Health - "Human Body version 3.0"

April 03 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Health & Medicine Year: General Rating: 8
Ageless, forever-healthy bodies that can change shape and color on our command.

Imagine living in a body fashioned with “designer genes” that can never age or get sick; now picture yourself thinking with a mind that processes data millions of times faster than today’s brains. Finally, consider a world where you enjoy virtual reality indiscernible from reality; and can alter the color, shape, and size of your body, using only voice or thoughts.

Although these possibilities may seem too futuristic to happen in our lifetime, experts believe that technology advances in biotech, nanotech, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence could make this radical future become reality by 2030.

Famed futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his book The Singularity is Near, describes how our bodies will evolve in the future. Today’s frail “human body version 1.0” carries an unacceptable failure rate – over 50 million died last year. In the coming decades, biotech and nanotech revolutions will provide a more durable and capable “version 2.0”, extending healthy life and reducing deaths.


This brings us to “version 3.0”, a shape-shifting nanobot-assisted body boasting a zero failure rate, which, according to Kurzweil, could be available in the 2030s. Using voice or thoughts, our enhanced mind can command billions of computerized nanobots residing in our body to rearrange skin, muscles, and bones, and instantly change our appearance. We could become black, white, or tan; young or old – even switch genders and explore life as a member of the opposite sex.

By 2030, reverse engineering the human brain will be complete, which will enable non-biological intelligence to merge with our minds. It will be routine to have billions of nanobot computers coursing through our brains, communicating with each other and our neurons, allowing us to reach unimaginable levels of ‘processing power’.

“Merging with machines in this manner”, Kurzweil says, “will bring about a billion-fold increase in intelligence”.

As our brain and body becomes increasingly non-biological and more powerful, we will realize that we no longer need to accept the risks of living in a frail body. By 2035, most humans will have extensive amounts of technology inside them including ‘bots and other systems that maintain health and enhance experiences and intelligence.

In the 2040s, our 100% non-biological body will boast a zero failure rate. Even if a destructive accident were to occur, molecular nanotech would immediately construct a new body, retrieve our mind and memories, and allow life to continue; dying would be about as disruptive as a bee sting, and would take even less time to forget it ever happened.

“We would still look human,” Kurzweil says, “but our ideas of beauty will expand.” Also, future identification will focus on names and minds, not bodies. Admittedly, this transition may require some getting used to, but most people will adjust and enjoy their new “chameleon” body.

Ramez Nam in his book, More Than Human, says not everyone will opt for these changes. Some will want to stay as they are, while others will choose to transform. Humanity will expand, splinter, and blossom. Descendants whom we might not even recognize will one day populate the world. Yet they will all think, love, and dream just as we do today.

Future entertainment will be mindboggling. “By 2030, nanobots connected to neurons will provide totally convincing virtual reality,” Kurzweil says. “For reality, ‘bots will remain idle; to enter a simulation, they will suppress inputs from actual senses and replace them with signals appropriate for the virtual environment. Our brain will believe these feelings are originating from our own body.”

Another possibility, Kurzweil adds, is the “experience beamer.” We could send sensory experiences with emotions to the Internet for people to share, like the premise for the movie Being John Malkovich, whose characters enter Malkovich’s mind to observe his thoughts and activities. “A popular pastime in the future,” Kurzweil predicts, “will be to plug into another person’s program and experience their life.”

In the 2030s, technologies will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work; how we think and act; even how we fall in love. Will these events happen? Experts believe that exponentially-advancing technologies could make this “magical future” become reality – and in plenty of time to benefit many of us alive today.

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