Innovating into a Whole New Species
People living a hundred thousand years from now will still be human and will still look like us, but they will have evolved from us in some significant ways, according to Daniel Berleant, an information-science professor at the University of Arkansas and an advisory board member of the foresight nonprofit Lifeboat Foundation. He explores the far-future implications of genetic change, along with social and technological change, and proffers advice to the world community on how to best begin managing the change processes in the here and now.
His accounts of far-future life will strike readers as entertaining, yet Berleant derives each from present-day breakthroughs that offer promising precedents. Artificial intelligence research could lead to computers that read our minds, for instance. Schools everywhere could be replaced by electronic “ear-top guardian angels” that teach their wearers any and every classroom lesson that a human teacher might.
Berleant also foresees work becoming increasingly optional, as nanotechnology and automated manufacturing processes render all of life’s necessities practically free; most work will take place outside the confines of physical offices. Meanwhile, genetic engineering will yield such marvels as oceangoing seaweed clusters that pull huge volumes of greenhouse gases out of the air, and land-based plants that are engineered to extract gold, silver, and other precious metals from the soil and sprout teacups, silverware, and car-engine parts instead of fruit.
Daily life on a Mars colony, Berleant imagines, may be nowhere nearly as glamorous as science-fiction might have you think, but an initial colony could grow into a thriving, planetwide population very quickly. He envisions far-future colonization of Mercury, Venus, the asteroids, and even Pluto. He depicts each technological possibility and takes stock of both the positives and the potential downsides, and then offers recommendations and cautionary notes for it accordingly.
The Human Race to the Future is an intensely imaginative look at the far limits—or lack thereof—of human innovation. It will be enjoyable and thought-provoking reading for practically any audience.—Rick Docksai
KEEP UP WITH WFS NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS
November 26, 2015 - Genome editing tools are about to make an enormous impact on the environment. Just in the last few days the Food and Drug Administration in the United States made a decision that a genetically modified salmon was approved as safe to eat.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday in Van Horn, Texas, Blue Origin launched and recovered its New Shepard launch vehicle.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday while walking my dog I entered into a conversation with a neighbour on the subject of climate change. He began by stating, "Do you really believe it's real?" I began by listing the enormous amount of scientific evidence accumulated over the last four decades.
November 24, 2015 - When Costa Rica submitted its
November 24, 2015 - The most recent mind sharing from Peter Diamandis is truly about the mind and how technology interacts with it today and what's coming down the pipe. It's, how we say, mind boggling. Let me know through comments what's on your mind.
November 22, 2015 - Vancouver's D-Wave continues to be the quantum computing pioneer. Among its early adopters are Google, NASA and Lockheed-Martin. Each D-Wave quantum computer has cost these companies a cool $15 million U.S.
November 21, 2015 - Back in December 2013 I posted a blog about the Micra TPS, the world's smallest pacemaker. At the time the first successful human implant had been done in clinical trial in Linz, Austria, a place my wife and I visited this summer.