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
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April 20, 2015 - Peter Diamandis, author of "Bold" and "Abundance" sends out a weekly email in which he describes a technology and its potential impact. This came to my desk yesterday and I had to share it with my readers.
April 19, 2015 - The World Bank, International Monetary Fund and United Nations held a powwow in the last week along with representatives from 42 countries.
April 18, 2015 - I like my carbonated drinks and coke in its many branded iterations is my preference.
April 17, 2015 - The title of this posting is the same as the title of Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler's sequel to "Abundance," a book I reviewed some time ago.
April 16, 2015 - What will stop humanity from continuing to pursue energy sources, even those that pose a great risk to the planet? It doesn't seem too far fetched to say, "almost nothing." Canadian energy companies continue to process bitumen even though the intensive nature of production contributes a significant amount of climate changing greenhouse gases.
April 15, 2015 - A few days ago, Canada's Environment Minister, Leona Aglukkaq, chided Canadian provincial leaders for not submitting carbon reduction strategies to the federal government so that it could submit an emission-reduction commitment to the United Nations.
April 13, 2015 - In the recent NextSTEP announcements at NASA two partners were awarded contracts for cubesat development.