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
Free Email Newsletter
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
October 21, 2014 - Don't know the answer. Well it's the people who occupy the biggest building in the world, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Testing Forecast Repeatability: Before and After Data on the Move from TechCast.org to TechCastGlobal.com
October 20, 2014 - A recent edition of the journal Nature Communications, includes an article entitled,
October 18, 2014 - Think about it. Why would a small island nation that gets 300+ sunny days a year and fairly constant ocean winds import coal, oil, diesel or liquid natural gas to provide power to its citizens? Why would island nations of volcanic origin with active and passive geothermal capacity not be harvesting these resources rather than burning fossil fuels?
October 17, 2014 - With the outbreak in West Africa teetering out of control, and with the first cases showing up outside of Africa, medical teams are on a fast track to understand how to contain and eradicate this deadly virus.
October 17, 2014 - In the world of fusion power we have an ongoing technology race between cold and hot fusion. Where traditional science sees cold fusion with dubious eyes, the investment in hot fusion research has been multiple billions of dollars with no commercial end result after several decades.
How can we accelerate a more successful future Digital Earth into the present? We can invent it and build it today, in our generation. We can add tomorrow’s immense digital future to our lives, our companies and our prosperity.
October 16, 2014 - The Netherlands, no stranger to coastal flooding, was the launch location for an international program focused on protecting vulnerable deltas worldwide. Announced in September in Rotterdam, the initiative intends to spawn new research and develop new tools aimed at responding to the threats to vulnerable delta and riverine coastal areas in the 21st century.