Human interest in exploring the unknowns has always been universal and enduring. While, over the years, the nature of exploration has changed fundamentally, humans have always been keen to explore the unknown and discover new worlds: be it beyond our geographical boundaries, new trade routes, lands, or opportunities in cyberspace, geospace, and space (CGS). In pursuit of unknowns, it is our imagination, ideas, innovations, and inventions that are helping us push the boundaries of our exploration limits beyond CGS. It is the never-ending human drive that pushes us further to discover new worlds. Imagination has always been an indicator of human intelligence, and each new idea and innovation is helping us push the boundaries of human exploration further. Technology, which gives us the foundation on which we can define and design the human ecosystem beyond cyberspace, geospace, and space, is pushing these boundaries. Where would it take us in the coming years?
Future of Technology
From the internet to the brain-net, smart cars to electric cars and flying cars, biological engineering to bio-economies, molecular manufacturing to self-replicating systems, 3D printing to distributed additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence-driven automation to augmented intelligence, virtual reality to augmented reality, neuromorphic computing to quantum computing, stem cells to regenerative medicine, nanosatellites to small satellites, brain mapping to more, we are witnessing dramatic advances in science and technology that is pushing our exploratory limits beyond CGS. While human exploration beyond CGS still requires further advances in science and technology, the following technologies have already begun to shape the future of humanity by allowing us to reimagine what’s possible.
Acknowledging this emerging reality, Risk Group initiated a much-needed discussion on Technology Trends and Future of Humanity with Dr. Natasha Vita-More, a Professor at UAT, Executive Director at Humanity+, Inc., Author, and Co-Editor: The Transhumanist Reader, and a Lead Science Researcher: Memory Project on Risk Roundup.
Disclosure: Risk Group LLC is my company
Risk Group discusses “Technology Trends and Future of Humanity” with Dr. Natasha Vita-More, a Professor at UAT, Executive Director at Humanity+, Inc., Author, and Co-Editor: The Transhumanist Reader, and a Lead Science Researcher: Memory Project from the United States.
Biological Engineering and Bio-Economy
We are closer to creating living things of our own desire and definition from scratch. Biological engineering, gene editing technologies, and advances in synthetic biology have made it possible to build on nature’s foundation and create a human-made, synthetic bio-ecosystem. As a result, in the coming years, it may very well be possible to design and construct any cell, organism, or biological species we want with the help of a growing selection of genomic data from human and non-human living species. This will not only help with the production of any number of chemicals and raw materials, but it will also provide us solutions to many human problems. The ability to put living systems at work by designing and programming them at the cellular level brings human transformative abilities. It will be interesting to see how the emerging potential of bioengineering capabilities will further human potential by re-defining and re-designing the way we produce raw materials.
Molecular Manufacturing and Self-Replicating Systems
Nanotechnology and nanotools have led to the rise of molecular manufacturing, which uses non-biological processes to build structures, devices, and systems at a molecular level. This rapidly emerging technological capability will have the potential to disrupt everything in the human manufacturing ecosystem as low-cost manufacturing, self-replicating systems and the duplication of designs could lead to significant economic upheavals across nations. Moreover, the emerging potential of molecular manufacturing and self-replicating systems will likely reverse the very process of globalization, as nations who own and control this technology will not need other countries. They can produce and manufacture anything they need or want in unlimited quantities. It will be interesting to see how the emerging potential of molecular manufacturing will further human exploration beyond CGS by creating potentially unlimited manufacturing abilities.
Distributed Additive Manufacturing
3D Printing and additive manufacturing are rapidly changing the way things are made and fundamentally changing the way that global production is conducted. Additive here means building 3D structures by adding layer upon layer of materials by way of digital design. Based on the current trends, from bioprinting of human tissues and organs to building consumer-driven homes, cars and airplanes, 3-D Printing and/or Distributed Additive Manufacturing are on their way to fundamentally transform the manufacturing supply chain and its economics. In the coming years, as automated 3D printing and/or additive manufacturing re-define and re-design most manufacturing processes, it will not only allow millions of people across nations to participate, produce, make, build, copy, swap, trade, buy and sell all their day to day requirements with which they operate, it will also allow them to secure their livelihoods with just a computer click. It will be interesting to see how blockchain based additive manufacturing will further human exploration beyond geospace.
Artificial Intelligence Driven Automation
Artificial intelligence-driven automation is on its way to automating processes that were previously thought to be out of reach from automation. As seen across nations, smartphones are enhancing the human mind, spectacles are improving human vision, pacemakers are regulating the human heartbeat, self-driving cars are changing transportation, smart cities are changing how we live and how communities will be structured in the coming tomorrow, autonomous weapons systems are changing warfare, RFID chips are helping to create cyborgs, exoskeletons are giving strength and resilience to humans and more. It will be interesting to see how the evolution in artificial intelligence furthers human exploration beyond CGS and helps humans find the very meaning of their existence in this universe.
Neuromorphic Computing and Computing Beyond Turing Limit
The advances in neuromorphic computing and chips may be the future of not only artificial intelligence but also of human intelligence, as they give us new modes of connectivity, efficiency, collaboration, learning and problem-solving in real time between human to human, human to machines, human to nature, and human to non-human interactions. Neuromorphic computing and chips will bring the much-needed evolution in computer hardware, allowing us to enhance machine intelligence for the complex problems that need to be solved for the future of humanity beyond CGS. It will be interesting to see how neuromorphic chips will fundamentally change the way we get real-time intelligence from the human ecosystem beyond CGS.
Quantum Computing and Control
The breakthroughs in quantum technology bring enormous implications for the future of humanity. While conventional computing has been historically digital, quantum computing relies on quantum principles and will allow us to study the fundamental building blocks of the universe. The ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any given time fundamentally changes our very ability to further science and development. It will be interesting to see how quantum computing will help us understand the birth of human life and the very origin of the universe.
NanoSatellites and Space Exploration
As we begin space exploration, nanosatellites seem to be playing a crucial role in the emerging space endeavors. From the very first satellite that launched the beginning of the space age exploration, to the thousands of nanosatellites that we see today in space; satellites have gone through a fundamental transformation and brought revolution and evolution in human capabilities to understand the universe. These tiny miniaturizing nanosatellites are revolutionizing the space endeavors, as they can do everything traditional satellites can; and that too, in a much more affordable and effective manner. It will be interesting to see how the accuracy, affordability, accessibility, and adaptability offered by these tiny satellites help us manage the complexity of our planet. They give humanity a new way to chart and explore space.
Internet to BrainNet
In the coming years, we will likely see the gradual transition from the web to a brain-net, in which thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories might be transmitted instantly across nations. Scientists have already begun experimenting with human and non-human brain uploading to a computer or robot and have begun to decode some of our memories and thoughts. It will be interesting to see how this might eventually reduce tensions between people, as they begin to feel and experience the pain of others. It may also revolutionize communication between human and other living species.
Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
The advances in stem cell research and therapy bring us regenerative medicine. This is perhaps a game-changing area of medicine that brings humanity the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions and hope to people all across nations for the treatment of numerous everyday medical problems. Moreover, regenerative medicine holds the promise of affordable and effective health care and is making great strides with the help of 3-D printing and stem-cell therapies. Reports are emerging of mouse embryos were created using nothing but stem cells. As efforts are underway to creating human embryos from human stem cells, this would fundamentally change everything we know about human and non-human reproduction.
Brain Mapping and Brain Uploading
The advances in brain mapping technologies are giving us the power to be able to reprogram human biology and eliminate many diseases and aging processes. Since scientists now have at their disposal increasingly acute ways of looking into the human brain, the mapping will allow us to reach our full potential and keep up with the evolutionary journey of intelligence itself. It will be interesting to see what unknowns become known as further advances are made in brain mapping.
There has never been a better time for ideas, imagination, and intelligence to create and invent as the emerging technology trends bring so many fundamentally transformative opportunities for the future of humanity beyond cyberspace, geospace, and space. As we further explore and understand the very meaning of human existence in the universe, let us reimagine what could go wrong and be prepared.