"Magical future" promises radical changes to how we view life
By Dick Pelletier
Since the dawn of humanity and the advent of civilized life,
humans have depended on technology to carry them into the
future. Now, from genetics to artificial intelligence to
nanotechnology, science is on the brink of extraordinary
mega-revolutions that will soon change how we view human life.
In the pre-industrial age, raw materials were locally
grown, chopped, or quarried, then produced by local craftsmen,
and consumed by local villagers. The Industrial Revolution and
the creation of the assembly line changed all that. Consumer
goods could now be mass produced and distributed worldwide.
Today, a global civilization tied together by trade is rising,
which economists believe will one day turn Earth into a "global
Today’s information technologies enable businesses to
produce goods and services more efficiently. With the Internet,
ideas are shared instantly worldwide allowing employees to work
away from the office. This is producing a series of development
stages that futurists believe will revolutionize our commerce
The first stage of this revolution was the formation of
international corporations that outsource production to where it
is cheapest, such as clothes designed in the U.S. and stitched
together in Mexico. The second stage was the creation of
multinational firms that distribute design teams across the
globe to wherever the talent lies.
The third stage focuses on design and manufacture; for
example, electronic firms now buy all the parts from different
companies and just add packaging to the finished product. The
fourth stage, expected to advance rapidly in the next decade,
allows three-dimensional objects to be emailed and printed on
any inkjet-based printer. This enables consumers to build
products themselves, without labor costs.
The fifth stage expected by 2030 or before, includes
countertop nano-replicators that enable consumers to create
food, clothing, and essentials by converting raw atoms from
dirt, air, or seawater into finished products.
Technologies are changing from reliance on physical
efforts to a growing role for the mind. Forward-thinkers predict
that we will incorporate wireless technology into thought
processing by the 2030s. We will augment our 100 trillion slow
inter-neuronal connections with high-speed virtual links via
nanorobotics. This will allow us to boost pattern-recognition,
memories, and thinking capacity, interface directly with
computers; and communicate with each other by only using our
Although thought communication technologies are already
underway, today, thoughts interface with machines at only 15
words-per-minute, half the speed the average person writes by
hand, but by 2012, experts predict this will increase to 170
words-per-minute. Imagine issuing commands to a computer faster
than you can even speak them. Further imagine that by the 2030s,
many experts predict "thought talking” will become the preferred
method of communication.
21st century science and technologies promise a
"magical future" that could generate unprecedented wealth for
everyone on Earth and provide all people with the freedom to
choose how they wish to define themselves and relate to each
other. These forward technologies will change forever our view
Please note: This article represents a
milestone in the Futuretalk column. This is our 200th published
piece, and I would like to thank everyone for your interest in
science and technologies presented in a forward view.
This article appeared in various print publications and
on-line blogs. Comments always welcome.