By Dick Pelletier
What will life be like 300 years from now? No one really knows
for sure; in fact most projections beyond 2050 are little more than
guesses. However, by multi-tracking today’s science and technology
advances, and mixing reality with a dash of imagination, we can
create a plausible scenario of how the future could unfold.
Experts say available information doubles every decade. Thus, in
300 years, 30 decades from now, information will expand nearly 300
million times. This increase promises to bring about a world with
By 2300, humans are in complete command of their destiny. In
early 2000s, biotech and nanotech advances eliminated disease and
aging, which paved the way for human-machine merge. By mid-century,
most people sported maintenance-free non-biological bodies with
mind/memory systems that prevent unwanted death and disease.
During “the golden age of intelligence”, 2050-2100, the Internet
morphed into a wireless “global brain” feeding information to
enhanced minds, raising intelligence levels, and ending all human
desires for wars and conquest. Fully immersive virtual reality
enabled people to interact through simulations indiscernible from
Projecting our “digital self” became easier and more effective
than meeting physically. One could go anywhere instantly; even be
in more than one place at a time. “Digital life”, with activities
directed by our neurons that are stored in a safe haven, soon
became the preferred method of existence. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
Former National Cancer Institute Director Andrew von Eschenbach
claims that “By 2015, nobody will die of cancer; it may not be
cured at that time,” he says, “but innovative new therapies will
make the disease manageable and finally bring an end to the pain,
suffering, and death that cancer now dishes out.”
In support of von Eschenbach’s claim, 92 US Senators and 275
members of the House signed a “2015 goal letter” that describes how
suffering and death from cancer can be eliminated on such an
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the US for people under
age 85, experts say. One in two men and one in three women will get
cancer in their lifetime, and more than 1,500 Americans die every
day from this horrific disease; and these statistics have changed
very little since America first declared war on cancer in 1950.
So, if in 58 years we have made such little headway in fighting
this disease, how can Eschenbach claim we will eliminate cancer
deaths in seven years? The answer lies in what some refer to as the
“nanotech revolution.” Scientists working with this new technology
are creating an impressive array of new cancer therapies and
The nanotech approach to fighting cancer can be divided into two
parts; detection and therapeutic.
Detection systems identify cancer cells before they become
dangerous, and if cancer is in remission, predict if it might flare
up again; these include:
Quantum Dots – dramatically improves today’s early detection
tests. These tiny particles glow and act as markers on cells and
genes, enabling doctors to visualize cancer when present or
impending. Widespread availability expected within five years.
By Dick Pelletier
Imagine “smart” lasers that seek out, identify and destroy
terrorists who threaten our airplanes, buildings, bridges, and
public places. This intelligent system automatically senses enemy
satellites, missiles, aircraft, ground vehicles, or suicide
bombers, and defends against artillery, rockets, mortars, and
At airports, this weapon will protect planes from attacks by
shoulder-fired missiles during takeoff and landing, a time when
aircraft are most vulnerable. The U.S. Military hopes to implement
this futuristic laser system by as early as 2009.
Terrorists believe they are at war with western society and
culture, and they think they are in a war they will win. In fact,
we are engaged in a global war on terrorism, which produces
casualties, sacrifices, victories, defeats, and setbacks. However,
unlike past wars, great powers cannot bring other great powers to
their knees. Suicide bombers slip into our country undetected,
making face-to-face confrontation difficult.
Dr. James Carafano, in a recent Heritage Foundation speech
addressing The Future of Anti-Terrorism Technologies, stated, “We
need to get ahead of the terrorists and develop overmatching
security systems that protect the public, safeguard liberties, and
allow unencumbered travel and commerce”. New technologies that can
accomplish these goals, Carafano said, include biometrics,
nanotechnology, and directed-energy weapons.
Facial biometrics is rapidly becoming the linchpin of virtually
all security and investigatory systems. Video cameras capture us at
convenience stores, supermarkets, Wal-Marts, ATMs, and traffic
light intersections. Experts claim that new installations of public
CCTV cameras are doubling every 18
months; facial biometrics will soon become a routine part of
everyday life. Psychologists predict the safer environment created
by biometrics will offset many of our concerns over “big brother”
and loss of privacy. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
Despite the increasing gloom and doom of today’s headlines –
dominated by terrorists, crime, and concerns over environmental
degradation – UN futurist Jerome Glenn and other forward-thinkers
see a bright future ahead that many people alive today can live to
In just fifty years, Glenn believes humanity can achieve an
environmentally sustainable peaceful economy, providing everyone
with life’s necessities – and the majority with a comfortable
living. We narrate our glimpse into this future from the point of
view of someone looking back from 2058. People
In the 2040s, life extension technologies eliminated most
unwanted deaths, and birth control advances slowed population
growth. Our 2058 population stands at 10-billion.
Merging minds and bodies with non-biological creations that use
supercomputer-powered neural networks, has raised human
intelligence, rendering crime and acts of violence towards each
other so illogical, they are actually unthinkable.
This increase in brainpower also helped us unravel the mysteries
of molecular nanotech, which lowers unit costs of producing goods,
requires less volume of materials and energy; and reduces
environmental damage from manufacturing.
The Internet has become a right of citizenship with everyone
connected. This “global brain” offers entertainment and
information, including virtual reality experiences similar to the
Star Trek Holodeck, and information access that quickens the pace
of scientific research.
Home-based nano-replicators and medical nanobots provide our
basic needs – food, clothing, gadgets, and healthcare – all at no
A glance at what life may be like ten millennia from now, by
Of course, nobody can predict exactly how the future will unfold
in 10,000 years, but by tracking technology advances expected in
the coming centuries, we see changes that will transform humanity
into super-intelligent beings focused on developing space,
exploring universes, and traveling through time.
Imagine if you could peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, enjoy
an exotic vacation thousands of light years from Earth, or jump
into a parallel universe where another you is living a far more
exciting life than yours – and you could stay there if you
For years, scientists around the world have bandied about the
revolutionary idea that future humans could zip across the universe
using wormholes as high-speed portals enabling faster-than-light
travel to explore space, enter other universes, and witness the
past and future.
Wormholes enable travel between its two openings. One end of the
wormhole stays home while the other is carted away at sub-light
velocities to the destination, connecting the two locations through
a tunnel in warped space-time. A person enters the wormhole, and
depending on the connection, exits to a remote destination in
space, another time in the past or future, or into a parallel
Consensus among most scientists has been that wormholes are so
destructive; people would be torn to subatomic bits if they tried
such a thing. However, a new paper by University of Utah physicist
Lior Burko now raises the possibility that wormholes may not
annihilate all matter, and the potential for hyperspace travel
could one day be realized. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his book “The Singularity is near”,
offers the possibility that computers will one day become
self-aware, which will result in the melding of humans and
machines. He sees this process well underway by 2025, as nanobots
begin to surf bloodstreams to combat disease and alter our brains
to increase intelligence.
In a recent article appearing in The Futurist, “Cybercrime in
the year 2025,” criminal-justice expert Gene Stephens predicts that
computer and Internet use will become seamless, as hands-free,
voice-activated data entry and retrieval becomes commonplace
between 2010 and 2015. By 2020, nanotech will increasingly impact
cyberspace; and as we try to gain the most advantages possible from
our new “wonder-net,” dangerous security gaps will emerge that
could turn into nightmares if not handled carefully.
For example, in 2025, as databots are implanted in users’
brains, secure firewalls must be developed to keep intruders from
hacking into the ‘bots and terrorizing recipients. “Could there be
a more frightening crime than having your brain-stored knowledge
erased or scrambled,” Stephens asks, “or hearing voices threatening
to destroy your memory unless you pay blackmail? Welcome to the
world of mindstalking.”
This brings us to the long-ignored issues of who owns the
Internet, manages it, and has jurisdiction over it. The answer now
is: nobody. Can this powerful socio-politico-economic network
continue to operate at random, open to all, and thus be vulnerable
to bad guys? Attempts to restrict or police the web are met with
idealists who believe that the Internet should always be free from
“big brother’s” interference. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
Northwestern University’s Dr. Richard Burt has treated 170
patients with stem cells, and increasingly, others are following
his lead. There are now more than 1,000 stem-cell therapies in
early human trials around the world.
The majority use cells from patients’ own bone marrow, but some
also use cells from healthy adults, and last year the first patient
was treated with embryonic cells, which have triggered debate in
the U.S. After working its way out of science fiction, stem-cell
therapies are finally becoming scientific fact.
Burt has treated patients with lupus, arthritis and a host of
other disorders. He’s just written up the results of a stem-cell
trial for type-1 diabetes. Three years after treatment, some
patients now have normal blood sugar and do not require insulin.
Trials for Lou Gehrig’s disease and autism are next.
The FDA is fast-tracking stem-cell
therapy for leukemia which could hit the market later this year.
And an approach that has helped congestive heart failure patients
abroad is coming to America. Amit Patel, at the University of
Pittsburgh, has injected 10 patients’ own stem cells into their
hearts and has consulted on 2,000 similar operations worldwide.
Stem cells help the heart by forming new blood vessels.
By the end of the next decade, researchers predict this wonder
technology will create new heart muscle – and even a complete heart
– but this may require the use of embryonic stem cells, which
regulations currently deny government funding. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
Space tourism has come a long way in a short time. The idea was
just a dream in the 1990s, but recently, tourists have shelled out
mega-bucks for a glimpse of the wild blue yonder.
Though only the rich can afford space travel today, experts
predict prices will drop with new systems under development. Later
this year, Virgin Galactic’s returnable Space-Ship-Two hopes to
provide orbital round-trips for $200,000, and one-day, take
vacationers to the moon.
By 2030, the Space Elevator, a revolutionary system under
development now would climb up a nanotech-ribbon extending 62,000
miles from Earth to space and could transport passengers into the
wild blue yonder for as low as $20,000 initially, then prices could
drop to the $2,000-per-person range when multiple elevators become
As more people become space travelers, they will need a place to
stay. Budget Suites of America owner Robert Bigelow has launched
the first phase of a human-rated habitat module dubbed Sundancer,
to an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of
40 degrees. Once Sundancer is in position and verified safe,
Bigelow will add more sections creating a full-scale
lodging/industrial complex as early as the middle of next
Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello says,
“Once hotel companies start to build and operate orbital
accommodations, they will be endlessly improving them and competing
to build more exotic facilities”. We will see hotels that provide
normal gravity for rooms, bars, and restaurants; and gravity-free
areas for recreation and sports activities. (cont.)
By Dick Pelletier
In the last two decades, advances in computing technology, from
processing speed to network capacity and the Internet, have
revolutionized our lives. From sequencing genomes to monitoring the
climate, many scientific advances would have been impossible
without an increase in computing power – and now with quantum
computers (QC) on the verge of harnessing atoms and molecules to calculate
billions of times faster than silicon-based computers, scientists
predict an even more amazing future unfolding.
In a recent
Fortune Magazine article, writers Peter Schwartz and Rita
Koselka describe a QC world that includes microscopic sensors
embedded in our homes, vehicles, and workplace that monitor our
well-being 24/7; and a thin headband of ultrasonic transducers that
wirelessly transmits information both ways between the Internet and
our brain, and to other headbands.
UVA scientist Stuart Wolf anticipates
that within 20 years, instead of cell-phone conversations we will
have “network-enabled telepathy” – we will ‘speak’ directly to
another person’s headband from anywhere in the world using just our
Several trends drive this future forward. The cell-phone and PC
are already beginning to merge and will eventually be reduced to
mere ‘chips’ on our headband. If you wonder how devices can get
smaller and still be accessible, keep in mind that vastly-improved
voice-recognition software will soon arrive.
While voice technology only works efficiently on fast processors
today, rising bandwidth will one day make this the only way to
communicate with PCs and cell-phones. Goodbye keyboard!
The following scenario portrays what life might be like in this
By Dick Pelletier
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips will soon be used in
stores at point-of-sale checkout to replace cashiers. Sensors can
detect purchases and automatically charge your ATM or credit card – or direct you to a cash machine.
Merchants eliminate cashiers, and in our competitive world, some of
the savings gets passed on to customers in lower prices.
Wal-Mart recently ordered 100 of its suppliers to place
RFID tags on pallets and cases. They plan
to start with inventory control, and evolve into this new
technology over the coming years. Target, Home Depot, Kroger,
Safeway, and most other stores are expected to follow soon.
This revolutionary identification system also gives merchants
more security. If a certain Beverly Hills store had installed
RFID tags, a famous actress would not
have been caught shoplifting. Sensors would have detected her
purchases as she walked out the door, and automatically charged her
credit card – no harm no foul.
RFID chips can also be implanted in
our body. Whether it’s your little one’s first day walking home
from the bus stop alone, or the millionth time she’s wandered too
far from the house, a chip under her collarbone reports her exact
location. You chart her every move. This allows her to become more
independent, and it gives you greater peace of mind.
This is not as futuristic as it sounds. Driven by 9/11, the
Department of Homeland Security, in its US-VISIT program, is
testing biometrics in a $15 billion attempt to build a “virtual
border” around the country. This high-priority project will use
facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry, and iris and voice
recognition in an attempt to separate bad guys from good guys.