futuretalk's Blog Posts

Earth 2300 - 'body-free' life, space colonies, time travel

July 13 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

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 awesome possibilities.

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 reality.

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.)

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All cancer deaths could be eliminated within 7 years, officials predict

July 10 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 13 Hot

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 aggressive schedule.

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 drugs.

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. (cont.)

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New anti-terrorism technologies offer great promise

July 10 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

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 missiles.

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.)

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2058 - A brief glimpse at life fifty years into the future

July 07 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

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 enjoy.

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 cost. (cont.)

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Earth 12000: Exploring space, time, and parallel universes

July 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

A glance at what life may be like ten millennia from now, by Dick Pelletier

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 like.

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 universe.

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.)

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Cybercrime in tomorrow's hands-free voice-activated Web

July 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

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.)

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Stem-cell magic: despite controversy, research goes forward

July 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

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.)

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Space tourism - from lofty dreams to commercial reality

July 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 14 Hot

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 available.

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 decade.

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.)

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Quantum computers will transform our lives in 20 years

June 30 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

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 thoughts.

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 quantum future:

(cont.)

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Identity chips will soon track everything -- including you

June 27 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

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.

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