And You Thought Today Was Bad

April 8th, 2011 | 1 comment | Posted by Diana

I once had a coworker that never actually read any books. She did, however, always read the NYT book review section before all social engagements, so that she’d be prepared to converse semi-knowledgeably about the newly released texts creating conversation among reader folks (aka pathologically pretended to be reader folk). I’ve always found this trick to be pretty abhorrent–HOWEVER, we all have our bad days. So I’m gonna hop on the hypocrisy train for just a minute!

Soooooooooo… I haven’t actually read physicist/string field theorist Michio Kaku‘s book, Physics of the Future, which pulls together conclusions about what the world will be like in a century based on interviews with 300 of the world’s top scientists. And maybe that’s a good thing, since NYT’s Dwight Garner found all that science talk to be “dull” and “charmless.” (<– See how I did that there? You’d like, never even know!) I did, however, read Kaku’s essay about 10 of his most fascinating conclusions, which was originally published in the NY Post.

Here are the headlines, via excerpt:

  1. The Internet will be in your contact lenses. We will be able to download any movie, song, website, or piece of information off the Internet directly onto our Internet-enabled contact lenses. These lenses will also be able to identify people’s faces, translate their comments, and provide subtitles, so that we will always know exactly with whom we are speaking.
  2. Computers will disappear, as will cell phones, clocks, watches and MP3 players. Chips, costing less than a penny apiece, will be hidden by the millions in the environment. We will be like the gods of mythology, mentally manipulating the world around us. We will also be able to conjure up almost any object just by wishing for it.
  3. Cars will be driver-less, using GPS to navigate without the help of an alert human behind the wheel. Traffic jams and accidents will be a thing of the past as a central computer will be able to track the motions of all the cars on the road (or in the air). Best of all, we will hardly ever need to fuel up, since there will be almost no friction to slow us down.
  4. Doctors will be able to grow “spare parts” for our organs as they wear out.This will create a “human body shop.” We will never need organ donors and will never die of organ failure.
  5. The human life span will be extended. We may be able to “cruise” at the age of 30 almost indefinitely by growing new organs as they wear out or become diseased, ingesting a cocktail of proteins and enzymes, using gene therapy to alter genes that may slow down due to aging. Genetic engineering will also allow us to create “designer children,” so parents can choose the physical (and perhaps intellectual) characteristics of their children.
  6. Molecular “smart bombs” circulating in our blood will home in on, zap, and kill cancer cells. Cancer will not be cured: There are too many types of cancers that mutate too quickly, so the disease will persist; however, doctors will be better equipped to diagnose cancer early and treat the disease successfully.
  7. Our toilets and bathroom mirrors will contain DNA sensors, capable of detecting proteins emitted from perhaps a hundred cancer cells in a cancer colony, 10 years before a tumor forms.We will have a complete medical checkup every time we go to the bathroom, which will contain more computer power than a modern hospital.
  8. The robot industry will dwarf the size of the current automobile industry. Robots will be everywhere, performing dangerous and tedious tasks. They will have emotions.
  9. Tourists will soar into outer space via space elevators. For decades to centuries to come, space travel will be for astronauts, the wealthy, and maybe a handful of hardy space colonists.
  10. With advanced technology also will come advanced dangers, especially biological warfare, nuclear proliferation, and global warming. Global warming will become even more disastrous, as many American cities will likely be drowned and other cities, such as New York, will be surrounded by seawalls. Biological terrorists will get more sophisticated and most likely will be able to make viral diseases, like AIDS, airborne.

[Ed. note--By the way, even though I haven't even read the book, I highly recommend perusing the entire essay to fully understand the scope of these bullet points. Your mind will implode.]

It’s true that, according to these predictions, cancer will no longer breaka our stride. And our love affair with oil will sour. That’s awesome. But is it just me, or does a practically never-ending life in a 30-year old body, minus the challenges of thinking, remembering, learning, or wanting for anything (except maybe a nuclear whiteout to do away everything, including Big Brother hiding in all the nooks and crannys of the environment, and all those scary robots minding your business, and all the freakish “designer” kids running things) sound downright AWFUL?

Sure, life is imperfect. It is filled with challenges. And disappointments. And loss. And change. And fear. But isn’t that what makes it life? Aren’t the natural fluctuations of our systems what make us real beings? Aren’t we meant to be something other than satisfied entities materializing our every desire and maintaining a comfortable stasis so that we’ll never have to suffer again? Shouldn’t we have a beginning, middle and end?


Aw, screw it. What am I saying? It would be SO FREAKIN’ COOL to have a flying car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[NY Post: The World In 2100]

Thanks, Maris!

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One Response to “And You Thought Today Was Bad”

  1. TruePhillyCheeseSteak says:

    There is some truth to your questions. If we no longer become mortals, what will be the great equalizer? Wow, Diana the Philosopher. And here I thought that only Socrates asked good questions.

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