Kurzweil: Computers Will Enable People To Live Forever
In an interview with InformationWeek, Kurzweil said people and computers will intermix with nanobots, blood cell-sized robots, that will be integrated into everything from our clothing to our bodies and brains. People simply need to live long enough—another 15 to 30 years—to live forever. Think of it as replacing everyone's "human body version 1.0" with nanotechnology that will repair or replace ailing or aging tissue, he says. Parts will become easily replaceable.
"A $1,000 worth of computation in the 2020s will be 1,000 times more powerful than the human brain," says Kurzweil, adding that in 25 years we'll have multiplied our computational power by a billion. "Fifteen years from now, it'll be a very different world. We'll have cured cancer and heart disease, or at least rendered them to manageable chronic conditions that aren't life threatening. We'll get to the point where we can stop the aging process and stave off death."
According to Kurzweil, here's what we can expect in the not-so-distant future:
—Doctors will be doing a backupof our memories by the late 2030s;
—By the late 2020s, doctors will be sending intelligent bots, or nanobots, into our bloodstreams to keep us healthy, and into our brains to keep us young;
—In 15 years, human longevity will be greatly extended. By the 2020s, we'll be adding a year of longevity or more for every year that passes;
—In the same timeframe, we'll routinely be in virtual reality environments. Instead of making a cellcall, we could "meet" someone in a virtual world and take a walk on a virtual beach and chat. Business meetings and conference calls will be held in calming or inspiring virtual locations;
—When you're walking down the street and see someone you've met before, background information about that person will pop up on your glasses or in the periphery of your vision;
—Instead of spending hours in front of a desktop machine, computers will be more ingrained in our environment. For instance, computer monitors could be replaced by projections onto our retinas or on a virtual screen hovering in the air;
—Scientists will be able to rejuvenate all of someone's body tissues and organs by transforming their skin cells into youthful versions of other cell types;
—Need a little boost? Kurzweil says scientists will be able to regrow our own cells, tissues, and even whole organs, and then introduce them into our bodies, all without surgery. As part of what he calls the "emerging field of rejuvenation medicine," new tissue and organs will be built out of cells that have been made younger;
—Got heart trouble? No problem, says Kurzweil. "We'll be able to create new heart cells from your skin cells and introduce them into your system through the bloodstream. Over time, your heart cells get replaced with these new cells, and the result is a rejuvenated, young heart with your own DNA";
—One trick we'll have to master is staying ahead of the game. Kurzweil warns that terrorists could, obviously, use this same technology against us. For example, they could build and spread a bioengineered biological virus that's highly powerful and stealthy.
According to Kurzweil, we're not that far away from solving a medical problem that has plagued scientists and doctors for quite some time now: the common cold. He notes that while nanotechnology could go into our bloodstreams and knock it out, before we even get to that stage, biotechnology should be able to cure the cold in just 10 years.
november 21, 2006