Pros and Cons of Life Extension

July 22 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

Opinion by Dick Pelletier

Some of you have heard me talk about prospects for extreme life extension – “To live in a healthy body continuously until I choose to die; to not be killed by disease or aging.”

I believe that science and technology will make extreme life extension possible for most of us alive today. The prime requisite is to maintain good health, keep a positive attitude towards the future, and root for science and technology breakthroughs in the coming decades.

We will soon experience overwhelming advances in disease prevention and age reversal through gene therapies and nanotech breakthroughs. Over the coming years, we will slowly grow into a body fashioned from “designer genes” that can never age or get sick.

Overpopulation: Prospects for this beautiful future are not without controversy. Some argue that humans living longer will cause overpopulation problems, such as expanding poverty and damaging the environment. However, they fail to realize that technology – spurred on by commerce (filling needs) – will provide solutions through improved agriculture, easier access to food and better use of space resources.

Poor health: Some assume that people will continue to exhibit signs of aging and be decrepit into their hundreds citing people who are kept alive for years in terrible health, sometimes beyond the point at which they wish to live. Merely extending life without improving health is a bad idea. This is why today’s medical world focuses, not just on preventing death, but on alleviating the affects of aging by curing diseases. Discoveries will soon develop for the reversal of aging, so that elderly people might one day choose to revert to the mind and body of a healthy 20-something. (cont.)

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Interview: Dick Pelletier (12/21/07)

March 13 2008 / by memebox / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 8

This interview was conducted by Venessa Posavec on 12/21/07

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Brain research promises smarter machines, healthier humans

June 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Cognitive computing (computers that process information the same way a brain does) has been a dream for 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand languages as well as humans do.

Despite the many false starts however, forward-thinkers like Dr. James Albus, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, believe cognitive computing research is at the tipping point, similar to where nuclear physics was in 1905. The following projects underway now describe the progress of this new research:

‘Smart’ cars: Auto makers are now investing heavily in collision-warning systems and vehicles that drive themselves; DOT officials believe that robotic vehicles with safety warnings will likely save more lives than airbags and seatbelts combined.

Future military: DOD planners predict that by 2015, auto-fly drones and other computer-driven systems could remove most soldiers from battlefield dangers.

Modeling the brain: Scientists at the Blue Brain project, a collaboration of IBM and the Swiss government; can zoom inside a single cell and examine exactly how each neuron fires. This research will help repair damaged brains today, and in the future could allow robots to mimic human consciousness. (cont.)

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New memory tech will change how we think & learn

July 21 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

If there was a pill that could immediately improve your memory, enabling you to recall any selected event in your past with sharp detail, would you take it? How about a pill that would erase an unwanted memory, like a traumatic childhood event that still bothers you in adult life?

And even more radical, would you like to download knowledge directly into your brain enabling you to immediately speak and understand a new language, or instantly learn any new subject matter, without suffering through the lengthy process of learning from scratch?

Memory-management drugs that address the first two questions are being developed now and should be available in about five years, according to Memory Pharmaceuticals, www.memorypharma.com, a leading New Jersey drug research firm.

Most of these memory remedies focus on boosting recall, but some address the 13 million Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with drugs that will dim, or even erase, traumatic memories. Such products promise to revolutionize psychotherapy. Instead of trying to overcome a past trauma, patients will soon be able to simply erase all memories of the event as if it had never happened – problem solved.

A more radical and futuristic technology, downloading knowledge directly into our brain, could be available in the near future, according to Peter Passaro, graduate student at Georgia Tech, in his article posted at www.betterhumans.com. Passaro suggests that mind-machine interfaces will be available by 2020, and he mentions how this might be accomplished. (cont.)

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Promises, perils and hopes of living through the 21st century

April 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Many forward-thinkers see a bright future ahead as we begin our 21st century trek. The following timeline takes a positive look at how the future could unfold:

Promises

2010-2019 – The biotech revolution picks up steam; cloning tissues and organs are routine healthcare procedures now and are covered by most insurance companies. Cancer, diabetes; most heart diseases now treatable; patient records include complete personal genomes available at around $100. Humanoid robots form 10% of world population. “Big-Brother” surveillance prevents crimes.

2020-2029 – Medical ‘nanobots’ maintain health 24/7, all diseases now treatable. Star Trek-like replicators provide food, clothing, and other essentials at little cost. Driverless ‘air-cars’ whisk us about. The space elevator slashed launch fees enabling cheap vacations at orbiting hotels. A third-world nation revealed capacity to wield nano-weapons, which prompted the U.S., EU, and China to join forces and create a world-wide defense against the threat.

2030-2049 – Visionaries saw it coming: “machines would one day out-think humans”. This revolution encouraged the merger of minds and bodies with non-biological creations built with ‘immortal’ parts and powered by supercomputer intelligence. Living in these new ‘indestructible’ bodies that can shape-shift into different forms on command and never suffer an unwanted death has given everyone an exhilarating sense of comfort, security, and well-being. (cont.)

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Future of education: reading, writing; even classrooms, will all go the way of the dinosaurs

April 25 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Education   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

When was the last time you saw fast-food restaurant employees actually key prices into the register? Today, clerks behind the counter press buttons with pictures of cups, burgers, or bags of fries. They never need to read or remember cost of items.

Futurist William Crossman, author of Vivo [Voice-In/Voice-Out]: The Coming Age of Talking Computers, believes that tomorrow’s mobile and virtual reality devices, using visual displays like those in fast-food restaurants, will render reading, writing, and text obsolete in the not-to-distant future.

Crossman explains why this transformation will take place. “Before Homo sapiens ever existed, ancient proto-humans accessed information by speaking, listening, smelling, tasting, and touching. They relied on memory to store information they heard. Speaking and listening was civilization’s preferred method of communication for millions of years.

Then about 10,000 years ago an explosion of information emerged with the onset of the agricultural revolution and memory overload quickly followed. Human memories were no longer efficient and reliable enough to store and share the huge volume of new ideas. To overcome this problem, our forbearers developed a remarkable technology that has lasted for thousands of years – written language.

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Astronauts to land on speeding asteroid by late 2020s

May 28 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

A lump of rock more than 40 meters in diameter speeding through space at 28,000 mph, once considered the most dangerous object in the universe, is about to become the site for humanity’s next “giant leap for mankind.”

NASA engineers have selected asteroid 2000SG344 – which in 2000 was given a significant chance of slamming into Earth with the explosive power of 750 Hiroshimas – as the perfect space object to study. The operation would take place before the 2030 Mars journey, a speculative trip bandied about ever since the first President Bush mentioned in 1989 that America should send men to the red planet.

The asteroid mission represents a crucial step for America’s space program. A report to be published next month in the journal Acta Astronautica describes plans to use the soon-to-be-developed Orion space ship for a three-to-six month round-trip to the asteroid, with two explorers spending up to two weeks on the rock’s surface.

As well as providing experience for longer Mars trips, samples taken from the rock could help scientists convert sub-surface ice into drinking water and breathable oxygen, understand more about the birth of the solar system, and how best to defend Earth against dangerous asteroid collisions. (cont.)

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Nanotech breakthroughs promise better life ahead

June 02 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

From assembling cells one-by-one into artificial tissues to creating micro-robots that swim through arteries and digestive systems, the magic of nanotech has finally arrived. A major theme of today’s nano-science focuses on strengthening human biology. In fact, of the eight technology advances listed below, seven involve systems that improve health:

1. Nanochips arrange cells to create artificial tissues. Harvard professor Robert Westervelt’s nanochips can move cells around to form new artificial tissues, which could be used to test efficacy of various drugs. This system could be in use by 2010.

2. Nanowires simulate artificial synapses. Harvard researcher Charles Lieber and his team linked silicon nanowires with axons and dendrites of live mammalian neurons, creating artificial synapses between the two. This technology paves the way for powerful neural prosthetics, and opens the door for hybrid nanoelectronic and biological information processing. Animal trials are already underway.

3. Neural data cable connects brains with computers. University of Pennsylvania researcher Doug Smith created a cable made from stretched nerve cells that can connect machines to the human nervous system, which could enable thought control over appliances by as early as 2012.

4. Nanoparticles destroy tumors. Burnham Institute’s Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, in a joint effort with UC Santa Barbara, fashioned nanoparticles that seek out and kill cancer cells by cutting off their oxygen and nutrient supply. These nano-wonders can also deliver drugs to a specific area without affecting healthy cells. Human trials expected soon.

5. Micro-robots swim like bacterium through arteries. James Friend, Senior Lecturer at Australia’s Monash University and his team believe that by 2009 they can produce micro-robots that can swim through human arteries and digestive systems. These ‘bots will transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body that are beyond the reach of existing technologies. (cont.)

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Scientists love time-travel fantasy too; for real

July 31 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Movies like Time Machine, Back to the Future, Terminator, and “One Moment in Time”: bring out the little child inside us. We love to fantasize about going back in time to see what might have been, or to alter some predicament in our life. Scientists get excited over this fantasy too – some even believe we can turn this fictional genre into reality.

Einstein stated that people traveling at near light speeds would age more slowly than those remaining stationary. Inhabitants of a fast-moving spaceship would experience forward time travel. And if traveling faster than light, they would go backwards in time.

Atomic clocks flown in space proved Einstein correct, and many top physicists now express views that time travel could someday become possible.

Cal-Tech’s Kip Thorne was the first to publish a scientific paper with the words “time machine” in the title. Thorne worried that reporters might ballyhoo the article causing colleagues to ignore it – but instead, his work brought other scientists out in the open.

World famous physicist Stephen Hawking, Cosmologist Igor Novikov, and others began publicly debating the pros and cons of time travel.

Thorne focused on the actual time machine. He suggests that if we create a wormhole, accelerate one end to nearly the speed of light and bring it back, we would have a time machine. We could enter the machine and travel to both past and future.

But a recent Better Humans article suggests our frail bodies could not stand up to wormhole pressures. Solution: upload our mind and travel as information; then reassemble on arrival using nanotechnology.

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Longer, more exciting life ahead for everyone

August 12 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

We often think nostalgically of our past as the “good old days,” but projected scientific and technological breakthroughs suggest the greatest and most exciting times are actually yet to come. Today, breakthroughs rush at us with amazing speeds and the golden ages of biotech, 2010-2020, and nanotech, 2020-2035, promise huge advances in health, entertainment and wealth.

Revolutionary biologist Leroy Hood predicts that in the next decade, we will understand individual genetic predispositions for most sicknesses, and develop powerful tools for preventing them. “We’ll move from a mode of medicine that’s largely reactive to one that’s predictive and preventive,” he says.

Experts believe that by 2025, nanobots swarming through our bodies will stave off most sicknesses and zap viruses before we even start to sniffle. By 2030, all diseases, including aging, will be manageable. And as we gain greater health and energy, we will become more actively involved with entertainment technologies.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates says TVs and computers are finally converging into a single media. By 2015, nearly every movie, TV drama and sit-com ever produced will be available from the Internet to your home, and voice-activation will make selecting programs as simple as talking to your screen.

Games will become more entertaining too with expected speeds of over 10,000 GHz. But no matter how far technology advances, certain aspects of gaming will remain constant. Marksmanship, speed thrills, and strategies will improve, but plots and characters of today’s role players, along with elements that charm the heart will remain pretty much the same as today.

Unlike today’s games that stimulate only sight, hearing, and touch, 2015 games will add taste and smell, creating more realism. As TVs continue to advance, flat screens will morph into holographic displays with characters seeming to hop into the room.

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Nanotech wonders hyped at Wash. DC conference

September 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

At the First Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology held in Washington DC, researchers discussed the possibilities expected of this new wonder science, including glittering visions of abundance and long, healthy life spans.

Within 20 years, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” could sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – food, clothing, appliances, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

Nanofactories work by collecting atoms from something as inexpensive as dirt or seawater, and using software downloaded from the Internet, directs those atoms to “grow” into the final product. A nanofactory can even “grow” another nanofactory.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. Foresight Institute sociologist Bryan Bruns said nanotech will provide solutions for some 2.7 billion people now living on less than $2 per day, and eliminate poverty worldwide.

Bruns envisions a “2025 Whole Earth Catalog” which would offer economic water filtration systems that purify 100,000 gallons of water a day; inexpensive solar roofing panels that come in rolls like Saran Wrap; powerful inexpensive computers that fit inside eyeglass frames; and suitcase-size nanoclinics with a full range of diagnostics and treatments.

“Turn trash into treasure”, could become the slogan of the 2020s. Nanorefineries will break down unwanted consumer items, sewage sludge, and other waste materials, and re-build them into food, clothing, or household items.

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing’s Robert Freitas added, “not only will nanotech provide us with a lot of cool stuff and eliminate global poverty; it will also help us live a really long time”. Freitas predicted by 2015, nanoproducts will diagnose illnesses and destroy cancer cells – and by mid-2020s, tiny cell-repair mechanisms will roam through our bodies keeping us strong, youthful, and forever healthy.

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Future of Shopping - RFID gets under your skin

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

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic shopping cart that recognizes you from your touch, and begin tossing items into pre-opened bags. The monitor on your “smart cart” not only displays each item, its price, and total amount spent; but also subtracts items returned to the shelf. Hold an item in your hand briefly and its description appears on the monitor.

When finished shopping, simply tap a “chipped” finger indicating which credit or debit card to use, or tap thumb for cash pay, which directs you to an automated cash machine – then out the door. On exit, select a security option to deactivate or encrypt all product chips, preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

Though this futuristic scenario may still be a few years away, Albertson’s Chicago and Dallas area stores are experimenting with “Shop ‘n Scan”, a wireless scanner shoppers use to ring up groceries as they take them off the shelf. Eventually, Albertson’s wants to integrate this with other services that could one day become the precursor to a scenario like the one described above.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach envisions a bright future for RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). “Chipped” tickets to local Miller Park sporting events, for example, allows management to recognize customers. Move to a more expensive seat during the game, and the system debits your account for the higher priced seat. (cont.)

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