Earth’s Near Future

Things are about to get very interesting on our planet.

We are entering an era of true scientific wonder.

It’s the dawning of the Nano Age, which we are quickly entering, eyes closed, for better and for worse.

The better part:

  • microscopic, cancer-killing robots that roam the bloodstream
  • bionic limb technology that enables the paralyzed to regain muscle control
  • retinal displays — imagine a computer screen embedded in your contact lenses
  • space elevators
  • massive-scale harvesting of solar energy in space
  • wireless electricity and self-powering devices
  • robots that can perform human tasks

The worse part:

  • robots that can perform human tasks (how will people make a living?)
  • insect-sized video surveillance robots that roam the planet incognito
  • virtual-reality addicts — distracted living will be a big problem
  • toxic nanoparticles that pollute our air, our homes, our water supplies
  • military applications of nanotechnology — invisible weaponry

The part I’m not sure about yet:

  • brain-to-machine interfaces that will enable us to thought-command our devices
  • artificial intelligence
  • digitized brains into which knowledge and memories can be uploaded or downloaded
  • cheap, mass-scale molecular manufacturing will set off economic upheavals locally and globally
  • ubiquitous computing

UBIQUITOUS means everywhere at once. As the computer chip shrinks to the size of a dust speck, we won’t resist the temptation to computerize everything imaginable — our clothing, our cities, our food packaging, our brains. They will all be networked via the cloud. Every part of our lives will be vulnerable to cyber attacks and malfunctions.

Earth needs, more than ever in our history, legions of ethical nanotechnology researchers, scientists, inventors and innovators. We need smart and wise ones who will intelligently guide the development of nanotechnology, as unwieldy a beast as it will prove to be.