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In Discover’s 30 year anniversary special issue (October 2010), the magazine asked 11 leading thinkers to share their hopes about where science could take us in the next 30 years.

Ken Caldeira, a senior scientist with the Carnergie Institution for Science, and a member of the National Research Council’s panel on the science of climate change, was asked to provide his perspective:

In my main area of research, climate science, the big issue is energy. Because most of our energy technologies are relatively mature, my guess is that, over the next few decades, we’re more likely to see incremental improvements in technology rather than breakthroughs. The exception to that might be in the direct conversion of sunlight to chemically stored energy, where, for example, you’d have sunlight break down water and you’d get hydrogen. If you could directly produce chemical fuel from sunlight and do it affordably, that would open up the prospect of making a substitute for oil that wouldn’t involve transferring carbon from the ground to the atmosphere. That could really be a game changer. The main stumbling block there is the scale of investment. Right now we spend more money in this country on potato chips than the Department of Energy spends on energy R&D [research and development]. Industry invests in things that can be commercialized in a few years; I hope we can develop a funding mechanism that works for really forward-thinking basic energy research.

More broadly, the biggest change that I think will come is the ability to grow new tissues and organs, combined with the ability to implant machines in people. That’s something we’re seeing already, with people getting deep brain-stimulating implants to deal with epilepsy and with the installation of heart defibrillators. This combination – advances in biological tissues and further integration of humans with machines – has the potential to really change things over the next few decades. It could transform the way people look at life and aging. As an individual, I hope these things get developed by the time I need them. From the perspective of society as a whole and what it means to be human, it’s harder to say whether the ramifications will be good or bad. Aging, dying, and letting the next generation take over have always been part of the fundamental human condition. If we start modifying that, the ultimate repercussions are difficult to predict. But I think it will happen. Implants could also take us to a new stage of the computer revolution. We might have an Internet connection directly to our brains and have constant information access. I don’t know if that will happen within 30 years, but I think it’s the direction we’re heading in.

 

One Response to Ken Caldeira On The Next 30 Years: “We Might Have An Internet Connection Directly To Our Brains”

  1. Once the .0001% replace all human labor with CyberInterNetics there will be no need for those of us in the 99% which is why the .0001% are now destroying social safety net services. They don’t need us for our labor anymore so they are done providing us with jobs, health care, entertainment, essentials and non-essentials in life. As the agent in their Hollywood Movie “The Matrix” the .0001% are sick and tired of taking care of us. They hated our needy ass when they needed our labor and once CyberInterNetics makes it where robots and other sentient machines replace our human labor they can do what they’ve always wanted to do, get rid of us.

    They’ll claim a terrorist group has released a poison in the air (it will actually be in our food and water). they’ll claim a terrorist bombed our school, our work, our stores, they’ve already attacked the world trade center several times, the last time knocking them down entirely. Don’t forget Oklahoma City Murray Building and train stations in Europe.

    There’s all kinds of ways they’ll kill us off and we’ll never know who was behind it. At the end of course, we’ll all be gone with only those who killed us left. The sentient machines will work 24/7/365 serving the .0001% wants and needs. No more providing the slaves with entertainment, food, water, transportation, tv sets for propaganda. No more paying sports stars, TV anchors, actors, doctors, lawyers. CyberInterNetic Digital Technology will serve the .0001% in what they call “Peace on Earth”. No more people in the general population to control. Just the .001% themselves enjoying planet earth with no worry of Revolution or riots.

    Goodbye humanity, hello .0001% singularity!

    Thanks for your time.
    plasmaborne4rel

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