Four mega-trends are shaping the technology future: Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Nanotech – ‘GRIN’ is a useful acronym.
Occupied with today’s ‘busyness’, most of us tend to think that outlandish future possibilities are far out. But I remind myself – my grandchildren will still be in their teens when these things emerge.
Two new books outline the revolutions that will occur in the next decade. ‘Our Molecular Future’ and ‘Forbidden Gates’. They discuss the exponential changes that are about to be wrought by the coming genetic, nanotechnology and robotic revolutions.
Genetics research includes, among other things, rewriting human DNA and combining men with beasts to develop live, non-humans to perform work that humans do not want or cannot do.
Leaps forward in computing power will fuel artificial intelligence and will create robots capable of independent thought, emotional response and reproduction, producing what effectively is a new species, ‘Robo Sapiens’. One supposes that we will need to redefine what it means to be human to deal with issues of robot rights.
On the bright side, computing power will jump to almost unimaginable levels, bringing hitherto undreamed of capacities to transform our environment and ourselves. How will this help us cope with climate changes, earthquakes and other extreme natural threats? What will happen to jobs, health care and investments when these revolutions arrive? It all remains to be seen.