I interviewed David Pearce, George Dvorsky, Michael Anissimov, Phil Bowermaster and Aaron Saenz. The answers they gave me are guaranteed to astonish you.
The question: If you had to guess, what will be the single most significant technological development in the coming twenty years, and why?
Aaron Saenz. Writes for Singularity Hub. Aaron is a Harvard graduate and has a master’s degree in atomic molecular and optical physics. He has worked in the Killian Research Group at Rice University, and has written and edited for, among others, McGraw-Hill, Princeton Review and Scholastic Wiley.
"The single most significant technological development in the coming 20 years will be the widespread adoption of human stem cells to treat an extraordinary range of medical conditions, from organ failure to Alzheimer's. Unlike many other exciting technologies that may make progress in the next 20 years, stem cells have already reached a stage where they are regularly making major breakthroughs. We've seen a 10 year old child in the UK have a new trachea grown inside his throat using his own stem cells. Bladders and blood vessels are close behind. There's also been progress with stem cells treating blood conditions, blindness, joint conditions, heart damage, etc, etc.
In 20 years this technology won't be experimental, it will be universal. The benefits - extraordinary healing of conditions that have few meaningful treatments - will make stem cells a popular and revolutionizing therapy in the field of medicine. This technology is here, it is growing, and in 20 years we will have developed a diverse arsenal of stem-cell tools that will constitute a major part of every hospital around the world.
'Incurable conditions' will be fewer, and millions will be able to live normal lives thanks to stem cell treatments. Billions will be able to live longer and healthier lives as stem cells repair and replace their failing bodies. Stem cells represent healing and longevity in one place, and they are already on their way here. Their continued development will be the single most impactful change in technology in the next two decades."
David Pearce. Co-founder of World Transhumanist Association and the Abolitionist Society, currently Director of BLTC Research. Known as the author of the Hedonistic Imperative, in which he describes how technology will eventually permit us to abolish suffering altogether.
"I predict the development of quantum computers will revolutionize our root metaphor of mind, life and the multiverse. The development of immersive virtual reality technologies will revolutionize our entertainment, sexual and social lives. Progress in neuroscience will deliver safe and sustainable therapies for mood enrichment.
But from an ethical perspective, I think the single most important technological development will be the mass-production and consumption of in vitro meat. At present, billions of nonhuman animals endure lives of unimaginable misery in our factory farms. Pigs, for example, have the intelligence - and capacity to suffer - of a human two-year-old toddler. Animal activists argue on ethical grounds that we should close the death-factories and adopt a cruelty-free vegan diet. Yet I reckon the only realistic way to close down the machinery of exploitation and killing will be to develop cheap and delicious in vitro meat of a taste and texture indistinguishable from the flesh of slaughtered animals. The global adoption of a cruelty-free diet will mark a major evolutionary transition in the development of civilisation. Perhaps the biggest uncertainty is time-scales."
Read more about the cutting edge of in vitro meat development at www.new-harvest.org
Michael Anissimov. Media Director of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, owner of the world’s most popular transhumanist blog, Accelerating Future. He also co-founded the Immortality Institute while still in high school. He has consulted for the Metuselah Foundation and Kurzweil Technologies.
"Possibly molecular manufacturing. Why? Because it would usher in a new Industrial Revolution and could potentially be very dangerous."
Phil Bowermaster. Writer of The Speculist, a very popular blog about emerging technologies and possibilities. Phil has fifteen years of work experience in IT and Telecommunications, and has a master’s degree in technical communication from the University of Colorado. He has spent years working abroad in Russia, England, Hungary and Malaysia.
"The most significant technological development that we can expect to see over the next 20 years represents the completion of a process which has been several decades in the making. It can be viewed one of two ways:
1. The migration of human intelligence to a new substrate, accompanied by a massive increase in the speed and power of human intelligence
2. The emergence of a new entity, a hybrid of machine and human intelligence, which will replace human intelligence as the primary power on the planet
The principal driver of this shift will be the emergence of a conversational user interface between human beings and computers. Natural language interaction will set of an explosion of new capabilities that will ultimately transform all aspects of society: education, industry, government, the arts, science, entertainment, and -- because of the ubiquity and ever-increasing importance of social networks -- the very fabric of society itself, the fundamental interactions and relationships between people."
George Dvorsky. Producer of the award-winning Sentient Developments blog and podcast, and co-founder and president of the Toronto Transhumanist Association. He is on the board of directors for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies and Humanity+. Interviews with George have been featured in the Guardian and the BBC, among others.
"Interface technologies that bridge the gap between the human brain and the internet. In twenty years, our interaction with the web will be so seamless that it will be considered an exosomatic organ. Implications include ubiquitous access to all knowledge stores on the net and "techlepathy."
No matter who turns out to be right in 2030, one thing is certain: The world as we know it will change beyond recognition.
So, what do you think will be the single most significant technologic development of the next 20 years? Do you agree with one of the experts or do you see a different game-changer approaching? Leave a comment.
Phil also has a survey up on is blog The Speculist, to see in which area readers think the greatest leap in technology will come in the next twenty years, and I encourage you all to participate.