As we gain ever greater control over the atomic structure of matter, our technological goals become increasingly ambitious, and their payoffs more and more generous. Sometimes new technologies even make us happier in a long-lasting way: the Internet would be a prime example.
1. Cryonics: Cryonics is the high-fidelity preservation of the human body, and particularly the brain, after what we would call death, in anticipation of possible future revival. Watch Star Trek “The natural zone”
2. Virtual Reality: Computer graphics are already beginning to approach photorealism. Sometime in the 2020s, reality simulations will become so high-resolution and immersive that they’ll start to get indistinguishable from the real thing. Star Trek Holodeck can become a reality
3. Gene Therapy: Replacing bad genes with good one and rewrting our genetic code. Because of the experiences with genetic engineering, the Federation had banned it except to correct genetic birth defects, though Julian Bashir is a notable exception to this. Despite the ban, the Federation allowed the Darwin station to conduct human genetic engineering, which resulted in a telepathic, telekentic humans with a very effective immune system.
4. Space Colonization: Space colonization is closely related to transhumanism through the mutual association of futurist philosophy, but also more directly because the embrace of transhumanism will be necessary to colonize space. The only reasonable solution is to upgrade our bodies. Not terraform the cosmos, but cosmosform ourselves.
5. Cybernetics: Cyborgs already walk among us, and they look just like normal people. Many cyborg upgrades which will become available in the 20s and 30s, such as hearing and vision enhancement, metabolic enhancement, artificial bones, muscles, and organs, and even brain-computer interfaces will be invisible to the casual observer, implanted beneath the skin.
6. Autonomous Self-Replicating Robotics: A landmark NASA study, “Advanced Automation for Space Missions”, found that robotic self-replication is just a matter of engineering, and that no fundamental theoretical breakthroughs are needed. The study proposed sending a 100-ton package to the Moon, with a self-replication time of 1 year, and letting it self-replicate until the desired level of development is attained.
7. Molecular Manufacturing: If self-replication is the Holy Grail of robotics, then molecular nanotechnology (MNT) is the Holy Grail of manufacturing. Molecular nanotechnology would use massive arrays of nanometer-scale actuators (produced initially through self-replication) to manufacture macroscale products with atomic precision. This concept is known as the nanofactory. In Michael Crichton’s Prey, one such factory turns into a deadly entity.
8. Megascale Engineering: Typically, megascale engineering refers to building structures at least 1,000 km in length in one dimension, such as a space elevator, Globus Cassus, or Dyson sphere or the fictional death star of Star Wars
9. Mind Uploading: We don’t want to accept that we’re just data structures implemented as computational automata on bilogical nerons. The brain can’t tell if it’s made out of biological cells or entirely nonbiological neuron-equivalents: the computation is the same. Sometimes this notion is also referred to as an application of the Church-Turing thesis.
10. Artificial General Intelligence: The way the world would be impacted by the arrival of general AI is too extreme to discuss. If raw materials such as sand can be converted into computer chips and then into intelligent minds, eventually the majority of material in the solar system could be made intelligent and conscious. The result would be a “noetic Renaissance”: the expansion of intelligence and experience beyond our wildest dreams.