The question is not if, but when. By the 2020′s, life expectancy should begin to take a dramatic leap forward. A generation after that, it might even be possible to exist “indefinitely.”
Many midlife baby boomers could fall within that time frame. The healthier you are now, the better your chances of enjoying a later later. Take to heart the old joke: “If I knew I were going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”
For this scenario to turn from science fiction to science fact depends on the technology and the political issues concerning its use.
The first step is medical nanorobots, about a decade away from human clinical trials. These tiny mechanisms will travel though the body and make repairs on a molecular level, strengthening bones and improving eyesight.
Vision of a nanorobot in action
Some researchers envision a procedure where ‘bots called “chromallocytes” seek out damaged and aging cells and immediately make repairs or grow new ones, creating a younger you. Not “reverse the physical signs of aging” skin creams promise, but literally turning back the human clock from the inside.
Combine this with the continued development of artificial organs, and the body receives a medical overhaul that not only keeps it going on and on, but also going better.
But wait, there’s more. Cutting-edge neuro-research suggests that it’s possible to transfer consciousness, mind and memories from bodies damaged by poor health or accidents into newly-cloned or rejuvenated bodies.
Scanners can now image individual neuron connections and their interactions. Replacing biological brains with non-biological material is in the beginning stages today. Doctors have successfully implanted an electronic chip to replace cells destroyed by Parkinson’s disease. Utilizing non-biological neurons will allow easy interface with supercomputers. Our life history then becomes software that can be simulated, turned into a computer program, and transferred. Science unimpeded might accomplish this by the 2040s.
Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that humans will one day become 100% non-biological. “This is just a natural step,” he says. “Our species has always been the one that strives to improve itself.”
This is all very exciting but, in the meantime, don’t forget to take out the garbage tonight.