Human Revolution to
occur by 2029?
The merger of humans with machines (nano-
bots) which will result in a new and improved
human existence, more intelligent, healthier,
happier with unlimited virtual reality capabil-
ities and potentially with lifespans far surpas-
sing anything heretofore imagined, it's coming.
Maybe, per futurist Ray Kurzweil, and the
potential of such advances does, as with
every advance in human history, provide
a paradoxical future, one in which the posi-
tives mentioned in the following article do
come with a risk that the new pseudo-humans
will be little more than pseudo-puppets for
those with the riches and power to attempt
Certainly, that brings to mind the current ver-
sion of human, totally biological, in which
efforts are made to control/manipulate/de-
ceive each of us, from birth, so perhaps, the
pseudo-humans will be at no greater risk
than they were at in their purely biological
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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 19:38 GMT
Machines 'to match man by 2029'
By Helen Briggs
Science reporter, BBC News, Boston
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Concept image of microscopic machine
working in body (SPL)
Tiny machines could roam the body curing diseases
Machines will achieve human-level artificial
intelligence by 2029, a leading US inventor has
Humanity is on the brink of advances that will
see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to
make them more intelligent, said Ray Kurzweil.
The engineer believes machines and humans
will eventually merge through devices implanted
in the body to boost intelligence and health.
"I've made the case that we will have both the
hardware and the software to achieve human
level artificial intelligence with the broad sup-
pleness of human intelligence including our
emotional intelligence by 2029," he said.
We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains...
to make us smarter
Humans and machines would eventually merge, by
means of devices embedded in people's bodies to
keep them healthy and improve their intelligence,
predicted Mr Kurzweil.
"We'll have intelligent nanobots go into our brains
through the capillaries and interact directly with our
biological neurons," he told BBC News.
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CHALLENGES FACING HUMANITY
Make solar energy affordable
Provide energy from fusion
Develop carbon sequestration
Manage the nitrogen cycle
Provide access to clean water
Reverse engineer the brain
Prevent nuclear terror
Enhance virtual reality
Improve urban infrastructure
Advance health informatics
Engineer better medicines
Advance personalised learning
Explore natural frontiers
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The nanobots, he said, would "make us smarter,
remember things better and automatically go into
full emergent virtual reality environments through
the nervous system".
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Live longer, live better: futurologists
pick top challenges of next 50 years
· Experts see huge advances in health and technology
· Sun could provide all of Earth's energy needs
The Guardian, Saturday February 16 2008
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The 18-stong team of scientists, entrepreneurs
and thinkers was convened by the US National
Academy of Engineering (NAE) to identify
problems for technology in the 21st century
that, if solved, would change the world.
The NAE group focused on four areas for their
engineering grand challenges: sustainability,
health, vulnerability, and joy of living.
"We only need to capture one part in 10,000
of the sunlight that falls on the Earth to meet
100% of our energy needs," futurologist Ray
Kurzweil, a member of the NAE group, told
the AAAS. "This will become feasible with
nanoengineered solar panels and nanoengin-
eered fuel cells."
Genetic technology allows scientists to switch
off selected strands of DNA and new techniques
in gene therapy enable them to modify the behav-
iour of genes. "Within one to two decades, we
will be in a position to stop and reverse the pro-
gression of disease and ageing, resulting in dra-
matic gains in health and longevity," said Kurz-
"Once non-biological intelligence matches the
range and subtlety of human intelligence, it will
necessarily soar past it because of the continuing
acceleration of information-based technologies,
as well as the ability of machines to instantly
share their knowledge."
He added: "Intelligent nanorobots will be deeply
integrated in the environment, our bodies and our
brains, providing vastly extended longevity, full-
immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the
senses ... and enhanced human intelligence."
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The last frontier
17 Feb, 2008
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According to computer guru Dr Ray Kurzweil,
there will be 32 times more technical progress
during the next half century than there was in
the entire 20th century, and one of the outcomes
is that artificial intelligence could be on a par
with human intellect in the next 20 years.
He said that machines will rapidly overtake
humans in their intellectual abilities and will
soon be able to solve some of the most intract-
able problems of the 21st century.
Computers have so far been based on two-di-
mensional chips made from silicon, but there
are developments already well advanced to
make three-dimensional chips with vastly im-
proved performances, and even to construct
them out of biological molecules.
Three-dimensional, molecular computing will
provide the hardware for human-level 'strong
artificial intelligence' by the 2020s. The more
important software insights will be gained in
part from the reverse engineering of the human
brain, a process well under way.
"Already, two dozen regions of the human brain
have been modelled and simulated," the British
newspaper quoted Dr Kurzweil as saying.
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Engineer the tools of scientific discovery
In the century ahead, engineers will continue to
be partners with scientists in the great quest for
understanding many unanswered questions of
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How will engineering impact biological
Biologists are always seeking, for instance,
better tools for imaging the body and the
brain. Many mysteries also remain in the
catalog of human genes involving exactly
how genes work in processes of activation
and inhibition. Scientists still have much to
learn about the relationship of genes and
disease, as well as the possible role of
large sections of our DNA that seem to be
junk with no function, leftover from evolu-
To explore such realms, biologists will
depend on engineering help - perhaps in
the form of new kinds of microscopes, or
new biochemical methods of probing the
body's cellular and molecular machinations.
New mathematical and computing methods,
incorporated into the emerging discipline
of "systems biology," may show the way to
better treatments of disease and better under-
standing of healthy life.
Perhaps even more intriguing, the bioengin-
eering discipline known as "synthetic biology"
may enable the design of entirely novel bio-
logical chemicals and systems that could
prove useful in applications ranging from
fuels to medicines to environmental cleanup
Turning to the mysteries of our own minds,
new methods for studying the brain should
assist the study of memory, learning, emo-
tions, and thought. In the process, mental
disorders may be conquered and learning
and thinking skills enhanced.
Ultimately, such advances may lead to a
credible answer to the deepest of human
mysteries, the question of the origin and
nature of consciousness itself.
How will engineering help us explore the
In its profundity, only one question com-
pares with that of consciousness - whether
the universe is host to forms of life anywhere
else than on Earth. Systems capable of prob-
ing the cosmos for evidence surely represent
one of engineering's grandest challenges.
Even apart from the question of extraterres-
trial life, the exploration of space poses a
considerable challenge. Long-distance human
space flight faces numerous obstacles, from
the danger of radiation to the need to supply
sustainable sources of food, water, and oxy-
Engineering expertise will be critical to over-
coming those obstacles, and many efforts to
expand that expertise are underway. One line
of research, for example, envisions a set of
connected bioreactors populated by carefully
chosen microbes. Metabolism by the microbes
could convert human wastes (and in some cases
the microbes' own wastes) into the resources
needed to support long-term travel through
But the allure of space extends well beyond the
desire to seek novel life and explore new phe-
nomena. Space represents the mystery of exist-
The universe's size and age exceeds most peo-
Beneath all this compelling complexity lies an
embarrassing fact - scientists do not know
what most of the universe is made of. We only
understand a small percentage of all the matter
and energy in the cosmos. The greatest part of
matter is a dark form of unknown identity, and
even more abundant is a mysterious energy that
exerts a repulsive force on space, inducing the
universe to expand at an ever-increasing rate.
Engineers have continually been at work on
better, and cheaper, ways to search space for
answers to these questions. New and improved
telescopes, both on the ground and in space,
make up part of the investigatory arsenal.
Whether these and other approaches can shed
sufficient light to disclose the universe's dark-
est secrets remains unknown. It may be that
further investigation of earthly materials will
be needed as well, along with the continued
assault on the problems of physics with the
power of thought, an approach used so suc-
cessfully by Einstein. Maybe answers will
come only if scientists can succeed in discov-
ering the ultimate laws of physics.
In that regard, the underlying question is whe-
ther there exists, as Einstein believed, one
single, ultimate underlying law that encom-
passes all physics in a unified mathematical
framework. Finding out may require new tools
to unlock the secrets of matter and energy. Per-
haps engineers will be able to devise smaller,
cheaper, but more powerful atom smashers,
enabling physicists to explore realms beyond
the reach of current technology.
Another possible avenue to discovering a uni-
fied law might be by achieving a deeper under-
standing of how the world's tiniest and most
basic building blocks work, the foundations
of quantum physics.
All things considered, the frontiers of nature
represent the grandest of challenges, for
engineers, scientists, and society itself.
Engineering's success in finding answers to
nature's mysteries will not only advance the
understanding of life and the cosmos, but also
provide engineers with fantastic new pros-
pects to apply in enterprises that enhance the
joy of living and the vitality of human civili-
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