As you know I like to talk and discuss the future. It is one of the most fascinating things, at least in my opinion. The funny thing is that of all the predictions and forecasts that are made, only a slight number ever come to fruition, and usually in a way that was not thought about to begin with. Either way the future is still loads of fun to speculate about out.
Professor Yuval Noah Harari, whom I know nothing about other than I think I will eventually read his book, seems to think that within the span of about 200 years we, humans, will become “God-like Cyborgs.” That is quite the fantastic claim to say the least. The article is quite interesting and does touch on a few things that I found worthy enough to make a Random Thoughts post, he should feel honored, right?
There are quite a few ideas thrown around in this short article so I will start at the beginning. Professor Harari says that we will soon be able to blur the lines between man and machine and more or less become one with machines, using technology to even defy death. The kicker is that, he states, this technology will be restricted to the wealthiest people on the planet who can afford it. He is basically saying that the rich will live forever, because well, they are rich. So, I agree mostly with what he is saying. A lot of things can happen in a span of 200 years, given that we do not destroy ourselves in the meantime. If I am being positive I think this is certainly a possibility that we will begin to replace worn out organs with mechanical parts to prolong our lives. He does not specify exactly what he means when saying we will become “cyborgs,” but I assume this is what he is talking about.
Now let’s look at the other side of this idea, the financial side. In the beginning I think he is mostly correct that if and when this technology becomes available it will no doubt be expensive, probably astronomically so, and only the rich will be able to afford it. However, I do not think it will take long for other companies to take the device or technology and duplicate it and perhaps produce it a slightly cheaper cost. You have to think, in the future I assume people will still love money, so what would be the advantage of having something that could only be purchased by the top 1%-5% of the population, especially when said thing is not a luxury device such as a yacht or Patek Phillipe time piece. That does not make sense from a money making standpoint, good business is good business, no matter what century we are in.
So for the most part I do not buy into that aspect of the argument. However, healthcare is a very ridiculous, asinine, overpriced, beyond comprehension, industry that could change drastically in the near future, not to mention hundreds of years from now. I could see a future where these life extending devices are expensive and only the rich can afford them, especially if they are not covered by insurance. Still though I cannot imagine a scenario where economies of scale to not kick in and eventually a cheaper device is made more affordable.
This is the fun part, let’s play the game, as you know empires crumble, regimes eventually end, and leaders can be overthrown. So in the next 200 years what political system will be in place, that to me is the real question. Way back in 1815, things were mostly the same as they were now, and by that I mean totally different. Much of North America was being rediscovered as people moved west. The English Empire is was decline. Europe was mostly stable, other that the Napoleon guy running around causing a ruckus, but once we enter the 20th century there are two World Wars that change the landscape in Europe and the world. There is also one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded at Tambora, which changed the climate for the next few years, including the year without a summer which caused global famine. My point is that in the next 200 years could see additional wars and or natural disasters that shift the political balance one way or the other.
I am trying to imagine the bizarre events that would lead us to welcome a totalitarian dictator that is in control of North American or some other first world nation. What could maybe happen is where someone gets into power near the same time this technology becomes available. Seeing an opportunity they want to keep it exclusive and even though it could be available cheaper it is kept artificially expansive so only the rich can buy it. This could be a way of exterminating the poor class from society. While I do think this this could or would ever happen it is always a possibility, although it sounds more like something out of a sifi novel than anything else.
While this idea had never really crossed my mind part of me thinks that regardless of the technology in the coming centuries, if we survive, I think the real kicker will be the political shifts that will occur. I did come across this cool article where some sifi writers talk about some of their predictions of the future. Most are much to do about nothing but one, Brenda Cooper, did say a few things that I think could and I think will happen in the not so distant future.
She basically talks about how healthcare will be almost instantaneous because of various devices and or better fitness band technology. She pictures a world where your daily activities are monitored and tracked. This accumulation of data is certainly a good thing. She even states that this technology could notify you when something is wrong, all your data can be analyzed and other tests can be ordered. She claims that even a blood test could be administered from the fitness band. The cool thing is that that info is sent to a Dr. and they can look at it right then, no need to visit the Dr. Office. This could certainly make things cheaper not to mention you could get a diagnosis much faster.
I think this is a long way off, but I do think we are heading in that direction. Currently health care is trying to roll out a unified system that when you see a physician your information is stored on one massive nationwide database. The idea is that no matter what Dr. you visit they will be able to pull up your info, as opposed to having to call your last physician and get the paper file mailed or what have you. Also, eventually the system could start to compile large amounts of data, from that data physicians could help diagnosis and even start to administer preventative care. Imagine going in for a checkup and based on your symptoms no matter how vague the system can compare them with millions or even billions of other occurrences and tell you that you are at an increased risk for such and such cancer or recommend a screening, or tell you that you have early signs of heart disease. These types of things could greatly improve lifestyles and certainly prolong life.
The point here is that one day we this is very likely to be a reality. I am not 100% sure about the preventative healthcare aspect but the nationwide system is already being implemented in certain states, so it will just take time. I didn’t intend this post to be about healthcare, it just kind of went that way and I kind of felt like Bob Ross just letting the post wonder. I’m writing happy trees I suppose.