Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Technology's gonna save us

Hi all,

As I get around to making an appointment to get a wisdom tooth extracted, I wish I lived in an age where nano-dentistry existed. Where nano-machines mingled with the bacteria in my mouth to destroy any plaque and cleaned out and fill in any decaying teeth, molecule by molecule.

I hope to be around at the other side of the coming technology spike or singularity, where a combination of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and nanotechnology will totally change what it means to be human. As it is, in my more negative moments, I think I’ll miss it and the last years of my life will be lived in a word ravaged by the consequences of global warming, where I, like the billions of others, will spend all my time trying to scrap the resources together to eat. Nanotechnology has the potential to fix global warming: nano-swarms could deconstruct the carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere.

Only a couple of months ago I read an article by a right-winger, Chris Berg, in the Age gloating on how the dire predictions of an over-populated world in the 1970’s book “The Population Bomb” never came to fruition, a month later and I was reading about food riots and food crisis in 30 countries. Last night on the news Ethiopia was again suffering famine – although I think its government is mostly to blame for its current predicament. I am hopeful that genetic engineering will create salt and drought resistance crops to help feed us while the climate changes. Maybe someone will discover a gene that stops people from overeating too.

In the shorter term I hope that SETI is finally successful and we learn that there are other civilisations out there. I doubt if we will ever get to greet them in person, because I don’t think faster than light travel will ever eventuate and worm-holes are just the stuff of scientific theory. It would be great to know that other civilisations survived becoming civilised, so perhaps we could too.

In the immediate term, with the current petrol crisis, I hope Rudd starts to encourage the conversion of cars to natural gas in a big way. Australia has heaps of the stuff and the infrastructure to get it into cars. Gas also has the advantage of producing a lot less greenhouse gasses. Using natural gas instead of importing oil will also help fix our rapidly increasing foreign debt.

Unlike many, I am a person who believes technology might actually save us and I am becoming increasingly annoyed at what I perceive to be ignorant fear campaigns against things like GM foods and genetic engineering. The anti-gm foods lobby’s major argument seems to be fear of the unknown (where the unknown comes from lack of research on the part of the fearer).

I’d be interested to hear what readers others hope to see technology do in their life times.


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