"We are the Borg. . . . Resistance is futile." The Borg, "The Best of Both Worlds", Pt. 1 ST:TNG
In a recent article in the U.K. newpaper, The Sun (this is the newspaper whose main contribution to journalism was the page 3 girl), and in an interview in Computerworld, author, inventor, and futurist Ray Kurzweil advanced his theory that by the year 2024, using a combination of nanotechnology and a greater understanding of human genetics, mankind
. . . will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nano-technology will let us live for ever. ("Why in 2029 we’ll start living forever")
"It’s radical life extension," Kurzweil said. "The full realization of nanobots will basically eliminate biological disease and aging. I think we’ll see widespread use in 20 years of [nanotech] devices that perform certain functions for us. In 30 or 40 years, we will overcome disease and aging. The nanobots will scout out organs and cells that need repairs and simply fix them. It will lead to profound extensions of our health and longevity." ("Nanotech could make humans immortal by 2040, futurist says")
In both the Sun article and the Computerworld interview, Mr. Kurzweil predicts that nanobots will replace red blood cells, since the nanobots will work with far greater efficency, our mental capacities will expand, we’ll be able to enter virtual reality at any time and enjoy (?) virtual sex, and "hologram like figures will pop up in our brain to explain what is happening".
Great, just what we need, the return of Clippy to give us advice. "It looks like you’re in a moral quandry. Would you like help?"
In the Computerworld interview, Mr. Kurzweil claims that none of these changes will take away our humanity:
Kurzweil also maintains that adding microscopic machines to our bodies won’t make us any less human than we are today or were 500 years ago.
"The definition of human is that we are the species that goes beyond our limitations and changes who we are," he said. "If that wasn’t the case, you and I wouldn’t be around because at one point life expectancy was 23. We’ve extended ourselves in many ways. This is an extension of who we are. Ever since we picked up a stick to reach a higher branch, we’ve extended who we are through tools. It’s the nature of human beings to change who we are."
But, in his Sun article, there is a sentence that both contradicts this and, frankly, sends cold shivers up the spine:
So we can look forward to a world where humans become cyborgs, with artificial limbs and organs.
"I like my species the way it is" Worf, "The Best of Both Worlds", Pt. 2 ST. TNG
Mr. Kurzweil may be a brillant man, but his vision of the future of humanity, populated by immortal cyborgs with nanobots for blood sounds more like a vision of Dystopia than Utopia, more nightmare realized than dream fulfilled.
While there is no doubt that nanotechnology will come to play a larger role in the medical field – the use of nanoparticles to deliver medications in cancer treatments, for example – one doubts that nanobots will come to replace red blood cells or that we’ll really want to shut ourselves off from others and enter a virtual reality world (let alone having virtual sex).
Article like the one in the Sun and interviews such as the one in Computerworld don’t help nanotechnology or nanoindustry de accepted by the general public, who will read them and assign nanotech to the realm of really bad science fiction or have their fears of mankind becoming either the Borg or Cybermen reinforced.
Mr. Kurzweil’s vision of the future is not one that I think most of us would ever find attractive and not one that most of us would opt for.
"Resistance is not futile?" Hugh, "I Borg", ST: TNG