Nov 212014
 

What will happen when we, as a species, conquer Death and Time?

 

In the future (within the next five hundred years), I think we will have mostly solved the problem of dying and maybe the problem of time travel (as most of us think of it).

Can you wrap your mind around a future like that? I have tried to write fiction many times but I am never happy with the result. Nonetheless, I have ideas I think would make interesting concepts. Perhaps a better fiction writer will read this and take a stab at creating a story around some of these ideas (just let me know if you do and give me partial credit, would you?).

Imagine what day-to-day life might look like in five hundred years:

 

  • To be a successful politician, you will not run for office. Instead, you will travel back in time and become a significant historical figure. Then, when you return to the future (present), you will be judged on your results and accomplishments from, say, five hundred years ago.

 

  • Wars will not be fought by armies. Instead, they will be fought by militant forces that travel back in time to stop insurrections or corrupt dictators before they come to power. They will not go back in time to kill someone before they are born. Rather, they will become a significant mentor in the person’s life and lead them a different direction.

 

  • Technology will be created to protect certain moments in our time line to keep from destroying reality altogether. For example, there will have to be a way to ensure time travel remains discovered, along with a way to preserve certain moments of the past, like the invention of space travel, to ensure human survival.

 

  • Time travel will be a great tourist market. Want to visit your Grandfather’s grandmother’s grandfather? No problem. Want to see a real dinosaur? We got you covered. Just sign this insurance form…

 

  • History’s greatest leaders and musicians will be available to keep the world on track. Aristotle will attend a Jimi Hendrix concert. Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking will meet and fall in love. Albert Einstein and George Washington will lead a peace accord with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi.

 

  • Because we can live for thousands, maybe millions, of years, and because Time will no longer be relative, and because we will be capable of navigating the universe, many of us will opt out for a while. Some people will grow tired of living and they will choose to sleep for a few thousand years sometimes, to wake up and experience a new reality.

 

  • Time management software will take on a whole new meaning.

 

I don’t know how crazy the future will be but I know the possibilities are limitless. What would your future self, living in a universe without boundaries on success, learning, creativity, or possibility come back and tell your present self? Today’s lesson is simple: you are the potential of limitless potential! Live up to your potential now, before it’s too late… you know, in case it ever is too late.

 

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Nov 202014
 

Over time, I think humans will become essentially immortal.
Looking at current trends in technology, it is not a leap to consider humanity may be on the verge of an unprecedented leap forward. We may cure death within the next hundred years. In 300 years, we might even be challenged with what it means to be human when our physical bodies are no longer necessary (and might be a liability).

When that happens, we will be able to travel farther than we can imagine and with unlimited resources and lifespans to throw at the universe’s biggest problems, we could potentially solve issues like being able to travel faster than light. What would that look like? (Well… I suppose it would not look like anything because if we were moving faster than light, we would be unable to see what is ahead!)

If we can beat the barriers imposed by Relativity and move faster than light, we would also have access to purely science fiction technology like time travel.

Consider this: when we look into space, we look into the past. It takes time for the light of other objects to reach our eyes, even someone standing in front of you. Light travels so fast (about 186,000 miles per second!) it seems like you see people and things instantly. Of course, that is not true. It takes time for light to reach your eyes because light has to cross the space between the object you are looking at and you, the same way your body has to cross space to reach the other side of a room.

Bigger spaces require more time for light to cross. When we look at the nearest galaxy to our own (the Andromeda galaxy), we are seeing it as it was about 2 million years ago. The space between our own Milky Way galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy is so great it took the light, traveling 186,000 miles per second, about 2 million years to reach our telescopes! That means they also see our galaxy as it was 2 million years ago. If someone in the Andromeda galaxy today could see Earth, they would see dinosaurs roaming the planet now. You and I have not even been born!

You do not have to travel to another galaxy to grasp this concept, though. Just think of how we have other time zones on our planet. Some of us appear to be either 3 hours in the future or 3 hours in the past from others. It is not the same, of course, but it is an easier scale to understand.

Because you and I reflect light, too, we can think of our lives as channels on television being broadcast forever, until it reaches the edge of space. We are the ultimate reality TV shows for the universe! That means if you can race faster than the signal (light) of your own life, then theoretically you could be in front of it to be there when it reaches you and you could watch your life again!

If we want to travel backward in time, the trick will be to out race light. This raises more questions than I can possibly explore in a series of posts (or even in a hundred years of blogging about it) but it is a fun thought experiment, and in a few hundred years, it may not be an experiment at all. We may be dealing with the results of that experiment (or we may already be dealing with it!).

Here is the core of today’s lesson: when you think about it… really, truly, quite literally… anything is possible.

 

Nov 192014
 

How long before we become more than human?

 

Think about this: as technology progresses, we will soon be able to upload the human consciousness. Death itself will be something poorly described in old history books.

At first, I think our nigh-immortality will be a result of clever technology, like a combination of WiFi, cloning, and 3-D printing. When you die or your body wears out, you will be downloaded into a new body and can pick up right where you left off.

That may happen while your grandchildren or their grandchildren are still living. I think the last generation of humans who will die (as we know it) are alive on earth now. Within a hundred years, death may be as curable as the measles or polio.

What about three to five hundred years from now, though? What if science continues marching on, with unlimited resources and no loss of knowledge or talent (because death has become a thing of fiction)? How much faster could we free ourselves from the boundaries of earth and colonize other planets, ensuring our survival as a species?

Imagine what space travel could look like when we have the ability to upload our consciousness to a computer? We could travel farther than we have ever perceived. We could upload an astronaut’s conscience and genetic data, send him or her a thousand (or million!) years out of the solar system, and download the genetic and biological information into a freshly created body when he or she arrives at the destination.

Indeed, when we are able to live in cyberspace, why hold onto the relic of the human body at all? How far away are we from living only as energy?

If technology increased to let us ascended our fleshy packaging and live as energy, we could travel the universe at the speed of light. Light is so mysterious. We are only beginning to grasp what it is. For example, one of the great conundrums of light is that it exists as both a particle (stationary) and a wave (in motion) based on whether we are observing it directly. Another mysterious property of  light is nothing is able to outrun it. The speed of light is the hard speed limit set by the universe .

What if light itself is a form of life? What if light is the ultimate result of intelligence, technology, and exploration? Our destiny as creatures of energy may already be in front of us, all the time, everywhere.

If extraterrestrial aliens created technology to reach earth, even from the next nearest solar system, they would be so advanced to us that we would not even recognize them as living things. Just to get here, they would have to figure out the challenge of moving beyond Physics and Flesh. They would have to figure out how to survive for thousands or millions of years while traveling and figure out how to meet or beat the hard speed limit set by the universe.
Here is today’s lesson: maybe one day we will be the aliens… think about that the next time you enjoy a sunny day or turn on a light. Maybe some of that light is not coming from the stars. Maybe it’s them. Or us.

 

Nov 182014
 

If you knew you could never die, how would you live?

 

I believe death will be cured within a hundred years. That may sound optimistic but consider that we have already mapped the human genome and are closer to mapping and understanding the genetic structure of our brain. As computer technology progresses and storage becomes increasingly cheap and widely available, I think the day will arrive when we can essentially upload our consciousness and genetic make-up to the cloud.

Imagine just a little, further, though, that technology will be so powerful in just a hundred years that your mind and the details of your body are constantly and automatically being backed up on a server somewhere, wirelessly, without you having to do anything.

You step in front of a bus or drown in a swimming accident and your last data copy is instantly downloaded into a 3-D genomic printer at your home. You die, only to open your eyes and find you are completely safe, in a new, but identical freshly made body.

Crazy, right? But nearly every piece of technology required to make that happen exists in rudimentary form today. Cloning, Bluetooth and WiFi, data storage, 3-D printing, and DNA mapping are all here now. What will those technologies look like after being refined another hundred years?

I probably won’t live to see death disappear from humanity, but my little brother or his children or his grandchildren might.

What will happen when essentially no one dies anymore? Will we all live as cynics, losing the optimism brought on by appreciating the fleetingness of life? Will we move ever forward with unlimited time to learn and develop, or will we slide backward, knowing we can always get to important stuff later? How long will fearful religious zealots, corrupt politicians, and greedy corporate entities force us to keep death around when the technology arrives to eradicate it? How much will it cost at first and how long until it becomes affordable for most everyone? Will it be the end of money as a means of trade? Think about it; of what use will money be when time becomes unlimited? What will it mean for managing Earth’s resources?

I assert the future is not that far away. We should be thinking about it now.

Today’s lesson, then, is obscure but still buried in here: if you never had to die, how would you live? (And also, why aren’t you living like that now, anyway?)

 

Nov 172014
 

In all likelihood, everyone reading this blog will die, including me… but that might be a good thing.

 

Despite what we see in the media, I think the human race is greatly, almost romantically, optimistic, perhaps to a fault. Every great invention I can think of came at great potential peril. The airplane–can you imagine the optimism it took for the first pilot to test the first jet airliner? “You want me to try to fly fifty tons of metal 20,000 feet in the air and you say the engineers over there say it should work? Sure, what the heck. I’ll give it a go…”

How optimistic did Neil Armstrong have to be in having faith that some crazy idea of sending a ship to the moon would work? Even the internet itself–what kind of cautious optimism was required for the risk of opening up the world’s knowledge to anyone?

We move forward at the risk of death all the time. Driving. Taking the elevator. Living by the ocean. Walking across a bridge. Swimming in the ocean.

What I wonder is, does death make us optimistic?

It seems like a contradiction but I wonder if knowing we will eventually pass away helps us appreciate the time we have. Could it be that we take risks to enjoy life more (going bungee jumping, for example) because we know how fleeting life is? It is, perhaps, our way of reminding ourselves how precious our time here is.

 

Today’s lesson: it is obvious we do not live our lives in fear (not even the most “fearful” of us). Knowing now that you are actually fearless and that you might die at any given moment, the question is: how will you live the rest of your life?