The idea of living for 1,000 years sounds like something out of a science-fiction novel, but it may soon be a scientific fact. It actually may be coming much sooner than we realize. If you’re alive in 30 years, you may actually make it to your 1,000th birthday.
Life extension and immortality are being seriously pursued by many in Silicon Valley, California, who believe that death does not have to be inevitable. It would sound insane if these men and women weren’t some of the most brilliant people on the planet.
One of the biggest proponents of the possibility of immortality is Ray Kurzweil, chief engineer at Google. He believes that we are mere decades away from major breakthroughs that will extend our lives exponentially.
This is based on the history of computing and the trend line that points ever-upward. Consider where technology was in 1997. At the time, dial-up internet was the primary means of connecting to the internet, cell phones were still a novelty, and tube televisions were common. Looking back, it’s amazing how much technology is obsolete from this time.
Now try to imagine where we’ll be 20 years from now. Technology will have advanced to places that we can’t even imagine. Part of that advancement will be an approach to The Singularity. This is when computers become as intelligent as human beings. Once we’ve reached that point, computers will immediately surpass us in intelligence and continue advancing.
Kurzweil believes this is the event that will mark our ability to end death as we know it. The Singularity is expected to occur in 2045. If you’re alive, there’s a decent chance that you’ll be around in 1,000 years.
What is predicted by Kurzweil and others is that while the technology won’t be there in 30 years to live that long, the technology to store our DNA will be. Once our DNA is stored, we can be reanimated as soon as that technology is discovered. We can then transfer our brains into a robot body, giving us almost superhuman powers.
Even if living to 1,000 isn’t possible, technology promises to extend our life expectancy by many years, even many decades. For example, tiny computers will someday be implanted in our bodies that will give us real-time information about our health. If problems are found, we’ll know immediately. These robots may even be able to correct health problems right as they are found.
Of course, some people aren’t as optimistic about the future as Kurzweil. Stephen Hawking, for one, has argued that artificial intelligence could have a profoundly negative impact on the world as we know it. Anyone who has seen the “Terminator” movies knows exactly what he’s talking about.
When we achieve The Singularity, the robots will become self-aware. Once they are self-aware, they may choose to ignore the orders we give them. In an extreme scenario, the robots may actually rise up and take over the world. If this happens, the dream of immortality ends along with the human race.
One thing is clear: technology will continue to advance in ways that few of us can foresee. Hopefully, the advancement brings positive results like immortality. Only time will tell.