Every generation finally sees the line between itself and previous and future generations in ways that seem small to the future generation but feel huge to the previous generation.
Changes in music or body adornments are obvious examples. Rock and Roll shocked the generations that grew up before it while today, classic rock is seen as “old peoples music”. Massive tattoos shock the generation that found pierced ears for men scandalous. Each generation builds on that which was hard to accept for previous generations.
Today’s teenagers are not shocked by people with toe-to-ear body tattoos, but some of them would still be stunned by implanted technology for non-essential reasons. Children being born today will likely get to consider technology enhancements to their bodies that allow them to receive information, control their world and communicate.
The internet of things (IoT) will very directly include humanity. Actually it’s already started, with simple biometric sensors, such as smart watches, fitbits and always-in-hand smart phones. But it will quite obviously go a lot further. Pills that when swallowed take biometric readings from within specific parts of the body will allow for better health options for patients. And the glassholes from the beta testing of google glasses provided a lot of information on the potential uses for integrating computers into sight and hearing.
Nano technology, is in its infancy today, but it seems inevitable that amazing things will be possible with very tiny technology that is powered indefinitely from the human body. Tiny robots performing tiny surgical and pharmaceutical duties inside the body are already being tested in animal and clinical trials. It won’t be that many years in the future when human life will be extended and its quality will be improved by armies of specialized cell sized machines fixing imperfections and maybe even providing enhancements that evolution alone has not been able to select (so far).
How will the next generation think about the human body, will it be seen as this unique and special temple as we see it today, or will they see it as a complex structure that can be made better by the use of technology.
Today we use lenses to correct vision, audio devices to repair hearing, electric wheel chairs to allow for enhanced movement for damaged legs, robot limbs to replaced lost ones. We use replacement organs from donors and complex filters to do the job of defective kidneys. We use a plethora of complex chemicals to alleviate pain, or repair or remediate any number of conditions. So why not directly connect sensors to the nervous system, or provide micro-bots that can perform surgery at the cellular level?
Once a generation acknowledges technology integrated into the human body as acceptable, it’s likely to also see it as preferential. Technology that can fix broken bodies can also enhance perfectly working bodies. Why not have a direct connection to the internet of the future wired directly into your brain? What if you could learn to ask google v2 a question just by thinking of it, and have the answer loaded directly into your short term memory for consumption. What if you would have a new cornea that provided a zoom function and maybe the ability to have your vision supplemented with information on what you are looking it. Or the ability to record what you sense (see, hear, taste, touch, smell) and share with others, sort of the ultimate go-pro recording, just by thinking and your senses are recorded and can be downloaded.
What if your fat could be converted into muscle, not by working out, but by nanabots, re-programming each cell. What if your reaction times could be improved by technology cleaning up your nerves, and optimizing the path between your senses, and your muscles?
What if cartilage worn down by age or arthritis could be rebuilt by cell sized robots working inside your joints.
Will the next generation be open to using technology to go beyond what the human body has evolved to do?
Will “generation-tech” be okay with more limbs, new additional muscles, better ears and eyes, more ears and eyes, direct brain connections for uploads and downloads, areas of the brain directly connected to the internet? Will gen-t want tails, wings, larger lungs, gills, suctions cups, tentacles, brain controlled remote androids?
The point is that once a generation accepts a new idea, then they are open to taking that new idea to new levels.
The human body is complex and at risk from a million directions, and the range of “what if” choices that technology can help answer will only grow. The questions of “can we” vs “should we” are always present, and as always will be hard to answer. Theologians, philosophers and ethicists will have a harder job in the future than they even have today.
With each generation the possibilities grow. We live today in an age of amazing technology, and with each passing day what the future may bring comes a little closer. What will stay the same and what will change will excite some and disgust others, and we all have a part to play in making the future, who knows what butterfly wings will create a hurricane later.
Who knows what butterfly wings will create a hurricane later