“I was born human but I believe it’s something we have the power to change”
– Kevin Warwick
Mother Nature Network – “Between our laptops, smartphones and tablets, we already use technology to connect ourselves in ever-advanced ways to the world. Indeed, the line between technology and reality has become increasingly blurred. Projecting into the future, it’s not hard to imagine the line disappearing entirely — when humans and technology merge and become indistinguishable. Some philosophers and scientists think this kind of “technological singularity” could be achieved within just a few more generations. In other words, we’re all well on our way to becoming cyborgs.
Ye sci-fi writers hard up for new material should spend an hour or so perusing the Defense Department’s 2015 budget proposal, especially the section covering the far-out research projects underway at DARPA, where the agency’s mad scientists are working to develop brain-controlled drones, biowarfare, engineer new life forms, and possibly attempt immortality.
If last year was the year of battlefield robots, cyborg soldiers, and weaponized drones, it looks like the next couple years will see the Pentagon gearing up for a deep dive into biotech. DARPA announced today it now has an unit devoted to studying the intersection of biology and engineering, the Biological Technologies Office.
The agency is betting that the next generation of defense tech will be take a cue from natural life, and as such one of the major focuses of the new unit will be on synthetic biology. It’ll ramp up research into manufacturing biomaterials, turning living cells, proteins, and DNA into a sort of genetic factory.
The goal is to create man-made, living supermaterials that can be used for next-gen mechanical and electrical products, self-repairing materials, renewable fuels, solar cells, and so on. It’s not a new initiative; DARPA announced its Living Foundries synthetic biology program three years ago to transform modern-day manufacturing. Now the 2015 budget will bump the program’s funding up from $18 to $28 million.
One of the most prominent transhumanists is the inventor and philosopher Ray Kurzweil, currently director of engineering at Google, and populariser of the concept of the technological “singularity” – a point he puts at around 2045, when artificial intelligence will outstrip human intelligence for the first time. The predicted consequences of such a scenario vary wildly from the enslavement of humanity to a utopian world without war (or even, as a result of self-replicating nanotechnology, the transformation of the planet, or perhaps the entire universe, into something called “grey goo” – but that’s a whole other story).
Kurzweil, the award-winning creator of the flatbed scanner, also believes he has a shot at immortality and intends to resurrect the dead, including his own father. “We will transcend all of the limitations of our biology,” he has said. “That is what it means to be human – to extend who we are.”
Next Change: Brave New World Order
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.