Cell-sized robots will keep us healthy from the inside out.
About five years from now, tiny computing and communication nodes will be everywhere. The electronics we need will be woven into our clothing. We will have a very high bandwidth wireless connection to the Internet at all times.
Images will be written directly to our retinas from our eyeglasses, creating high resolution virtual displays. These displays will be able to overlay the real world and create an augmented reality - for example, information bubbles that pop up to remind us of people's names and birthdays.
Your search engine of choice will listen to your conversation and won't wait to be asked what to do. If it hears you wonder about "that actress, who played the princess in the early 'Star Wars,'" a popup will appear, saying, "Carrie Fisher played Princess Leia in episodes 4 through 6."
These displays will be able to replace real reality to create full-immersion virtual reality. Increasing numbers of Americans are already spending time in virtual worlds such as Second Life, with real economic transactions and real romance.
The cartoon-like visual presence of today's virtual worlds will evolve into highly realistic alternatives to real reality. That means you'll be able to overcome geographical distance at the touch of a (virtual) button, you'll have millions of virtual environments to choose from, and perhaps most interestingly, you can become someone else.
As amazing as that may sound, information technology will be a trillion times more capable (for the same cost) in 35 years. Scientists will have completed the reverse-engineering of the human brain, and we will apply the powerful methods of human intelligence to super-powerful computers.
The result will be a merger between our biological intelligence and the intelligent technology that we are creating. It will transform every aspect of our lives, from energy to our longevity. A few examples:
- We will meet all of our energy needs with nano-engineered (engineered at the molecular scale) solar panels that are very efficient and inexpensive. We'll need to capture only about 3 parts in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth to meet all of our projected energy needs.
- Intelligent nanobots (robots the size of blood cells) will keep us healthy from the inside, augmenting our immune system and overcoming its many limitations. We will continually rebuild and rejuvenate our bodies at the cellular and molecular level, providing radical extensions to human longevity.
- Billions of nanobots will go into our brains non-invasively, through the capillaries, and interact directly with our biological neurons. This will provide full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system, incorporating all of our senses.