Technological advances mean humans might soon surpass previous limitations of our brains and bodies. Here are 13 transformations we may see in the next decade.
Thanks to advances in biology, genetics, pharmaceuticals, wearable technology, neurotech, and wireless connectivity, it is increasingly conceivable, and scientifically possible, that humanity—rather than being overshadowed by the rise of AI—might be ready to surpass all previous real or imagined limitations of our brains and bodies.
Most of the emerging transformational technologies aimed at human enhancement fall under a few general categories: Chemical Enhancement; Genetic Enhancement; Neurological Enhancement; Physical Enhancement; Electronic Enhancement; Radical Life Extension; and Cryogenic Freezing / Cryopreservation:
Here are 13 human transformations we may well see in the next decade:
1. Instant learning
In the next 10-15 years we could be able to perform instant content updates to the human brain e.g. uploading a new language, a map, knowledge about a client or project, and key information prior to a romantic date or a business meeting. This would be achieved either through direct downloads to our web-connected brains or via plug-in memory devices for more confidential information.
2. Brain-Computer Interface
Wireless communication between our brains and an array of connected devices could become a reality. From computers and phones to domestic appliances and in-car entertainment systems – we would be able to operate gadgets with our thoughts. These wearable or implanted sensors and transmission devices would allow us to communicate as we do with Siri and Alexa today, but without saying a word.
3. Smart contact lenses
Who needs screens when you have eyes that can be turned into visual interfaces? Every device could easily connect with your smart contact lenses and present the information you desire such as augmented reality overlays of a city as you sightsee. Your requests would be communicated using eye movement, gestures, words, or telepathic commands.
4. Full colour
Gene therapy has cured colour blindness in monkeys; if clinical trials are allowed, colour blind humans may be next. Eventually, science may expand our colour vision to include all wavelengths of light, from gamma rays to ultraviolet to radio waves. Humans might literally see the world in a whole new light.
5. Enhanced hearing
As humans age, we naturally lose the ability to hear higher frequencies. In the future, we may be able to reverse this, or even enhance human hearing beyond the normal range via aural implants directly connected to our brains.
6. Couch potato
Become stronger and fitter from the inside out, but without most of the requirement for exercise and healthy eating. Physical and genetic enhancements applied to your bones and muscles would improve your BMI and performance from the get-go. Reinforced bones would improve tone and strength with no extra work needed.
7. Guaranteed Immunity
Subcutaneous implants would detect pathogens in the immediate environment and provide antibodies to protect us from specific contagious diseases. This would make most public health measures irrelevant as coughing, sneezing, and touching may no longer pose a risk. Handwashing could become a redundant activity and vaccines unnecessary, while a global antibiotic crisis could also be averted.
8. Beauty in a pill
The gene modification technology known as CRISPR introduced in 2012 has already made it “cheap and easy” to edit genomes inside the body. The CRISPR system’s ease of use means it could be used for almost any gene-editing technique. While doctors could apply the technology as a targeted cancer treatment, we could also see the same approach used for cosmetic augmentation. For example, high street centres could provide services to change clients’ hair thickness, eye colour, and skin pigmentation, making CRISPR treatments as common as other beauty and lifestyle options.
9. Print it
This device would allow a product to be identified and 3D printed in real time and “on sight” with special optical lens implants which trigger the cloning of the item being viewed by the wearer, like taking a snapshot. Clothing, food, and even medical products like prosthetic arms or legs could be created instantaneously on the spot, “cloning” whatever item the user glances at, and transmitting them to be produced on 3D printing machines.
10. Pop a perfect body pill
What if, at last, medical science achieves the ultimate win for sofa surfers, and creates a pill to give you the body of a god without putting in all the work or adopting any healthy habits? Ripped abs, ageless skin, perfect proportions—what more could someone want? For those who want more, a second daily pill could generate an intoxicating body odour.
11. Super strength
Achieving superhuman strength and endurance might be possible with an exoskeleton suit of external body armour that turns any average person into Iron Man. Physical labour would be a breeze with the addition robotic arms, legs, and a back which never tire or run low on energy. Whilst this would be great for work or recreational sports, it puts house movers, construction workers, and weight lifters at risk of being “replaced by cyborgs.”
12. Amazing Memory
Imagine never forgetting anything ever again. Elephants are believed to have the longest memory of any living creature. With the help of neural implants, now people can remember forever, too! These implants, possibly in the form of a “neural lace” lattice of tiny sensors under or just above the skull, could improve memory and may ultimately also prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This would make a perfect gift for the radical age-extender in your life, or elderly relatives who’ve not yet started showing signs of dementia.
13. Grow your own organs
The ability to regenerate human organs could end the ravages of disease, aging, and even injury. By 2030, organ regeneration modification may be the signature transformation of life-extension adopters. Careful consideration should be taken with the giving of this gift (particularly with alcoholics and drug abusers), as it could actually enable irresponsible behaviour.
These may seem like something out of the pages of a Philip K. Dick novel, but by 2030 they could be reality.