CNN | Ray Kurzweil: This is your future

December 14, 2013
Source: CNN — December 20, 2013 | Ray Kurzweil
[+]Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a 30-year track record of accurate predictions.
Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” Ray has written five national best-selling books. He is Director of Engineering at Google.
story highlights:
  • Ray Kurzweil, acclaimed futurist and inventor, says we can program ourselves away from disease and aging
  • Kurzweil also believes we will be able to satisfy all our energy needs by solar power by 2030
  • We will also be printing a significant amount of the goods we use and wear, and replacement organs
  • Work and play will become a fully immersive experience by the 2030s, Kurzweil says

Below are five ways he predicts our lives will change. The future of humanity:

1. By the early 2020s, we will have the means to program our biology away from disease and aging.

Ray Kurzweil says health and medicine is an information technology and is therefore subject to the “law of accelerating returns” which implies a doubling of capability each year. — CNN
Up until recently, health and medicine was basically a hit or miss affair. We would discover interventions such as drugs that had benefits, but also many side effects. Until recently, we did not have the means to actually design interventions on computers.
All of that has now changed, and will dramatically change clinical practice by the early 2020s.
We now have the information code of the genome and are making exponential gains in modeling and simulating the information processes they give rise to.
We also have new tools that allow us to actually reprogram our biology in the same way that we reprogram our computers.
RNA interference, for example, can turn genes off that promote disease and aging. New forms of gene therapy, especially in vitro models that do not trigger the immune system, have the ability to add new genes.
Stem cell therapies, including the recently developed method to create “induced pluripotent cells” (IPCs) by adding four genes to your own skin cells to create the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell but without use of an embryo, are being developed to rejuvenate organs and even grow then from scratch.
There are now hundreds of drugs and processes in the pipeline using these methods to modify the course of obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases and aging processes.
As one of many examples, we can now fix a broken heart — not (yet) from romance — but from a heart attack, by rejuvenating the heart with reprogrammed stem cells.
Health and medicine is now an information technology and is therefore subject to what I call the “law of accelerating returns,” which is a doubling of capability (for the same cost) about each year that applies to any information technology.
As a result, technologies to reprogram the “software” that underlie human biology are already a thousand times more powerful than they were when the genome project was completed in 2003, and will again be a thousand times more powerful than they are today in a decade, and a million times more powerful in two decades.
Clinical applications are now at the cutting edge and will be routine in the early 2020s.