Technology is progressing so quickly that science fact is catching up with what was recently only imaginable as science fiction. Welcome to the 21st century.
“The invention of the future is a war, make no mistake.” -Steven Kotler
The Cheat Sheet:
- The line between technology and biology is getting thinner and thinner.
- What is mind uploading?
- Biotechnology is now moving at five times the speed of Moore’s Law — in other words, it’s doubling in power every four months.
- What transformative effect will bionics have on our culture?
- Thanks to advances in technology, you gain five hours of life expectancy every day.
- And so much more…
Virtual reality. Bionic exoskeletons. Synthetic teeth and eyes. DNA typewriters. Mind uploading. 3D printing new bodies. Technophysio evolution. Technological precognition. Once considered the stuff of human over-imagination, these are just a few of the big ideas making a profound leap into reality at an unfathomable rate.
Former guest Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist, and the co-founder/director of research for the Flow Research Collective. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on ultimate human performance, and he revisits The Art of Charm to talk to us about his new book, Tomorrowland, and how the far-out future of sci-fi is swiftly becoming sci-fact.
More About This Show
It’s not easy to predict the future — unless the future is now.
The last time Steven Kotler visited The Art of Charm, we discussed his book, The Rise of Superman, about how the limits of human performance are constantly being expanded by athletes who harness the power of “flow” — described as “an optimal state of consciousness in which we perform and feel our best.”
If you thought that sounded like Jedi-level science fiction poppycock (though we assure you it’s not), then you’ll definitely have an opinion about Steven’s new book, Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact. It explores the rapid advances that science is making in what Steven calls “disruptive technologies” — that is, scientific progress that will upend everything we think we know about everything and change our culture radically in ways we’ll be forced to address sooner rather than later.
We Have the Technology
Bionics is one area that Steven finds most fascinating because he’s seen proof of what it can do up close. He relays a story of the time he was hanging out with Army Maj. David Rozelle, the Army’s first amputee from a wound suffered in Iraq to return to active duty and one of the first to receive a bionic ankle.
While walking and lost in conversation “in Boulder, Colorado [on a] cold winter day,” says Steven, “we come to four lanes of traffic…David Rozelle sees the four lanes of traffic, jumps across the first lane, freezes, darts left, darts right, jumps across another car, freezes, does the same thing, [and] jumps over a snowbank onto the far side…he went full on Walter Payton across this road on a bionic ankle.”
And this was a few years ago. “Today, right now, 50% of the human body is replaceable by bionics.” says Steven. “We’ve got mind-brain interfaces [that allow] quadriplegics and paraplegics [to] move their real-life bionic limbs just by thinking about them.” By 2016, we should be seeing the first bionic exoskeletons that, unlike prosthetics that have remained virtually unchanged for centuries, eliminate fatigue by working with energy from their own momentum.
“The number one complaint in old age is decrepitude,” says Steven. So what happens when we can ignore the pain and limited mobility of, for instance, a bum knee by strapping on a bionic brace and continue working? “This is going to change the entire economic structure and how long people work,” Steven says.
Worried that the technology will be out of bounds for the everyday civilian? Insurance companies are seeing the cost of bionics as quite affordable in contrast to the costs of traditional convalescence. And thanks to Moore’s Law, this technology is “doubling in power for the same price every four months,” Steven reminds us. “That basically means it’s getting more powerful and cheaper at the same time.”
The Singularity is Nearer and Nearer
When prompted about the idea of mind uploading — that is, uploading the contents of your brain and, presumably, your consciousness and everything that makes you you into a new (possibly digital) body, Steven wonders, “What happens to theological morality in the face of technological immortality? It sounds like an absolutely ridiculous question, but if you just look at the rate these things are moving, somebody’s going to have to answer that question seriously in the next century.”
British Telecom’s research division proved that we could record inputs from the brain’s five big senses back in 2000. While the technology to process and play back this information didn’t exist back then, Moore’s Law tells us that we may have powerful enough computers now or very soon. “The playback device imagined is essentially a virtual-reality device not unlike the Oculus Rift,” says Steven, “so this incredible, far-out, ridiculously futuristic scenario is based on technology that is actually here today, now. Will this approach work? We don’t know and [the head researcher from British Telecom] doesn’t think we’ll get it solved until 2025. Ray Kurzweil famously says 2045. I think it could be a little farther out.”
The T-Rex and His Brand New Teeth
In this episode, we talk about a lot of far-out stuff; listen to the whole thing to find out more about what weird but true realities Steven Kotler assures us are just around the corner — and how Jason wants to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex when he grows up.
THANKS, STEVEN KOTLER!
If you enjoyed this session with Steven Kotler, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Resources from this episode:
Steven Kotler’s website
Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact
More books by Steven Kotler
Steven Kotler at Twitter
Far Frontiers at Forbes
Flow Research Collective
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Steven Kotler | The Rise of Superman (Episode 271)
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