In 2002 a working group set up by the National Science Foundation (NSF) predicted an imminent scientific and technological revolution that would lead to "tremendous improvements" in human abilities. So what should we expect in the future?
Admittedly futurologists are not going to win any prizes for accuracy or reliability. After all if I'm not mistaken were currently meant to be living on the moon and only eating pills at the moment (a future that I have to say holds no attraction for me). The problem is you can't use the previous 20 years to predict were technology will be in 20 years time. This is because instead of being considerate and advancing linearly; most technologies are increasing exponentially. In other words what is possible keeps doubling every few months or years.
A good example of exponential growth is Moore's law. This states that by almost any measure you choose - for example the number of transistors on a silicon chip.- the performance of computing doubles approximately every 18 months. The computer industry has obeyed Moore's law for the last 40 years and as a result it has driven other areas of science forward. It took 15 years to sequence the genome of HIV; SARS was sequenced in 31 days.
By 2050 we could have some amazing developments such as:
brain implants that allow direct mind to mind communication.
memory chips that allow you to upload new knowledge into directly into your brain (think the matrix).
custom made replacement body parts.
It could mean humans having almost limitless power over our own biology. Maybe even the power to slow down our ageing process.
The ultimate extreme would be that we change so much so rapidly that we irreversibly transform what human life is.