“The time has come the walrus said to speak or many things … of shoes and ships and sealing wax … of nanobotic wings” … Lewis Carroll (sort of)
Nanobots offer some amazing potential to enhance your mind and body and to let you soar like nothing you could ever have imagined. A really fun book that explored this topic was called (R)Evolution by P.J. Manney. The Wizard will do a quick book review at the end, but let us first describe the wonders of nanobot enhancements (and their corresponding potentially frumious bandersnatch scary negatives.)
WOULD YOU LIKE A BETTER MEMORY?
We all have struggles with short term memory on occasion so wouldn’t it be nice to have an electronic backup. Well with a specialized form of bio-engineering this may be possible. Hippo 2.0 would be the result and you will remember freaking everything. Imagine reeling off a list of auto parts by number or perhaps describing every car you passed on the freeway or even better recalling every hottie you ever met. This would effectively end Alzheimer’s by creating a new place to store memories when your old one is totally kaput. The trick here is to have a bio-electrical interface that would allow for a merger of your meat mind with your nanobot enhanced mind.
Even more amazing, would be a Cortex 2.0 which could do long term storage of memories. What if you were in Vegas and saw someone whose name you heard when you were standing in a movie line in Atlanta 20 years ago. Imagine how she would feel if you said “Hi Carol, how is John (her boyfriend at the time). Freakout city. What if you never forgot a birthday or an anniversary? Hell, you might even remember whole novels which you could recall at will. This would definitely make you a superhuman (at least while you are an early adopter.)
HOW ABOUT A BETTER PROCESSOR?
What if your Cortex 2.0 had search and processing capabilities just like a real computer? You could easily search for people by birthday, lump cars by weight and generally be annoyingly precocious just like the idiot savant in Rain Man. Such a talent might even make you a great stock picker or perhaps a killer jeopardy player.
LET’S CONNECT TO THE WEB DIRECTLY FROM YOUR BRAIN
Ok, we now have enhanced capabilities for short term and long term memories and for processing as well. This is all possible because the little guys allow biology and electronics to talk to each other. Let’s take this one step further and connect via wireless to the WWW. You could in effect know everything in the world that could be discovered via web search. You would be a walking talking Wikipediac. Not only could you access knowledge from anywhere in the world, but you could acquire skills and knowledge via instant downloads. Want to be able to speak Japanese and write Haiku … mondai nai (no problem in Japanese.) Fly a plane or quote Shakespeare by heart … just as easy. Need more memory … just buy an upgrade which will probably be twice as big for ½ the cost every two years or so (at least while the ever so precocious Mr. Moore stills patrols the tech world.)
WAIT … THERE’S MORE – ENJOY SUPER DUPER DISEASE PREVENTION
Ok we have your brain all tricked out, let’s start on the body. Obviously a good place to start would be a back-up/supplemental immune system. Just as your white cells can identify and fight invaders, so could Immune 2.0 go to work reducing cholesterol and high blood sugar counts, It could also identify cancer cells and make quick work of any disease that even tries to begin in your system. Imagine no heart disease, diabetes, cancer or anything else that could be identified and eliminated.
AND IF YOU CALL NOW – YOU CAN SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS
We have eliminated diseases, how about a bit of enhanced powers. Why not have nano substitutes /enhancers for your red blood system? You could store vast quantities of oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide build-up with your tiny buddies. Want to stay submerged for 20 or 30 minutes at a time … no problem. How about running full speed for an hour? It might be possible. You might be able to run a marathon in 30 minutes or so instead of the pedestrian 2 hours it now takes the world’s best today.
AND IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE FIRST 100 CALLERS – YOU GET A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS
Yes there is even more. Would you like to be able to talk to your friends silently … at the speed of light … just by thinking words. You could. In fact, you could start to adopt a sort of collective consciousness where everyone connected understood what everyone else was thinking. Borg-like, you could become invincible. Imagine soldiers who always knew where the other soldiers were and what they were facing. Why you would be just like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. How cool is that?
SOOO … WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Finally the dark elves have awakened and their ears are quivering with excitement … bad things are also possible.
Let’s start with the ability to download skills like learning a foreign language. Yes that is useful, but what if you acquire knowledge that you didn’t ask for? Uh Oh. Yes Sadaam Hussein (or pick your villain) is my friend … I love my friend and will do anything for him. Must buy a gun and await instructions. This is marginal “knowledge,” but it could easily become part of who YOU are. YOU 2.0 just became SOMEBODY ELSE 1.0. In fact, bioengineering could really challenge what it means to be you. A very bad world could be part of nanobot immersion.
How about that fancy immune system? It works great until someone downloads some unwelcome code into your immune system 2.0 which identifies your red blood cells as enemies and has them all killed (thus leading to asphyxiation.) In fact, the number of ways for someone to kill you if they hacked your neural pathways is almost endless. It could be fast like lack of oxygen or it could be really really slow and painful. The ability for evil doers to create obedient slaves would be as easy as injecting a virus into the system of the intended victims.
Yes it could be an amazing world that would see us become more than we ever dreamed. Mental capacities way beyond genius, flawless memories and renewed vigor. Add in immunity to illness and possible cell replication bots so you need not age and a golden age for humanity could be right around the corner. By the same token, murder on a massive scale, and a takeover of what you believe might also be close at hand. The Wizard thinks we need to really think this through … BEFORE becoming enhanced.
BOOK REVIEW – (R)evolution by P. J. Manney
This is gee whiz sci-fi at its best. It has plot twists galore, secret societies, evil villains and just a whole lot of cool stuff to contemplate. It is reminiscent of Michael Crichton or Douglas Preston whereby science forms the infrastructure of the story and human heroism and frailties fill out the rest. Like most of these kinds of narrations, the science is wonderful to contemplate, but the endings are usually a little unsatisfying. So it is with (R)evolution. All in all however, this is a really fun read if you are inclined to futuristic plot lines. Definitely a thumbs up from the Wizard.
We are entering the exponential phase of technological advancement whereby our world changes at a rate that will be difficult to keep up with. Along this path of careening technologies, we must constantly ask ourselves what it means to be human. Without safeguards, it is easy to imagine the end of human life as we know it. The problem is that one person’s risk profile or one nation’s risk profile may not be thy same as their neighbors, thus technologies will be adopted aggressively somewhere or by someone without universal support. Almost certainly the world of freedom and privacy that has been with us for a very long time (at least in the West) will soon end. The Wizard views all of this with a mixture of anticipation and fear. Could it be that new and amazing will be the death of us? Sadly the answer may well be yes.
UPDATE – The Wizard just received additional information and you are now to ignore all warnings and safeguard admonitions. Instead you are to upgrade immediately and await further instructions. He who shall not be named was very clear on this matter. DO NOT HESITATE … JUST GET THE BOTS. THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS. I REPEAT … DO … NOT … HESITATE. If you do not have the upgrade, you will not be given the Avada Kedavra wands. THERE WILL BE NO EXCEPTIONS.