This week, UK-based futurologist Ian Pearson announced humanity will achieve immortality by the year 2050. Is he right?
According to the former rocket scientist and IT engineer – who claims to have an 85 percent success rate “when looking 10-15 years ahead” – recent advances in biomedical and computing technology will inevitably lead to victory over death via one of three means:
Pearson, talking to The Sun, highlights the possible adoption of genetic engineering strategies that prevent or reverse cellular aging; though the article is vague, he is perhaps alluding to the bacteria-derived gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas 9. He also posits that new organs or body parts could simply be replaced, as needed, thanks to 3D printing.
"No one wants to live forever at 95 years old, but if you could rejuvenate the body to 29 or 30, you might want to do that," he said.
To Pearson's credit, CRISPR does indeed represent a revolution in the treatment of genetic disorders and diseases. Existing research shows that the molecular tool can be programmed to alter precisely targeted sequences of DNA without harming other sections of the genome. Additionally, studies released within the last several months indicate that we are getting closer to the ability to regrow organs or body structures using cultured stem cells, often combined with a 3D-printed scaffold to guide the cell’s development into the right shape.
Though intervening to keeping our bodies running indefinitely, like a well-cared for 1990s Toyota, is the least jarring of the possible avenues, Pearson believes the most likely path to immortality involves creating sophisticated brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that link the entire brain to an operating system. By 2050, the system will be so advanced that we can sit at home (or lay in a pod of goo) while interacting with our surroundings via remote-operated androids.
"A long time before we get to fix our bodies and rejuvenate it every time we feel like, we'll be able to link our minds to the machine world so well, we'll effectively be living in the cloud," he said.