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Nanotech, health and longevity — who makes the predictions?

By October 6, 2009 No Comments

Last week, Computerworld carried an interview with futurist Ray Kurzweil, who predicts that in 30 or 40 years from now nanomachines will travel through our bodies, repairing damaged cells and organs, effectively wiping out diseases:

The full realization of nanobots will basically eliminate biological disease and aging. I think we’ll see widespread use in 20 years of [nanotech] devices that perform certain functions for us. In 30 or 40 years, we will overcome disease and aging. The nanobots will scout out organs and cells that need repairs and simply fix them. It will lead to profound extensions of our health and longevity

What’s interesting is not whether the prognosis is right or wrong, naïve or realistic. Like all med-tech forecasts it probably better reflects our own time than it predicts the future.

What’s interesting is that it is said by Kurzweil. Or more generally speaking: Much forecasting about health and longevity comes from people in the computer and IT world, whereas medical doctors rarely indulge in such frivolous mental activities (see also the earlier ‘What makes the human enhancement movement tick?’ post). Why are IT people more wedded to the idea of enhancement and longevity than medical and health scientists are?

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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