I am involved in a group of futurist set up by the European Commission and I will post here, as well as on their web site, some future looking scenarios… Enjoy and comment!
Ouch! Just broke my leg skying. And yet I know I should not complain too much. Help was there in very few minutes, I was taken to a emergency help just few hundreds yards away where an engineer with medical training engaged a robot to take care of me. This is no surprise, it started in the 30ies and became common in the 40ies. What surprised me is that the robot had my latest data on my legs, joints and muscles, some of it only 3hours old. Apparently, as the doctor-engineer pointed out, sensors in my home, on my bicycle and most important those on/in my body kept a digital copy of myself in the cyberspace.
Now this is coming handy, not just for fixing me up but also to help in re-education of the leg movement. You are no longer exercising based on a generic model of limbs movement, rather you receive personalized direction based on the analyses of your most recent digital persona.
In 2050, sensors of many types will be creating and updating a digital image of ourselves, our body, as well as our experience, our emotions, our skills, both physical and mental skills. Storing all these data is not an issue. You may easily carry with you, in you, PB of information. Communications of these data to the cyberspace is not an issue as well. THe communications is no longer based on “pipes”, rather it is based on a fabric composedly the ambient itself, since any object (most of them anyhow) create a communication space that overlaps with other objects comm space to create the communications fabric. The objects have embedded processing, as much as needed to resolve the message from the noise, (circumventing the Shannon limit) and thus the wireless bandwidth is unlimited. Energy issues in communications have been managed (not solved) by decreasing the demand from electronics (now based on carbon and crystalline substrate) and increasing the number of nodes, thus shortening the distance between them.
This presence of a digital copy of myself has created a whole set of new issues. TO what extent is my digital copy a faithful one? Unless somebody has tampered with it, but my provider swears it will never happen…again -;) of course it is an exact replica.
But that is for the here and now. What happens as I, or someone else, starts to use the digital copy? It may be done to make me be at the same time in two places, miles away, it may be to use my skill in a certain area. Indeed it has become convenient to use my digital copy to go to work and make money as I stroll on a beach. Of course THAT digital copy from the veery moment it starts to work and make money for me is no longer my copy, but an instance of my copy that very rapidly diverge from me since it is subject to different sort of experiences and learn things that I cannot learn as I stroll the beach.
Sometimes it gets interesting to look at one of my instances (I have the ownership over all my instances…) and just how it evolved over time!
And, as I look at the 3D life size replica of myself doing somethingI never thought I could do I wonder if that instance will outlive myself, if my grandchildren will be confused to see several instances of their grandfather. I also start to wonder what it feels to be an instance of myself. I know I can read that instance emotions, but I am still not sure what a digital emotion means. And yet, some people have chosen to shut off their atom based body and keep existing in bits’ form….