What Will Change Everything?


Xconomy National — 

What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see? The Internet, television, antibiotics, automobiles, electricity, nuclear power, space travel, and cloning—these inventions were born out of dreams, persistence, and imagination.

What game-changing ideas can we expect to see in OUR lifetimes?

As each year winds to a close, John Brockman, a literary agent representing some of the finest minds in science and technology and the founder of Edge Foundation, poses a provocative question to an international community of physicists, psychologists, futurists, thought leaders, and dreamers. Brockman is a master convener, both online and in real life. This year’s annual Edge question, What will change everything?, generated responses from Freeman Dyson, Danny Hillis, Martin Seligman, Craig Venter, and Juan Enriquez, to name a few. Here are a few highlights.

Venter imagines creating life from synthetic materials and expects that our view of life, itself, will be transformed.

Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek believes everything will continue to become smaller, faster, cooler, and cheaper—with implications of an Internet on steroids and exciting new designer materials.

Several neuroscientists wrote about everything from direct communication of feelings and thoughts from brain to brain to electrical brain stimulation for the treatment of mood disorders to cheap cryonic suspension of brains to ways to control brain plasticity.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Verena Huber-Dyson see science evolving beyond analytical focus and including a sense of synthesis. Huber-Dyson envisions the end of fragmentation of knowledge.

George Dyson, science historian, author, kayak-designer, and builder, looks toward the stars, or here on Earth, suggesting, “the detection of extraterrestrial life, extraterrestrial intelligence or extraterrestrial technology will change everything.”

Discover magazine editor in chief, Corey S. Powell, offers a list of possibilities from synthetic telepathy to genetically engineered kids.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

Tap your greatness as we welcome 2009!

Enjoy reading responses to the Edge annual question here, and please comment on the question yourself: What will change everything? What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?

Widely recognized as a visionary thinker and thought leader, Linda Stone is a writer, lecturer, and consultant focused on trends and their strategic and consumer implications. Previously, Stone spent close to 20 years as an executive in high technology, including work at Apple Computer and Microsoft Research. Follow @LindaStone

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One response to “What Will Change Everything?”

  1. Robert says:

    There are so many ways to look at this question as far as from what aspect you are asking it–technologically is the point from which we ask it here i guess. But then I have to ask, change what exactly? Everything? If I was to hone down what “everything” was, I suppose it would be how people on a mass scale perceive the world in unison…and that is changed…which would change everything “below” it–how we relate to each other, etc. You can also ask if the change is positive or negative–but then again ones negative is ones positive and visa versa…so that cancels itself out of the question. You also have to consider that the question is addressed only to that which matters, as far as change goes, and that is the human condition (Im assuming)–whcih again is how humanity views its world and itself. To answer the question, I think nanotechnology, genetics and cloning will pretty much frik us up on a mass scale, thats if we dont nuke each other out. I suppose when human beings start playing with the areas of “creation” both on a microcosmic (eg, genetics) and macrocosmic (nukes–yes smaller than genes but big as hell when released)level that maybe are supposed to be left alone to the “Creator”, we are in trouble. Technology enables the human nature’s insatiable desire to be all-powerful or God. Its not the technology thats bad or will hurt us as much as its the good ole fashion human ego that wants to power trip on everyone else. THATS what woul d change everything for the better–no more ego! Well thanks for reading my ramble. Bed time.