→Practicalities: mainly punctuation
===What are the reasons to expect all these changes?===
Take a look around. Compare what you see with what you would have seen only fifty years ago. It is not an especially bold conjecture that the next 50 years will see at least as much change and that the state of technology in the mid-21st century will be quite wondrous by present standards. The conservative projection, which assumes only that progress continues in the same gradual way it has since the 17th century, would imply that we should expect to see dramatic developments over the coming decades.
This expectation is reinforced when one considers that many crucial areas seem poised for critical breakthroughs. The World
-Wide Web is beginning to link the world’s people, adding a new global layer to human society where information is supreme. The Human Genome Project has been completed, and the study of the functional roles of our genes (functional genomics) is proceeding rapidly. Techniques for using this genetic information to modify adult organisms or the germ -line are being developed. The performance of computers doubles every 18 months and will approach the computational power of a human brain in the foreseeable future. Pharmaceutical companies are refining drugs that will enable us to regulate mood and aspects of personality with few side effects. Many transhumanist aims can be pursued with present technologies. Can there be much doubt that, barring a civilization-destroying cataclysm, technological progress will give us much more radical options in the future? [See also “Won’t these developments take thousands or millions of years?”]
Molecular manufacturing has the potential to transform the human condition. Is it a feasible technology? Eric Drexler and others have
showed in detail how machine-phase nanotechnology is consistent with physical laws and have outlined several routes by which it could be developed [see “What is molecular nanotechnology?”]. Molecular manufacturing might seem incredible, maybe because the eventual consequences seem too overwhelming, but nanotechnology experts point out that there currently exists no published technical critique of Drexler’s arguments. More than ten years after the publication of Nanosystems, nobody has yet been able to point to any significant error in the calculations. Meanwhile, investment in the development of nanotechnology, already billions of dollars annually worldwide, is growing every year, and at least the less visionary aspects of nanotechnology have already become mainstream.
There are many independent methods and technologies that can enable humans to become posthuman. There is uncertainty about which technologies will be perfected first, and we have a choice about which methods to use
. But provided civilization continues to prosper, it seems almost inevitable that humans will sooner or later have the option of becoming posthuman persons. And, unless forcibly prevented, many will choose to explore that option.