For the next 10 years or so, Moore’s law will hold. After that it will sputter and eventually collapse. But it does mean that we can get a pretty good handle on how much computer power will be available and what we can do with it. For example, by 2020 computer chips will be distributed by the billions into the environment, including into our contact lenses. You’ll blink and be online. Your contact lens will recognize people’s faces, print out their biography, and give you subtitles as they speak Chinese or German or what have you. The military, of course, is pioneering this technology. They have a version of this now. I’ve tried it. Through a little eyepiece I saw an entire battlefield, with the positions of friendly troops, enemy troops, and tactics all marked.
Our grandkids will lead the lives of the gods of mythology. Zeus could think and move objects around. We’ll have that power. Venus had a perfect, timeless body. We’ll have that, too. Pegasus was a flying horse. We’ll be able to modify life in the future.
Q. How will humans move objects with their minds by 2100?
Already we can put a chip in people’s brains, hook that chip to a laptop, and allow paralyzed people to surf the Web, write e-mails, and do crossword puzzles.
There’s even a toy. A helmet picks up radio from your mind, and it moves objects around. The difference between my book and science fiction is that everything in my book has a prototype. I’m not making anything up.
Q. In this future world of disposable computer chips and Internet-projecting contact lenses, how will we ever disconnect? Do you find it at all unsettling?
We’ll always have the off switch. There were a lot of people who denounced the telephone. They said that we wouldn’t talk in person anymore, that we’d just talk to voices in the air. But we love it. In the future we’ll be able to mentally contact anybody we want, see whatever image we want. And when we don’t like it, we’ll just turn it off.
Q. How are these new technologies going to affect us as a world society?
The nature of the planet is changing. We’re becoming a planetary civilization, which we physicists call a Type I civilization. The Internet is the beginning of a Type I telephone. The European Union is the beginning of a Type I economy. English will be the Type I language. The Olympics is a Type I sport. Rock ’n’ roll is the beginning of a Type I youth culture. But we’re Type 0 right now. But by 2100 we should make the transition.