“Technology is inevitable, whether we like it or not”

Is it possible to stop technological progress by abandoning 5G communications? What does the near future of a person entangled in smart gadgets and sensors look like? What social risks are generated by the rapid development of technologies, and for what purposes does humanity develop them? Already in the coming years and decades.

scientists promise a new leap in the quantity and quality of technologies that will become a normal part of our lives. About whether Russia is ready for changes and whether it is possible to prepare for them in principle, Novaya columnist Valery Shirai and Georgy Vasilyevich, head of the Vsenauka educational project, spoke with Alexander Chalk, director of the Center for Scientific and Technological Forecasting at the Higher School of Economics.

Valery Shirai. Now the work of the physicist Michio Kaku, who talks about the future of our species, is widely heard. In his opinion, homo sapiens is doomed to a symbiosis of biological and technological – that is, we will become cyborgs. How do you assess such a prospect?

Alexander Chalk. That futurologist is bad who would not try to understand what will happen to man as a biological species. Michio Kaku is bright, but not the only representative of this trend. For example, Jose Cordier from the University of the Singularity, a member of the expert panel on forecasting the scientific and technological development of Russia, is working in this direction.  Cordier believes that by 2050 humanity should gain immortality.

As director of the HSE Center for Science and Technology Forecasting, I take a moderately optimistic approach to this issue. Let’s single out several stages. The next 5–7 years until 2030 will be marked by radical human enhancement. First of all, this concerns the development of predictive medicine, artificial intelligence and neural networks, the departure from the inherited model of “get sick – come to be treated.” Medicine will more and more anticipate diseases and detect them at the initial stage.

This is not even high technology yet, this is an increase in health discipline, an improvement in routine procedures. The next stage will be marked by success in the rehabilitation industry, cellular technologies, the creation of bioelectronic interfaces, the development of functional nutrition (selection of nutrition for a particular organism in many ways). . Where surviving to 120 years is one of the key goals by 2030. Faster or slower, different social classes in Russia will inevitably follow this trend.

After 2030, the emergence of the “Human Connected” is expected.

The body will be integrated through neural networks into health monitoring systems. Already today, existing fitness and health monitoring bracelets allow a lot, although people have not become accustomed to using all the functions. In the future, continuous connection to monitoring networks and the doctor’s workplace.

Not even futurologists, but specialists in medical technology expect in the period 2030-2040. a leap in achievements in the technological “tuning” of a person, forcing the properties of the body. 3D-bioprinting will receive mass development, because today many organs can be printed on printers. One of the tools is genome editing. Many researchers consider death not as an inevitability, but as a disease.

It is very important how a person will be integrated into the environment. Today, Moscow is trying to move in the direction outlined by the concept of connected cities, it is developing around the world. It is possible that a person and a city will be integrated at the level of one program network. After 2040, the appearance of a person is expected, in which the properties of our biological species will be changed.

This is a real social bomb, the problem is being actively discussed in the West. Discrimination may arise for objective reasons. If someone can solve their professional tasks many times faster, they will hire just such people. This is a serious challenge to humanity. It is possible that large classes of people will appear who will not work at all, since allowing them to work will lose their efficiency. What to do with them?

This is connected with a great interest in the creative economy, the creation of games, and art. Russia, by the way, has good chances here. According to our research, Moscow will look pretty decent against this background. Assumptions about the development of man in a later period are the area of ​​futurology.

There is an opinion that a person will learn to program himself, as we do with computers today.

Georgy Vasilios. If the problem is considered within the narrow framework of the topic “Will people become cyborgs?”, then the reader may be curious about the second stage that you described – connecting a person to sensors, actuators, processors.

Alexander Chalk. I would ask the question – who are cyborgs? To some extent, we already are. I have headphones in my ears. And we are talking via videoconference.

Georgy Vasilios. In popular culture, a cyborg is still a creature with man-made elements inside. And today we see a huge number of innovations that can already be described as follows: eye and auditory implants, connecting the brain directly to a computer.

Alexander Chalk. See what Vasyli Klyucharev is doing at the Higher School of Economics. The Russian neural interface that directly connects the brain and the computer was presented at the exhibition “Russia Aspiring to the Future” in 2017. Musk is an apologist for this technology. He is generally a passionate person, he dreams of dying on Mars from old age.

Generations will be updated, for new ones – the Internet is not a miracle, and smart watches are not a gadget. This is already part of their life as a shirt. Let’s look at the history of mankind, it has always experimented. It is difficult to say how inevitable the cyberization of a person is, but its fusion with technology is indeed inevitable.