The future is bright, according to a report co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Commerce (DOC).
You can find the 405-page report in PDF format here, but you can read individual sections too.
Ed Frauenheim, from CNET News.com, wrote an article about this report under the title "When brains meet computer brawn."
Here are some quotes.
Titled "Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science," the report calls for more research into the intersection of these fields. The payoff, the authors claim, isn't just better bodies and more effective minds.
In the overview, the editors argue that a host of advances can be achieved in the next 20 years alone. Among these are wearable sensors that send health alerts, much more useful robots, invulnerable data networks, and direct broadband interfaces between our minds and machines.
The report thinks big when it comes to peering beyond the next two decades to the rest of the 21st century. Taking visionaries such as Ray Kurzweil seriously, it imagines robots so advanced they may deserve political rights, building surfaces that automatically change shape and color to adjust to the weather, and the prospect of personality uploads that make death itself ambiguous.
Not everyone is likely to sign up for this techno-utopia, however. Some people are skeptical about technology's capabilities and cast doubt on proposals such as capturing consciousness through computers or linking neurons with nanocircuitry.
One of these skeptical minds is likely to be Bill Joy, from Sun Microsystems. Do you remember the article he wrote for Wired 8.04 in April 2000? The title was "Why the future doesn't need us." Two years ago, he was saying that "our most powerful 21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make humans an endangered species."
You can read this article here.
Sources: NSF/DOC Report, June 2002; Ed Frauenheim, CNET News.com, August 5, 2002; Bill Joy, Sun Microsystems, in Wired Magazine #8.04, April 2000