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"The future of life on Earth"

Ian Pearson

Ian Pearson graduated in applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Queen's University of Belfast. After working in Shorts Missile Systems, Ian Pearson joined BT's laboratories as an analyst, later working in the design of computers, cybernetics and mobile systems. Since 1991 he has been a futurologist at BT, predicting new social and technological developments resulting from information and communication technologies. He is currently working in Futurizon and is considered a distinguished figure by the British Computer Society, the World Academy of Art and Science, the Royal Art Society, the Nanotechnology Institute and the World Innovation Foundation.

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"We may migrate our minds across into a robot body to continue living"

Due to the celebration of the Forum of Reflection on the Future, organised by the OPTI Foundation, that will be held on 28th May, it has been performed the next interview with one of our speakers, Ian Pearson

OPTI: We expect to win the illness battle, in particular to those that regulate the world population growth. Are we walking toward human immortality? What are the problems that this could cause us later?

I.P.: We may cure most of today's illnesses caused by viruses or bacteria, maybe even get rid of cancer and heart disease. But the body will not last for ever, and it is likely that long before we get anything like the technology to eradicate all biological causes of death, it will be possible to migrate one's mind into the machine world, where it will be much easier just to buy an android body and use that instead of keeping your old organic one alive.

OPTI: Climate change is in today's news, and big catastrophes are awaiting us caused by it. Will the technology evolution be able to alleviate these negative effects, being true?

I.P.: We will eventually be able to manage weather to a large degree, and of course we may also be able to get rid of excess CO2 if technology progresses far enough, as is likely. I think most coal and oil will be left in the ground, as we will develop efficient and cheap solar power soon, so if we can get through the next two decades intact, we're probably safe from climate problems.

OPTI: What is the role of robotics in future living?

I.P. They will be able to do general jobs in the home or industry in 20 years, so we will probably get the home robot servants we have waited for for so long. They will also become smart, conscious, and emotionally capable, so they will also act as friends, even lovers, and one day when we get close to death, we may migrate our minds across into a robot body to continue living.

OPTI: From which type of technological development will be achieved the main humanity advances?

I.P. The convergence of biotech and information tech will allow us to develop better forms of life, and improve humanity. Sadly, this technollogy is also extremely dangerous and we are quite likely to wipe ourselves out somewhere along the way.

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