Imagine if the ideas of yesterday became tomorrow’s reality.
If delusional forecasts became our apparent future.
Welcome to the Year 2015.
Science, technology and medicine are taking leaps we never dreamed possible.
Years of research are culminating in advances, at an alarming rate.
We are watching as science-fiction becomes our new reality.
Are we ready for it?
Moore’s Law of exponential technological growth, predicted in 1965, has virtually been crystallised. The year 2015 is proving to expose our new reality, 50 years after it was predicted.
The first “mobile” two-way radio was developed in Australia, by an Aussie Police Officer, in 1923. Although the initial prototype was rather cumbersome, Dick Tracy was sporting an even more “mobile” version of the device on his wrist just decades later, thanks to creator/artist Chester Gould.
A few decades further on, our beloved Inspector Gadget verbally communicated with his niece, Penny, via wristwatch, stretching the idea of “mobile” technology.
Another few decades ahead, Generation X were chatting over their backyard fences using handheld “walkie-talkies” while reading Dick Tracy comics, watching Inspector Gadget on TV...dreamers of tomorrow.
The rate of technological progression was quickly catching up to science fiction.
Twenty-nine years later, Generation Y were listening to music pumping through earbuds from a device no bigger than a watch, clipped to their clothing. They were simultaneously, wirelessly, chatting to their mates on their smartphones. Two years later, in 2014, Apple announced they would combine Penny’s smart-watch legacy with Apple technology to produce the Apple Watch.
The Apple Watch took the idea several steps further. I don't think even Penny could have seen that coming.
I loved playing with “walkie-talkies” and owned a Sony Walkman, that I later replaced with an iPod Nano. I cannot say I was ever truly convinced about Herbie, the “lovable” VW beetle though. Perhaps I never considered autonomous vehicles to be a potential reality.
I now have no choice but to embrace this concept. In 2012, 46 years after The Love Bug was released in cinemas, Induct launched Navia, the first commercially available self-driven vehicle. And two years later, in my home city, it was announced: the first test-drive of autonomous vehicles would take place on Adelaide’s expressway, preceding commercial sales in 2016.
The advances in technology are impressive. They are exciting. Where to from here?
It blows my mind that 30 years ago today, on the 21st June, 1985, the fantasy-adventure film, Return to Oz, was released.
The film, directed by Walter Murch, left a considerable mark on the minds of Generation Y.
Or, should I say, a giant, ongoing nightmare.
Disturbingly, 30 years later, almost to the day, this nightmare threatens to become a reality.
An alleged sequel to The Wizard of Oz, the 1985 film took Dorothy back to The Emerald City, which had apparently been destroyed. Awaiting her, among other alarming encounters, was Princess Langwidere. The beautiful royal and her ever-changing appearance were owed to, no less than…regular head-transplantation.
And this is where the film’s 30-year anniversary and the world of neuroscience collide, in the year 2015
Italian neuro-surgeon, Dr Sergio Canavero, declared only last month, that he was ready and willing to perform the first, successful, human head transplant.
Previous head transplants have been recorded for other primates and dogs, but with limited success, and sometimes disturbing results.
Dr Canavero, however, has revealed novel surgical methods, based on ground-breaking research and historical information.
I hate to say it, but I think he may just pull it off. And I hope he does, for the sake of his volunteer patient, Valery Spiridonov.
I cannot help but ask:
Are the advances in neuroscience outrunning Moore’s Law?
Where will we be tomorrow?
To hear more, view Dr Sergio Canavaro's TED talk about head transplantation here: