With all the natural resources crises that we are experiencing such as raw material shortage, high energy prices, and global warming, have we ever really stopped to think what our olives could be a million years from now? With the current technology that we have, it is never impossible to predict what lies ahead.
The good news is, there is now Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge. This book comprises of 14 essays written mostly by fiction writers, mathematicians, computer experts, and scientists. The entire book was edited by Damien Broderick. The book is a good read if you want to know what could happen in the future and if you also want to know how to survive if worse comes to worst. There’s no need stop making those plans though. Whatever is predicted from the book will happen millions, billions, or even trillions of years from now. This is a pretty long timeframe since what we are talking about are the eventual cooling of the universe, the sun’s collapse, and the Earth’s destruction.
Not all of the contributors in the book agree on the same things on how the planet would go on in the future but there are some with the same thoughts. Wil McCarthy, Robert Bradbury, And Steven Harris think that chopping the solar system could build a supercomputer known as the Matrioshka Brain. This could be constructed using computronium, which is yet to be invented.
Meanwhile, according to Freeman Dyson, Jupiter that has been ground up could be used in building nested spheres around the sun which could later on be used to capture its energy. Humans would then live on the spheres or may be uploaded as software in the Matrioshka Brain. Earth, being relatively smaller, could then be used just as a global museum. It is still up to debate whether the minds would come together in one super brain or remain as separate entities connected by the internet.
There is also the theory of Rudy Rucker, who thinks that we could still breathe air, but could communicate through the help of nanotechnology using microscopic machines. In other words, humans could be able to communicate mentally. Rucker is against the idea of turning the planet into computronium because he believes that life must be defended.
Another one by Robin Hanson thinks that mankind could be able to send out probes with seeds that could start new civilizations once they found suitable environments. These civilizations, in turn, would compete against each other, and natural selection would ensue.
Gregory Benford and Sean M. Carroll looks into the theory that the aging universe would be converted into a very large computer. Running on less matter and energy, this universe would actually prove to be more efficient. While the universe could be cold since the suns have expired and organiz life forms will be gone, it would not be the end of life.
No one really knows what would happen in the far future but reading Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge is surely entertaining and worth the time.
About the Author
Damien Broderick, Ph.D., is a freelance writer, senior fellow in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, and science fiction editor at the Australian popular science monthly Cosmos. He received the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts in 2005. He lives in Melbourne, Australia and San Antonio, Texas.