To kick of 2009, edge.org decided to ask a whole bunch of people the question:
What game changing scientific ideas and developments do you live to see?
Of course these are not random people like you and me, but 150 individuals who can claim to have some perspective in the matter. Some, indeed, leading thinkers in related fields. It takes some reading, so I am only reading a few at a time.
Its striking to think how comfortably we believe that we are, and forever will be, the dominant species on a planet that has repeatedly seen mass extinctions. Yet most of us don’t really look that far ahead, either by lack of foresight or the belief that we don’t need to. Which means that for all practical purposes, we see humanity continuing to be humanity as we know it, and only external, mechanical and environmental changes having the biggest impact.
Juan Enriquez (biotechnoligist, life-sciences expert), talking on human speciation, suggests the biggest change will be in us.
99% of species, including all other hominids, have gone extinct. Often this has
happened over long periods of time. What is interesting today, 200 years after
Darwin's birth, is that we are taking direct and deliberate control over the
evolution of many, many species, including ourselves. So the single biggest game
changer will likely be the beginning of human speciation. We will begin to get
glimpses of it in our lifetime. Our grandchildren will likely live it.
He then elaborates three paths on which humans are already approaching this, if in varying degrees. It’s a fascinating read.
The notable aspect in reading some of these, to me, is how relatively small or self contained areas of study and progress can impact a larger shift, something that can be projected by minds with intricate knowledge, but also significant vision- and, indeed, imagination.