Arnold Kling

Thirty-year Forecast

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Economists do not dare to try to forecast thirty years ahead. That job is left to folks like Ray Kurzweil and Gregory Stock, as reported by Reason's Ron Bailey.

Kurzweil thinks the future will be both biotech and nanotech. The first two decades of the 21st century will be the golden age of biotechnology, featuring tissue engineering, the immortalization of cells and organs using telomeres, rational drug design, simulations replacing animal testing, and the repair of genetic defects. The third and fourth decades will be the golden age of bionanotechnology..."We will make progress equivalent to that of the whole 20th century in the next 15 years," Kurzweil predicts. "Progress in the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at todayís rate of progress."

...He suggested that peopleís notions of machines have to be revised Ė we will grow to see them not as merely cold, inflexible, and brittle gadgets, but as helpful and necessary devices, as soft and subtle as human tissues. Kurzweil is convinced that a personís computationally powerful nonbiological components will eventually overwhelm his biological remnants. Perhaps a personís biology would then become simply superfluous.

Discussion Question. Kurzweil is predicting that growth will be 200 times as fast in the 21st century as it is currently. So, if GDP per capita grows at 2 percent per year today, it will average 400 percent per year for the century as a whole. Is that a reasonable estimate?

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