Future Humans Will Live Underwater and Erase Bad Memories: Tech Experts’ Most Insane Predictions

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Pedro Nunes/Reuters

The Web Summit at Lisbon is known for being a bit of a spectacle, with attitudes and declarations that draw criticism to the tech world. As one writer dramatically puts it, “Web Summit is where humanity rushes towards its extinction.” It is also filled with ideas that some experts and entrepreneurs are actively seeking to turn into reality—or to air for shock value. 

So it’s little surprise that a panel conducted at this year’s Web Summit invoked some pretty out-there ideas. Bryan Johnson, the founder of Kernel, a startup focused on neuroprosthetics—which aims to restore or improve brain function with implanted devices—struck such a tone while being interviewed onstage as part of a panel:

“I would expect in around 15 to 20 years we will have a sufficiently robust set of tools for the brain that we could pose any question we wanted. For example, could I have a perfect memory? Could I delete my memories? Could I increase my rate of learning, could I have brain-to-brain communication?” he reportedly told his audience.

Johnson, an entrepreneur whose background is outside of science, founded the company Kernel with the stated mission of augmenting human intelligence. The company aims to fight neurodegenerative disease (Johnson has said he’s been driven to this work by his stepfather’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis).

“Frankly, the technologies we have for interacting with the brain are blunt tools at best,” University of Toronto neuroscientist Blake Richards told The Verge. “Most neuroprostheses involve dropping a big array of electrodes into the brain.”

Among other possibilities raised at the panel, Simon Evetts, the director of operations for Blue Abyss, branded a commercial deep-sea and -space research center, raised the possibility of humans living under the sea.

“Are we going to see an aspect of society moving into the oceans in future? And if they do so, what will they do to optimize themselves?... Can we somehow work out how dolphins and seals hold their breath for so long and maybe ourselves do that? Are we going to try and internalize those things and end up with large thoracic cavities because we’ve got internal gill sets?”

By way of answers or explanation, Evetts kept it open-ended.

“It does seem like those things are possible, but we don’t know when they will happen.”

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