Tech Heads: Cisco's Dave Evans predicts the future

We talk to Cisco's chief futurist about his predictions for the technology of the future - from cyborgs, parallel universes and internet telepathy to the ultimate fate of humanity itself.

IT Pro: With man-machine integration, do you think something like that, or perhaps something else entirely, would constitute a technological singularity? Where our conceptions of ourselves as human beings change so radically that we wouldn't recognise ourselves as we are now?

It's certainly possible. That's a lot of the work that Ray Kurzweil does and talks about. It's more a philosophical question than technological. Our thinking is constrained by our own ability to think - our cranial capacity limits what we can think about philosophically or technically. If we can extend our cranial capacity, physical or virtually, it's theoretically possible that we can reach a new plateau of thinking. You're right that we may get to a point where we've increased our abilities so much that we look at ourselves in completely different ways and the singularity does occur. I'm not sure if it will or not, I don't know that it will occur in quite the time horizon that other futurists think. I think it may be a bit longer than that we have other challenges facing us right now as a species.

our cranial capacity limits what we can think about philosophically or technically. If we can extend our cranial capacity, physical or virtually, it's theoretically possible that we can reach a new plateau of thinking.

One of the things that I factor into my calculation, if you will, is ourselves. Human beings get in our own way. There's a lot we could do technically speaking in a perfect world, but there's cultural issues, political issues, social issues. Take stem cell research as an example. There are all kinds of things you could do with stem cell research, but what about the ethical issues? What about the religious issues, those kinds of things? I don't know yet that we're quite at the evolutionary stage where we can start to advance at those rates, we still have to get out of our own way. We'll get there, assuming there's no reset event that occurs. It's quite a few years out still.

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