by Doug Casey
What you're going to read in the next few minutes will be shocking
But it's also factual and logical. That
will make it upsetting and disturbing. Most people are at least
vaguely aware of what's happening. But very, very few are aware of
its degree or the implications.
As you probably know, I believe times are about to get quite rough
economically and politically. But, at the same time, I'm very
optimistic about what's happening in science and technology.
So let me hazard some predictions, and
break the old rule about how, if you predict an event will occur, to
make sure you don't predict its timing.
I was born just after the end of WW2.
It was an idyllic era to be an American.
The U.S. had more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Things
were mellow at home as "Leave It to Beaver" in the '50s transitioned
into "California Girls" in the early '60s.
True, there were at least a couple of times (the 1962 Cuban Missile
Crisis and a while in the early '80s) when it looked like there
might be a global thermonuclear war. We not only dodged those
bullets, but things kept improving.
The average American accumulated so much
stuff that he had to rent a storage unit, after filling up his
The USSR collapsed, and the U.S. government went on to become the
world's only superpower. Things have been pretty good within the
living memory. No matter that the last couple of generations of
prosperity were financed mostly with borrowed money.
Although everybody (including me) tends to focus on political
events, it's a mistake to pay too much attention to them.
Governments, and even countries, come
and go, rise and fall. Political events should be viewed as
flavoring to the stew, painting on a house, or trim tabs on a
flight. They're worth noting, but - unless they're really bad - only
marginally important over the long run.
What is important?
From a long-term point of view, there
are really just three things: science, technology, and capital.
Science lets you understand how and why things work. Technology lets
you put the theory into practice. And capital gives you the time and
material to make use of science and technology.
Let's look at civilization from that long-term point of view. Since
the appearance of Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago, things
improved at only a glacial pace until the end of the last ice age
about 12,000 years ago.
Then, with the start of the Neolithic
era and the Agricultural Revolution, things started getting better
Then, since the start of the Bronze Age
about 5,000 years ago, they started getting better by the century.
Then, with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, by the decade.
the Industrial Revolution, about 200 years ago, they've been
getting better every year. And it's been an accelerating trend.
Exponentially accelerating. Most people don't keep up with these
things, but important advances are now being made weekly.
Why are these things accelerating at an exponential rate?
several reasons, I think. One is that, since all the past advances
in science and technology still exist, we don't have to constantly
reinvent the wheel. Another is that, in earlier eras, there
was very little surplus left over after covering basic food,
shelter, and clothing; now there's a lot. That's capital, and it's
But, very important, there are more
scientists and engineers alive today than have lived in all previous
human history put together.
Not only that, but radically new technologies are coming into
existence - not gradually at an arithmetic rate, but at a geometric
rate. So things are on the verge of becoming much, much better, and
very, very quickly.
Not only better than you imagine, but
better than you can imagine.
Moore's Law was formulated in 1965:
it states that computational
power will double, and costs will halve, about every 18 months.
it appears to apply to several areas besides computing.
As a result, it's highly probable that Timothy Leary was not just
right, but conservative, when he anticipated
S.M.I2.L.E. - Space
Migration, Intelligence Increase, and Life Extension. Those things
are just part of the picture.
So here's the good news. It's likely the very nature of life is
going to change for the better, almost unrecognizably, over the next
20 years or so.
I've very arbitrarily divided the areas of progress into 10 areas.
There's a lot of overlap between them because all the areas of
science and technology are an increasingly integrated whole.
I'm sure you're familiar with all these trends. But the chances are
low that you've adequately considered how quickly they're advancing
and where that advance is going to lead - very soon.
I only want to
broach the subjects; libraries can be written on all of this.
The takeaway is that the very components
of reality itself:
... will soon be
manipulated on a cosmic scale.
Some of these things, like energy and space exploration, are just
extensions of current technologies.
Others, especially nanotech, are game
With the exception of nuclear,
all power comes from the sun. In the past, solar, wind, and
similar power sources existed mainly in the dreams of
economically illiterate hippies.
But now, combined with rapidly
advancing battery technology, they finally make sense.
Better yet, oncoming generations
of modular nuclear reactors will be tiny, extremely safe,
simple, and cheap. Maybe fusion power will finally become
practical - although that would just be a bonus.
Oil and gas? They're important
as feedstocks, but mainly because they provide very dense
energy. They are, however, essentially compounds of hydrogen
and carbon, two of the most common and simplest elements.
With adequate (and sufficiently
cheap - this is the key) power, they can be created in
unlimited quantity; the chemistry is quite basic and well
Among other things, algae can be
programmed to manufacture them in quantity.
One of the good things about
most governments being bankrupt is that they're being forced
to cede the conquest of space to entrepreneurs, who will
colonize the moon, the asteroids, and the planets.
I love Elon Musk's quip:
"I hope to die on Mars. Just
not on impact."
Of course, if he's lucky, he may
live to be several hundred years old because of other
You need "stuff" to make what you need. A lack of raw
materials has always been a major reason for conflict. But
digging things out of the Earth, using big yellow trucks,
will no longer be humanity's only option. The asteroids are
full of dense elements.
They'll soon become available in
massive quantity, cheaply.
It's clear we're on the edge of
solving the problem of aging; it should be addressed as a
degenerative disease. All other diseases are simply
footnotes to aging.
If you live long enough, you can
be, do, and have everything that you can imagine.
It's likely to be possible soon.
The creation of not just new
body parts, but new bodies, made to order, is in the works.
And new species. And much more. Who really knows what can be
done with DNA?
But the answer is probably:
Almost anything, in lots of ways.
A.E. van Vogt's
Shops of Isher predicted machines that would create
advanced weapons for you, in the privacy of your own home.
Now that's possible with
Soon, if you can design
something, or get the design, you can create it. At home.
Not just smart machines in
In fact, factories themselves
may be on their way out.
Humanoid beings - products of
bioengineering and AI - could replace them. They'll perhaps
be almost indistinguishable from normal people.
This alone, the creation of intelligent machines, will
overturn the nature of society, family, warfare, work -
I believe that a difference that
makes no difference is no difference.
That's the concept behind the
Turing test. At some point, very soon, machines will be
smarter than their creators and will, in turn, create other
machines smarter than they are.
And continue doing so at a
I did a chapter on this in
Crisis Investing for the '90s.
At the time, not one person in
100 had a clue what it was. In its ultimate form,
the use of molecular-sized assemblers and supercomputers -
will change the character of reality itself.
Totally and unrecognizably. It
amounts to pixie dust, making it possible to manipulate the
92 naturally occurring elements into useful compounds
cheaply and easily.
It's becoming possible to
fabricate totally new materials, like carbon nanotubes,
vastly more capable than any "natural" material.
Electromechanical switches, then
vacuum tubes, then transistors, now silicon chips, and soon
quantum computing are taking place on a molecular level.
All the knowledge in the world
contained in a cube. Or perhaps in the head of a
biologically enhanced robot. Or perhaps in an interface to
your own brain.
You'll be able to immerse
yourself in a world of your own creation, activating all of
your senses, in a veritable Star Trek
holodeck that will be
almost indistinguishable from real reality.
Perhaps you will prefer to live
in unreality. All in the privacy of your own home.