Renowned Tech Expert Vivek Wadhwa Explains Our Bionic Future

19 | By Michael A. Robinson

Get ready for bionic humans.

They’ll be faster, stronger, and much smarter than we are today. They’ll wear exoskeletons made of smart materials, complete with onboard computing.

Part of their enhanced IQs may come from implants in their eyes that automatically access the wireless Web.

Not only that, these connected people will be largely free from disease and hunger, too. The human race will have plenty of food, water, and medicine to go around in a world teeming with an estimated 10 billion people by the end of this century.

Hard to believe, I know.

But my source is one of the world’s foremost experts on the future of high tech and how it will affect mankind…

I was lucky to get a chance to chat with Vivek Wadhwa for nearly half an hour by phone this week. After all, Wadhwa is in high demand these days for his writings and lectures about the future.

He holds posts at both Duke and Stanford universities. But in tech circles, he is arguably best known as the Vice President of Academics and Innovation at Singularity University. It’s a school based in Silicon Valley focused on the impact of radical new tech. Some of the nation’s great thinkers and entrepreneurs go there to gain new insights.

Wadhwa is also a trusted advisor to several governments, and his columns have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

I think you’ll like what he had to tell me…

“People get very pessimistic when the economy is bad,” Wadhwa told me. “But if you look at the progress that has been made – we live longer lives, we have more food. There are just so many advances happening in so many fields. Sixty percent of the disease on earth is caused by (contaminated) water. We can solve that problem. If you solve water, then you solve energy. Already, solar has become cheaper than diesel in India.”

Of course, I was glad to hear that Wadhwa also believes we’re living in the Era of Radical Change.

Driven by low-cost digital breakthroughs, high tech is moving so fast and in so many areas at once that no one person can fully understand the impact all this is having our lives. Every day brings a new milestone. What used to be science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.

Take the blend of robotics and voice recognition.

“We could build robots as children using erector sets,” recalled the 55-year-old Wadhwa. “The trouble was, to build sophisticated movements required master computers. You needed a computer the size of a house to do voice recognition, if you could even do it, 30 or 40 years ago. Today, your iPhone does voice recognition. Facebook does face recognition.

“We used to dream about robot helpers. But guess what? These robots are becoming possible. We will have specialized butlers and servants within a few years because it is all very possible right now.”

And what used to be distinct fields – like biotech, nanoscience, and computing – are blending together to create profound new platforms.

“The magic happens at the intersection of technologies,” he said.

I agree.

Just look at how we’ve married smartphones with medicine to create a whole new sector known as mobile health (Mhealth). Experts say the field will have$23 billion in sales in just five years. I first wrote about mobile health in June for our sister publication Money Morning, and you can find it by clicking here.

The startup AliveCor has come up with a device that connects to a smart phone and monitors your heart. In the near future, your phone will conduct DNA tests for just a few dollars, Wadhwa says.

All of which brings back around to the advent of bionic people. Wadhwa says it’s starting to occur right before our very eyes.

Take the case of Project Glass by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) that I told you about back in April. We’re talking about a pair of glasses that can take pictures, capture video, send emails, display maps, even connect to the wireless Web.

This is a cool device, no doubt. But compared with what’s coming, it’s bulky.

In the near future, all that power will fit inside a pair of contact lenses. Or right inside your eyes, for that matter.

“The electronics are getting cheaper and smaller,” Wadhwa explains. “Google glasses are real, and there is no reason they can’t be implanted into your retina so that you’ll have capabilities better than your eyes. I’ve seen a couple of prototypes of these devices. We can have that knowledge available to us so that we can be interconnected with the rest of the world.

“We’ll also have exoskeletons made of new composite fibers or lightweight nanomaterials with onboard electronics. In the next five to seven years, we’ll have bionic capabilities in our bodies.”

Wadhwa and I agree on one more key point – that America will remain the world’s technical leader. We just have so many bright minds working to solve big problems that the U.S. can’t help but succeed in the long run.

“I have no doubt it will,” he concluded. “That’s the message – it’s going to be fine. You know, many start-ups are doing amazing things. I don’t know which ones will become the next Google or the Intel, but I know some of them will.”

And investors like us will be there to profit.


19 Responses to Renowned Tech Expert Vivek Wadhwa Explains Our Bionic Future

  1. Mary-Kay Perris says:

    Interesting article – what does it mean with exoskeltons with composite fibres? Sounds like we will be mainly robots – where can I get more info?

    Love the idea of everyone being fed and healthy.

    • steve says:

      The idea of everyone being fed and healthy is great. However, the reality of genetically modified (GM) foods so far is not proving to be true. They provide NO nutritional end benefit that’s proven, in fact every product produced so far is only for the benefit of the bottom line. Additionally GM croplands are being sterilized of beneficial and soil organisms needed for crop strength and nutritional bioavailability by the immense toxic load of pesticides, the use of which are increasing dramatically. Superweeds and superbugs have already appeared. Even an unknown organism has appeared that is hard to categorize but is deadly has appeared directly due to GM crops. Ranchers are finding all sorts of problems they didn’t have before, like lifestock infertility, low birth weight, and premature death, which disappear when they stop using GM feed. Independent scientists have found serious damage to internal organs from a GM feed diet. The list goes on and on.

      I personally know a scientist that was developing techniques that came to be used in the area of gene splicing. He had a large government grant. But he realized the inherent dangers of using these techniques and of gene splicing crop DNA in general. It is NOT the same as the conventional hybrid practices used for centuries which have inherent natural safeguards. The fundamental technology itself is a flawed approach, and my friend gave the grant back to the government with a public statement pointing out the dangers. Here’s why:

      The laboratory techniques universally used today are inherently randomly destructive. It’s a shotgun approach to inserting genes. Even though it produces a desired result, it also produces unintended consequences in other parts of the DNA. Also, the DNA becomes unstable and capable of unexpected and undesirable changes in the future. I’m not against science, but I don’t have any illusions about the dangers being recklessly propagated on deliberately flimsy proof of safety with a cheery corporate face by the likes of Mon$anto. Don’t be deceived, they’re only in it for the money, not your health.

    • steve says:

      I should add that there is plenty of room for radical improvement of techniques for enhancing crops. Already organic farming has proven to produce more per acre than conventional farming. And with such a huge population, putting food production in more peoples’ care with diversify and strengthen agriculture as well as create more jobs and bring more nutritious foods. So there is a lot going on there worth pursuing.

  2. Ralph L. Abruscato says:

    I found this article very interesting and especially enjoyable. With the market going through its’ gyrations which at times can bring about a little bit of depression, this is the news to turn off the depression immediatley and turn on the confidence of looking forward to stepping if not running into a better future. It is extremely difficult being positive about the life when all you hear is conservatism and we can’t afford it. You article goes to the only answer, which is “We only have room to afford investing into the future”. Which for me is very progressive and bountiful future.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am impressed with your articles, and your selection of them. I have been a science fiction nut since I was around 8 years old, and I am now 74. I can recall a science fiction story for every advance in science made over the years, including one elaborating on a society that used the very same concept of vision (glasses in this case because contact lenses had not yet been invented) and many benefits exceeding those described in your article. I read this novel 20-30 years ago but cannot recall the story name.

    In my mind, it appears that “invention” comes in two parts: the imagining of something practical but at the time far fetched, and that imagined thing then becomes a goal to create, and I suspect frequently by someone other than the one who dreamed it up.

    It is quite possible that today’s inventors were all science fiction fans. An inquiry should be made.

  4. Larry Thomason says:

    Allow me to send you pictures of the tools to do as you suggest regarding water. I have worked fifty years and the worlds largest irrigation districts are using some of my tools.

    Go to Blucor Cast In Place Pipe and you will find some of my tools and those are 35 years old and still producing solutions for water problems.

    I have new technologies that will help fight grass, brush and forest fires. I have a machine to clean up salt problems in farm land.

    I have another new machine that can produce five concrete pipes at the same time in five foot and larger diameters.

    I am looking for professionals to manage all my work as I am a self educated man of 75 years. I can discover new projects and machines every time I get on the internet such as now. Help me! I own all intellectual property rights.

    Water mover Larry

    • ken bosley says:

      I am an expert in wind energy/ wind power / wind turbines.- with over 30 years of experience. I am looking for work.

      Ken Bosley, M.A.
      see resume at
      my voicemail pager is 800 894 6352 – my phone number is on my website
      PO Bix 585
      Sparks, Maryland 21152

  5. Matt says:

    As someone who has bounced back from a severe head injury 25 years ago to do things the brain injury rehab team told me would simply not be possible – complete my bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s, get married and subsequently raise a son on my own as a single parent, etc. – I am especially excited about the possibilities at the juncture of neurological research, computing technology, and prosthetics. I will be overjoyed when the day comes that I can once again use both my hands to type 100 words/minute with few to no mistakes, like I could when I first learned to type on an electric typewriter, nearly 40 years ago. Just think how inspirational it would have been, 5 or 10 years from now, to see Christopher Reeve walk again!

  6. Lynn De Lacey says:

    I am 55years and have watched What you say is true – but I believe this has been plan by the real world leaders for some time. Who did you say was controlling the imput of information into these semi robotic humans? Enough food and water by 2020? At the rate the planets resources of arable land and clean water is being destroyed by gas fracking and other conglomerated mining ventures, and overpopulation, I think not. All these new technologies are definitely there and there will be more – the purpose behind them – Imagine a largely soulless society, mostly robotic, all working as one to achieve more minerals, more money, more power, more control, throughout the universe. Perhaps they don’t need so much food and water. Is that the future? By the way there already is interconnection throughout the planet on many levels, through telepathy, for those who care to develop it and their own awareness. And its not under some central controller.

  7. Allen Bahn says:

    Most of the time Mr.Wadhva is running down us education,us economy and everything about our country.He has been speaking on how great the opportunities are for all people in India and China.He continues to live here and enjoy our freedoms and the high standards of our country.
    I think he should pontificate from India ( no electricity or clean water) or from China ( no freedom)He has no credibility.

  8. Doris says:

    The man is a fool when it comes to food. Machines do not grow food. We have machines. Machines do not bring rain. We need rain. Our aquafers are going dry. Our soil have been poisoned by Monsanto and can not give us the micro-nutients we need. We get fat as our bodies seek more nutrients that Monsanto has chelated out of our soil, our plants, and our animals. We are entering a new dust bowl. Millions will starve during this greater than great depression. It is upon us. You can not eat money.

  9. Joe Estrada says:

    Bionics? I am 56 years old. Will I live to see the day when technology will allow us to live forever? With so many people, we will have no choice but to build colonies on other planets. I’m ready to move to Mars if I had more time. But, I think that wars between planets would be inevitable, judging by man’s violent history, so maybe, I should just be content to know that I may be one of the last (of the lucky ones) to taste death.

  10. Claire says:

    Nothing could persuade me to have these kinds of implants unless it were simply and only to save me from death or Parkinson’s disease or something like that.

    The idea of having implants in my eyes to take video pictures or electronics in my brain so that I could access wireless internet sounds like a total nightmare to me.

    If this really does happen then the human race will divide into two species, cyborgs and people who want to remain human. If you become a cyborg you will lose contact with your human emotions. Transhumanism is a dark future that is presented as wonderful but which will alienate those who embrace it from their humanity.

    The future of our species lies with spiritual growth and transformation, not with turning ourselves into machines. You will not need love because the chips will stimulate your brain chemistry.

    Think people, do you want to be a machine or a human? It is a back door to being controlled by the government or corporations who will own your software and hack you so that you are no more than a robot doing their bidding and you will ‘love your servitude’ ~ Aldous Huxley, ‘Brave New World’

    Not for me, I would rather remain human.

  11. megatec says:

    Be careful watch you wish for…..who said evolution was limited to biological beings? Human beings becoming obsolete as much too inefficient? And we usher it in with such excitement…….Terminator.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *