What does the future hold for humans? Experts at Moogfest’s Future of the Species panel Friday split on their predictions. For some, including panel moderator Neil Harbisson, a cyborg activist who has a permanent third eye wired into his brain, humans will be expanding their senses and capabilities through electronic implants and genetic alteration, leading to a new world of possibilities. Other panelists, including Rich Lee, take a darker view.

“We’re doomed,” Lee told the audience at the Carolina Theatre. “I see all humans as being dead. The only survivors will be transhuman or post-human.” A member of the biohacking group known as the Grinders, Lee is a proponent of homemade cybernetic implants and self-experimentation. In 2013, he implanted DIY headphones in his ears, a modification that proved useful during Friday’s Q&A session, when he was the only one who could hear audience questions.

A more hopeful view

Futurist BJ Murphy, editor of the website Serious Wonder and author of “The Future of Business,” takes a more hopeful view. He believes that within 15 to 20 years, we’ll see the development of “body shops,” where people will go for body augmentations, in the same way as they get tattoos and piercings today. Each person will become his or her own artistic creation.

“It will be artistic expression beyond anything we’ve ever seen,” Murphy said. “You are the master of your own universe. The only limit is your own imagination.”

English zoologist Daniel Lock predicted several adaptations that might be derived from research of other species. “Immortality already exists,” he said. “We know of a jellyfish that never dies.” He also pointed to microscopic organisms that can survive in space as a potential guide to some of the challenges that humans face as they move off planet.

Humanity’s expansion into space will drive cyborg development, according to several panel members. The ability of machines to withstand the radiation and microgravity in space, both disastrous to humans, are determining factors that will lead to a proliferation of robots in the next few decades, machines which, according to BJ Murphy, will have hyper-abilities in areas where humans just cannot keep up.

“Merge or die,” is the human future, Murphy said. “It’s the same way the Neanderthal went. Those that can adapt and change will be the ones to survive.”

Barcelona futurist and poet, Pau Riba, sees humanity at a crossroads. “We are approaching the moment when our species lays the egg of the new species,” he said. “The new species is the machine.”