Is our future dystopian or utopian?

From autonomous vehicles to genetics, quantum computing to transhumanism with machine-to-brain interfaces, a great deal of cutting-edge research is taking place in Research Triangle Park. And Moogfest brings many regional thought leaders together to share what they see in our rapidly, constantly evolving world. In a four-part series, WRAL TechWire’s Allan Maurer reports on what we’re calling “The Human Future” series.

Is science opening doors for a better future? Read this WTW Insider series written and you decide.

A quick note about Allan.

He’s not only a co-founder of WRAL TechWire but also a widely published writer on life science and technology. So after reviewing the Moogfest 2017 lineup for last weekend’s technology, music and entertainment festival, choosing him to cover a select number of events and topics was an easy choice.

The series

Each of the four reports is based on interviews and presentations made during the event – along with a great deal of background research. From CRISPR to quantum computing, Maurer immersed himself in the world-to-come.

  • Part one: Brain machine interfaces let paraplegics walk

Seeing paraplegics who haven’t moved their legs in 12 years walk with an exoskeleton and brain-machine interface, or monkeys wired to a mind-interface playing video games is like watching a science fiction film. And much of what’s making this possible is happening “right here at Duke,” says a principal scientist.

  • Part two: Evolution inside the genome revolution

We learned a lot from the first genetics revolution, the sequencing of the entire human genome from 1997-2003. But what’s exciting now in the field is the new technology that allows changing the genome in very precise ways, says Charlie Gersbach, a Duke department of biomedical engineering professor.

  • Part three: Why autonomous vehicles aren’t an automatic success

Do you know why the companies developing autonomous cars do so much on-the-road testing, testing, testing? It’s because their software is not good at dealing with novel situations, so they require enormous amounts of experience with actual roads and driving situations. Duke University’s Michael Clamann discussed the “Arrival of the Robot Car.”

  • Part four: Quantum speculations, scifi vs. science fact

Is science fiction a way to approach examining problems such as quantum mechanics, behavior modifying brain implants, and other topics in physics and science? It certainly generated many audience questions at a Moogfest Transhuman session.