Wanted: Technological Revolutions
The one idea is the possibility of non-human animals with roughly human level abilities, including some way of communicating with humans. It is at least arguable that some species already have adequate intelligence and lack only a common language. That is the claim implicit in some highly publicized—and controversial—past work teaching sign language to non-human primates. The people who worked with Koko, for instance, a female gorilla, estimated her IQ at 75-90 and claimed she understood 2000 words and had a working vocabulary of over 1000 signs. Other possible candidates are cetaceans, especially dolphins, and, surprisingly enough, grey parrots. I am suspicious of such claims, since the primate experiments got a lot of attention quite a long time ago; if the results were as good as claimed, we should have seen a lot more evidence by now. But I could be wrong.
If suitable animals do not yet exist, perhaps we could get them via genetic engineering, a popular theme in science fiction. Or we might learn enough about the functioning of the brain to be able to improve the brains of other species (and our own, which raises another set of issues), perhaps by the use of suitable drugs. Whatever the mechanism, the existence of animals able to communicate with us on a more or less human level would raise many interesting questions, including lots of legal issues.
While I welcome comments on this idea, that is not the main reason for this post. What I am looking for are some more revolutions. What technological developments not already covered in Future Imperfect might revolutionize our world over the next thirty years or so?