Future Predictions of Famous Scientist Dr. James Bonner

About scientist James Bonner and some of his predictions for the future of the world and technology.


James Bonner is a professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology. With Ruchih Huang, he succeeded in setting up a test-tube chromosome system to synthesize RNA. He has been somewhat criticized for tampering with life processes and in retaliation tells of a lady in Pasadena who argued that if God had expected men to fly in jets, he would have had the Wright brothers invent them.

Past Predictions: Wrong--With other scientists, he predicted a 2%-4% yearly increase in agricultural productivity as reasonable in 1957. Ten years later, he himself admitted that yields in developing countries had risen only 8% in an entire decade, or less than 1% per year. He attributed this disappointing increase to American investments in slow-payoff technology in developing countries, and to lack of training and education in those same countries. Though he believes that sending grain to developing countries discourages initiative, he feels that massive aid is still the only way to combat poverty.

Future Predictions: For 1975-1980

--By 1980, the world will consist of 2 cultures

--the permanently poor and the permanently rich. While technology will increase wealth exponentially in rich countries, the reverse will be true in poor ones. If we are not careful, eventually we will start looking at the inhabitants of poor countries as another species and find a rationalization for getting rid of them.

--By 1980, the U.S. will have about 1,700,000 engineers and scientists in the working population.

--Men will be able to direct the growth of human organs; in other words, we might be able to grow new arms, hearts, or livers by genetic means. Bonner says, "Maybe you will go to the doctor and he will say, 'Well, I think your heart isn't so good now. Maybe we had better start growing you a new one. In another 2 or 3 years, it will be grown up, and we can plumb it in.'"

--The brain code will be broken.

For 1991-2000-Population will double in the 25 years from 1967 to 1992.

--Unless developing countries are given massive aid, the population in them will rise 1% a year faster than the rate of production. Famine will become more widespread, impeding industrial development.

--In 2000, there will be about 3,300,000 working engineers and scientists in the U.S., but we will need 3 times that.

No Dates Given--The time will come when we won't work at all because of automation.

--We will be able to make gargantuan holes in deserts to create lakes, and we will use the dirt removed to build mountains.

--Self-contained cities will be possible.

--Someday it may be possible to replace, through synthesis of brain neurons, the 100,000 neurons in the brain that die every day. The new cells will have to be trained, because they will have no memory.

--It will be possible in the near future to develop a superspecies of human being through cloning (i.e., manipulation of body cells to produce individuals identical to the cell donor).

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