What threatens the world

10 scientists talk about what is to be feared.

What threatens the world

Drug resistance bacteria

Constantin Severin, head of laboratories at the Institute of Microbiology. Waxman (Rutgers University, USA) and the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Gene Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow)

"The building of the Institute, where I work, was built with funds from the sale of Merck's patent for streptomycin. This antibiotic isolated from the soil bacterium, the first director of our Institute Zelman Waxman in 1940, became the first effective cure for tuberculosis. The discovery was awarded the Nobel prize, and marked the beginning of the "golden age" of antibiotics.

Waxman has organized numerous expeditions, the purpose of which was to collect soil samples in different corners of the globe. Then, his staff was isolated from samples of strains of soil microbes, which served as a source of new antimicrobial agents. In the basement of the institute in prehistoric freezers are still kept their culture obtained, only no one knows what they look like. Because now, in spite of the old name, here are studying cancer cells, flies, worms and plants. Germs are out of fashion.

And then, in 1950, all the major pharmaceutical companies have joined the race for the "magic bullet drug." Employees of the pharmaceutical giants such as Merck, Lilly and Glaxo signed a commitment to collect soil samples in the places where they spent their holidays and take them to the corporate microbiological laboratories.

And the results were not long in coming. Very many of the antibiotics were soon discovered that we use to this day. Since infectious diseases - such as tuberculosis or syphilis - are a real scourge, even in developed countries, antibiotics were introduced into medical practice by today's standards almost immediately, often without adequate safety tests. One of the common side effects of some of them was deaf, but it was a small fee for the victory over the disease, which until recently were fatal. The future was seen in bright colors. It seemed that infectious diseases caused by bacteria, will soon be defeated. However, soon after the beginning of the application of an antibiotic, doctors began to notice that the treatment does not always work: some bacteria have become resistant to the antibiotic. However, these cases were rare, and the number of new antibiotics, scientists are literally getting out of the land, grew rapidly.

Then it became clear that finding new antibiotics is becoming increasingly difficult. Time after time, the researchers isolated the same, already known substances. It got to the ridiculous: Dedicated Waxman Grisinum was identical albomitsinu, Soviet scientists found Henry Gause. This prompted Waxman to write an article in the journal Science, entitled "Punishment for isolationism," which called for joint efforts to search for drugs, from which should benefit all of humanity.

Large-scale efforts of doctors, vaccination and, of course, antibiotics do infectious diseases in developed countries in many memories of the past, at least for the middle class. Interest in the race for new antibiotics began to plummet. There were other problems: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, AIDS, health problems associated with sharply increase life expectancy. The development of genetic engineering has allowed pharmaceutical companies to develop new - often very expensive - for the treatment of rare and niche diseases.

Antibiotics are also relatively cheap, and the people who need them the most, do not create effective demand. Nevertheless, the majority of antibiotics, discovered in 1950-60, are widely used, not only in medicine, but also in agriculture, because when added to feed livestock and poultry, the increased weight gain, and, consequently, profit. Unfortunately, this also leads to the fact that more and more antibiotics into the environment.

Of course, Waxman, and Flemming, who discovered penicillin, are the pioneers of no more than Columbus discovered America. Billions of years antibiotics are used by bacteria and fungi to "communicate" with each other. Bacterial Community surprisingly complex and diverse. Communication between microbes effected by exchange of various chemicals. Under unfavorable environmental conditions, such as lack of food, some micro-organisms start to produce substances that kill their neighbors. Obviously, this is a very useful feature, since the food was not enough, and killed a neighbor it is quite possible to have a snack. When people began to make extensive use of antibiotics, they just took advantage of bacterial know-how for their own purposes. Obviously, the bacterium that produces the antibiotic, should be resistant to its action, otherwise she will also be the first victim. Indeed, all of the bacteria that produce antibiotics have specific genes that provide a high level of stability.

The widespread use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture would seem to lead to a global reduction in the number of bacteria. But that did not happen. And the reason is just mentioned in the stability of the genes. It was found that bacteria have a surprising feature - the ability to so-called horizontal gene transfer, in which they actively transmit genes to their offspring not (it would be a vertical transfer characteristic for us), and other, unrelated bacteria. Under certain conditions, horizontal gene transfer to bacterial populations occurs wildfire and especially characteristic of the genes responsible for antibiotic resistance.

In vivo resistance genes are rare - this fact predetermined the success of antibiotics as medicines. However, where high concentration of antibiotics, similar genes more widespread. Just because the bacteria are selected for survival. First of all, we are talking about hospitals. Here is where the problem arises that in the near future threatens to undermine the achievements of modern medicine, so that we will again be able to empathize with the heroines of Chekhov and Remarque, people dying of incurable diseases.

Long-term use of antibiotics in the hospital various hospitals has led to the appearance of "supermikrobov" - bacteria that have accumulated multiple resistance genes due to the horizontal transfer and become simultaneously resistant to all known antibiotics. Even if a person went to the hospital on some petty about - survey, analysis, minor surgery - infection in this microbe can be a sentence, especially if the work is suppressed immune system. Antibiotics are unable to stop the infection. Many hospitals have settled, or rather, were inadvertently withdrawn, its own endemic supermikroby. For example, in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital resides Klebsiella bacterium of multidrug-resistant. Infection with this bacterium in patients with a weakened immune system is likely to result in death.

People who have been treated in Colombian hospital pose a real threat to patients other hospitals, since they can be carriers supermikroba. And in spite of all the precautions and quarantines, occasionally leaking information about new infiltrations. Recently, the Colombian hit the microbe Research Hospital in Washington and led to the deaths of several patients.

Unfortunately, no matter what measures are taken, doctors, bacteria, multi-drug resistance will occur more and more often. We do this in many ways contribute to - the uncontrolled use of antibiotics in agriculture, in the treatment of viral diseases, etc. In fact, manufactured direction (though not intentionally) selection of resistant bacteria... Therefore, it is does not seem unlikely that in 2050, one hundred years after the widespread introduction of antibiotics in medical practice, people will die from the infection caused by the most common microorganisms. Just our medicines to stop these microorganisms to act.

Firstly, to fundamentally change the existing practice of using antibiotics, and secondly, to intensify the search for new to this dismal scenario does not become a reality, it is necessary. The development of young science of genomics has shown that the number and variety of organisms on our planet immeasurably great and only an insignificant part of them can be isolated by methods of classical microbiology, which enjoyed, for example, Selman Waksman. Perhaps the analysis of DNA sequences are unable to growth of microorganisms in the laboratory environment will highlight the genes coding for new antibiotics, and solve the problem. "


Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired, author of "What do the technology?"

"For many years, the most fundamental problem of overpopulation of the Earth was considered imminent. And although the global population will grow Homo sapiens today forty years, it is clear that much more serious threat to the world is the lack of population.

At first glance, the threat seems far-fetched. Everyone knows what it looks like the graph of population dynamics: steadily rising curve passing by us today at around 7 billion and peak somewhere in 2050. The experts all the time reduce the expected value of this peak: UN current forecasts - 9, 2 billion people.

That's just we almost never shows what happens to the schedule on the other side of the peak. The second half is so often missing, that no one asks, "But what then?" And there - sure reduction in the number of people on the planet, and no one knows how close we are to pick up a zero.

Many will appreciate the fact that people on Earth will be a little less, but it was necessary to start to worry - because the process does not stop. Country by country, the world's birth rate falls below the replacement index and the global population will soon cease to reproduce themselves at the same level. In Japan today the natural population growth is negative, the same applies to most countries in Europe, Russia and former Soviet republics, in some Asian countries.

Developing countries have not so far behind the developed countries. The birth rate there is still above replacement level, but rapidly falls as economy grows - throughout Africa, South America and the Middle East. The farther away the society in its technological development, the easier it is to provide children with high quality of life, and the less it becomes an average family. Vicious circle.

Every developed country on the planet is experiencing a decline in fertility. The only exception was the United States - because of the massive influx of immigrants. But even there, fertility declines more rapidly among the Latin population than ever before. This means that very soon America will catch up with the rest of the world. The world's population reached its peak in youth, 1972. Since then, we continuously grow old, and the end of this trend is not visible next few centuries! At the same time, say, Mexico is aging faster than the US, and therefore, all of the young migrant workers, who today seem a problem, soon will need at home. After a population peak of the country will start to compete with each other for the import of labor, changing immigration laws, but it will not affect the global picture.

The world in the second half of this century will be as follows: technological development, a lot of innovation, prolonging human life, more elderly people, millions of robots, but very few young people. The population of the Earth in a hundred years can be described in another way: the world will be living about the same number of people over sixty, as now, but billions fewer young.

Never before in human history, population decline is not necessary for the period of economic progress (even in the days of the Black Death). A few modern countries emerging from demographic decline, GDP per capita is growing for some time, but this trend will only hide the long-term decline.

We have never encountered such a situation: progress is always accompanied by a growing population, growing markets and rising labor reserves. It is hard to imagine how a shrinking and aging at the same time from one year to the population may be a factor in improving living standards. For this to happen, you need a completely different economic system - so, to which we are now completely unprepared.

Problems associated with the growth of world population and the achievement of the global population peak, it is serious, but we know how to solve them. The problem of population decline, tending to zero, characteristic of developed economies - a cause for much greater concern, because we have not experienced anything like it. That's about it, then we should worry. "

Unnecessary concern for children

Alison Gopnik, a psychologist, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley; author of "The philosophical baby"

"Think about the children - and I have been doing this professionally - then worry about. In life, nothing is more important than the education of the next generation, even if sometimes it seems that from us there is little independent. However, being not only the mother, but also a scientist, I worry that in our own parental anxieties many stupid today. We often worry about trifles and very rarely about what is really important.

Anxiety of modern middle class mostly rooted in deep misconceptions about child development. That it is the basis of quite specific, but is now ubiquitous "parenting" concept. Parents exist for as long as there is a type of Homo sapiens: mothers and fathers always care for their children. Parenthood for the first time appeared in the XX century in America, and the word came into use only in the 1970s.

The word is associated with a certain image, a vision of how to understand the relationship between adults and children. Being a parent - it is work, a task for the formation of a child of a certain type of adult, more happy or successful than the surrounding. But all this is very far from reality. Choices for the interaction of parent and child, which is usually associated with all anxiety is limited: to lay the child with her or give "vykrichatsya", accustomed to the toys of one kind or another, give more or less homework. There is almost no evidence to support that seriously affects the child the fate of any of these strategies. There is even less reason to think that there is some magical formula that can make your favorite and financial support for the child more intelligent, happy and successful adults than others.

In terms of the evolution of childhood - one of the main distinguishing features of the human species: we have it for much longer than in other primates. Apparently, this is the result of human adaptation to varied and unpredictable environment. The period of protected immaturity, which we call childhood, gives us a chance to learn and experience new things. Even very young children have a truly extraordinary ability to learn, independently of any conscious influence of parents. That's a long childhood of humanity owes its characteristic of highly developed consciousness. Lengthening the period of childhood in the course of human evolution was accompanied by a change in the content and scope of his care for the offspring. Compared with the closest relatives of primates, it has formed a subsidiary protection: in education began much more actively involved fathers. Women are living longer, so that after menopause to care for grandchildren. Finally, the circle of teachers increased at the expense of non-relatives.

All this means that the child receives a favorable and stable environment, the guarantee of security and care. Adults it receives a wide range of behaviors in the world, sometimes even conflicting, and in the future this will allow it to navigate the unpredictable and changeable conditions. And specific actions of parents in fact have little effect on the formation of the child's specific features of adults.

Here are just time to say things that were supposed to be really bother us. While the secured middle class is worried about how should be turned strollers, even in the United States over 20% of children live below the poverty line, and nearly half - in families with low income.

Subtle differences between the methods of education, which is concerned about the middle class, almost no influence on anything. In contrast, the provision of quality early child care has a huge long-term impact on their lives. As expected, if you look at the problem from the point of view of evolution. Personally, I am more and more worried about the fate of the generations of children who have been deprived of this very human gift: a long, secure, stable childhood. "

History and randomness

Paul Kedroski, a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation (US), blog editor "greed is contagious"

"How many calls in an average fire service in the US is really due to the ignition of the house? Less than 20%. Firefighters call with health complaints, reports of traffic accidents, and, strangely enough, cats stuck in trees. Despite their name, these people do anything but fire. The word "fire" - a reminder of our past fuel. Everywhere you look, everywhere organization, technology and institutions that are just long outlived its shelf life, and if they exist, in a strange rudimentary form - but somehow still widespread and extremely influential. My favorite example - Location city. Many of the city, standing along the river, emerged where once were die. This phase of the waterway intended to stop for the night, and therefore the demand for accommodation and entertainment. Now these cities - hostages of history: they are in the rivers, no longer have to have an economic value and at the same time have to contend with seasonal floods and geography, which hampers their development - and all because in ancient times, someone had to drag their ship by land by a pair of thresholds. Simplifying, we can say that if we reboot the system today, most of these cities could be based almost anywhere, not only in their present location.

The issue is not limited to cities or fire. It deals with history in general: it is the beaten path, blind chance, the effects of "installed base". Take incandescent lamps, paper money, or mail. All these are examples of companies or technologies that continue to exist, mainly for historical reasons, not because they are the best solution to the problem for which they have come up with.

Undoubtedly, this list will only be replenished in the near future. For example, their place in it may take a multi-row motorways - immediately after the internal combustion engine. Or shopping malls, the likely victims of the invasion of electronic commerce. And tied to the geography of citizenship? All of these things seem a little petrified that fetter us, even if the majority does not notice it - yet.

History keeps us stronger, habitually pushing back on track - with its benefits and costs, both in money and in time - by which you must pass before the end, before turning in a new direction, no matter how good it may seem. History - a route that led us here, and everything that we have collected along the way, more and longer binds our progress. Built environment around us plays a role installed base, like an ancient operating system that inhibits the progress, because the advantages of compatibility with it so prohibitively high. Fiction writer William Gibson said, "The future is already here - it just has not yet been distributed very evenly." I'm more worried about the fact that the past is also here - and so evenly distributed that we can not break through to the future. "

The Death of fundamental science

Evgeny Kunin, Senior Researcher of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (USA), author of "The logic of chance: the nature and origin of biological evolution"

"Modern science - mainly of course I'm talking about the biology and biomedical research, to which the sign itself - is in a very controversial and ambiguous situation. On the one hand, we observe an amazing, unprecedented progress that it was impossible to imagine or twenty, or even ten years ago. First of all, new sequencing technologies, although the speed of them to some extent correspond to other methods. On the other hand, we are witnessing an alarming expansion of the gap between the dizzying stream of new data and frustratingly slow development of the theory, synthesis, which would allow to bring all this data in some meaningful system.

We are faced with the contradiction caused by problems within the science, but the present situation outside only exacerbates this situation. For example, all funds and institutions that have at least as a significant means to have a deplorable tendency to not support any research related to fundamental questions. Funding is transferred in favor of all kinds of technological improvements, which only increase the flurry of experimental data. Data that are only expected to become information.

I think that is a big problem not only for scientists but also for humanity. Fundamental science is behind the glory, prestige and, consequently, funding. This process can have serious consequences. I feel that the imbalance between the empirical and theoretical component may be one of the causes of the death of the spirit of scientific progress. Do not want to look abstruse, or complacent, but it seems like one of the explanations for this bias in the public interest towards technology may be that the cutting edge of science, a place where there is real progress, removed farther and farther from the scope of understanding of a "simple" educated person .

Fundamental science has evolved, gradually building up more and more complex theoretical models. In Darwin's time, educated people who are far from biology, to understand and discuss the ideas he expressed. However, at the beginning of the XX century, in the time of John Haldane, Ronald Fisher and other fathers of population genetics, the situation has changed. This generation has used mathematical models that even a well-educated person to understand it was difficult.

In physics, the same situation looks even brighter. The theories of Galileo and Newton were very close to everyday experience and understanding formed a curious person, but Maxwell's electrodynamics was much more difficult. With the advent of quantum physics, the person is not associated with science professionally, it remains only marvel at its wonders. What is happening today in modern physics, such as quantum chromodynamics, it is beyond the understanding of not only the inhabitants, but all scientists who are not specialists in this area.

And it's a really big problem. It seems there is a frightening possibility that the spirit of scientific progress, as he was born Bacon and Descartes in the XVII century, very understanding of science could disappear over the next few decades. And if that happens, I'm afraid, mankind will have no meaningful future. "

The revolutionary upheavals

Konstantin Sonin, vice-rector of the Russian School of Economics, author of the book "Lessons of the economy"

"Citizens are paying attention to what is happening in politics, but from time to time. Political analysts are worried about what is happening always, and even more people think about what is about to happen. But this concern is different. Someone main cause of the alarm - expected parliamentary paralysis, a consequence of strong competition in the elections, which will not allow to quickly carry out the necessary reforms (political scientists concerns in developed democracies). Someone fear that the political lull, which is caused by the short-term effectiveness of the tactics of the people who are currently in power, would lead to an explosion. When it happens, in addition to the leader or a simple change of government happens mini-revolution, with all its unpleasant consequences. Forgotten, and deservedly so, now science - cybernetics and systems analysis - leave some "laws" that do not work well when you need a specific forecast or output, but provide good images. Here is one of them: the complexity of the system reduces the risks of small shocks, but it leads to the fact that it becomes unstable to the less probable but more serious shock. Rigid political system can protect the "Politburo" of small shocks like the choices that you can lose. But it does not save in a situation when the discontent of citizens will lead to a drop in power throughout the "Communist Party". The system, to learn to suppress the emergence of new leaders and opposition groups with the help of advanced Internet technologies, will at some point completely unsuitable for dealing with new challenges.

The scale of the revolution depends on how many problems have accumulated in front of her. Banal analogy of a steam boiler and the good and bad at the same time. Good, because if you do not have a steam boiler safety valve, it explodes. Bad, because the dissatisfaction of citizens compared with the steam, and pressure relief valves - with different "decorations" like the availability of sites, the Fronde in the press and the government. Meanwhile, the main defense against revolutionary upheavals - is the flexibility of the political system, its ability to adapt, to change the rules of the game in accordance with the changing circumstances.

All large-scale political shocks - from the French Revolution to the "Arab Spring" - was preceded by a period of stagnation, the decade when every step of the people who are in power, it seems in retrospect, at post-mortem analysis mode, obviously inappropriate, late, ill-conceived, but near the end . When unrolling the back story, the failure of Louis XVI, Nicholas II or Hosni Mubarak to change something, at least to get rid of those who have long been a bugbear for the citizens, seen something quite irrational. Although at the relevant time it was easy to explain why this or that minister can not be fired for failing to control or put on trial for corruption. Indicative in this sense, those revolutions that have occurred. In the second half of the nineteenth century with the development of US policy "oligarhizirovalas" large-scale transport projects in the Senate and among the governors were big businessmen, and win in court at a large company has become virtually impossible. Stress in the workplace and among the poorest groups of the population was less than in other industrialized countries. However, a catastrophic scenario, in contrast to Europe, was avoided: public discontent led to the election - at all levels - politikov- "progressives" who carried out despite a valiant resistance, "Trusts" reform. The political system was not just a sound - she was flexible and able to produce new leaders to replace those that are in the new circumstances become less suitable.

It is also no coincidence that the First World War did not end the military defeat of the losing side, and the collapse of the rigid political system in Austria-Hungary and Germany. The result of the war was precisely the victory of democracy - Russia, authoritarian state with an archaic, even for the monarchy, the political system was defeated, despite the fact that belonged to the winning side.

What are you afraid of? The problem is that when those who are currently in power, would understand the need for concessions - not nominal, but real - of which in the future will lead to their removal from power - almost never occur. Every time repeats the same story: those who are in power do not agree to share it, not wanting to approach the moment of complete separation from it. It postpones the end, but at the same time making it less certain, more violent and brings worse consequences for all. I have something to fear and political science, and citizen. "

material progress paradox

Rolf Dobell, founding Zurich Minds, journalist and writer, author of "The Art of thinking" "I recently had dinner with a friend - a successful lawyer - in his name. As is characteristic of the owners name, he gave me a tour of his possessions on the shores of Lake Zurich, not disregarding even the sauna. His house was just a technological marvel. In any room you can adjust anything using aypada. "The material progress - he said - will soon be in every home."

I did not show any interest to all of these wonders, so a friend took me to a "gallery". In the photos, he and his family pose on yachts, ski slopes, golf courses, tennis courts. One card - the object of his special pride - captured him near the pope. "Private audience", - he explained.

Is there anything in this story something that we could not read in "The Great Gatsby"?

Material progress continues to spread throughout the world. Knowledge is cumulative. Due to the accumulation of knowledge and the global trade in goods and services, which are now enjoying my lawyer friend, someday will be available to poor farmers in Zimbabwe. But no matter how much information we collect and how much cheaper computing power, regardless of how much trade goes smoothly, the farmer will never be able to dream of an audience with the Pope.

Dad - is an allegory of all the things that are resistant to technological reproduction. You can spend your vacation on only one island of Saint Barthelemy. Robert Rauschenberg wrote not too many scripts. On the shores of Lake Zurich a limited number of names. So it is with the pope.

People, being mammals, by their nature seek status. This means that products that demonstrate high status, are very important, but unattainable for most of us. None of this will change the technology, of course, if one day we do not reprogramming the brain, so it is no longer distracted by the bling. But until then, the majority of people will live in frustration. Let most things will be practically free, but the status things will be even less available. This is the paradox of material progress. Once a luxury meant the things that make life easier: clean water, central heating, refrigerators and cars. Today, luxury makes life more difficult. Buy and store a picture of Rauschenberg, contain stables for polo, to thrust an audience with the Pope - all this is not easy to do. But it is not so important, more important than the mere fact that all of these things is almost impossible to reproduce.

As the well-being of the world is growing, non-reproducible values ​​will go up exponentially. Especially because their value depends more on the uneven wealth than from its average level.

technological advances promise can not be - by definition - is satisfied. I think we should now worry about the consequences of this, among which will be a significant perturbation of the current economic system, based on technology, capitalism and free trade. "

The fear of uncertainty

Aubrey de Gray, a gerontologist, Director of Science SENS Foundation, author of "The End of Aging"

"Even educated people do not operate too well the concept of uncertainty, and this is a serious cause for concern. Because without wanting to think about the uncertain future can be no long-term planning.

Here is an example. Over the past century, automation progress has led to a tectonic shift in the organization of work - first in the industry, followed by agriculture and, finally, the service sector. Automation continues to evolve and is now, but, surprisingly, we almost do not think about what it would mean, for example, for the services sector. The capacity of the entertainment industry is not infinite. We are waiting for the future, which will be the norm to work less. But no one is trying to prepare for that. Why this political inertia? Fear of uncertainty.

The problem, in my view, in a catastrophic failure of our society to probabilistic thinking. Progress can not be predicted in detail and put on the timeline, then about him as if you can not think. But incomplete understanding of some features of the future - is not a reason not to think about them. We have to work with what we have. We have almost abandoned the development of ambitious projects that have a low probability of success, but promising a huge win in his case. Public research funding does not encourage long-term ambition to the extent that scientists with the experience almost always served grant applications for projects almost finished, eliminating themselves from the risk of failure.

But everyone knows that public policy does not lead a public opinion, and follows him: while voters are unable to agree on what to do, even in the medium term, it would be naive to expect the same from the authorities.

Are we sure that, by refusing to risk, for example, medical projects, we bring the most benefit to the greatest number of people - most likely? We should very seriously this is concerned. I'm sure the price of the current state of affairs is already plenty of lives saved is not strangled in embryo research. The most important current task is to promote a better understanding of probabilistic thinking politicians, opinion leaders and - ideally - society as a whole. This only need to worry. "

The fear of aliens

Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Institute for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), author of "Confessions of a hunter aliens"

"Reboot the Mayan calendar did not lead to the end of the world. But some respected scientists worry that Armageddon may come from the other side. They are afraid that broadcast to distant stars, which must pass the information imaginary aliens, may inadvertently give our presence warlike civilization and expose the Earth in danger. Stephen Hawking - among others - was considering such a possibility.

It looks like a bad science fiction, but in fact, even if the probability of disaster is small, the stakes are high. Therefore, some researchers propose to be quiet, and even call for a global ban on the transfer directed towards the other star of the signal is more powerful than the radio or television. It would seem quite inexpensive insurance against extinction of mankind. But just about this, I think, do not worry. Grieve for signals too late and sent into space, and not enough. It will only complicate the lives of our descendants.

Imagine an alien possessing an antenna diameter of 300 meters - the same dish at the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, the largest in the world. Such an antenna could not catch the TV signal even from Alpha Centauri - from our nearest star system. The problem is that any society that can bring us serious harm from the depths of space, is not on our level of technological development. To provide a force on another star system, civilization should overtake us in the development of several hundred years. This means that our aggressive neighbors - if they exist - have a much greater surface of the antenna.

But that's not all. General relativity predicts that massive bodies can bend space and influence the path of the light rays. One property of these gravitational lenses is directly related to the question of alien invasion. Imagine that we put the telescope into a rocket and sent to the gravity of the Sun focus - is the distance, somewhere in twenty times the path to Pluto. If you send a telescope at the Sun, its sensitivity to different wavelengths will grow into thousands or even millions of times. He will be able to distinguish between street lights of New York or Tokyo, thousands of light years. It is foolish to argue that civilization, with its technologies of interstellar wars, capable zapulit Telescope gravitational focus of its stars.

Our presence is no longer hidden. The information in the way - and XXIII century signals from Earth will pass through millions of star systems. In addition, the near future will bring us a lot of technology that will make us even more noticeable. Imagine, for example, satellites with solar panels supplying the Earth almost infinite energy and destroying the environment. If they will, they will dissipate in space, thousands of watts of radio noise. Are we willing to renounce them forever? Someone scare the aliens, but they will not be saved, and any precautions do more harm than good. So I was more concerned about trying to hide from them. "

The loss of our hands,

Susan Blackmore, psychologist and author of "Consciousness: an introductory book"

"I do not mean that someone will come and cut off our hands. I mean, we're passing all the most handmade at the mercy of machines. Our minds are losing touch with our bodies and the world around, more and more immersed in the developing technosphere.

Initially, we created a car then that they listen to us and make our lives easier and more pleasant, but do not notice the relationship has changed. Master and servant are transformed into "obligate symbionts", that is, come to a state where none can survive without the other.

Machines free us from the heavy manual labor, but in the process of changing the nature of our brain. After all, the skills provided not only the dexterity of hands, but the interaction of the hands and the brain. When I learn to plant potatoes, my training is not limited to the intellectual comprehension of the correct distance between tubers. The whole body and the whole brain teaching a new skill.

How many of us can build a waterproof housing, to make furniture or grow their own food? In British schools, for example, examinations in subjects such as carpentry, cooking, or stacking bricks are assessed by written tests and not real skills of students. It was supposed to enhance the prestige of manual labor, but in fact turns it into a purely intellectual entertainment. Each machine that does something, even further alienates our brains from our hands.

The same thing happens when we move to the new communications technologies. The first mobile phone was just a convenient way to talk to someone. But look at the current smartphones. Who can compete in the modern world, not using at least some of the built-in them technologies?

Despite all this, we continue to cling to the idea that if we set up the car, we can do everything you wish with them. But it is not we, but techno-memes flood the world with machinery that copies recombined, stores, and distributes them. It they are rapidly evolving, while the human body are the same. Our hands are fewer masters and more - banging on the keyboard and slide on the touchscreen. The brain does not change any structure of any size, but changed its function. The newly emerged a passion for entertainment, competition and communication leads us to the endless expanses of the Internet, further away from the people around us. Our very nature is changing.

Two billion years ago, primitive bacteria becoming mitochondria entered into symbiosis with a eukaryotic cell. Both parties benefit from the cooperation, and soon no one could not exist without the other. Cell feeds and protects the mitochondria, and mitochondria, in turn, produces energy. Could our future look like then? Imagine a world in which people are engaged in the energy supply of the growing number of devices in exchange for entertainment, information and communication. The world in which we so appreciate the fruits of the labor of their cars, they are ready on their own to merge with them - physically and mentally.

We love to predict disasters, but that really can happen is that the banks will cease to operate, the power supply will burn, and with them - our phones, satellites and servers. Will we be able to dress himself and feed via press the button, slide the screen hand? I do not think.

What really worries about is that we are afraid of a hypothetical danger, and not what we are now. "