Maybe armed with rationalism and the scientific method we are in a slightly better position to do it now. On the other hand, it is possible that the methods of thought or even the very apparatus of the mind will make so much progress that our descendands will create things we would never be able to dream of. In fact, I am (somewhat paradoxially) about to claim precisely that. At any rate, it appears almost inevitable the increase in body of human knowledge will lead to incredible changes in human society and the human way of life. Unless, of course, some terrible catastrope or a new dark age will prevent it.
If so, the task of imagining humanity in the year 3000 C.E. appears almost hopeless. Nevertheless, I still think it is worthwhile. Why? Because it is an amusing thought experiment. Because thinking about the future may change the future. Because trying to stretch our ability to predict or analyse to the limit may teach us something. Evef if it won't, it is still bound to be fun :-) Let me give a go at it, then!
I warn beforehand that my view of the future is somewhat optimistic. I am assuming humanity will not be destroyed by nuclear war, alien invasion, asteroid impact or any other calamity. I am also assuming scientific progress is not going to stop or reverse as a result of such an event. My entire "prediction" is something of a mixture between what I believe will happen and what I hope will happen.
Charles Darwin taught us that humans are not essentially different from any other animal. Like any other animal, or indeed, any other living creature, we gradually evolved from other species over vast periods of time. The governing principle of that process is natural selection. The princinple is so obvious it is almost a tautology: the speciments most adapted to survival are more likely to survive so each generation is adapted better than the previous one. Add mutations into the mix and we get evolution.
How long does evolution continue? As far as we know it is indefinite. External conditions change, different species compete and, most importantly from my point of view, nature never reaches perfection. There are always improvements to be made.
Improvements? Isn't home sapiens sapiens perfect? Isn't it the peak of creation?
What on Earth gave us the arrogance to think that? Oh, sorry, I know what it is: evolution ;-)
Homo sapiens sapiens can and should be improved. There's no reason to think we can't be more healthy, more enduring, more intelligent. The problem is, we are different from other animals after all. We change our environment, adapting it to our needs. This process is much faster than the self-adaptation resulting from biological evolution. The result: natural selection, the driving force of biological evolution is no longer valid for this species.
Not only that we are (apparently) no longer becoming better, we are probably becoming worse. Random mutation introduce noise into our genetic code. In the same time, in a modern society (I mean the developed countries) "weak" individuals are not allowed to perished (which is a good thing!) and have no problem of spreading their genes. Anyone short of a Nazi would agree that the situation in which each individual of society is protected and able to satisfy her basic needs is a healthy one, from a moral stand point. The downside is that in the long run the human race faces physical and intellectual degeneration (I recommend the amusing comedy "Idiocracy" on this subject precisely).
Luckily, this threat, created, in a sense, by modern technology, finds its solution in the same source. In recent decades, the field of genetics experienced vast progress. The extent of the progress is such that genetic engineering has become possible. Now, we are only making our first step in this direction. However, we are discussing a problem that will only become relevant in a the very long run and there is little doubt that by that time our ability to manipulate the genetic codes of living being including ourselved will be perfected.
Thus, genetic engineering of human beings appear to me inevitable in order to avoid degeneration. However, we can and should go beyond this and apply genetic engineering in order to improve ourselves rather than merely preserving ourselves on the same level.
OK, I thought it is going to be one post, but it would take me ages to complete in this rate. So I'm posting the beginning, to be (hopefully) continued...