Leuthardt works on computer interfaces that can communicate with the brain and help restore function to people with different types of disabilities — accident victims, stroke patients, those with Alzheimer's. He works to help these patients control things with nothing but their thoughts. Through this research, he has already demonstrated that the brain can send out signals that are understandable to computers: He once had a patient whose brain was connected to electrodes play a game of Space Invaders by thinking about his moves. Leuthardt reasons that if our brains can send signals out to a computer, there's no reason a computer can't send signals in.

"Imagine you're completely connected to the Internet. If you want to talk to a person you just think about it. You literally exchange thoughts and information, literally at the blink of an eye — actually faster than the blink of an eye," he says.

Whether that takes the form of an implanted chip or more advanced forms of wearable technology, Leuthardt predicts that once it's possible to stream information into and out of our brains, everyone will be clamoring for the technology.

Schlafly's Dan Kopman
Theo Welling
Schlafly's Dan Kopman

"Imagine this — you have two lawyers. One lawyer has an implant that will give him more rapid access to information. You know that other lawyer is going to get that implant, too," he says.

A downloadable brain will have lots of legal and ethical ramifications as well: Will implants be allowed in school? Will law enforcement need a warrant for our minds? What if criminals can hack us and make us do things — are we responsible for our actions?

Here's another question: Where is all this amazing and simultaneously morally fraught technology going to come from? From St. Louis, according to Leuthardt.

"This city could be the new Silicon Valley for neuroprosthetics or Silicon Valley for neurotech — we have that capability in terms of we are some of the leaders in developing the technology," he says. "It could be what makes this city in the next generation of corporations and industry. We have at least the potential, if the city gets it right, to really be the leaders in that."
Jessica Lussenhop

The Future of the River
Shibu Jose is known to his colleagues as the guy with the rose-colored glasses, although green is probably a more accurate shade. He's a professor with the University of Missouri's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and its Center for Agroforestry, and he has a plan for making the area around the Missouri and Mississippi rivers into the largest clean-energy economy in the nation.

Jose's vision is to turn the Missouri and Mississippi river-bottom areas into cropland for a variety of plants that could be made into sustainable biofuels (known as "advanced biofuels"). Currently, the land is either floodplain or marginally productive cropland used mainly for corn and soybeans. Jose wants to plant the river bottoms with sustainable biomass feedstock — plants such as sorghum, switchgrass, poplars and willows.

In order to process this river-bottom biomass, he proposes creating a network of small-scale rural refineries throughout the area. This processed material would then travel, via the river, to larger hubs where it would be made into fuel. Because of its location in the center of the country, the Mississippi and Missouri river cooridor could serve as the hub of this advanced biofuel production, shipping the fuel out to the coasts and placing us in the center of a green-energy revolution. We could create a Midwestern "Persian Gulf of advanced biofuels," Jose says.

Dan Burkhardt, owner of Bethlehem Valley Vineyards and founder of the conservation organization Magnificent Missouri, sees the potential in Jose's plan.

"Conservationists don't do well when they ask farmers to let their productive land sit there as a wildlife habitat or green space," he says. "Farmers need to make a living, and if this is a way for them to grow an alternative crop that is better for the environment, reduces the use of pesticides and helps with soil erosion, it's a net gain."

Most of the crops Jose proposes planting are perennials and hold the soil in place. Because they do not need to be replanted yearly, they reduce soil disturbance and the accompanying sediment in rivers and streams. Jose believes the idea could actually clean up our water bodies. And he's optimistic that the time will come when the world uses 100 percent biofuels.

"Why not?" he says. "It took nature millions of years to convert biomass into petroleum. We have the technology today to convert biomass to petroleum in a matter of seconds."
Cheryl Baehr

The Future of Sex
When we spoke to neurosurgeon and science-fiction author Dr. Eric Leuthardt about computer implants in the brain that could be invented right here in St. Louis, he told us accessing the Internet could be a little bit like stepping into virtual reality. Experiences could be "as downloadable as iTunes."

Naturally, our juvenile minds jumped straight to pornography.

"As neuroprosthestics becomes the next console people use to see and feel things virtually, they will naturally pursue experiences that they could otherwise not do," he wrote us in a followup e-mail. "Some people will choose skydiving, others will choose driving a racecar and then there will be the rest of the human population that will...er...uh...choose something a little more risqué."

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39 comments
egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

From these comments can you understand how 'out of touch' your publication is with the reality of St .Louis, and how inappropriate it is for you to go to the dishonored history

museum for any assessment of the future? You know why St. Louis was 'taken down' and who took it down, and who is still taking it down.

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

Burdened with the same over-bearing power brokers over the last 30 years, none of whose top down initiatives have even begun to recover this City, St. Louis has no future. If it can

'con' its way into the County it buys may be another 5 years, then they both go down.

The contrast between what other cities and regions did to recover beginning in the late 80s and what St. Louis refused to do is too divergent to ever come together.

tdwilliams99999
tdwilliams99999

Uh in 100 years we'll all be lucky to have food let alone mile-high skyscrapers.   I predict a more difficult life and extremely unpredictable weather extremes.  Glad neither I nor my kids will be around.  I feel for my grand and great grand children.

aaronmccoy242
aaronmccoy242 topcommenter

according to the above picture we will build a dome over East St Louis.  North city also?

Christopher P. Singler
Christopher P. Singler

Who's going to be riding all these bikes when it's supposed to be over 100 degrees all summer?

Mike Igleheart
Mike Igleheart

This futuristic view of downtown St. Louis is an artists rendering of the view from Spacely's Sprockets.

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

City/County re-connect is a fact. Done without a vote over 30 years. Kind of 'got by' the people as they didnt notice County taxpayers (personal property and real estate) visitors (who pay hotel/motel tax) and all who shop retail pay 80% of every dollar needed to 

keep the City going, to programs and initiatives in the City-some good, some bad. The City's population is dipping dangerously close to an all-time low of 300,000, too much crime-so the front burner goal is statistical-to lessen the sting by speading the figures -countywide. Looks and sounds better. More important question-how long can the County last?

Ken Hood
Ken Hood

It's a city going no where. Time is an will pass this city by. Gateway to the west. You Have to think of Gate way to The world. No chance. Not This city or other....

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

It will look damn near the same, but smaller.

Genia Ackworth
Genia Ackworth

Between St. Louis and the Metro East, I don't know of one politician who is forward thinking. Can't even plan 5 yrs ahead then they want to tear up the roads and bridges when traffic studies should've already been done 5 yrs before.

Lin Staum
Lin Staum

At the rate we are going it will be a wasteland with trash and dead bodies all over. I am ready to move.

Kelly Roellig
Kelly Roellig

Well I'm pretty sure they some provision that no building be taller than the gateway arch in stl so I'm pretty sure it won't be stunted by giant skyscrapers and highways. Nope. Fantasy St. Louis. You'd have to get rid of all the trash down there anyway.

Ann Blazier
Ann Blazier

I predict mutant whore houses and snake charmers on every corner.

Doug Page
Doug Page

By the way east St Louis is in Illinois.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

pawn shops and bail bonds. we're too afraid to hurt the feelings of the scum ruining this city.

Casey Saunders
Casey Saunders

wait a sec... a sex therapist named Linda Weiner? you guys just made that up for the good of the article, didn't you?

Jodi Fox
Jodi Fox

Oh please, picture it, Detroit, 2014. They can't even fix that cancer they call East St. Louis.

tfucoloro
tfucoloro

I sure hope St Louis doesn't build elevated highways through downtown like the (totally awesome) cover image shows! And the fashion taste of those futuristic people on the roof, I hope I'm dead before that style fad drops...


And some of those trees are pretty tall. Doesn't that mean we need to plant those, like, today? :-)

TyroneJefferson
TyroneJefferson

2114 -----   St. Louis is the capital city of the Planet Of The Apes. 

Global warming has given the City the climate of Uganda.

Public Transportation is simply carjacking someone elses vehicle and dropping it off at designated Jack-Me-Jack-U parking spots .

The words ECO, SUSTAINABLE, and DIVERSITY are plastered everywhere in glowing lights and blared from loudspeakers round the clock. The government council has seized all private farms in the river valleys and forced the former owners to grow what the communal collective orders them to.

Bicycle riding will be the forced requirement for the Fedora Class people. Heavy rains and storms will be no excuse not to pedal harder through the jungle vines and decayed urban rubble that litters old Olive Street. Only light body armor will be required on bicyclist (under tight tatty spandex) and a legally mandated helmet (that looks like a swirly ice cream cone) must identify the rider or punishment will ensue with shock probes.

1/3 of the pale skinned population will be forced to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week to support  the other 66% of the Entitlement Class peoples .

The average STL City  IQ will be 89. 

The favorite sports will be revenge shootings, and throwing poop at each other.

sunofgod21
sunofgod21

yeah me too. This picture gives me a bad feeing..

TyroneJefferson
TyroneJefferson

@RiverfrontTimes @publiceyestl  

The essential item missing in this "futurist vision" is exactly who (or what) is going to PAY for this marvelous future. You know money , $$$$$.

Since STL was once home to many Irish , perhaps the lost pots-of-gold left behind by their Leprechauns will be found, and thus offer an abundant financial future for upcoming St.Louisans ?

Or, perhaps future STL residents can take the rusty Serra Sculptures and cash them in at Kingdom of Dubai pawnshops? 

As we are a City named after a religious Saint, I think the $wealth$ will flow shortly after the Rapture comes ,and nearby East St. Louis will be heavenly instilled as the New Garden Of Eden. Our proximity to the earthly delights offered by East St. Lous could be a source of such income......

PS --- Robot maids will need "rights" too. Must not oppress the "Metal Class"!

 
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