The world in which I live in the year 2050 is only marginally different than the one we lived in fifty years ago. Communication technology at this point is really the only thing that has advanced in great leaps.
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In 2050, there are no more wires used in communication. No phone lines, no cables. Everyone has a satellite transmitter in their homes that can be used to transmit live video/audio feeds to anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. This also means that the Internet is no longer dependant on modems, as we knew them at the turn of the century.
Video imagers that allow people to communicate while seeing who you are speeking to have replaced the phones of the twentieth century. All banking, shopping and personal business can now be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. This is probably the single most amazing thing about this time. Companies like FedEx, and UPS have become shipping giants of this time, with millions of employees and tens of thousands of offices all over the world. These companies are what make living in 2050 so unique. With more people spending less time going out to shop, shipping companies like these are the only way millions of people can survive.
Back in the early 1980’s, I remember watching a movie called Aliens. I remember this well because there was a scene in the movie when Ripley, the main character, used a card inserted into a videophone that allowed her to see who she was talking to. At the time I was amazed at the special effects in this movie. Now of course all we need do is to speak the name and city of the person we want to talk to so that the communication computer can hear it and we are connected instantly.
We no longer have to worry about garbled communications, or language barriers with the latest translator technology. Sure, the translators sound kind of boxy and computerize, but in time I think that even these bugs will be worked out. All in all, 2050 is an exciting time, and new things will be discovered every day. There is word that communication mega giant AT&T is developing a chip that can be implanted in the skull that would make videophones obsolete in a few years. They say that all you have to do is think about calling someone and, boom, you are connected. Well, I guess only time will tell. For sure, seventy years ago, these things were probably considered outlandish ideas, but amazingly, life seems to imitate Sci-Fi. I mean, look at what the old Star Trek series did for Cell Phones.
Positive futurists believe we will see more progress during the next 37 years than was experienced in the last 200 years. In The Singularity is Near, author Ray Kurzweil reveals how science will change the ways we live, work, and play. The following represents a decade-by-decade look at how we may evolve.
2013-2020 – More people become techno-savvy in a fully-wired world. Smart phones, the Internet, global trade and automatic language translators give birth to a humanity focused on improving healthcare and raising living standards. Stem cell and genetic engineering breakthroughs emerge almost daily.
Technologies that recognize voice, gestures, and predict our thoughts are bringing more technology-challenged people to the worldwide web. By decades end, holograms simulate real life images of friends, relatives and business associates, allowing them to appear at get-togethers without any travel involved.
2020-2030 – Biotech, personal nanofactories, automated systems make life healthier and easier. Doctors can direct stem cells to regrow worn tissues, bones, muscles and skin. By late 2020s, nanorobots maintain health throughout the body by reprogramming faulty DNA. These 'bots have erased humanity's most dreaded scourge – aging. Age is now important mostly as an indicator of life experience.
Nanofactories began showing up in homes by late 2020s and quickly became indispensable. These replicator machines rearrange atoms from supplied chemicals or inexpensive waste materials and create food, clothing, medicine, and most household essentials; or even another nanofactory, at little or no cost. On voice command, desired product appears within minutes. See artist rendition of a nanofactory here.
Automated systems, such as personal avatars that help manage the maze of new technologies, and household robots that prepare food, clean house, and keep homes secure, have all but eliminated most of life's drudgeries. Robot servants now surpass cars as the most indispensable family acquisition.
2030-2040 – Driverless cars, 'skycars' and brain science advances create better world. Collision-proof vehicles have reduced auto deaths to near zero. Flying cars, powered by an electromagnetic drive, travel streets and highways, and can also rise silently in the air and glide to destinations. Rides are safe in the air and on the ground, with a quantum GPS system evolved from today's military drone technology.
Neuroscientists made huge strides during the 2030s by better understanding the brain. Doctors can now help relationships receive higher levels of satisfaction and impede negative behavior in criminals.
2040-2050 – Adding non-biological parts to our bodies, signals the end of human death. Physicist Paul Davies, in his book The Eerie Silence writes that humanity's future lies in transitioning into non-biological beings. "Biological life is transitory," he says, "It is only a fleeting phase of our evolution."
By 2050, a few bold pioneers began replacing all their biology with stronger muscles, bones, organs, and brains, created economically in nanofactories. Merging with machines demonstrated the many advantages of living in non-biological bodies and convinced more people to choose this powerful option.
Non-bio bodies can auto-repair themselves when damaged. In a fatal accident, consciousness and memories are transferred into a new body. Death has now become no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most people are not even aware they had died. Say goodbye forever to the dreaded Grim Reaper!
Mid-century and beyond – Influenced by Moon and Mars forays, a new era of space exploration infects humanity. Recognizing the risks of a single-planet species, experts believe that developing the high frontier and promoting a Recognizing the risks of a single-planet species, experts believe that developing the high frontier and promoting a space exodus is necessary for humanity to continue its evolutionary path. Terraforming efforts now provide Earth-like temperatures and gravity in space colonies, encouraging more people to live offworld. By 2075, Moon population stands at 5,000, Mars, 20,000.
Clearly, the road to this vision winds around unknown, and possibly even dangerous turns, but strong interest from a society linked together with an ever growing intelligent information highway suggests that this positive future could become reality; and in the timeframe mentioned above. Comments welcome.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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