Of course, no one can predict with 100% accuracy how the future will unfold, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what to expect in 2042.
Turkey dinner remains the favorite on this festive holiday, but home nanofactories, a family necessity since mid-2030s, have put an end to messy food preparation. These replicator machines rearrange atoms from supplied chemicals or inexpensive waste materials and create food, clothing, medicine, and most household essentials at little or no cost. On voice command, desired products appear within minutes.
Mom replicates the perfect holiday dinner with all the trimmings, which include recommended nutrients as well as tiny nanoparticles that tailor each bite of food to match individual taste buds. This delicious meal is then served by the family robot voicing its often humorous attempts at making conversation.
Robots have become the 2040's most important family acquisition. Ability to replicate self-assembling robot parts in nanofactories, have made these intelligent servant machines easy to build and affordable.
Programmed with Internet-downloaded software, the indispensible androids cater to our every whim and shield us from harm. They also manage the tiny nanobots that keep us healthy 24/7, and monitor our safety when we connect to simulation systems that whisk us away to Star Trek Holodeck-like adventures.
Interest in space exploration has skyrocketed. During the 2020s, China and India sent astronauts to build habitats on the moon and construct a new state-of-the-art space station; and an American/EU group is about to complete a self-sustaining colony on Mars that positive futurists predict could one day become home to millions of immigrants from Earth seeking a better life on the red planet.
More than 1,000 humans live off-planet in 2042, some with genetically-altered bodies to accommodate extreme space conditions. These bold pioneers include construction workers building space parks and hotels, solar energy contractors beaming power back to Earth, and asteroid miners searching for wealth.
However, the biggest boon to space travel may be the Space Elevator. Officials predict this project could launch its first payload into orbit by 2045, drastically lowering costs to haul people and cargo into space. Experts believe this easy access to space will fast-forward the fledgling space tourism industry.
Flying cars, promised since the 1950s, arrived in 2035. Powered by a superconductive electromagnetic drive, riders select destination via voice command. These auto-fly marvels travel streets and highways, and can also rise silently in the air and glide to their destinations. A quantum GPS guidance system prevents ground and air collisions, making this safe efficient ride the world's most popular travel option.
Neuroscientists made huge strides during the 2020s in better understanding the human brain. Doctors can now adjust neurons to enhance happiness levels in marriages and friendships, and diminish violent tendencies in criminals. This new mind science has slashed divorce rates and reduced crime everywhere.
Religions still flourish in 2042, though they are much different from 2012 versions. Most faith leaders now recognize that people have the right to enhance their bodies through technology, and that indefinite lifespans are not only a real possibility, but also a worthy goal that every human should strive to achieve.
The concept behind Thanksgiving, held with a massive zeal throughout the U.S., is similar to the August Moon Festival in China, Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam, Kwanzaa in Africa, Pongal in India, Chusok in Korea, and the Jewish Succoth. The key differences in these festivals are dates, rituals and customs; but the fundamental reason behind all of them remains the same – to be thankful for all the good in our lives.
As we appreciate this joyful 2042 get-together with friends and family, many people anxiously await the challenges that still lie ahead – to develop unlimited energy, tame Earth's dangerous weather, become a global village free of ethnic and cultural differences, and spread more of our populations to the stars.
Can humanity's future unfold in this bold positive manner, and in such a brief period – just 30 years? A growing number of technology enthusiasts believe that it certainly has a chance. 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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