Of course, no one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but by combining present day knowledge with anticipated advances, we can make plausible guesses about what life might be like in the 2050s. Over the coming decades, healthcare research will wield huge benefits for humankind. By 2050, stem cells, gene therapy, and 3-D bio printing promise to cure or make manageable most of today’s diseases.
Regenerative medicine breakthroughs are appearing almost daily. Experts now predict that the rise in health discoveries will help us achieve our dreams of indefinite lifespan as we wind towards the 2050s.
In one of his more widely-read books, The Singularity is Near, futurist Ray Kurzweil writes, "One day, people will reshape their physical, emotional and cognitive characteristics as they see fit." This could make future humans – 2050-2060 – as different from us today, as we are to our cave-dweller ancestors.
Home nanofactories have become a family necessity in the 2050s, providing medicine, food, clothing, and most household essentials at little or no cost. These machines rearrange atoms from supplied chemicals or waste materials; and on voice command, produce the desired product within minutes.
Robots have become an important family acquisition. Ability to replicate self-assembling robot parts in nanofactories, make these machines easily available and affordable. By 2050, technologies advancing at "Moore's Law" speeds have produced an android-like creature nearly indiscernible from a human.
Programmed with Internet-downloaded software, 2050s household robots cater to our every whim. They also manage the nanorobots that whiz through our veins keeping us healthy 24/7, and monitor our safety when we connect to simulation events that whisk us away in a Star Trek Holodeck-like adventure.
Researchers at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering have created a functioning synapse using neurons made from carbon nanotubes. In tests, their synapse circuits perform similar to biological neurons, and because of their smaller size, more neurons can be added to a brain, which increases thought speed.
Creating thoughts at high speeds slows everything down; at least that's how it seems in our mind. Perception quickens, but activities appear slower. Events that seem like minutes in our mind is actually happening in seconds. We rarely make wrong decisions now, and never panic in emergencies.
After becoming familiar with non-biological brains, many people are now ready to replace other body parts with more efficient material that includes abilities to self-repair when damaged. A new breed of "Next-Gen" humans is evolving with promise of indefinite lifespan without unwanted death looming about.
And an MIT group has recently taken on the task of better understanding intelligence. These future-thinkers hope to one day unravel the mystery of how our brain gives rise to such a complex life form, us.
Interest in space exploration has skyrocketed. China and India built habitats on the moon and a new state-of-the-art space station; an American/EU group is completing a self-sustaining colony on Mars.
As we scatter our populations to faraway colonies in the decades ahead, we will run across many intelligent alien lifeforms. Some may seem strange, but we share common traits. All life is made of similar atoms and governed by the same laws of physics. If our new friends have eyes and clear skies, they will gaze at the same stars and galaxies we do, and we can all trace our origins back to the same Big Bang.
Although the 2050s holds great promise, serious challenges still lie ahead: to find unlimited energy, exert technological control over the weather, and become a global village free from cultural differences.
As technologies rise exponentially, positive thinkers believe that this 'magical' era filled with undreamed of rewards will one day be ours to enjoy. Welcome to the 2050s with opportunities and abundance for all.
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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