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Earth 2050-2100: Longer Lives; New Energy; FTL Travel; Global Village
Dick Pelletier   Jul 7, 2012   Positive Futurist  

Of course, no one can predict the future this far in advance with 100% accuracy, but if technologies continue to advance exponentially, which most experts predict they will; and we blend in a few scenarios that push the envelope, an amazing future begins to take form.

Machine intelligence passing a Singularity point by mid-century enabled scientists to: 1) Produce durable bodies that extend life indefinitely. 2) Develop new energy systems that make the world more efficient. 3) Create faster-than-light travel, enabling our species to become a space faring society. 4) Form a global village with a single voice, preparing humanity for an incredible adventure to the stars.

 Shedding Biology to Achieve Indefinite Lifespan

Author Ray Kurzweil in “The Singularity is Near” explained how the human body might evolve. Today’s frail body, version ‘1.0’ has unacceptable failure rates (more than 50 million people are expected to die in 2012, most from age-related damages). Biotech and molecular nanotech advances from 2012 to late 2030s will produce a more durable version ‘2.0’ body, immune to many, but not all, of our killer diseases.

This brings us to version ‘3.0’ body. By 2040, people began adding non-biological parts to their bodies, including robotic blood cells and cell repair machines, strong bones, muscles and skin; even new neurons made from carbon nanotubes. These changes did not take place all at once; they occurred gradually with market demands; but by 2060, most people were enjoying life in a non-bio body with zero failure rates.

Even if a destructive accident were to occur, nanorobots guided by tomorrow’s artificial intelligence quickly make repairs, or when necessary, format a new body with the patient’s original consciousness and memories intact, allowing life to continue. By 2070, living in ‘3.0’ bodies has rendered death no more disruptive than a brief mental lapse. Most disaster victims are not even aware they had died.

New Energy Ideas Fuel 21st Century

The desire to replace fossil fuels was hastened by disasters, such as the Japan tsunami and BP oil spill, which evoked wide interest in new ways to power our vehicles and homes.

Interest in desktop fusion sky-rocketed after a 60-Minutes interview of SRI scientist Michael McKubre; who predicted fusion cells would power cars 4-years between charges and slash home energy bills.
Also, being considered are zero-point energy, described as harnessing the power of attraction that exists when two objects get close to each other, and an ‘over the top’ levitation scheme that defies gravity. Many believe this wild idea could one day produce rockets without need for propellants.

Faster-Than-Light Travel Launches Space Faring Society

Faster-than-light travel has forever thrilled humans. FTL is necessary because of the huge distances between stars. Astronomers have found hundreds of Earth-like planets within 1,000 light years of Earth; but in order to explore these worlds, we must make the distances manageable. Scientists believe this will happen with examples like the 2070s Helm Hyper Drive ship, which could travel to Mars in just 3 hours.

Other options include dark energy; the force behind the universe’s expansion, which could propel ships at faster than light-speeds. And if humans can survive extreme acceleration produced by what is called a Special relativity Theory system, they would travel the 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri in only 18 hours.

Global Village Raises Humanity’s Hopes

The choice was ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of all humanity. Key changes were needed and advanced nanotech and AI helped make those changes.

By 2100, humans have evolved from separate squabbling cultures into a peaceful global village utilizing 100% of Earth’s energy. All people now enjoy a scarcity-free life. Humanity has become what futurists describe as a Type-1 Civilization, a society working as one voice eager to explore the cosmos.

Can all these events become reality as we venture into the future? Positive futurists predict they can.

Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.


I hope “positive futurists” keep in touch with reality.

BTW, in my opinion, we are more likely head towards large territories composed of many former countries with semi-peaceful relations with each other rather than a single global village.  For example, It is speculated by some that the U.S may eventually include Puerto Rico, Cuba, and even the United Kindom ( and Other large countries may do the same but keep themselves unique (China comes to mind when I think of this).  Kind of like monopolizing the planet.  Also, looking at current events, globalization has connected the world in various ways but has also seemed to have fractured it more as well.

“globalization has connected the world in various ways but has also seemed to have fractured it more as well.”

Yes, there’s always that dichotomy; ‘some things improving, others not’ is probably the largest platitude in economics, sociology, political ‘science’, futurology.. I heard Herman Kahn, or someone like him (they all wore black-hornrimmed spectacles) discussing unintended consequences 45 years ago—it’s nothing new.
BTW, isn’t Puerto Rico already de facto part of the US?
I’m going to reference your first comment in ‘What’s Wrong With Transhumanism?’ (hint: there’s nothing wrong).

I stand by this piece. I am convinced that in order for humanity to become a multi-planet species, it is a must for us to unite as one voice and stop wasting energies with petty conflicts.

No disagreement, Dick. Was going to write in ‘What’s Wrong With Transhumanism?’:
nothing wrong with transhumanism, but after wanting to be a futurist for many decades yet harboring intense doubts; Christian’s ‘I hope *positive futurists* keep in touch with reality’ strikes a chord which has been recurrent for a very long time, which cannot be ignored.”
The Midwest is a comfortable region however I fear to talk to anyone, not because what they say is necessarily mistaken (though by technoprogressive lights it is) but don’t you ever talk to old-fashioned people and wonder if so many are living in the past in their heads, while living physically (gadgets, healthcare) in the present-cum-future, then are they going to string us out for another half-century or possibly into the 22nd century? Do they think we are manipulating them therefore turnabout is fair play—they can manipulate us in return with their anachronistic religion, economics, and politics? when I attempt to perceive things their way, the resulting impressions are not very encouraging.
I don’t want to be too hard on the original—most of them departed—transhumanists, futurists, etc; a pioneer is moving into the unknown without the heuristics the conventional utilize. At any rate, there was something I was trying to get at in commenting on Alex’s article on education: if the great mass of the public merely wants to cosmetically change ‘things’ such as education in service of not delinking the past from the present, then how can we communicate with them without talking at cross-purposes? In education, exacerbating the anachronism is,
“my family is deserving of state aid, but not yours.”
All this and much more must be discussed if we are to be, as Christian prosaicly wrote,
” ‘positive futurists’ keep[ing] in touch with reality”
Living in the Midwest, perhaps this is exaggerating it somewhat yet it isn’t all that different elsewhere; there are a few pockets of progressivism and technoprogressivism scattered around the world. At this time they appear to be small enclaves.

I actually don’t mean to diss the public, but rather myself for not being able to communicate with the old-fashioned, that is to say the ones who are not hostile.. it is a two-way street of communication (or lack thereof).

In my opinion, most people when thinking about how the future will unfold fail to recognize the synergy wielded by neighboring technologies.

For example, humanity’s life extension efforts during the 2040s, 2050s, and 2060s, will focus on replacing biology with non-biological “immortal” body parts, which will require huge assists from our artificial intelligence world; plus, unraveling the mysteries of consciousness, which holds great promise to change forever the way humans think. We will rapidly morph into a logical species; maybe not as boring as Spock, but I think we will see better decisions being made in all aspects of our technological future.

I see the last half of this century advancing at exponential speeds. By 2100, we may be as different from our 2012 selves as we are to our cave-dweller ancestors.

Comments welcome.

Your suggestion that we’ll have faster-than-light travel in the 2070s by hyperdrive based Burkhard Heim’s theory strikes me wildly speculative and even irresponsible. Which scientists believe this? The link doesn’t support the claim. See this io9 piece for an example of how to acknowledge the uncertainty involved. Assuming Heim correct for the moment - not at all a settled matter - those hypothetical hyperdrives still require exotic materials and lots of energy. I’m deeply skeptical. I’d rate FTL this century as approximately as likely as somebody getting the formula in medieval grimoires to work as advertised. The future always remains open but I’m not holding my breath.

Uncharacteristically, I would appreciate greater rigor and transparency. Few if any of your predictions fall into the scientific mainstream; things like zero-point energy, dark energy, and FTL scream quackery. I enthusiastically support challenging the epistemological status quo, but I recommend letting your readers know where you’re taking them.

Finally, you don’t need FTL engines for interstellar travel. Time doesn’t matter so much once you achieve indefinite lifespans.

I will admit that this article “pushes the envelope” a bit, but as a few other firward thinkers predict, we could see more progress during this century than was experienced over the last 20,000 years.

And I firmly believe that we must crack the FTL barrier before we can become a true space faring society.

There is just too much distance between stars.

What’s a hundred, a thousand, or even a million years to the immortal intelligences Kurzweil and company imagine? The project of creating a spaceship capable of so much as 0.4 c remains a tremendous technical challenge. I find extrapolation based on known limitations sufficiently fantastic that I’m uninterested in going beyond that. Of course, as a fan and author of hard sf, I’ve got a vested interested in mainstream physics. Take that into consideration.

Somehow, time doesn’t seem to shorten the distance bewwn solar systems.

Humans must find a more efficient way to manage the vast distances in space. If not space ships propelled at FTL speeds, then possibly other technologies will come into play, such as wormholes or dark matter.

Either way, FTL technologies could become an important step as we trek through the decades and centuries ahead.

One thing for sure, summer:
you are a bit more convincing on FTL travel in 60 yrs. than you are on indigenous populations being latent technoprogressive or something. It’s funny; the Indians. C’mon.

Humans must find a more efficient way to manage the vast distances in space.

Why? The mainstream laws of physics as currently understood don’t foreclose the possibility of interstellar civilization, they just prevent it from resembling popular soft sf. While techno-trickery might conceivably allow the species to bypass the mind-boggling scale of this universe, I suspect such schemes stem foremost from human desires and have little to do with the science evidence. By all means continue to dream of superluminal travel, but don’t assume it’ll fall into place simply because folks want it. Even Ray Kurzweil acknowledges that FTL may never happen.

I remain fascinated by future scenario in which we have to accept space on its own terms.

@Intomorrow: Mocking “the Indians” doesn’t amuse me. To the contrary, I consider settler colonialism a deadly serious matter. Please knock off the racism.

Will it ever be possible to navigate through space faster than the speed of light? In Physics of the Impossible, author Michio Kaku sees a solution: “Wormeholes,” he says, “are a marvel of warped space-time and could one day be exploited, allowing instant travel and communications through the cosmos.”

Although, I cannot pinpoint the technology, I feel confident that advanced intelligent ETs have already found solutions to this puzzle and are zipping around the cosmos for a variety of purposes.

Will humanity ever break the FTL barrier? I believe they will.

Good news is, Dick, it doesn’t have to be humanity which breaks the FTL barrier, but rather, perhaps humanity’s descendants.

@summerspeaker: European settler colonization of what is now the US is a done deal.. done generations ago; it wound down a dozen decades ago. If your progressivism, your anti-colonialism, is synonymous with PC, I want nothing to do with it and will attempt to subvert it. You must be aware the colonization of what is now the US though at one time genocidal is not comparable to Africa, for instance.
The staff of IEET wants Right Speech, and RS has been a success here, but I want to be a bit contentious on this if you are asking me to deny everything I’ve seen of Native Americans/ Indians (many of them call themselves Indians because it is one word not two), after nearly half a century of visiting their reservations and talking to them. You know very well the percentage of progressive and technoprogressive indigenous is quite small and the hypothesis for why that is is more than merely a guess: natives had their past ripped out from under them and want it back. They did, and they do, and I am sure you know it.

I prefer to envision humanity as including you and me and most of the people in good health on this planet.

In the shedding biology section of today’s article, I describe how new versions of our bodies will develop that promise indefinite lifespans; and that most people alive today have a chance to survive and take advantage of these technologies.

So I define humanity as meaning us and our descendants.

And I still believe it is a must for humans to unravel the mysteries of FTL travel. If we want to become part of the 22nd century ET world, we must be able to make vast distances more manageable.

Comments welcome.

“I prefer to envision humanity as including you and me and most of the people in good health on this planet. In the shedding biology section of today’s article, I describe how new versions of our bodies will develop that promise indefinite lifespans; and that most people alive today have a chance to survive and take advantage of these technologies. So I define humanity as meaning us and our descendants.”

The above is encouraging to the max. And Giulio is correct that we have to pretend to be more optimistic than we actually are; not what he has said in so many words but tantamount nonetheless. Optimism= optimizing, and to optimize one does not have to be gullible on one hand, nor suffer from ‘Rapture of the Future’ on the other.
But I cannot go along with summerspeaker, IMO Native Americans are not by and large progressives—not yet anyway—and Republicans are not generally technoprogressive. Etc.
Dick, if I want Marxism, I’d go to the Socialist Workers Party.

As this century unfolds, I see today’s American/EU capitalism and China/Russia communism merge iinto a combination that will extract the best of both lifestyles as humanity morphs into a global village.

Possibly the most important trait our society could acquire would be compete globalization; to become a global village comprised of Earthlings, not Americans, Chinese, Eropeans, etc.

Humanity will benefit most in a world where competition andconflict between countries and ethnic groups disappear, allowing us to focus on developing space travel and positioning ourselves in the coming ET collaboration era predicted for the 22nd century.

There’s a bright future ahead, but divided politics may have little to do with our success.

@ Dick Pelletier

Two things.  First, I remembering hearing before that without any form of conflict their is no achievement (that’s the premise of H.G. Wells “The Time Machine” if I recall).  Second, your making a big assumption that their are even ETs to collaborate with.  Something that people don’t seem to understand is that Intelligence is not a goal and it may actually be more advantageous for a species to not develop intelligence sense it takes up to much energy.  Also, complex life itself may not be a given partly for the same reason.  Here is an article that talks about that and it gives the link to the full article on New Scientist (

BTW, it is briefly mentioned in your article and in some of the comments about gaining increased intelligence.  But if we are able to accomplish most of things you mentioned and more without any implants or genetic modification, is there really a need for super intelligence if there even is such a thing?

Granted, we don’t know for sure that Intelligent extraterrestrials exist, but with more than a billion Earthlike planets in the Milky Way and 100 billion other galaxies in the cosmos, oveerwhelming odds suggest we are not alone.

And brain enhancement technologies will progress right along with all our other life extension technologies—stem cell therapies, genetic modifications, etc.

Our neurons do some things well, especially in recognition areas; but it cannot hold a candle to a handheld calculator. Tomorrow’s enhanced braiins will increase our thought speeds by billions. Just think of the advantages. In a split second, we could consider hundreds of alternate choices when making decisions.

Our intelligence will expand immensely.

Forgive me for sounding pessimistic (I guess that’s kinda the role I play hear), but being able to calculate things quickly does not necessarily mean your more intelligent.  This is not really a negative thing but intelligence and processing power shouldn’t be confused.  Also, your are right that the overwhelming odds suggest that we are not alone.  That’s what has stumped so many scientists.  Think about it, our universe is over 13 billion years old and the Milky Way galaxy is old enough for intelligent life to have arisen roughly 5 billion years.  Furthermore,  We have all these Earth-like planets so if intelligent life has emerged that early and progressed at the same rate we are right now, the galaxy would have been colonized a million times over.  Obviously that hasn’t been the case and we don’t have any credible evidence of them visiting us in the past.  we don’t even see any evidence any of the three civilization types in any galaxy, let alone this one.  I don’t buy the argument that we aren’t interesting enough because, looking at ourselves, we study things on the full scale of complexity and not just the things equal and above.  Just reading some of the comments from the article I just posted, I find this: “the whole close to us + difficult to go complex + odds of natural disaster + odds of intelligent life existing at same time as us = really, really small odds.”
One more thing.  All of these Earth-like planets and no intelligent aliens may not be a good sign for us (  On the one hand, this suggest that the odds for long term survival are not very good.  On the other hand, if we make it past the growing pains of a Type one civilization, it means that all of those worlds are ripe for colonization without any worry of conflicting with natives.

Christian, I think we can agree to disagree. I would rather stay positive, but I do appreciate your comments.

Dick, what you say is bracing, and, again, Giulio is correct (when you read between his lines) on bucking up willpower- even the religious component is ‘okay’ if one doesn’t take it to the point of excess delusion. But though you are naturally right that, “...divided politics may have little to do with our success”, it makes no more sense to read that Native Americans are progressive than to read the Amish are technoprogressive. Not yet they are.

“I think we can agree to disagree. I would rather stay positive, but I do appreciate your comments.”

Thanks, and again sorry for being so pessimistic.

s’okay, Christian, you make some of us appear optimistic by contrast.

What I don’t like about what summerspeaker writes is:
we have to deal with libertarian transhumanist dyspeptics, plus also squishy progressives. Summerspeaker comes off as Che Guevara—and I had enough of Che when he was fashionable. No more of it, please.

“I remembering hearing before that without any form of conflict their is no achievement”

Chris, notice how Dick writes,

“...conflict between countries and ethnic groups disappear, allowing us to focus on developing space travel and positioning ourselves in the coming ET collaboration era predicted for the 22nd century.”

He doesn’t write that conflict between individuals ceases- so it looks good, uh?

I guess so.

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