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Earth 2050: End of death, advanced robots, flying cars, enhanced brains, developing space
Dick Pelletier   Mar 13, 2013   Ethical Technology  

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.



COMMENTS

  2013-2020 More people use their incredibly advanced holographic smartphone (with 4 hour battery life) to tweet about their double cheeseburgers. I don’t get it why people believe that having a fancy phone will offer anything more than a HD torrent of banality and stupidity that we see today.  As for genetic therapies ,we will hear a lot of uplifting experimental news but see precious little in actual use.

  2020-2030 A few extremely expensive, unreliable and limited utility stem cell treatments at best. As for antiaging nano, nanofactories and robotic house servants all I can say is LOL, NO!
  At most some advancement in flexible industrial robotics.

  What these prediction fail to take in account is that we are heading for a economic collapse of mindboggling proportions.

“By 2075, Moon population stands at 5,000, Mars, 20,000.”


If 20,000 are living on Mars 62 yrs. from now, now that would be something.

Am trying not to post more than 1x, however balom’s comment deserves a reply (and hopefully from a scientist as well):
when it comes to banality we are in full agreement.
Even more surprising..shocking even, than 21st century anomie and crime, is 21st century banality. But it was completely predictable how the lowest common denominator would rise to the surface, it is the dark side of democratisation
—give bubbas DVDs and they would possibly prefer snuff flicks to uplift. All the same, we might just simply have to go with the flow and cut our aesthetic losses, we do anyway, in adapting. It has been decadent since the early ‘70s as far as aesthetics go (‘culture’ is a construct, it is as geography, nebulous). We went from Black is Beautiful to Superfly and Freddie’s Dead; grotesquely amusing yet not uplifting. The original futurists often thought ghettos would be uplifted but instead ghetto culture was sold as ‘cultural’. Begin with ‘Save the Planet’ by the Fifth Dimension, you wind up with ‘F*ck You’ by Cee Lo Green. Start out with Hugh Hefner, you end up with coprophilia. At any rate, the following could be too pessimistic:

“What these prediction fail to take in account is that we are heading for a economic collapse of mindboggling proportions.”

Economic collapsists have cried ‘Wolf’ over n over: if we’d had an economic collapse every time someone had predicted one, we’d be eating out of garbage cans and living in cardboard boxes.

One more for today (Scout’s Honor):
I came of age in ‘68, thought a Great New World, not Brave New World, was burgeoning at that time—yet it was completely predictable it would go decadent.

That we’d go from Superman to Superfly was thoroughly predictable.
From Clockwork precision to Clockwork Orange.

Then too, many, perhaps the majority, have the urge to escape to nature; to the beach, to a cottage in the wald, to a farm, to the tropics. Nature is still our backdrop—not an outer space simulation but, rather, nature.

Remember Guys, I am a positive futurist.

One of my goals in life is to counter expectations of negative outcomes.

As we wind through the decades ahead, a variety of technologies advancing exponentially promise a bright future for all.

Have faith in a positive future, and you too may experience the wonders of this “magical future.”

Comments welcome, Dick.

Its okay to be positive about the future but its better to be realistic about it, otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of disappointment.  If you ask me, instead of daydreaming about a better future, people should actually work to make it happen because these new technologies won’t just pop out of nowhere.  There is some good news regarding medicine.  There are currently 15 people that have been “functionally cured” of HIV; first a baby earlier this month and recently 14 adults (http://io9.com/first-a-baby-now-14-adults-functionally-cured-of-hiv-453818639) .

@ Christian Corralejo,

I agree with part of what you say, that people should work to make it happen.

However, should more people be armed with a positive belief that an amazing future is unfolding, the chances of that ‘magical future’ becoming reality increases exponentially.

Believers daydream about a better future in Heaven—frankly, what good does it do them?; what good does it do believing in Marxism?; or the spagetti-monster? Well nigh everyone wants to preserve a piece of the patrimony, but it’s feel-good, it is the “daydreaming about a better future” Christian references. Turning it around, question for you, Chris, is does believing in religious fairy tales “actually work to make it happen”, because as you write “these new technologies won’t just pop out of nowhere.”
Dick, we have to be bolder and tell Christian Corralejo his family cannot remain old-fashioned and expect progress (presuming they really want progress) to continue: changing the world yet living in a more holistic past in the mind; believing we can live in the 20th century when we no longer are in the 20th does not appear to cut the mustard anymore—the evidence is mounting in that direction.

Even though our 21st century seems loaded with miracles, a few road blocks wil need to be addressed as we trek through the decades ahead.

Our ‘magical future’ may not always be filled with rose petals, but by maintaining positive thoughts, we will survive.

No disagreement, Dick. Would write am impressed with your longevity, but when waking past a health club, a buff elderly man came out of the club and while he walked to his car I said, “you’re in great condition for your age.”
he yelled, “whatta ya mean my age??”
Should have said he is the Best Teenager since Justin Bieber!

It is proper how Chris should challenge us with “instead of daydreaming about a better future, people should actually work to make it happen because these new technologies won’t just pop out of nowhere.”

However, turnabout is fair play. If religion no longer does anything save for charity, then we can and should challenge the religious. We are told not to be wimps, but wimpy religion is pushed at us. We are told not to be wusses, but wussy politics are pushed on us.

Personal Beliefs

As a futurist science and technology columnist, I view life with much optimism. Born October 26, 1930, I feel confident that, barring a fatal accident, I will maintain good health and survive through the current decade, 2010-2020.

During this decade, I will live through my 80s, which by today’s standards, would be risky, but expected breakthroughs in stem cell and gene therapies between 2015 and 2020, will enable repair of critical body parts before they wear out. With help from these new technologies, I could end the decade at 90 years, but with a biological body of a 40’ish person.

The following decade, 2020-2030, will provide nanotech miracles that promise radical improvements in both health and affluence. By 2030, I hope to resemble a perfectly healthy 20-something enjoying the good life.

By 2035-2040, there is an excellent chance the Singularity, a point in time when machines equal or surpass human intelligence levels, combined with predicted artificial intelligence advances, will enable my mind to be copied for uploading into a newly cloned human or silicon body, should disaster strike the old one. At this time, my lifespan can be considered indefinite without fear of unwanted death.

Most of my articles focus on the first half of this century. From 2050 on, humanity could experience breathtaking changes beyond the wildest imaginings of science fiction. New events may happen so fast that our view of life could change completely; and yours truly cannot wait to become part of this incredible “magical future.”

Comments welcome.

In cosmic time decades are absolutely nothing yet to us decades seem lengthy.
You were born 11 days after FM 2030. No problem with his science predictions, but one reason I’m cynical is I’d ask him about crime, say, and he’d reply “what crime?” in the stupidest way imaginable. Now, academia is supposed to be separate from the outside world to avoid excessive contamination—but one wants to be hardheaded so when one puts on a hat it doesn’t sink down to one’s shoulders.

I remember FM well. In 1980, this well known author taught a UCLA class, “Moving Up Towards The 21st Century,” which I attended. This class provided the excitement I needed to further my interest in futurism.

We became close friends and imagined the ‘magic’ that future technologies promised by the year 2030, when we would reach centenarian status. Later, while putting together a TV show called “What’s Next”, I hired FM as a consultant to the project.

FM legally changed his last name from Esfandiary to 2030 to celebrate that wondrous date. Of course, he has since succumbed to death from pancreatic cancer, and his brain now lies frozen at the Arizona Alcor facility. I owe much of my interest in the future to this memorable person.

He was the most interesting person one could know; but a question re him: if he had been more astute, even on personal matters alone, might he conceivably still be alive? A life is the sum total of thoughts and actions, and the title of a Mario Puzo book is “Fool’s Die”—for the individual, life is a [d]arwinian crapshoot; one rarely is rewarded for careless thinking, actions.
You naturally know there’s a difference between being hardheaded (e.g. astute), and headstrong.
In the Midwest, both sides are on display: practicality, and also that which is headstrong. For better and worse. What is hard to accept is the notion one can be materially (gadgets, software) and physically (health, medicine) in 2013 yet psychically in circa 1955 or somesuch. One would have to live in VR to do so ‘permanently’—or build oneself a designer planet or spacecraft.
The gap between 1955 and 2013 has become unacceptable from a bona fide futurist perspective. Chris correctly writes above on the proactive—but can proactive coexist with the distant past?: an open question. Proactive would mean by our lights updating the program- not going with the program long after its ready for dumpster and landfill. From what Chris has written here, it does not appear he wants to update the program, rather shall we say he and his want to change the hardware but retain the program. Can it be done?: not hulking likely, IMO.
‘Course, the positive is, again, by cosmic time the decades are zipping by; but the public thinks the years are contiguous, when the Earth is rotating, the Earth moves through a different location in space.. you don’t step in the same stream. The years, the decades, are connected only in the public’s mind. And it’s a public whom we are attempting to interest in radical technologies though they still don’t know how a telegraph operates.
Nothing against summerspeaker, albeit if he tries to convince on Native Americans being progressive, well that is one helluva stretch; perhaps with an elastic definition of progressive, even the Amish are progressive.

Chris was correct to refer to the proactive; nevertheless turnabout is fair play, so I’m going to continually mention how the outdated psychic software is not proactive. It’s been a long joke, but the joke is over- the jig is up.

@ Intomorrow,

Your colorful descriptions of people and how they may think is a little difficult for me to unravel.

I always fall back on same-o same-o; think mostly positive thoughts and happiness will surely follow.

Go ‘magical future’!

Intomorrow

You really are obsessed with bringing in negative comments about religion when it isn’t even mentioned or applied.  Is it just because my name is Christian that you feel the need to apply these things.  Also, you don’t know my parents so it is not far of you to make assumptions about them.  I should also add that it is highly inaccurate to think that just because we believe in life after death that all Christians spend their days sitting around doing nothing.  It really irritates me that people are this judgmental and makes me question how much they really know about religion and what religious people do, let alone what it has done for humanity throughout its history (I suggest watching ‘Mankind: The Story of All of Us’ to see what I mean).

Not negative on religion: it is the religious themselves, Chris.
Quite apart from whatever my inconsistencies are, problem at this thread is if you re-examine your comments above, you’ll see you reserve the right to be judgmental for yourself (wont refer to your family after this), and that is general in religion and Rightist politics.
But do as you will—just please don’t forget about turnabout being fair play. Think about it carefully.

You have reason to be irritated, Chris- who doesn’t? What I am irritated about, is since the Berlin Wall fell rightists have been determined to exacerbate the situation; and it is predictable that in the midterms and 2016 they will botch it up yet again. Oh, well, go ahead, screw things up so bad the situation will have to change.

Dick, briefly, at the risk of reverting to commenting 2x in a row, this is to address you; first by writing Chris was on-target:

“instead of daydreaming about a better future, people should actually work to make it happen because these new technologies won’t just pop out of nowhere.”

But although this isn’t to argue for simplistic consistency, if the public wants to live in the past and go for the future;
go into space yet stay on Earth where it is comfortable, cozy;
if the public wants small govt. and at the same time large govt (!);

Etc, etc.; then,

“If you ask me, instead of daydreaming about a better future, people should actually work to make it happen because these new technologies won’t just pop out of nowhere”,

may perhaps be empty rhetoric itself.

Comments Welcome.

 

Dick- I appreciate your perspective and realize your a positive futurist. There are not enough people like you and it’s one of main problems with society. We are a death orientated society that does not apply or care about long term thinking.  It’s a HUGE problem that are there biggest problems: aging, suffering and existential risk are not really addressed by governments in a unified way. I see the future unfolding more slowly because physical changes take time. Max More has a really good essay on “Singularity Meets Economy”.  I think his essay was the most accurate on comments on Vinge’s Singularity.

Amara’s law gives me hope. We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

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