Thirty years ago, in 1983, people didn’t surf the internet or talk on cellphones. There was no space tourism, and supermarkets didn’t stock their shelves with genetically engineered food. Now look 30 years into the future. You’ll see yourself using performance-enhancing drugs, artificial limbs — and only speak to other humans infrequently.
“Evolution has come to an end,” says Rohit Talwar, CEO of forecasting company Fast Future. “Physically, we humans are not developing anymore, so in the future we’ll use all sorts of enhancement drugs to improve our abilities — for example, our cognition. Up to 90 percent of university students already admit to using cognition-aiding substances.”
In other words, we’ll try to make ourselves smarter – and more successful in school and at work – by taking drugs. And we’ll go about our smarter lives in better bodies. Futurists predict widespread use of artificial limbs, which may function even better than our natural ones. “And most of us will have the equivalent of an external hard-drive,” predicts Talwar. “Like computers, we’ll have memory in the cloud. And this is already happening, since cell phones essentially function like our external hard-drives.”
Indeed, technology will define our lives to a degree unimaginable today. “You think cell phones dominate our lives today?” asks Dutch futurist Erwin Van Lun. “2043 will be incomparable! Cellphones won’t even exist anymore; we’ll have a world where every window is a cellphone and camera. People will communicate through these windows in a very natural way, asking it about everything from their bank account balance to philosophical questions.”
But there’s a darker side, too. “We’ll essentially be bots,” notes Josh Calder, Founder of forecasting firm Foresight Alliance. “Artificial intelligence will regulate every aspect of our lives, including our social lives. Artificial systems will help us connect with others because they can tell us who’s like us. Of course, that’s what’s already happening on some dating websites.” The chance encounter, the love-at-first-sight romance will be history as human interaction is reduced to a minimum, a luxury even. And as humans become islands connected by AI systems, politics will be reduced to a micro-sphere — your neighborhood — and the heaviest macro issues, like foreign policy.
Even more worryingly, AI will put us out of work. “Because AI will be so pervasive, a large part of the workforce won’t be needed,” predicts Calder.
And, even as they’re making us redundant in the workplace, AI systems will be watching over us. “You’ll be monitored 24/7 by your phone and be told whether you’re having health issues, like a heart attack,” elaborates Talwar.
“But by not having kids you’re just giving up on the future, because then the future will just be populated by the progeny of the oblivious,” reflects Calder. “And while there may be aspects of the future that seem alarming to us, they will seem normal to our children. Humans are very resilient.”
Being the greatest innovation since the invention of the book press, the Internet has revolutionized the world. The revolution has just begun. In 2043, computers will speak the language of humans. They will no longer look like machines, but like real humans, the most natural interface ever introduced. These virtual humans will live in the cloud, not restricted to any ‘device.’ They will express emotions like humans, speak our language, even dialects, and understand our — often local — gestures. These AI characters will appear on floating, transparent camera screens, which will be as cheap as plastic bags today, and spread in all parts of the world, including the now developing countries. Their incarnation, the humanoid robots, will assist us with many physical tasks. We’ll work a lot less, allowing us to focus on our core competence: being human.
The leisure of 2043 will be immersive. Cheap storage and easy recording mean any experience can be captured and replayed or modified. So gamers will be able to play against “real” professional athletes and, instead of reality TV, viewers can experience living the life of their favorite star — premieres! parties! shopping! — through footage licensed for use by the celebrity. Readers will have the option of reading the story or participating as a character. The same holds true for movies and television. Traveltainment will be popular, especially if climate change premiums on airfare put flying out of reach for many consumers. Tourists can walk the Grand Canyon or visit the Antarctic glaciers in their homes. Leisure time will be extended in most cases by the use of drones, robots, and 3D printing, all of which allow for tremendous time and labor savings.
Entire industries will be transformed by advances such as 4D printing that will enable us to print objects that can actually change their properties and behavior over time. Service industries and professional work will be impacted by artificial intelligence. In this world, careers will be transformed. We’ll take the option of studying online for free on courses run by major providers such as Harvard, with our coursework marked by AI programs. With life expectancy rising to 100 and beyond in developed economies, the idea of a career will change. We could easily have 6 to 10 careers. To cope in an intensely competitive world we’ll use a variety of human enhancements to make us smarter, fitter and more effective.We’ll use have bio-engineered body parts and exoskeletons and use smart drugs and electronic stimulus techniques.
Drugs that make you smarter:
Jaden: OK, I have a lot to say about this.
Will: Oh jeez.
Jaden: They’ve been storing information on DNA, they have made DNA—
Will: This is where we go too far.
Jaden: They have stored all of Shakespeare’s sonnets on something this big [holds up small tape recorder] Now if they can put information into artificial DNA cells, then I feel they could apply that to our DNA in our brain and well be able to download things onto our bodies.
Will: That’s deep.
Experts also say we become bots. Is this positive?
Will: Yes. All forward movement, even when it doesn’t feel good, is positive.
Jaden: That’s how “I, Robot” happened, just so you know.
Will: OK. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it’s not good. [Laughs]
Will: Yes, that’s true. You can just have one for fun.
Jaden: I’d be one of those old school guys that’s like, “No, all that new technology. I don’t need one.”
Will: [In old man voice] ‘Newfangled technology. All these kids. People lived for thousands of years with no metal arms. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry got a new metal knee.’
Click to read '1,000 years in the future: Melting point'.