Promises, perils and hopes of living through the 21st century

April 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Many forward-thinkers see a bright future ahead as we begin our 21st century trek. The following timeline takes a positive look at how the future could unfold:

Promises

2010-2019 – The biotech revolution picks up steam; cloning tissues and organs are routine healthcare procedures now and are covered by most insurance companies. Cancer, diabetes; most heart diseases now treatable; patient records include complete personal genomes available at around $100. Humanoid robots form 10% of world population. “Big-Brother” surveillance prevents crimes.

2020-2029 – Medical ‘nanobots’ maintain health 24/7, all diseases now treatable. Star Trek-like replicators provide food, clothing, and other essentials at little cost. Driverless ‘air-cars’ whisk us about. The space elevator slashed launch fees enabling cheap vacations at orbiting hotels. A third-world nation revealed capacity to wield nano-weapons, which prompted the U.S., EU, and China to join forces and create a world-wide defense against the threat.

2030-2049 – Visionaries saw it coming: “machines would one day out-think humans”. This revolution encouraged the merger of minds and bodies with non-biological creations built with ‘immortal’ parts and powered by supercomputer intelligence. Living in these new ‘indestructible’ bodies that can shape-shift into different forms on command and never suffer an unwanted death has given everyone an exhilarating sense of comfort, security, and well-being. (cont.)

2050-2074 – Even though business and tourist migrations to moon and Mars colonies are rising, developers now focus on artificial habitats that are safer and less expensive to build. These fabricated worlds – huge rotating cylinders – orbit around Earth, moon, Mars, and the sun. The first one, near the L-5 lagrangian point above Earth, began accepting residents in 2060, and now boasts 20,000 citizens who can gaze down through a special new power-scope and observe home planet activities below, or just enjoy the beauty of deep space.

2075-2099 – Time travel becomes reality. Using light beams, researchers forced the past, present and future to circle one another in a device, until the future preceded the past. Like magic, tiny bits of matter moved from the present to the past. The next stage, planned for 2110, will enable humans to travel through time.

Perils

Humanity still demonstrates the savagery that typified our evolutionary rise. In some sense, guaranteeing civilization’s survival becomes a race against time. On one hand, we see possibilities for unparalleled peace, happiness, and prosperity; on the other, the forces of entropy (global warming, pollution, WMDs, and fundamentalism) could still tear us apart.

Hopes

Our trek through the 21st century faces many challenges, but with strong human ingenuity, we surely will prevail (after all, we have made it this far!). The ‘global brain” Internet offers prosperity for everyone, speedier advances in science and technology, and provides virtual-reality entertainment that sharpens our minds.

With technology’s help, by century’s end we could harness all of the solar energy that strikes our planet. This will give us the power to control and modify weather – no more hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, or floods: in this future time, every day will literally be a great day.

As we move into the 22nd century, we will “boldly go where no one has gone before”, and while scattering our populations to the stars, the search for alien life may finally become successful (we can only hope they’re friendly). Go “magical future”.

Which predictions described in this piece have the best chance of happening?

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