Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day: Time to Ponder the Future

May Pole, Germany

Future cities

The First of May for most people today, is associated with socialist movements. But in this context I will adhere to the traditional meaning when May Day marks the end of the un-farmable half of the year in the Northern hemisphere and ushers in a tangible Spring.

In keeping with that theme, I thought it would be good to ponder the future. By the end of this year 2011, there will be 7 billion of us residing on this rock we call Earth. That is an increase of 5.5 billion in my lifetime. To illustrate what a world with 7 billion would be like, take a few minutes to check out this link.
7 Billion: National Geography Magazine 

Now that you have an idea of how many humans will as the video notes, would if standing shoulder to shoulder, fit in the city limits of Los Angeles proving that balance, not space will be the challenge of future generations.

This century has been heralded by some as being the Pacific century when Asia rules the world. Before you get too complacent with that concept, take the time to read this next post from Thomas Barnett who comments on whetherAsia will stall or fulfill that dream.

Next comes two fascinating posts from Tom Barnett's colleague Steve DeAngelis of Enterra Solutions. In a two part post entitled "Life a Hundred Years from Now" DeAngelis chronicles predictions from noted futurists about what life would be like in 2111. Steve begins.
Earlier this year I posted a few blogs dealing with short-term predictions about the future. A few daring souls have taken the long view and predicted what life might look like some hundred years from now. The thing that always strikes me about early science fiction movies that depict the future is that completely missed miniaturization except perhaps for "ray guns." So I'm not too sanguine about anybody's ability to predict things very far into the future.
This first part makes some startling predictions about space travel and exploration and touches on the changes in the nuclear family and other social issues.

Read more:
Life a Hundred Years from Now: Part 1

Now for part two and what I found was the real meat of predictions. As you read the post and feel a level of scepticism creeping in, remember to stop and think what someone your age and living at the turn of  the 20th century would feel if told of the all the advances in technology and medicine we enjoy today. Only the most esoteric dreamers would entertain such thoughts. Steve starts by quoting from Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Future.
"If someone from 2100 could visit us now, how would we view them? Probably like the gods of mythology. They would command everything around them by wishing for it. They would have perfect and ageless bodies. And they would ride across the universe in magical chariots. In the past, we feared the gods of mythology. In the next 100 years, we will become them. Based on interviews with 300 of the world's top scientists, I've put together some predictions for what that world, 100 years in the future, will look like. This is not a work of science fiction, since prototypes of these inventions already exist, and all of them obey the laws of physics."

The post goes on to list the ten predictions about the future that seem not so far fetched in light of how far we have come in the past century.

1. The Internet will be in your contact lenses.

2. Computers will disappear, as will cell phones, clocks, watches, and MP3 players.

3. Cars will be driver-less, using GPS to navigate without the help of an alert human behind the wheel.

4. Doctors will be able to grow 'spare parts' for our organs as they wear out.

5. The human life span will be extended.

6. Molecular 'smart bombs' circulating in our blood will home in on, zap, and kill cancer cells.

7. Our toilets and bathroom mirrors will contain DNA sensors, capable of detecting proteins emitted from perhaps a hundred cancer cells in a cancer colony, 10 years before a tumor forms.

8. The robot industry will dwarf the size of the current automobile industry.

9. Tourists will soar into outer space via space elevators.

10. With advanced technology also will come advanced dangers, especially biological warfare, nuclear proliferation, and global warming.

A fascinating list that bodes of great advances and as noted in prediction 10, might be the residual of 7 or 8 billion people trying to find balance amid a growing demand for excellence, where unskilled and semi-skilled becomes as obsolete as the tools noted in prediction 2.

Read more
Life a Hundred Years from Now: Part 2

1 comment:

Kanani said...

#11. Michael Yon will be hitting up space aliens to hit his DONATE button.