Have you ever wondered how the world would be in the year 2050? What technology would be introduced by then? Human advancement knows no boundaries. As time passes, more and more technology gets tangled in people’s lives.
2050 is as far from our current year as 1994 was. For a realistic assessment of what we think 2050 would be like, we also have to see the change between 1966 and 1994 and even further back between 1966 and 1938. If we were to draw a curve to show the relationship between time and the entanglement of more technologies in a person’s life, we would observe a rising one – almost in a J shape.
We don’t know enough to predict which way technology will veer or what demands we, as a society, will have 28 years from now on. If you could ask a person from the 2000s, he would boast about nanotechnology and how gadgets are getting smaller – from TVs to cell phones and laptops. However, nanotechnology never went beyond a stage. It found its niche and achieved wonders in the medical and nuclear fields but did not matter much in everyday life.
We went from three-hundred-pound TV in the 1970s to slimmer CRTs and flat screens, and instead of reducing in size further – we got larger, flatter TVs with better quality, such as HD, UHD, 4K and 8K. The same goes for computers. From filling a room to a laptop, it’s settled there when it comes to size. However, PC never went away. PC is still demanded, and with the advancement in the gaming industry, PC requirements gained by leaps and bounds.
Sure, we may go all hunky-dory about several things which we might think would drive the future but predicting the future is challenging. Imagine you walk to your nearest supermarket with unlimited cash. You would buy all your favourite things and buy things you think you would need – or might not buy again, since they are pretty expensive.
Not only does nostalgia play a significant role in our life, which craves for atavistic choices, but we also make trade-offs. Take the example I have just mentioned. Buying an entire store. Usually, a person wouldn’t buy the entire store – because he doesn’t need it! Who does that? We can spend whatever we wish but do we benefit?
If we bought an entire store – we would have added the burden of paying the staff and doing regular upkeeps. Only investors would do that, and what percentage of people are investors? It is why nanotechnology found its way into a niche-scientific territory.
There might be stances where a man can teleport living beings from one point to another point of the earth, like Doraemon’s Anywhere Door. There might even be a chance we go back to our Luddite behaviours and start conserving our earth since conservation has been a hot topic in contemporary science-fiction. However, one thing is certain. The presence of technology in our day to day lives will increase tenfold in years to come.
Global Artificial Intelligence in 2050
We have seen it in full display, from assisting us in choosing songs on our playlists to computerised cars, but whom will AI benefit? From what we visualise now, web developers create an application. Global giants like Alphabet, Apple and Meta would be the first to reap its enormous benefits.
However, when we come to the ordinary person, privacy is one thing which is held dear by all. Sure, we may give access to our data to operate social media, but to what extent? We have examples of Target stores which found out that a teen girl was pregnant before her father did and started suggesting things to him that usually, a person with a pregnant wife would need. This incident happened in 2012, ten years ago!
While the commoners’ sentiment is valid, we must also look at how the current generation consumes their mobile phones over how people from the previous generation did. We also have no idea how people would consider technology to be embedded into their lives in the future.
The commoner’s sentiment about privacy being infiltrated would only cause specific contact points. Rather than having AIs virtually administering the entire framework of their application, there will be the employment of real people in physical offices – to take care of this matter. In certain nations, they will be forced to.
It would lead them to create physical offices and invest hundreds of billions to provide a safe and secure Global Brain for all global citizens. Imagine a life where an AI constantly assists you when you wake up.
Whether inside your house, while driving, while shopping, at the gym or even when working, you have a tiny bot that talks to you about your day and helps you in almost everything. The Global Brain would be deeply embedded in people’s lives – a perfect mix of your assistant and an inexhaustible encyclopaedia.
Scientists have been spending a lot of time developing complex human reasoning and thought-processing into machine language codes to impart similar intelligence to abstract technologies. Such complex qualities include:
- Thoughtful Creativity – This is the kind of abstract art creativity where the painting will always have an inner meaning. AI is supposed to behave abstractly creatively and produce masterpieces of everything they create. As of now, AIs are even well equipped to write novels!
- Counter-factual and Casual Reasoning – Like how humans solve challenging puzzles by thinking of various solutions and methods at a time, AI is supposed to grab this ability too. Moreover, humans would soon develop an AI that can imagine like us. AI would become able enough to think and argue on debatable issues without taking sides, as we do. Talking about the Global Brain, there is also a chance that humans reduce this to a bare minimum to feed their biases with more substantial points. It may also be possible that such incidents bring new laws into place.
- Conscience and Common Sense – Technology will leap when AI becomes conscious of its existence. With the addition of some common sense and humour, one can talk to a domestic AI like a friend and get helped simultaneously.
- Emotions and Beliefs – The most complex part of the human brain, which clings to emotional reactivity and personal religious and cultural beliefs, makes us humans different from AI. These qualities would be slowly embedded in the AI because they need to understand emotions and empathise with their human operators.
Such a generalised Global Brain AI would be considered a thousand times more intelligence once imparted with the mentioned qualities. We can easily cut off the percentage of human error from everything we do with such an AI, and this technology can become man’s best friend.
Think about an AI you would sit and consult about your financial planning for the future. This AI will not be money-biased like most human advisors and will be empathetic enough to understand your crisis. Apart from the analytical part, such a human-like AI can be extremely useful in solving problems considered impossible until now.
The Emergence of Smart Cities
Alphabet, the parent organisation of Google, is working to create a future with populated smart cities. From being a mere search engine to becoming an operating AI administering entire cities, the use of Google is what a journey to 2050 will look like.
Consider the city you currently live in has a centralised network which connects to your vehicles locating your position whenever you are out for a ride. A centralised system which gets connected to your house’s security system and keeps the emergency services updated about your position inside the house.
The same system works for you when you want to travel out of the city. Without introducing your passport or government ID, the airport authorities scan your biometrics and retrieve all information about your legal documents. It wouldn’t be wrong if people in this day and age point toward the social-credit-point system in China and talk about the obsessive infiltration of the “other” in “our” space. It is natural for us to fall in place rather than resist a technological change when we see the benefit.
Have we ever seen toll-tax-plazas? Eliminated. The problems of paying the government unsuspectedly out of our everyday taxes would be gone since your vehicular data is already collected by the road you travel through. State of emergency services? We would finally get to see the day when ambulance services are faster than pizza delivery, which has been the go-to talk of the Luddite ilk belonging to the previous generation.
Road congestions? No chance. Traffic checkpoints? Diminished. The presence of smart roads would optimise everything. Furthermore, manual parking will become a thing of the past.
Humanoid Robots Living Among Us
When we imagine the future of robots in the last millennium, the first thing which comes to our mind would be a helping hand. And sure, robots were created as a helping hand. The idea of a robot being an Irona to us Richie Rich-like humans was pretty prevalent. Eliminating problems of cleanliness, cooking, organising, babysitting or even being a playmate formed our expectations of robots in the future.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to Hanson Robotic’s 2016 model robot Sophia. She now enjoys legal personhood and can travel anywhere in the world. With this, Sophia is also looking forward to a career in marketing. Sophia also interacted with many celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Fallon, given her status as one of the firsts in her field.
Now, picture the cellphones which existed thirty-three years ago. Hard as a brick. Limited contacts and options. No scope beyond the usage of self. Extrapolate this idea to robotics, and humanoids living amongst us wouldn’t appear like something out of a movie but something authentic.
We will duly note the “reality” in every aspect. Humanoid robots are already being designed, but in future, they will be closer to humans due to the advancements which will take place in medical science over the next couple of decades. Their bones would be closer to ours – probably, with a better alternative of dense calcium. Skin materials would change to provide a tender feeling. The same goes for eyes and teeth.
With so much emphasis on making robots as humane as possible – possibly to even assist the elderly – it is fair to ask whether we would create an entire race of second-class humans programmed to work for the original humans? And if that happens, aren’t we creating a society of metallic enslaved people? Star Trek even had an episode on this very discussion back in 1991.
Technology would continue to change, and robots living amidst us would be more commonplace than we think. However, it wouldn’t be similar to how humans envisage robots to flourish. If robots could share data on the internet to educate new robots about their work with humans, why wouldn’t they share a plan of mutiny like the science-fiction movies?
Legal Use of VR Devices
Right now, VR glasses and arcades provide fantastic video game experiences in the virtual reality world. Think about the technology in 2050, where we would use various VR device innovations for legal bodies’ extensive simulation and training purposes.
Imagine the government using VR to train their military youth for upcoming battle situations. In an era where fifth-generational warfare is pretty accurate, and humans are ever more conscious about the importance of “their life”, this would likely be a possibility well before 2050.
Several nations are already considering robots fighting wars for us and VR to combat. It is already a breakthrough in military training methods and will get more precise over the years. Warfare methods which are best suited for the 21st century can be implemented as the AI in the VR would continue to list several strategies which may miss a group of humans brainstorming over an idea.
Undertaking VR training can lead soldiers to learn to handle high-stress situations and improve a wide range of skills, starting from effective cryptic communications on the battlefield to critical combat reflexes. Hostile climate and circumstances, such as suicide bombers and sniper attacks, can be effectively explained and dealt with by the newbies through simulation programs.
Besides using the VR for warfare simulation, we can use it in one more essential aspect – education. Envisage 2050 with schools that provide students access to a VR school environment to show incredible things while teaching lessons. Kids can see the past years and historical events using VR glasses and experience how life was during such eras. Sounds like the best learning experience!
Furthermore, the VR experience can provide the physically disabled to participate in active sports and physical activities in the virtual world. An Olympic event for VR sports! The only way one can win in such sports is by training and sharpening their neural response functions. Again, the Matrix situation is coming to reality!
Drones: A Daily Life Gadget
If you think that drones are already here, think again. Drones are used in photography, military, engineering and several other purposes but are they familiar enough? By 2050, drones will not only remain remote-controlled playthings but also become an integral part of our daily lives.
Drone cameras can essentially replace the roadside surveillance cameras to get better footage of traffic rule breaches and burglary situations. They can also improve communication with the traffic clearing systems for effective congestion and accident management.
As the current discussion held by business people, drones can become the future delivery service partners. From pizza to Amazon packages, anything can be delivered using heavy-duty drones. Emergency services like medical assistance and bringing in First Aid kits by ambulance-like drones can become a trend in 2050.
Controlling drones carelessly and breaking important stuff would be the last thing people want. People would garner a highly complex workforce to maintain proper harmony among all the drones and delivery partners. More and more people are employed in such high-tech management offices. Logistic companies would see growth like never before with the adaptation of working drones.
Drones will be a game-changer technology in 2050. Imagine a drone helping watch over a vital convoy to let people know on the ground if there is any trouble! One possibility that remains is using the Global Brain AI to manage and coordinate such drone activities, flying all over with incredible speed and accuracy, eliminating the human error percentage in their flights.
Orientation of Bionic Eyes
The future will see the development of eye lenses at an accelerated rate. By 2050, artificial retinas and other such visual prostheses will become equal to the natural human eye. Genetic blindness and loss of eyeballs can now be treated using bionic eyes. These bionic eyes are made of electrode arrays in the order of gigapixels in the full spectrum of visible colours embedded in seamless remote technology. It is a huge step forward from devices in the past, which gave a monochromatic and highly pixelated vision.
Consider the detectives and undercover agents using advanced versions of such bionic eyes. The enhancements they come with are embedded cameras, recording technology, augmented reality, night vision, thermal vision, zoom capability, etc. Such enhancements can be accessed directly using sensors connected to the cranial nervous system. We’re already heading into the science-fiction territory.
The most significant limitation of making such technology available to the masses would be aspects of privacy and security. Imagine if this technology is provided to the government; how much exposure would people become to the government? Moreover, privacy and security breaches can also occur in hacking and malware inflict. There would be increased chances of government and corporate scandals on a large scale. But let’s look at the bright side for now!
This technology would be no less than having a genie inside your head. You can get guides on doing things and activities without handling a smart device – an in-built encyclopedia for every situation!
Large-Scale Automation of Factories Using AI
Although automation, as a process, has been there for quite some time, it is necessary to point out that much like technological advances, automation in factories will also rise tenfold in the forthcoming decades. Diamond mining in certain countries still employs child labour. Now, imagine machines in place of kids so that they can grow up in a sheltered environment like all kids and have proper education? Sounds great.
Automation already exists in industrial processes, but in the coming days – it wouldn’t be odd to see that other things such as mining, polishing or carving would also be taken up by various processes instead of people. Of course, diamond mining is one example. Such things might become ubiquitous by 2050.
Virtual Assistants to Replace Search Engines
Fifteen years hence, if someone wanted to do something harrowing and searched for results over any search engine, the search engine would show them exactly what they wanted without any second thoughts about human morals. The presence of human morals, which averted the problems viz showing up suicide helpline numbers when a person searches about ending his life, goes on to show our quest for the perfect search engine.
Imagine if there was a search engine having a form indistinguishable from humans. Also, this version would be found both online and even offline as a helping robot if one pays extra. This search engine assists you like a manager who knows it all.
Nanorobotics In Agriculture
Nanobots have been one of the boons in the medical field to carry out specified tasks like eliminating carcinogenic cells or parts. With the rapid advancement of nanotechnology, agriculture is not far behind as a field of study. The soil aspect of agriculture needs much attention – as they continue to erode at an unprecedented rate due to multiple factors.
Secondly, while organic farming is a good option, it is a suboptimal option given that it has deficient produce. Its wide-scale applications in nations like India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam are yet to begin – and 2050 is a safe year to predict the same! With nanotechnology, we would find better non-organic fertilisers that do not leave adverse effects on soil.
Space Activities In 2050
Few afterthoughts considered; I consider humans reaching Mars would be an impossible affair. Humans going to Mars is a rare possibility, but I have no reasons to consider that the first humans would land on Mars by then. Space developments at an accelerated and unprecedented rate were a natural cause of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR.
Despite having far better technologies, fewer people have been to the moon since 2000 – than before 2000. Reason? Humans have much more regard for life than in previous decades, and space is risky territory. Also, with exposure to the internet, even children know about things like economic health and its parameters viz GDP, HDI etc. People in developed nations naturally aversion space missions and would like the money distributed to some philanthropic cause.
When we talk about the likes of Elon Musk, he is the only exception who is single-mindedly driven about sending people to Mars. While private space programmes have flourished over the years like Musk’s Falcon or Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, the burden of sending people to space has fallen mainly on the shoulders of billionaires and not governments.
There is another thing in space that has recently been a source of attraction for many people: space junk. Space junks, or space debris, are particles and debris from spacecraft and satellites which are in broken pieces or are no longer in use. However, there is a slim chance that nations like India, Iran, and Israel will take up cudgels and invest more in space than ever before.
Space junk rotates typically around the earth, and space junk has grown exponentially with time. Space junks are considered problematic for rockets and leave scratches on their bodies as they eject into space. What’s worse? Unlike air or water pollution that we can see around ourselves and have talked about, no one talks about this problem. Also, the data of space junk was provided to us by companies and space agencies, which have now gone defunct.
Startups like Clearspace aim to carry out their first space launch in 2025 and clean the space debris. Many such launches will occur in years, and be optimistic; this is not the only concern now! The process has already started, but private bodies’ acceleration of such space programmes will be large scale in 2050.
From all the examples discussed above, it is safe to say that our future will vaguely resemble those science fiction movies we love! Technology will continue spreading its effect all around us, helping and assisting us (for the most part). 2050 certainly does seem like a fantastic year for technology – let’s wait and see what it holds for us!
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