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General Discussion & Feedback => Just Chat! => Topic started by: IzzieC on 11/04/2019 15:11:18

Title: SHOW IDEAS - Life in 2050?
Post by: IzzieC on 11/04/2019 15:11:18
Hi everyone,

I'm making an upcoming show for The Naked Scientists about sustainability and would love to hear your thoughts on the future of population, food, health, climate change, or any other thing that springs to mind. Feel free to use this thread to suggest topics, ask questions and share talking points.

Cheers - Izzie
Title: Re: SHOW IDEAS - Life in 2050?
Post by: Kryptid on 11/04/2019 21:41:29
- By 2050, I'm hoping that supersonic airliners have made a comeback. Suppressed sonic boom technologies are being researched which could help make that happen:

- I would really like to see mature claytronics technology by then (shape-shifting materials), but I strongly doubt that's going to happen. I'm guessing 2100 would be a more realistic date for that:

- Quantum computers and AI will no doubt be much better by then.

- I'm hoping people have gone back to the Moon and landed on Mars by 2050.
Title: Re: SHOW IDEAS - Life in 2050?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 12/04/2019 16:59:08
On an inpactive note. The fossil fuels will have run out and earth will have plunged into an ice age, there will be few people left. Technologically we will have regressed to the dark ages, with disease and famine widespread and unfortunatley the pollution caused by way of plastic and chemicals will have left the earth a barron wasteland. 90 percent of the animals will have died. The humans that have survived will become hideous mutated beasts with little cognitive capacity. They will roam the planet engaging in acts of cannibalism and depravity.

Unless we make our voices heard we will get laughed at !

A good way to estimate it is look back to 1990, cars have improved slightly, computers have improved  slightly, houses continue to progress at a snails pace. The only real revolutionary step has been in the application of computers to manufacturing. The quality, speed, technical level of products these days is so far ahead of what it was in 1990, what would have been a high end product in 1990 you can now get relativley cheaply. I know i said cars had progressed slightly, that was the technological aspect, but the actual standard of workmanship incars these days is incredible. Vast new buildings requiring multitudes of calculations now exist, and exist easily. Factories are automated more and more so produce high specification goods quickly. It has been a hidden revolution. I will add this revolution was mostly underway pre2000.

If i where you I would use the lack of ambition as an example of how badly we have done in the last 30 years, so if we try we could achieve alot more. Just the application of technologies we already have and have had for a while would be great.But unfortunatley we seem to be very very very very slow.
Title: Re: SHOW IDEAS - Life in 2050?
Post by: evan_au on 13/04/2019 02:48:27
I would look for things that are growing exponentially - these appear to have little impact, until suddenly they are having a massive impact!
- We are all aware of human population growth, and the pressure that is applying to supplies of fresh water, fresh food and energy, and habitat for native species. It increases the chances of regional conflicts and instability, accentuated by droughts and floods.
- We are aware of the spread of invasive species, and the impact that is having on native and agricultural species
- We are aware of growing CO2, and the pressure that is putting on hurricanes, native habitat and migration, disease risk and oceanic pH. Fortunately, sea level rise will be fairly minor by 2050.
- Unfortunately, nuclear look like they are set for exponential growth, currently with strong proponents in USA, Russia and North Korea.
- Even worse, biological weapons look set for democratisation, with fearsome capabilities becoming available to ordinary people in this timescale.
- Any of these could derail the predictions below.

On the technology front:
- (Negative) Exponential reduction in the price of solar power panels will make these much more economic. Hopefully, batteries, capacitors, chemical or mechanical storage systems (eg hydropower=water-lifting or rock-lifting) will be able to store it.
- Smaller, cheaper computers will be appearing in more and more products, sensing their environments and will be communicating with each other more intensively.
- Even though high-end silicon computers are reaching limits in clock speed (Moore's Law is running into some limits), with new technologies (eg artificial neurons, graphene and/or quantum computers?), the historical growth in compute power per dollar should continue to grow at the exponential rates we have seen since the 1890s (ie well before silicon chips and Moore's Law).
      + Computers will outperform humans in even more areas. The definition of Artificial Intelligence will continue to to be "Anything that computers can't do" (yet).
      + We will become even more human/computer cyborgs - but instead of the electronics in our pockets being connected via screens and earplugs, it may have more direct connections into our bodies and minds. Fitness trackers are just the beginning.
      + Will private vehicles be replaced by a fleet of self-driving taxis? Depends on computers, legislation and public acceptance. What happens to the displaced workers??
      + Will telecommunications/telepresence/ordering over the internet replace a lot of current travel?
- Biotechnology is growing even faster than computing.
        + Genetic analysis should start to have major impacts on personalised medication (eg every baby has its genome read - and we should even be able to get useful health guidance from it) and detection and diagnosis of disease.
        + Genetic engineering should have major impacts on production of medications, disease prevention & cure, and improved productivity of food crops. But this will depend on legislative and public acceptance.
      + The Chemical industry should be able to do more design computationally, and be able to produce products more efficiently using highly specific enzymes, produced by genetic engineering techniques.
- Space technologies should improve: Better space telescopes (optical and radiotelescopes), gravitational wave detectors, probes to other planets (and maybe sent to a nearby star?). And hopefully, permanent colonies outside the Earth. 
- Hopefully, we should have practical nuclear fusion by then (at least grid-scale fusion generators).