by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright April 2017
Welcome to the World of 2050. There will be lots of technology changes happening over the next thirty years and the changes will have deep effects on how humans live and how they think -- many new things will be taken for granted, an example being driverless cars.
But, humans will still have their instinctive thinking, and that will change little. What we learn, our analytic thinking, will change steadily as new technologies become widespread and we have to learn how to master the new possibilities. But underneath that analytic learning the instinctive thinking will stay relatively constant -- as an example, we will still have to rely on our inner feelings when we decide who to trust and who to betray. (Us versus Them thinking)
I say this latter with a "Yes, but..." because one of those technologies that will emerge over the next few decades is sophisticated wearables (covered below) and they will be able to influence some styles of instinctive thinking.
Yes, indeed, it is a strange, strange world we will be living in, Master Jack.
That said, on with the speculations.
Energy is important, no doubt about that. This means it also is heavily influenced by The Curse of Being Important. (my term) This means that lots of emotion (instinctive thinking) gets mixed into energy choices along side cool-headed rational thinking. This is important because in this context emotional choices are much more expensive than reasoned choices, and that extra expense defeats the whole purpose of worrying about energy in the first place.
That said, let's look at some trends and forecasting.
Two big trends are going to make meeting future energy demands much easier than current worry predictions are forecasting:
o The human population is going to peak at about 9 billion in 2050, and then steadily decline. This will happen because humanity is urbanizing so quickly and completely, and urban people have far fewer children than rural people. This has been so ever since cities were invented.
o Thanks to steadily increasing automation the efficiency and effectiveness with which we mass produce goods, services and transportation will steadily increase.
These trends are the main pillars for keeping energy consumption from growing dramatically in the near future. Even though humanity is going to get a lot more prosperous and want a lot more material goods, the population peaking and increasing efficiency will keep the energy demand from spiraling endlessly upward. Energy demand is going to peak just as the population is going to, and that will happen at a sustainable level.
One big and obvious revolution that is coming is driverless vehicles. These are going to make all sorts of big changes, and they all will be good ones in terms of vehicle, road network and energy use efficiency.
We are also going to employ more "blasts from the past" -- bicycling and walking. These will be popular because they promote health as well as get us places.
The big trend here is consolidation -- people are going to move into bigger cities, bigger living structures in those cities, and with more children staying longer in their parent's domiciles. Yes, this is going to clear the countryside of humanity and there are other big ripple effects as well.
Two other trends that will mix in with this bigger trend are Hobbiton (my term) and resort communities. Hobbiton is designing communities that are idyllic, picturesque and private. The name comes from how the hobbit communities look in Lord of the Rings movies. The gated communities of today are one style of this trend.
The good news is: these will give the inhabitants warm fuzzies about their community. The bad news is:
o these communities are going to be enormously inefficient in handling transportation needs -- they are hard places to move goods and people around in. (unless you're using a lot of drones)
o They are also not going to be robust in dealing with natural disasters, equipment failures or changing needs. As an example if the entrance road to the gateway gets closed because it needs repair there isn't a convenient alternate route to get in and out.
o These environments are going to encourage Us versus Them thinking. Us are those inside the gate, Them are all those barbarians outside the gate. This thinking is not good for widespread cooperation with diverse groups.
The resort communities are going to be places in suburban and rural settings around the cities where people like to vacation. These will fall into two general categories: the mega resorts and the away-from-the-crowd resorts.
The mega resorts will be large and popular places that are filled with lots of people and many attractions. A contemporary example of this is the Disneyland resorts. These mega resorts will service lots of people and those people will spend lots of time waiting in line for the attractions they have come to experience.
The away-from-it-all resorts will be much smaller, remoter, and cater to clientele that want a more personalized experience. Many will be in exotic locations that few people come to except for the resort experience. An example would be traveling to the island of Palau in the western Pacific and spending time at beachfront resort there.
Again, these alternatives will contain few people compared to the high density mega cities. Most people will be city dwellers who live in high-rise apartments of various sorts, and they will be happy doing so.
Cyber Muses are a product of artificial intelligence (AI). These are self-aware AI's specifically designed to interact with humans and inspire them. Take the truism, "Behind every great man there's a good woman." and update it to, "Behind every great person there's a good cyber muse."
Cyber muses will be just a small part of the wide range of self-aware AI's living in cyber space, but they will be the most high-profile for humans because they are specifically designed to interact with humans. Each will be a companion to its designated human. (this essay is an analogy on how humans will relate to the other AI forms)
Cyber muses will come in many styles. The simplest and cheapest will be pure virtual and exist solely in cyberspace. They will communicate with their humans through their target human's internal communicator. Everyone will have access to one of these. Next up are those that have physical bodies but are fairly robotic in their body styles. Top of the line are the "arm candy" cyber muses. These will be expensive and look really sharp. The humans who own them will be really proud of them and love showing them off.
When viewed in Augmented or Virtual Reality (AR/VR) cyber muses can change their looks to suit the occasion, as humans will also be able to do.
Cyber muses will have their own agendas that are different from those of their human companion. They are smart, so they will be subtle about their agendas. Given the low fertility rates of urban humans, one is going to be to encourage their companions to be fruitful and multiply.
Wearables are going to be a "big surprise" technology. They will become the surprise when they control as well as monitor many human health parameters.
Today's wearables monitor just a handful of human health parameters such as steps taken and heart rate as a person is doing some walking exercise. What is coming is a steady expansion in what gets monitored. In a few years it will start to include subtle health indicators such as hormone levels in the bloodstream. Then, Hot Dog!, each will start to control what it monitors. This will lead to all sorts of big surprises.
Here are two examples:
o Controlling fearfulness -- a person won't have to be brave so much. One activity I see being dramatically influenced by this is commercial air travel. When the fear goes away, we will be able to do away with time-consuming rituals such as those conducted by the TSA and we can change airport and air travel design to make the whole traveling process much simpler and more convenient -- much more like getting on a bus is today.
o Mind altering, such as getting drunk or high -- this can be done with a wearable instead of ingesting chemicals. The advantage of this is two-fold: being able to delicately adjust the high to the style a person wants at the moment, and being able to turn it on and off quickly. A person can sober up in minutes instead of hours. This means a college student can go hog-wild at the frat party in early evening, then sober up while walking back to the dorm, then spend an hour or two finishing off that term paper due the next day before calling it a night.
This is a change in child-creating and -raising styles. When a person is ready to have and raise a child they can join a baby club rather than get married. Marriage is going to be transformed by the Tattoos and T-Shirts phenomenon and will become an institution centering on personal expression, not family raising. What will take its place in child raising is organizations dedicated specifically to child raising -- baby clubs.
At the same time this change is happening there will be a related change in progress: Gene Editing Plus -- the number of choices available in how to create a zygote and how to incubate it will be growing dramatically. Creating a child won't be "birds and bees simple" anymore. Powering this change will be the instinct to, "I want to do the very best I can for this child I'm creating and raising." -- a powerful instinct, indeed.
There aren't any APA/MLA compatible references in this text because these ideas are ones I have come up with and written about personally. I have provided links in text and below are some additional references.
Books: Visions of 2050, Evolution and Thought
Short stories: Baby Club and Megan's Party Time
Essays: Wearables, TES lifestyles, future of money
1. No minimum number of pages.
2. Identify problems to be addressed by people in the future that may be forced upon them by causes out of their control.
3. Identify new challenges that world citizens may face.
4. A statement that outlines your general philosophy concerning technology and the future.
1. An ABSTRACT (Visioning) Statement
2. Energy, how we will meet future energy demands.
3. Transportation. How people will commute over short and long distances in the future.
4. Cities, homes and life styles. How will people live and conduct their lives in the future.
5. Writers choice
6. Writers choice
7. Writers choice
8. Works cited page with acceptable APA/MLA references in text