The World of 2050

Sci-fi novelist David Brin has a new book out titled Existence (Amazon US and UK) which touches on a number of topics we enjoy discussing here, perhaps most prominently the possibility of alien contact. Here's the trailer and short summary for those interested, following which I have a question for you all, and would love to hear your answers:

Gerald Livingston is an orbital garbage collector. For a hundred years, people have been abandoning things in space, and someone has to clean it up. But there’s something spinning a little bit higher than he expects, something that isn’t on the decades’ old orbital maps. An hour after he grabs it and brings it in, rumors fill Earth’s infomesh about an “alien artifact.”

Thrown into the maelstrom of worldwide shared experience, the Artifact is a game-changer. A message in a bottle; an alien capsule that wants to communicate. The world reacts as humans always do: with fear and hope and selfishness and love and violence. And insatiable curiosity.

This io9 write-up mentions some of the setting of Brin's future world of the 2050s, including "the mesh, a virtual reality that exists on top of the real world and is viewable through glasses, contacts and eye implants collectively". Reading about such ideas, and agreeing completely with things such as 'the mesh', prompted me to wonder what you all think we will be seeing in four decades (if we're still alive)? Where will we be at technologically, spiritually, and politically? Tell me how *your* Earth of 2050 looks.

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Greg H.'s picture
Member since:
12 June 2009
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Even though I consider myself an optimist when it comes to our future I can't help but be cynical. I see a world where earth is ever more polluted - take Frakking for natural gas as an example that poisons water supplies and air and defaces the landscape (see Gasland docu),where mega corporations own the politicians and buy legislation favoring their interest over that of the environment and civilians.

The income gap between the new royalty: celebrities and megawealthy entrepeneurs and corporations will grow ever wider with the middle class shrinking and growing ever more dependent on diminishing social services as the system are over-burdened.

Social chaos, riots and disorder reign between private and public sectors over sky high tax rates to subisdize public workers income and benefits, with ever diminishing private sector jobs and expanding population.

I see a police state as the Constitution and Bill of Rights in America was incrementally dismantled with little more than a whimper. Similar to life in China - make waves and you are hauled in and interrogated, incarcerated or disappear...

Technology will have exponentially evolved to the point where people escape the drudgery of existence by escaping into virtual reality - the new drug so to speak, helping to quell any mass upsrisings, but of course should there be any...

The police will be armed with numerous immobilization weapons including heat, sound and even projecting noises and commands into peoples heads, incapacitating them at a neurological level

Manned space exploration will not have progressed as far as anyone hopes, simply because the will is not there to do so. Putting our collective efforts into tech to colonize space is in reality a selflees endeavor that requires sacrifice for the long-term benefit of the civilization, and it seems most every decision and action made by governments and corporations are exactly the opposite - they are for the short term and personal benefit of the political parties and their financial interests. So we'll be further than we are now, but barely beyond the moon, and doubtfully beyond Mars.

Populations will have grown to such a degree that forced populaton control will be mandatory, further justification for the police state. Natural disastors will come and go of varying degrees. At least one if not more pandemics will occur - possibly of man-made origin with the intent of reducing the population.

The entire food supply will be owned by Monsanto and their ilk due to cross polination of GMO crops having infecting every organic crop so that their patented genes are found everywhere and so are their consequences: low birth rates, still births, infertility, auto immune disorders, allergies, etc... These will help in the depopulation plans of the ruling elite as was planned.

I see a bleak future for the working class with ever expanding luxuries and privilige for the wealthy. The private sector workers will be relegated to the peasant status struggling to meet the high taxation and cost of even minimal goods and services, while the public sector workers will be the remaining middle class yet always subservient psyohpants to their ruling elite.

Cynical and bleak I know...I hope I'm wrong.

Greg H.

red pill junkie's picture
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Manned space exploration will not have progressed as far as anyone hopes, simply because the will is not there to do so. Putting our collective efforts into tech to colonize space is in reality a selflees endeavor that requires sacrifice for the long-term benefit of the civilization, and it seems most every decision and action made by governments and corporations are exactly the opposite - they are for the short term and personal benefit of the political parties and their financial interests. So we'll be further than we are now, but barely beyond the moon, and doubtfully beyond Mars.

I beg to differ. With Space-X's astounding success, and the buzz caused by James Cameron's wish to mine asteroids, once people notice there could be a lot of money to be made in space, we might witness a huge explosion of the private industry in the next 50 years.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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Greg H.'s picture
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RRJ wrote: we might witness a huge explosion of the private industry in the next 50 years.

Yes but will it be manned space exploration. And will it have the purpose of moving man beyond Earth for the long term survival of the civilation, or will it be purely profit motivated: i.e. mining asteroids. I'm a free market guy so that is fine. I just don't see the committment to a manned space program on a national level.

I heard a commentator suggesting Space X could go to Mars in a fraction of the time and cost as Nasa - hopefully they will. But I remain doubtful of any united effort. People - the masses would rather have their services increased then invest in a long-term and costly manned space program. So no real push on governments to move in that direction. Can private industry be the leaders to help us colonize space and get off Earth? They would certainly be more efficient at it, but where is the profit to do so? I think it would have to be a government incentivized program and I don't see the political will nor the will of the masses to make the sacrifices neccessary to do so...

Greg H.

red pill junkie's picture
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Elon Musk has said he would like to die on Mars, so there's definitely an incentive.

Currently it takes 6 months to reach the Red Planet, but with a two-burn maneuver from the lunar orbit you could get there in half the time.

We say things like 'where's the profit' or 'where's the payoff', but we might be suffering from the same short-sightedness which regarded airplanes as nothing but a quaint entertainment, or electricity as a salon distraction :)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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@red_pill_junkie

red pill junkie's picture
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http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2009/atlanta_flood/atlanta_flood_1.JPG

Wetter.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Inannawhimsey's picture
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1 year 11 weeks

that looks like choccy pudding

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

red pill junkie's picture
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But those ain't floating marshmallows :-/

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

LastLoup's picture
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6 April 2010
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i'm already investing in beach front property.......whenever it rains :P

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
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1 year 11 weeks

In 2050

wireless internet will be ubiquitous

smartphones will be ubiquitous

connecting to the internet will be ubiquitous

AR will become (as if it already isn't) ubiquitous -- with apps like Languages, Themes (want to see everything a la Noir, Lovecraft, Republican?)

shopping malls will have changed, everyone has their own Maker/3-D printer, to speciality shops for certain blueprints

we will all me modified intelligences of rpj

America will have been invaded at least once and become more gentle, losing a bit of that innocence

Islamism will have burnt itself out

a global ethics will have been more or less hammered out and for a soverign country to be franchised, they have to agree to sign on it

the UN will actually have teeth, made of entities ("Devas") who owe their allegance to humanity. these entities will be either functional AIs or Buddhist-like warrior monks

Meditation will be part of the school curriculum

there will be a yearly global art olympics, where people will compete in various art forms...

everyone at birth will be reversibly infertile; to get fertile, they will have to take a course

there will be several moonbases; some of them will secede and become their own nation

there will be several competing currencies

there will be several competing internets

open spirituality will spread to the marketplace, so that people will have shops like "Thanes of Odin", "The Golden Apple Lounge" and "Xenu's Retreat"

starving, poverty & disabilities will be an art form

the # of Marxists will be reduced to a small Villa in Las Vegas

there will be biomod lounges where people can collect and share their biology hacks (will Apple come out with an iHack app?)

Virgin Megagalactic will have sent unhumaned probes to places like Alpha Centauri and have special parks

Via telepresence, the first person to dance on the surface of the sun will be broadcast live

sex change, species mods will be available as cosmetic modifications; bless you, stem cells

the new sport of asteroid surfing will be a hit

towels will become a vital and necessary space travel item

dolphins and chimps will be recognized as sentients and given human rights

Australia & NZ will become one nation to deal with the increasing droughts; Peter Jackson will become PM

there will be an increase of 'People of the World', people with no fixed country

the world's first photon-human conversation will happen

tours of the Astral, Etheral and Dream worlds will be given by trained professionals

Ideaspace will become a cultural thing, people being taught how to explore it

all of the Holy Books of the world will be translated into graphic novel form

a form of radioactive waste eating bacteria will have been discovered

Japan will adopt GMing and will move to somewhere safer; in orbit

Ray Bradbury will be found on Mars during the first human expedition

thedailygrail will become a not-for-profit organization
the DSM will have been gone for years now

some countries will have adopted GNH

they will finally find Jimmy Hoffa's body

it will turn out that JFK was just a future projection of that wavefunction collapsing entity, Jesus

the perfect cup of coffee will be served by Rancid Phlegm and Co-ordinated Presence, a couple living on an L3.14 colony

Putin's cynicism will crack, resulting in him breaking down on live telenet...he will then devote his life to living as a hermit, discovering his inner space and the resulting Ideaspace show will be very popular

Virtual places of worship and denominations will be commonplace

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

red pill junkie's picture
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12 April 2007
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Except for one, these are all wonderful prospects :)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
1 year 11 weeks

Yeah, I know...Hoffa should stay a mystery :3

I'm eagerly awaiting your multimedia 2050 list :3

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
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Last activity:
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Man, I just hope I'm still around by 2050! I would be 77...

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
1 year 11 weeks

I want to live long enough to be able to see the Earth from orbit or space...to be able to be overcome by it and shaken to my core...

And I definitely don't want to die in a hospital and/or with a long period of incompetence (I've heard the world average is 6 months)...

Right now, intellectually I like the idea of personal teleportation, but emotionally I would feel like it would be like killing myself...

Just some thoughts

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

RealityTest's picture
Member since:
16 August 2006
Last activity:
14 hours 51 min

I'll be gone by then -- not my problem.

There will be many 2050s (as will be taught in physics classes in those versions in which Scientism reigns and in which there are still classes, period) -- this is a "Garden of the Forking Paths", "Multiverse", "Many Worlds", or "probable reality" situation; there is no single future (verify this for yourself by doing Exercise 2. here: http://www.realitytest.com/doors.htm).

In some versions, those multi-billion-device forecasts for 2020 by giant tech companies and associations (Cisco, GSMA), advocates of "The Internet of Things", will have become multi-trillion-device realities -- everything will be connected.

In other versions, there will be no Internet. In some of these, the Internet (and most of civilization) "went away" when electrical grids went down during a series of massive solar flares, putting an end to modern industrial activities too swiftly and completely for the grids to be rebuilt; soon, humanity forgot how to manufacture all kinds of things. In other versions, the Internet was killed by viruses.

In a few versions of 2050, European countries will be announcing yet another plan to resolve debt problems in Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and a few other countries.

In some versions, billions haven't starved to death after Monsanto's pest-proof copyrighted corn enabled the rise of disease-resistant bacteria -- instead, people came to their senses and eliminated Monsanto.

Those versions in which U.S. "backpack" drones developed for and used in the Afghanistan conflict back in the early part of the century became common everywhere aren't so pleasant...

There will be apocalyptic versions and relatively peaceful versions.

You can project present trends, but anyone who tries to make tech forecasts in 2012 knows that all kinds of disruptive developments are much more prevalent now than even a few short years ago -- the same applies to quite a few other trends, although demographic trends _can_ be relatively stable. (The boomer generation will have almost completely died out by 2050, with all kinds of consequences, including the great casket, funeral home, cemetery stone, and grave site bubble that finally collapsed, causing global financial systems to seize up in some probable realities even though it was all very, very predictable.)

Then there are those versions of 2050 in which the increasing electronic connection of just about everything is mirrored by a growing conscious awareness of what could be called an inner connectivity; in fact, after this began it was clearly seen that this was actually the other way around -- the electronic connectivity was simply an outer manifestation of an inner development.

I've visited more distant futures, as though versions of me exist in them -- "future" selves. In one, there is no longer a U.S. Interstate Highway System and no one even remembers one -- or cars, for that matter.

In another, some very interesting research is going in a lab outside of NYC, which is flooded, but the U.S. is not what it was -- it's old and tired, you might say.

Then there's that future world of 2075 in which methods devised by an incarnation of Saul of Tarsus (more than making up for screwing up so badly in his previous appearance) spread rapidly, leading to the undermining of all remaining religious organizations and heralding a new expansive everyday consciousness in which intellect and intuition are united, a kind of "New Age."

The choices of where and when to incarnate (if choosing to incarnate at all) -- are more or less endless.

Hopefully I'll be in no particular hurry to decide, in 2050. (Sometimes peer pressure is part of this -- if all of your friends have decided to jump in again, it can be difficult to sit things out and not share, once again, the incredible but temporary experience of life on earth, with its taxes, food, sex, politics and all of the other stuff, including death.)

Bill I.

emlong's picture
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18 September 2007
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15 min 41 sec

Given the sorry track record of prediction in the near past I am confident what whatever happens it will surprise us all.