Future is here: What will the world look like in 2050?

“The only thing permanent is change!”

Last week, while I was taking a stroll down the streets with my mother, she pointed out a three -year old child to me, who was immersed in her mother’s smartphone. The child was so deeply engrossed in the colours and shapes that emerged on the screen on the slightest touch, she was oblivious to the fact that the ice cream cone in her hand had begun melting, and was slowly dripping down her hands onto her lap. My mother dolefully shook her head, only to remark that things were different in her childhood. It was then, with a jolt of surprise, that I realized that things were different in my childhood as well. And, things will be different when my children grow up. A global disruption will change the face of every industry, will change how we do everything..

  • The advent of artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence displayed by machines which enables them to function like human minds, performing tasks like such as “learning” and “problem solving”. It is believed that widespread application of artificial intelligence will render many human jobs unproductive. The use of artificial intelligence in the medical industry has already been carried out on an experimental basis, and has yielded positive results. Microsoft is working on a project to develop a machine called “Hanover”. It memorizes all the papers necessary to cancer and help predict which combinations of drugs will be most effective for each patient. IBM Watson offers legal advice within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. It is expected that by 2030, human intelligence will be redundant in most cases.
  • Mass production of Autonomous Cars: Autonomous cars are self-driving cars that detect its environment without human input and chalk out the best way to the destination based on those inputs. The BMW released a concept car that runs on a software named “Alive Geometry”, which will shift the car’s shape in accordance with how it is being driven, flaring out or tapering down as required. The Rolls-Royce 103 EX Vision Concept car is equipped with a virtual assistant called ‘Eleanor’, designed to enhance the driving experience.
  • Decline of insurance companies: It is expected that when the world runs on Artificial Intelligence, the chances of errors and accidents will be significantly reduced. For example, the motor car and accident insurance – 2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. The lowered chances of accidents will reduce the need for any insurance at all.
  • Frequent use of electric cars: An electric car is propelled by one or more electric motors. Instead of combustible fuel, the car runs on electrical energy stored in rechargeable batteries or other energy storage devices. It is good for the environment as it doesn’t burn any fuel, thereby reducing air pollution, and is low maintenance as well. The noise and heat is also less, and the process of driving is smoother. Electricity will also become incredibly cheap and clean- solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years. Thus, the use of electric cars would outgrow the cars using traditional fuels by 2030.
  • Reorganization of the health industry: There will be a thorough revamping of the health sector with the advent of artificial intelligence. The Tricorder X price will be announced this year, which is a medical device that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and your breath into consideration. It then analyzes 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.
  • Large scale application of 3D printing: The basic principle applied in 3D printing involves producing layers of a certain material till they form the desired article. This material varies with the product that is being printed. It all starts with making a virtual design of the object that is to be printed. This is followed by a process called ‘slicing’ which is divides a 3D model into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers. This is done with software. When the 3D model is sliced, it is fed to a 3D printer followed by which the object is 3D printed layer by layer. The 3D printer reads every slice (2D image) and creates a three-dimensional object. The price of a 3D printer in India begins at Rs. 95,000. 3D printing techniques are employed in industries including aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense, and medical replacements etc. Some scientists have even tried to develop food through 3D printing.
  • Large scale modification in agriculture: It is projected that agricultural robots will take over the field work in the future. Farmers in third world countries would be relieved from the back-breaking work on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Several startups who are working towards introducing insect protein to the market, which contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source”, even though most people still reject the idea of eating insects.
  • Prolific use of Bitcoins: Bitcoin is an innovative payment network and a new kind of money. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorizes bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. In the later years, Bitcoin might even become the default reserve currency.
  • Increase in life expectancy: In the last few years, the average life span of a person has increased by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, but now it has increased to 80. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So, we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.
  • Widespread virtual education: Modern technology connects classrooms across continents and students across borders. Thus, with the help of an internet connection and any digital device, a student from a third world country may experience the lectures of a professor from a premiere university in any country of the world. Primary education would also become widespread with the increased use of virtual classr

This change is inevitable – to what extent and when is what only time will tell!

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