In 2050, the world will look dramatically different due to significant technological advancements. For example:
1. The World’s First Artificial General Intelligence Is Close To Becoming A Reality
By 2050, major tech companies have already launched official projects to develop the world’s first artificial general intelligence. Billions of dollars are invested in these projects and large full-time staff are dedicated to this effort. These highly complex projects are expected to take anywhere from 10 to 20 years to complete.
Scientists and engineers are figuring out how to model factors such as:
- Intentional creativity
- Strategic thinking
- Casual reasoning
- Common sense
- Counter-factual thinking
The immediate use case is to have a self-aware AI that institutions can consult with to solve problems that were previously thought impossible.
Another use case involves transferring copies of this AI to advanced humanoid robots that can handle variety of situations in the real world.
A small percentage of the world opposes this and there’s constant backlash on the internet, but that was to be expected.
This development is projected to lead to technologies that are indistinguishable from magic in the coming decades—especially when combined with the exponentially growing computational power of classical and quantum computers. However, it leaves the door open to a super intelligent AI being developed by the end of the century. And there’s no feasible limit to how intelligent this AI can become. Such an AI could be smarter than all humans that have ever lived on planet earth. Shortly afterwards, it could become trillions of times more intelligent than that.
2. Human-Like Robots Are Emerging
In 2050, robots have the ability to master real world environments and an increasingly diverse range of 3D objects. Although, earlier robots were limited to fixed movements, this new generation has more dexterity and flexibility. They can adapt to new situations and solve more and more dynamic problems. And they can learn from their experiences and share knowledge with each other because of wireless internet speeds thousands of times faster than 6G and the exponentially growing amounts of data being gathered from their sensors.
These robots can identify objects, situations, and the actions they should perform next in near real-time, which enables a more human-like response. Although a few technological and scientific hurdles still remain, this is getting close to what many people would consider artificial general intelligence.
The most advanced robots are restricted to government, corporate, and research institutions and the households of the rich and famous. In addition to cognitive abilities, these more advanced robots have extremely lifelike appearances, facial expressions, and body language. Thanks to continuous emotional feedback from users and techniques such as motion capture and generative adversarial networks, these robots almost look and act like real people. And as more data is provided to these robots, their body language and movements become more natural with each generation.
3D printed bones, and new materials developed for more flexible skin and muscles, eyes, and teeth help to make the humanoid robots appear as human as possible.
Additionally, less advanced models are now relatively common in society. They’re popular among people in upper-middle-income brackets and they’re similar in cost to a second car or a similar major purchase. Their functions include household chores such as cleaning, cooking, and tidying, as well as looking after children and elderly family members.
3. Smart Cities Are Emerging In Some Regions
In 2050, a small percentage of cities in some regions have become smart cities.
These smart cities connect vehicles on the road to a central network that tracks their locations in real-time. These types of networks receive terabytes of information from a huge number of sources such as road sensors, traffic lights, and so forth. Those sources provide information such as the number of cars on the roads, road blockages, weather patterns, the state of emergency services, and more.
Autonomous vehicles on roads constantly communicate and coordinate with each other to optimize the flow of traffic in these cities. Thanks to this coordinated information exchange, traffic congestion and jams have become much less severe in large cities. Autonomous vehicles ride behind each other at a distance of only 20 centimeters, which saves space on the road. And due to this coordination, autonomous vehicles make turns at intersections at almost full speed with a low probability of accidents occurring.
Manually parking vehicles is a thing of the past for owners of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles can be programmed to drop their owners off somewhere and then search for the cheapest, available parking spots within a city. At a designated time, vehicles return and pick up their owners.
Autonomous vehicles can also be remotely controlled using virtual reality devices. This helps in unique situations that AI isn’t able to handle on its own such as sudden natural disasters.
And autonomous vehicle sharing has become a booming industry, which has disrupted companies like Uber and Lyft.
4. Brain-Computer Interfaces Have Improved By Orders Of Magnitude
In 2050, brain-computer interfaces have vastly improved over the versions from 2030 and they’re largely usable for everyday purposes. Headbands and wrist bands with non-invasive sensors have become the preferred choices for mainstream brain-computer interface use. These interfaces are usually standard accessories for virtual reality headsets including high-priced VR helmets that offer full dive VR experiences. And some brain-computer interfaces are fully implantable for medical and military purposes.
Brain-computer interfaces now offer a bidirectional exchange of information. These advanced neural interfaces send waves to the brain, transmitting visual, audio, and other sensations to the user. The images and experiences generated by these devices are almost indistinguishable from reality, and they’re unique to each user because they depend on the structure of the brain.
When it comes to entertainment, people can use brain-computer interfaces to control objects in video games and virtual environments with high reasonable accuracy. For example, this feature is particularly relevant in the latest Star Wars game where you play as Jedis and Siths with force abilities. And in the latest Matrix game where you can play as The One.
Additionally, these devices allow people in VR games and experiences to communicate with each other using relatively simple thoughts. However, it will take a few more decades before this feature is refined.
5. Bionic Eyes Are Perfected
In 2050, artificial retinas and other visual prostheses can match the visual quality of a real human eye. They contain electrode arrays with hundreds of megapixels in full color along with wireless capabilities. This is a substantial step up from devices in earlier decades that provided black-and-white and highly pixelated views of the world.
Some versions of these implants not only provide a cure to blindness for many people, but they also contain further enhancements. These enhancements include embedded cameras, WiFi, augmented reality, night vision, thermal vision, zoom capability, and so on. When someone is using these devices, it's possible to wirelessly communicate with them using text overlayed in their vision.
These enhanced devices are standard practice among spy organizations, militaries, and high-profile citizens. However, they’re becoming inexpensive enough for the mainstream public as well. Healthy adults are now tempted to take advantage of the improvements offered by computerized vision.
The main downsides are privacy and security concerns. Some government and corporate sources indicate that these devices could potentially expose a high number of government and corporate scandals.
6. Two Space Elevators Have Been Built
In 2050, two space elevators have been built and they’re the largest engineering projects ever undertaken. China and the Obayashi Corp., a global construction firm based in Tokyo, Japan committed to building their own space elevators more than three decades ago and that vision has come to life.
These space elevators are planet-to-space transportation systems that each have a cable anchored to the earth’s surface and extending into space. This design permits an elevator to travel along the cable directly into orbit, without the use of large rockets. They’re located near the earth’s equator and the competing forces of gravity and outward centrifugal force hold up the cables under tension. The material used to create the cables are carbon nanotubes, which are lightweight and hundreds of times stronger than steel.
These space elevators are frequently being used by institutions to deliver cargo into space and return cargo to the earth. They’re also capable of transporting astronauts and tourists to low-orbit space stations. Each space elevator cost almost $10 billion to build. However, they made this money back in savings after transporting only a few payloads. That’s because transporting cargo with space elevators is less than 1% of the cost when using rockets.
7. VR Glasses Are Replacing Smartphones
Virtual reality Headsets now have 16k resolution and they’re reduced in size so much that they resemble goggles or glasses. And they have multiple display modes. Those display modes include the following:
- The Augmented Reality mode allows the lenses to be transparent so that you can view holograms
- The Mixed Reality mode allows the lenses to be transparent as well so that you can view hyper-realistic virtual objects in the real world that seem to obey the laws of physics
- The Virtual Reality mode has an opaque coat of silver over the glasses so that you can fully-immerse in a virtual world
In the augmented and mixed reality modes, you can view a smart stream where you can manipulate multiple apps and files using your brain activity. It’s because of these features that VR glasses are considered the next step of evolution after smartphones. However, many people continue to prefer smartphones.
VR and Augmented Reality contact lenses are other areas that are gradually being adopted.
8. Mars Has A Permanent Human Presence
In 2050, a permanent team of scientists and robotics engineers is present on Mars. SpaceX is leading much of this effort. And the first civilian tourists have also arrived.
Significant innovations in autonomous robotic mining systems were required before the first human set foot on Mars. Autonomous mining robots mine for and create water. Autonomous robots also extract hydrogen from the water to create hydrogen-based fuel. And satellites containing solar panels orbit Mars provide energy to the Mars base as well.
This base will soon be expanded with additional facilities providing more energy, food production, recycling systems, mining equipment, and other tools. Vehicles are supplied as well, enabling scientists to roam hundreds of miles. More sophisticated long-term bases are now being planned to accommodate larger teams of personnel, tourists, and corporate interests.
The habitat modules are constructed partially underground, giving protection from the Sun's ultraviolet rays. Radiation-absorbing materials based on nanotechnology are also used in spacesuits and the exterior of vehicles. These same materials block particles of dust, providing long-term protection against the environment outside.
Mars colonization is profitable because of the sales of intellectual property rights to Earth, the mining for valuable metals on Mars, and the ongoing mining of asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Space mining is a significant consideration because the amount of money that corporations can make from it is in the trillions. And the minerals in these asteroids hold mineral wealth equivalent to about $100 billion for every individual on Earth.
9. Augmented And Mixed Reality Is Everywhere
Entire cities have turned into augmented reality zones, which can be experienced by using augmented reality glasses, lenses, or other devices. Location-specific augmented reality overlays are created by corporations and individual creators. Urban landscapes are filled with information of all types, which can be filtered as needed using augmented reality apps.
Price tags in stores, menus in restaurants, and schedules at public transportation stops have all become virtual.
It’s also become common to use augmented reality to access navigation from one location to another, get reviews for nearby institutions, and view notable 3d animations and videos of past events at certain locations.
10. Hyperloop Tunnels Are Enabling Faster International Travel
The hyperloop concept usually involves passenger pods traveling through pressurized tubes using electric propulsion and magnetic levitation. Cargo is also transported considerably faster than before with this method. Hyperloop pods travel at speeds between 600 and 700 miles per hour. They also reduce transit-related greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. And due to the time they save, they provide economic benefits totaling over a trillion dollars every year when compared to previous transportation methods.
Over a dozen domestic hyperloop tunnels were finalized by the early 2030s. Now, tunnels have been built to allow high-speed transportation between multiple countries.
This development created a boom in the tourism industry. This development is also disrupting the air and rail travel industries. However, the widespread introduction of supersonic aircraft in the early 2030s for long-distance traveling is mitigating the effects of this disruption.
11. Video Games Are Becoming Hyper Realistic
In 2050, video games are photorealistic.
Advancements in game engines and world-building software make it easier and faster than ever for game studios and independent creators to build large and realistic virtual worlds. Cities within these worlds are fully explorable in terms of shops, office spaces, and most other types of interiors. Likewise, an entire forest can now be rendered with sub-millimeter precision, showing unique and random features such as individual leaf marks and insect bites.
Non-playable characters in video games can generate and sustain natural, nuanced, and indefinite conversations. This is thanks to language models and deep-learning algorithms in the cloud that are many orders of magnitude more advanced than the GPT-3 model from the early 2020s.
Advanced character builders make it relatively easy to build hundreds of unique, non-playable characters at a time that each has a unique personality and life story.
Generative adversarial networks (GANs) can generate an almost infinite variety of each physical attribute such as faces, hair, body types, and clothing. This is made possible because of enormous amounts of visual data fed to these neural networks. This technique also improves character gestures, expressions, and actions, making them more fluid and lifelike. At this stage, character animations aren’t 100% realistic yet, but they’re incredibly close.
And increasingly, video games are being created using real locations as their environments.
12. AI Can Outperform Humans In Most Occupations
In 2050, artificial intelligence can outperform humans in a majority of professions.
AI software can outmatch humans in white-collar jobs involving constructing company reports, market research, and most administrative functions. In some scenarios, they can also write screenplays, make music, write novels, and more.
AI robots can outmatch humans in jobs such as security guards, forklift drivers, chefs, and warehouse pickers.
Many companies have even replaced most of their human resources departments with AI. In these companies, artificial intelligence handles recruitment, first-round job interviews, employee orientations, performance evaluations, and deciding who to lay off. As an added touch, some corporations even use artificial intelligence to lay off employees in Metaverse environments—almost entirely removing the human element from these life-changing situations.
Other departments within companies such as finance, legal, sales, marketing, and customer service have also changed forever.
The only people who are relatively safe from having their jobs taken over by AI are the following:
- Those in the top 5 – 10% of their occupations
- People in careers requiring high levels of creativity, empathy, and dexterity.
- People who are well-connected
- The people who create the AI
This is a trend that will only escalate toward the end of the century.
13. Virtual Assistants Have Largely Replaced Search Engines
Well before 2050, most people on earth have access to a pervasive virtual assistant. The same virtual assistant can be available as an augmented reality hologram, virtual reality character, and household robot. And the same virtual assistant can be available as a voice in a smart home, inside a vehicle, from a smartwatch, and from a smartphone.
By this point, language models similar to GPT-3 are exponentially more advanced and virtual assistants are built on these language model platforms.
These virtual assistants are trained on text data from the majority of websites and publications ever created in human history. So they can answer almost any question we ask them. And their answers are personalized based on our goals, interests, and career paths.
They constantly predict what we might want to do next and make suggestions throughout each day instead of us having to type phrases into search engines. Whenever we do search for information, they always make additional suggestions that are vaguely related to our queries to help us get helpful perspectives we never considered.
We can also customize the personalities, appearances, voices, and special abilities of these virtual assistants.
In the coming decades, artificial general intelligence will take this technology to another level.
14. The Average Person Has Access To Quantum Computing Technology
For the past 10 – 15 years, tech companies have offered quantum computing technology with their cloud services at a moderate to high cost. Personal computers and servers also contain a hybrid of classical and quantum computing technology or one of those technologies. Quantum technology is usually considerably more expensive.
Companies and individuals use quantum technology to:
- Model the interactions of molecules and atoms
- Invent new materials
- Create complex virtual objects that are difficult for humans to conceive
- Develop potent smart drugs
- Develop high-range electric vehicle batteries that make gasoline-based vehicles obsolete
Some organizations are using the most advanced quantum computers in the world to closely simulate the processes of the human brain. This is making the transferring of memories from humans to machines a real possibility. These simulations are helping artificial general intelligence become a reality as well
One major downside to all of this is that some individuals have begun using quantum-enabled AI to create fake videos that are completely indistinguishable from reality. They’re nearly impossible to detect without expensive generative adversarial networks trained on high levels of computational power.
15. CRISPR And Gene Therapies Are Minimizing Severe Diseases
Technologies and approaches such as:
- Gene Therapies
- 3D printed organs and blood vessels
Are minimizing and curing major diseases in ways that were unthinkable only a couple of decades earlier.
5-year survival rates have reached close to 100% for certain forms of cancer including colon cancer.
Other diseases that are significantly mitigated include AIDS, Ebola, blindness, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, and more.
16. AI-Enabled Warfare Is Now Possible
For the past couple of decades, it’s been possible to fight an entire war using only fully autonomous robots and vehicles. But, capabilities have reached a new level.
A swarm of ten thousand drones can be deployed with a cost as little as $10 million.
An AI-controlled hypersonic missile can travel to the other side of the globe in two hours and out-maneuver conventional defensive systems.
Fully autonomous robots with near-perfect aim have replaced a high percentage of human soldiers in the major militaries around the world. No human with conventional weapons would stand a chance against these machines, which also have the ability to heal themselves using nanotechnology. For the most delicate missions, these robots can also be controlled by soldiers wearing virtual reality headsets in nearby locations.
Most of today’s jet fighters are fully autonomous as well. A combination of powerful AI, swarming behavior, hypersonic speed, and near-perfect target recognition systems enables near-instantaneous effects throughout combat areas.
Network-centric warfare and collision avoidance systems enable squadrons of autonomous aircraft to synchronize, attack from multiple directions, and regroup in seconds.
Due to their inhuman reaction times and improved weaponry, no human pilot would stand a chance against this type of enemy.
Even routine ground maintenance is done mostly by robots.
17. Light-Based Computer Chips Are Mainstream
In 2050, the majority of computer processors, storage devices, memory chips, graphics cards, and motherboards use a combination of both light and electricity to optimize performance for certain scenarios. The main advantage of light-based computer chips is that they are faster and more efficient for certain AI calculations. That’s because information can be encoded more efficiently in different wavelengths of light, and because controlling light requires less power than controlling the flow of electrons with transistors.
Technologies that process data using light include:
- Self-driving cars
- Advanced robots
- Quantum computers
- VR glasses
- Brain-computer interfaces
Light-based computer chips also provide the following advantages:
- They process neural networks that are several orders of magnitude larger than electricity-based chips can and they can process those neural networks millions of times more efficiently.
- They can carry out the mathematical computations needed for AI and machine learning at the speed of light. That’s up to 5 to 10 times faster than electricity-based AI chips.
- They use one-sixth of the power consumption of electricity-based chips.
- They’re less vulnerable to air temperature, electromagnetic fields, and other factors.
- And they can process multiple, complex AI algorithms at a time enabling considerably more complex actions in real-time.
Additionally, these chips are able to permanently store memory and data, which was difficult to accomplish three decades ago.
18. The Cost Of Energy Is Incredibly Cheap
By the early 2040s, much of the developed world and some developing countries are primarily powered by solar and wind. The cost of solar energy dropped 82% from 2010 to 2020, while the cost of wind energy dropped 46 percent. The costs of these energy sources are now one-quarter of the cost from the early 2020s.
One major reason for the lower energy costs is the growing usage of surplus energy generated by solar panels and wind turbines that would have otherwise been wasted. This surplus energy is stored and re-routed to be used for non-time-sensitive applications such as charging batteries of parked cars, removing salt from saltwater, waste recycling, and metal refining. Not only did the costs of energy drop, the costs for anything that relies on that energy dropped as well—that includes the cost of water, materials, manufacturing, and computation.
Continent-wide super grids are also starting to emerge. These super grids allow nations to share surplus clean energy from abundant sources and distribute it to the regions most in need. By cooperating in this way, it’s possible to greatly reduce waste and optimize power supplies on a continent-wide scale, at all times of the year.
Additionally, lithium-ion battery storage costs dropped 87% from 2010 to 2020 and it continued to drop afterward due to the massive production of batteries for electric vehicles.
Another positive to all of this is that using clean energy sources eliminates more than 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is by far the largest culprit of climate change.
19. Decentralized Autonomous Organizations Are Disrupting The Entertainment Industry
A Decentralized Autonomous Organization or DAO is a community-led entity with no central authority. It’s an organization that is governed entirely by its individual members who collectively make critical decisions about its future.
For many years, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations have disrupted multiple industries and that’s especially the case for the entertainment industry.
Since well before 2050, entire media properties similar to Star Wars and Harry Potter are comprised of organized systems of NFTs and partially owned by decentralized communities. Those communities control narratives, storylines, character development, character appearance, actor and actress selection, and so on. Some of these communities have millions of members. Voting mechanisms allow them to vote on factors of varying granularity as well.
Movies, video games, novels, comic books, and more related to those media properties are sold and financed by these communities. Celebrities and talented names in the entertainment industry have also endorsed this practice and taken part in it as well.
Although there was a rough start for several years, many of the products under these media properties are now at a higher quality level and even more enjoyable than what big, corporate studios are offering.
All of these data transactions take place on a blockchain. Web 4.0, like its predecessor Web 3.0, enables individuals to claim partial ownership of these media properties.
20. Most Digital Transactions Use Blockchain Technology
A blockchain is a shared database that allows multiple parties to access data and verify that data in real-time. Since the late-2030s, most digital transactions of all types have been on a blockchain. Blockchain technology has become a bedrock to society almost as much as electricity, the internet, and artificial intelligence.
- Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology. In 2050, the average person uses cryptocurrencies on a normal basis because of their ease to use, increased security, and protection against inflation.
- Data transfers between Earth and Mars are primarily conducted using blockchain technology. Investors on Earth can gain partial ownership of a water production facility on Mars. And content and apps made on Mars are able to go viral on Earth. It only takes 5 to 20 minutes for data to transmit between Mars and Earth, depending on their planetary positions around the sun.
- Blockchain technology is helping to combat deep fakes. That’s because every device with a camera is starting to gain the option to authenticate photos and videos and place them on the blockchain. Because of this, any photo or video loaded to a trusted website source must show its blockchain authentication.
- And in many countries, blockchain technology is ensuring that elections are more secure and transparent by assigning an id to each vote and easily keeping track of those votes.
The World In The Future (Entire Series):
- The World in 2030: Top 20 Future Technologies
- The World in 2040: Top 20 Future Technologies
- The World in 2050: Top 20 Future Technologies
- The World in 2060: Top 9 Future Technologies
- The World in 2070: Top 9 Future Technologies
- The World in 2080: Top 7 Future Technologies
- The World in 2090: Top 9 Future Technologies
- The World in 2100: Top 10 Future Technologies
- The World in 2200: Top 10 Future Technologies
- The World in 2300: Top 9 Future Technologies
- The World in 3000: Top 7 Future Technologies
- The World in 10,000 A.D.: Top 7 Future Technologies
- The World in a Million Years: Top 7 Future Technologies
- AI 2041: 10 Visions of Our Future: https://amzn.to/3bxWat6
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