Sunday, February 14, 2016

Life after a century

When you sit and think about 100 years ahead, the whole scene is hazy and vague. It is not practical to look that far into future with any precision whatsoever. How will life be in the 22nd century? What will all be the innovative technologies?  No one can certainly predict them. However, we can create a vague picture based on the present-day life, technologies and developments. I had already published an article on the same topic in the internet site, almost 10 years back and this is an improved version.
It is now commonly accepted that humans are growing taller. In a century the American average height grew by 2”. But there is no way to know whether this height increase will continue unabated. If so, after a millennium people will be 1’8” taller what they are today-which is highly improbable. How human body and gravity  react to the height change is yet to be seen.
Longevity is going to increase. Average life span has already reached 85 years in the advanced nations and it will, after a century, peak at 110 or more. There will be many who will be living beyond 120. Major killers of today-heart attacks, diabetes and cancer would become curable and preventable. Embedded and wearable biosensors will track our physiological metrics and hospitals will be less frequented except for operations or special procedures.
In the advanced nations, emphasize will probably be on super-intelligent and disease free kids. Genetic engineering and biotechnology would remove all traits of genetically transmitted afflictions and help bring more intelligent, healthy and better humans. There is a lot of research going on  to prolong human life. With Ray Kurzweil, I believe will man succeed in conquering ageing. In another century, perhaps, man will decide when he will die. We are already on the verge of synthesizing successful anti-cancer drugs. Creating effective immune drugs will be a great leap in the medical field.  It is thought that Nano robots will flow around our body, fixing cells, and they will be able to even record our memories! Now Nano-robots and non-technology are both fast growing and developing. Electronic immortality technology will be available at reasonable cost too.
Family structure will erode and very few women will opt for permanent marriage or child bearing. More will rent wombs or resort to artificial insemination (many couples are already opting for it). Marriages of convenience will be more sought after. As man is going to live beyond 100 years it is highly improbable to assume that a couple would stay that long together. Will marriage be replaced by annual contracts? The already weakened family-bonds are bound to erode further and there will be professional homes to bring up children. Gay marriage will increase and some scholars say 80% of all marriages will be gay –which looks too high an estimate. Gender discrimination is bound to close even in the most backward regions. 
Human population as per the present estimates will stabilize around 10 billion by 2050 and then gradually decline. Already there is a negative growth rate in the advanced nations. To feed 10 billion, man may resort to tapping oceans more and better methods of agriculture would be around. A revolution can be expected in food habits and food production. The elaborate cooking now seen commonly will be gone and ready-made-foods cooked in electronic bakeries will be in vogue.
All of us know there will be a communication revolution. Every nook and corner will access Internet using smartphone or other communication device rather than PCs. The world would have shrunk further. There are futurologists who think man will be able to communicate with each other though brain waves without seeing or hearing. Some sort of a telepathic communication will be highly probable. But as humans love physical contact, this development may not be accepted all that easily. Man will be using computers to make our brains work faster and more efficient. By the end of this century people, at least in the developed world, will use machine-augmentation of some sort. Picking up thoughts of one brain, recording and transmitting the same to another may become possible too.
Another safe bet seems to be in the area of space travel. There will definitely be a strong acceleration of space development and there will be organized vertical tours. As space travel is not going to be all that cheap only a select class will be able to enjoy them. There is also a thinking that science and technology will develop new ways for covering long distances and our present-day trains and air planes will give way to more sophisticated and faster models.
A few languages like English will become much more prominent and as link language. We will witness the gradual dying down of little spoken languages and linguistic communities. They are already dying. Perhaps Mandarin, French, German and Hindi may be around even after a century.
Solar energy would be used much more replacing conventional fossil-fuel based energy sources. Wind and tidal energy would be tapped too. Let us hope there comes a time when our roads and environment would be less polluted with solar powered automobiles, offices and homes.
No appreciable climate change is expected as this large earth has good resilient power to absorb minor changes in the content of its atmospheric gases. There will be neither a serious warming nor any flooding of low lying areas. The eco system will go on undisturbed. Some more species will go extinct and a few new ones discovered. We will have new technology to control whether: it is possible that man will be able to diffuse tornadoes and hurricanes and he will try to make rain where he wants.  Development in technologies like geo-engineering will protect humans against some of the adverse climatic natural calamities.
There will be a full rush to develop the artic area for commercial use: It should be possible to do so without damaging nature.  There will be tension as to who all will have the control over the region's resources and in finding equitable and sustainable ways to share them.
The chance for the emergence of a world government or a single currency is receding. There will be a further fragmentation of large nations. See how the former USSR has split up into so many! Now there is already a move to cede California from USA.  Richer regions don’t want to share their wealth with the poorer ones.  On a single world currency possibility, it is good to note that the trend is actually more in the opposite direction. The internet is enabling new forms of bartering and value exchange. Local currencies are also now used by several hundred communities across the US and Europe.
 Imaginative people predict the invention of water-fuelled engines and nuclear fusion the biggest inventions of all times!  It means that the price of water will probably rise and it will contribute to the development of high-technology machines and stronger satellites. Pilot-less aircraft, submarines and ships will be plying in their respective areas.

Will religions have the mad sway which they enjoy now in the underdeveloped nations and in countries like the US? In most of the developed world people are deserting religions and becoming atheists. In one hundred years, at the present rate of deserting religions, at least 50% of the world population will be atheists. Half of all people would still be clinging to some sort of a religious belief. As the religious roots can be traced to the very beginning of man’s evolution, and as human brains have been fully programmed into god-belief it will take a few more centuries for the total death of religions and their gods. 

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