The tech that will power the 22nd century

Main picture: The 22nd century will be about rather more than flying vehicles. Credit: Airbus

If predicting the future is dumb, then predicting advances in know-how is even dumber. Challenges will seem that we've by no means contemplated, and information we now maintain pricey will in lots of instances be confirmed false. The prediction recreation can quickly grow to be extra a mirrored image of 'us' in the 21st century fairly than 'them' in the 22nd century.

And but, as we enter a interval of hyper-adoption of latest know-how, we have now extra information than ever earlier than to provide us an concept of what the world might appear like in 100 years. And we all know one factor, it's that the future goes to be dwelling to some wonderful applied sciences.

Floating cities

By the 12 months 2100 the common temperature is projected to extend by a minimum of 1C. Cue rising sea ranges, which will threaten a whole lot of cities worldwide. One answer may very well be floating cities, which the Seasteading Institute has been making an attempt to encourage for years. It's already occurring in French Polynesia, the place Blue Frontiers is planning the Floating Island Project

Predicted sea-level rises might imply floating cities. Credit: Blue Frontiers

"I foresee huge floating cities that can move, join together, pull apart – that's the sort of future I see in a hundred years, not only because we will need to because environmental issues will become more severe, but because technology will make the ocean a lot more hospitable," says Paul Amstrong, founding father of future know-how consultancy Here/Forth.

He name-checks 4D printing and graphene as two of the applied sciences that will allow us to assemble these cities, and provides that plastic-digesting nano-bots may very well be used to wash up the oceans, even gobbling up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Humans will be more healthy for longer

Life expectancy for the United Nations-projected 11.2 billion individuals dwelling by 2100 could not enhance drastically, however older individuals will be more healthy.

"With ageing populations, medicine will get a lot better, because otherwise you will have a lot of sick people, which would be a massive burden," says Armstrong. “Expect personalised medication, from high-end genetic re-sequencing to bio-hacking and 'wetware', which remains to be in its infancy."

Brain-computer connections are already potential, though growing the software program and interfaces goes to take time. Another large pattern will be personalised medication; count on medi-pods in our houses that can diagnose issues, and implants that do the similar on the transfer. 

Airspace will open up 

Beyond each driverless vehicles and Amazon wanting to make use of drones to ship parcels, the far-flung future might have a totally new form of airspace.

At current, world airspace is managed in a inflexible 'airspace hall' approach, purely for the profit of economic and army plane, however that might change. "Global airspace could be managed in a continuously flexible and dynamic way for the benefit of all," says Robert Garbett, founder and CEO of Drone Major Group.

Today, drones. Tomorrow, driverless flying vehicles and taxis. Credit: Terrafugiua

Garbett forsees "an airspace populated with vertical columns used by aircraft making sub-space jumps, shifting geo-routes allowing passenger drones to pass safely at any altitude, and shifting geo-fences protecting manned routes and high-value assets". 

That form of dynamic use of airspace might result in an explosion in unmanned transport methods – drones. It might imply “driverless flying taxis in our sensible cities, and lowered accident response occasions by the use of driverless ambulances”, in accordance with Garbett, whereas additionally making touring to work a breeze by opening up rooftop drop-offs in built-up areas.

“The sky above us is an untapped sea of air that will have unimaginable worth as the drone trade expands,” Garbett provides.

Drinking water will be plentiful

We reside on a 'blue planet', however we’re in need of 'blue gold'. Droughts are on the enhance, and the place there’s drought, there are dams, and inevitable political battle. However, the potential water wars of the future may very well be averted if people have been capable of so one thing that sounds prefer it needs to be easy: drink the sea.

Desalination crops take away salt and minerals from water to make it drinkable, however getting seawater right into a plant is extremely energy-intensive. Cue a fossil fuel-free concept from New Mexico-based wave vitality firm Atmocean, which entails wave-harnessing pumps to get seawater ashore extra cost-effectively. Trialled off Peru a number of years in the past, the system additionally produces extra electrical energy.

One day we might all be consuming seawater. Credit: Atmocean

From consuming water to irrigation, aquaculture and greening the deserts, advances like this in desalination know-how might make a large distinction. The creation of micro-filtration utilizing graphene sieves also needs to permit so-called 'rest room to faucet' know-how to extract water from urine in houses. Gulp. 

Food will grow to be purposeful

"We know that how we produce food now is unsustainable, so in a hundred years we'll start to see a radically different way of feeding and farming," says Armstrong.

"Soon we'll be able to have a meal that is nutritionally sufficient – it's just about figuring out what the body needs, and listening to it," he says, including that nano-materials and nano-technology that can reside inside the physique will grow to be vital.

It's already occurring; in the US, the Food and Drug Administration simply permitted a digital pill embedded with a sensor that ship information to medical doctors detailing whether or not sufferers have taken their remedy. The similar might occur with meals in people and animals to introduce precision consumption. 

"Are we going to start eating grasshoppers and drinking protein shakes?" says Armstrong. "They could also be the solely choices, however I positively assume that individuals will wish to reside with out meals preparation, to allow them to spend their lives doing different issues.” 

AI will assist obtain nuclear fusion

Artificial intelligence is so over-hyped proper now that it's clearly a mirrored image of individuals's pathetic fears about 'robotic takeovers'. But AI and computing power are destined to grow to be the enablers for one thing 22nd society will want lots of: vitality.

Per capita vitality consumption is already rising so fast that we'll want a miracle to stop humanity from getting into a interval of energy-starved stasis. Is that miracle nuclear fusion?

"Fusion will certainly be an essential part of the energy mix by 2100, providing between 15% and 35% of global energy," says Jonathan Carling, CEO of Tokamak Energy, which is now testing its third fusion reactor.

Is nuclear fusion the miracle humanity wants? Credit: JET

"Our technology aims at small modular fusion power – but one module would produce sufficient power for a small city," Carling provides. "Fusion electricity into the grid can be achieved in less than 15 years' time by using new materials like high-temperature superconductors, new technologies like AI, and the agile development environment enabled by private investment."

AI is at present getting used to develop the all-important fashions of plasma physics, so that scientists can predict how reactions will work. Once we've cracked it, humanity will have low-carbon vitality perpetually.

The individuals issue

Can know-how clear up all of humanity's issues? It can, completely – however whether or not it will or not relies upon massively on whether or not people permit it to reside as much as its potential. What occurs in the future additionally largely will depend on discovering that what we all know now might be mistaken.

"Futurology is a risky game," says Dmitry Bagrov, MD of DataArt UK, who thinks that what could be actually be fascinating is to have the ability to journey to the future, so that we might journey again to see the current.

"A backwards time machine would depict our world now, as it actually is rather than the imagined present we live in," Bagrov provides, explaining that we have now but to grasp our context, and what’s actual and what’s not.

Nuclear fusion vessels are often donut-shaped. Credit: Tokamak Energy

"Think of all the deeply held, however mistaken, theories, that have existed over the years – the flat Earth, the four humours theory, the alchemists – and picture if we had a machine to indicate us all of this now." Much of what we predict we all know in the present day will, by the 12 months 2100, be thought of archaic pseudoscience. 

"Hopefully, the future will give us technology to truly understand the past so that we don’t repeat mistakes in the future … of the future," says Bagrov.

Time machines could also be past even 22nd century engineers, however don't underestimate the significance of a raft of upcoming know-how – some seemingly easy, some extremely advanced – will change the world.

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