When I tell people that I'm a technology futurist and a philosopher, the first thing they ask is "what's a technology futurist?"
I usually reply that I use current scientific research to imagine how we will live in the future. The very next question is always "So what are your top predictions for our future?"
I have talked extensively about my forecasts for the future but I have never written down a list of my top future forecasts until now. New years day seems like the perfect moment. These are my top 5 future forecasts for the World from 2014-2040.
1. Transhumanists will outnumber Christians by 2035.
By 2035, even if a majority of humans do not self-identify as Transhuman, technically they will be. If we define any bio-upgrade or human enhancement as Transhumanism, then the numbers are already quite high and growing more. According to a new market research study, the implantable medical devices market will grow at an annual compounded rate of 8 percent from 2012 to 2018. This includes re-constructive joint replacements, spinal implants, cardiovascular implants, dental implants, intraocular lens and breast implants. This does not factor in new and emerging technologies and innovations that are growing exponentially and geometrically.
The future will be filled with digital implants, mind controlled exoskeletal upgrades, age reversal pills, hyper-intelligence brain implants and bionic muscel upgrades. All of these technologies will literally make us more Transhuman.
Along with the rising rate of atheism, this will cause Transhumanism to overtake Christianity by 2035. Evolutionary psychologist, Dr. Nigel Barber, argues that "more educated countries have higher levels of non belief and there are strong correlations between atheism and intelligence."
Technology is accepted among religious and non-religious people around the world. There are roughly 2.2 billion Christians. The total world population is currently around 7 billion. According to a UN Telecom agency report, around 6 billion people have cell phones. This demonstrates the ubiquitous nature of technology. As human bio-enhancements become more affordable, billions of humans will become Transhuman regardless of religious beliefs.
2. HAPTIC WEARABLES will allow anyone to literally reach out and touch you.
One of my favorite future technologies is haptic wearables. The future will be filled with tactile feedback. From smart screens to wearable smart suits, haptic wearables will introduce a new form of intimacy in the digital realm. An innovation agency called Kwamecorp has already created a primary module called BOND that should demonstrate this point.
Imagine wearing your future SmartSuit (yes you will...and you'll wait in line for it) embedded with a very thin membrane of haptic micro skin stretch "nerves" and digital muscles. This "haptic skin" will not only sense and report stimuli, it will actually move! It could hug, squeeze and tickle the user. This would allow a connected remote friend or lover to send out a touch, and you would feel that touch in the suit. Imagine sending your friends, parents or lovers haptic hugs on birthdays and anniversaries. What a beautiful future!
3. ARTIFICIAL UTERUS to birth human baby by 2033.
The debate over ECTOGENESIS will heat up around 2020, once scientists are allowed to birth the first full term mammal inside an artificial uterus. It sounds like science fiction. However, Juntendo University researcher Yosinori Kuwabara and his team have kept goat fetuses growing for ten days and Cornell University's Dr. Hung-Ching Liu has engineered endometrial tissues by prompting cells to grow in an artificial uterus.
Japan may be the first country to allow the birth of a human in an artificial uterus. Japan is currently suffering from sekkusu shinai shokogun or “celibacy syndrome,” causing a serious population decline. The Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45 percent of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact" and the United Nations projects the Japanese population will fall to 108 million from the current 128 million by 2050.
The US is not immune to the decline in birth rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 2011 to 2012, births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old fell to 63 from 63.2. The US ranks 147th in birth rates out of 224 according to the CIA.
The key to this prediction is the correlation between education, poverty and birthrates. According to the Commission on Population and Development, higher levels of education, particularly among girls, has a strong correlation to declining fertility.
4. SMART PHONES replaced by augmented reality wearables by 2020.
In the near future, smart phones will fade into digital history as the high-resolution smart contact lens and corresponding in-ear audio plugs communicate with our wearable computers or "smart suits." The digital world will be displayed directly on our eye in stunning interactive augmented beauty. The Ghent University's Centre of Microsystems Technology in Belgium has recently developed a spherical curved LCD display that can be embedded in contact lenses. This allows the entire lens to display information.
The bridge to the smart contact starts with smart glasses. Wearable technologies are growing exponentially. New smart augmented glasses like Google Glass, RECON JET, METAPro , and Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses are just the beginning. In fact CastAR augmented 3D glasses recently received over a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. Their goal was only four hundred thousand. The market is ready for smart vision, and tech companies should move away from handheld devices if they want to compete.
The question of what is real and augmented will be irrelevant in the future. We will be able to create our own reality with clusters of information cults that can only see certain augmented information realities if you are in these groups. All information will be instantaneously available in the augmented visual future.
5. True age reversal in humans by 2025.
For the wealthy, reversing age will be common by 2025. It may be extraordinarily expensive and risky, but for people who want to turn back the clock, it will be worth it. According to a study published in Cell, Australian and US researchers have successfully reversed the aging process in the muscles of mice.
They found that raising nuclear NAD+ in old mice reverses pseudohypoxia and metabolic dysfunction. Researchers gave the mice a compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD for a week and found that the age indicators in two-year-old mice were restored to that of six-month-old mice. That would be like turning a 60 year-old human into a 20 year-old! They hope to test the compound in human trials in 2014.
How will our culture deal with age reversal? Will we want our 25 year-olds to age-reverse to pre-teens? Will we set limits on who can age-reverse? Do we ban criminals from this technology? These are the questions we will face in a very complex future. One thing is certain, age reversal will happen. Longevity will happen.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
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