The tech that can energy the 22nd century

    Essential picture: The 22nd century might be about rather more than flying vehicles. Credit score: Airbus

    If predicting the long run is dumb, then predicting advances in expertise is even dumber. Challenges will seem that we have by no means contemplated, and information we now maintain expensive will in lots of circumstances be confirmed false. The prediction sport can quickly change into extra a mirrored image of ‘us’ within the 21st century relatively than ‘them’ within the 22nd century.

    And but, as we enter a interval of hyper-adoption of recent expertise, we have now extra knowledge 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 is that the long run goes to be residence to some superb applied sciences.

    Floating cities

    By the 12 months 2100 the typical temperature is projected to extend by at the very least 1C. Cue rising sea ranges, which can threaten a whole lot of cities worldwide. One resolution might be floating cities, which the Seasteading Institute has been attempting to encourage for years. It is already occurring in French Polynesia, the place Blue Frontiers is planning the Floating Island Project

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

    (Picture: © Blue Frontiers)

    “I foresee big floating cities that may transfer, be part of collectively, pull aside – that is the kind of future I see in 100 years, not solely as a result of we might want to as a result of environmental points will change into extra extreme, however as a result of expertise will make the ocean much more hospitable,” says Paul Amstrong, founding father of future expertise consultancy Here/Forth.

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

    People might be more healthy for longer

    Life expectancy for the United Nations-projected 11.2 billion folks dwelling by 2100 could not improve drastically, however older folks might be more healthy.

    “With ageing populations, drugs will get quite a bit higher, as a result of in any other case you should have quite a lot of sick folks, which might be an enormous burden,” says Armstrong. “Count on personalised drugs, from high-end genetic re-sequencing to bio-hacking and ‘wetware’, which remains to be in its infancy.”

    Brain-computer connections are already attainable, though creating the software program and interfaces goes to take time. One other huge pattern might be personalised drugs; count on medi-pods in our houses that may diagnose issues, and implants that do the identical on the transfer. 

    Airspace will open up 

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

    At current, world airspace is managed in a inflexible ‘airspace hall’ method, purely for the good thing about business and navy plane, however that would change. “World airspace might be managed in a constantly versatile and dynamic method for the good thing about all,” says Robert Garbett, founder and CEO of Drone Major Group.

    In the present day, drones. Tomorrow, driverless flying vehicles and taxis. Credit score: Terrafugiua

    Garbett forsees “an airspace populated with vertical columns utilized by plane making sub-space jumps, shifting geo-routes permitting passenger drones to go safely at any altitude, and shifting geo-fences defending manned routes and high-value belongings”. 

    That type of dynamic use of airspace might result in an explosion in unmanned transport programs – drones. It might imply “driverless flying taxis in our sensible cities, and decreased accident response occasions by way of the usage of driverless ambulances”, in line 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 can have unbelievable worth because the drone business expands,” Garbett provides.

    Consuming water might be plentiful

    We reside on a ‘blue planet’, however we’re wanting ‘blue gold’. Droughts are on the rise, and the place there’s drought, there are dams, and inevitable political battle. Nonetheless, the potential water wars of the long run might be averted if people had been in a position to so one thing that sounds prefer it needs to be easy: drink the ocean.

    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 power firm Atmocean, which includes wave-harnessing pumps to get seawater ashore extra cost-effectively. Trialled off Peru just a few years in the past, the system additionally produces extra electrical energy.

    Someday we might all be consuming seawater. Credit score: Atmocean

    (Picture: © Atmocean)

    From consuming water to irrigation, aquaculture and greening the deserts, advances like this in desalination expertise might make an enormous distinction. The creation of micro-filtration utilizing graphene sieves must also permit so-called ‘rest room to faucet’ expertise to extract water from urine in houses. Gulp. 

    Meals will change into practical

    “We all know that how we produce meals now’s unsustainable, so in 100 years we’ll begin to see a radically totally different method of feeding and farming,” says Armstrong.

    “Quickly we’ll be capable of have a meal that’s nutritionally ample – it is nearly determining what the physique wants, and listening to it,” he says, including that nano-materials and nano-technology that may reside contained in the physique will change into essential.

    It is already occurring; within the US, the Meals and Drug Administration simply accepted a digital pill embedded with a sensor that ship knowledge to medical doctors detailing whether or not sufferers have taken their medicine. The identical might occur with meals in people and animals to introduce precision consumption. 

    “Are we going to begin consuming grasshoppers and consuming protein shakes?” says Armstrong. “They would be the solely choices, however I positively assume that folks will need to reside with out meals preparation, to allow them to spend their lives doing different issues.” 

    AI will assist obtain nuclear fusion

    Synthetic intelligence is so over-hyped proper now that it is clearly a mirrored image of individuals’s pathetic fears about ‘robotic takeovers’. However AI and computing energy are destined to change into the enablers for one thing 22nd society will want quite a lot of: power.

    Per capita power 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 definitely be a vital a part of the power combine by 2100, offering between 15% and 35% of worldwide power,” says Jonathan Carling, CEO of Tokamak Energy, which is now testing its third fusion reactor.

    Is nuclear fusion the miracle humanity wants? Credit score: JET

    (Picture: © JET)

    “Our expertise goals at small modular fusion energy – however one module would produce ample energy for a small metropolis,” Carling provides. “Fusion electrical energy into the grid could be achieved in lower than 15 years’ time through the use of new supplies like high-temperature superconductors, new applied sciences like AI, and the agile growth surroundings enabled by personal funding.”

    AI is at present getting used to develop the all-important fashions of plasma physics, in order that scientists can predict how reactions will work. As soon as we have cracked it, humanity may have low-carbon power ceaselessly.

    The folks issue

    Can expertise remedy all of humanity’s issues? It can, completely – however whether or not it’ll or not relies upon massively on whether or not people permit it to reside as much as its potential. What occurs sooner or later additionally largely relies on discovering that what we all know now might be mistaken.

    “Futurology is a dangerous sport,” 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 long run, in order that we might journey again to see the current.

    “A backwards time machine would depict our world now, because it truly is relatively than the imagined current we reside in,” Bagrov provides, explaining that we have now but to know our context, and what’s actual and what’s not.

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

    (Picture: © Tokamak Vitality)

    “Consider all of the deeply held, however mistaken, theories, which have existed over time – the flat Earth, the four humours theory, the alchemists – and picture if we had a machine to indicate us all of this now.” A lot of what we predict we all know right this moment will, by the 12 months 2100, be thought-about archaic pseudoscience. 

    “Hopefully, the long run will give us expertise to actually perceive the previous in order that we don’t repeat errors sooner or later … of the long run,” says Bagrov.

    Time machines could also be past even 22nd century engineers, however do not underestimate the significance of a raft of upcoming expertise – some seemingly easy, some extremely advanced – will change the world.

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