Visions of the future come in all kinds of forms, from sustainable solarpunk utopias to industrial cyberpunk dystopias. Whether you believe in one or the other probably says a lot more about yourself and your own levels of optimism.
But we do know the future will be different in a lot of ways. I mean, just think about how much our lives have changed in the last 20 years. But what if we projected that amount of change out 80 years? To the end of the century.
What will the world be like in 2100?
It’s impossible to know, obviously, just predicting the next 5 years is a fool’s errand. So just imagine the kind of fool trying to look ahead 80 years. Me. I’m this fool.
But along the way, we’ll look back at predictions of today from the past, see what we can learn from what they got right and wrong, and apply that going forward.
We really did our best when looking at this to take our own biases out of it and just look at the facts, the long-term trends, while considering the social and economic factors at play. This is a realistic look. Not good or bad but just playing the odds.
So, let’s time travel to 2100 and see what things look like there.
So before we look into the future, let’s look into the past and see what they predicted about the world of today.
And what I wanted to do was see if I could find the oldest prediction ever made of the year 2000. Seemed like a nice round number, it’s the end of the millennium, I thought surely people had been making predictions about it from hundreds of years ago. It seems I was wrong.
My writer, Jason and I both looked all over for early predictions of the future and there’s really not much before the mid 1800s. If anybody know of something that I missed, please by all means share it in the comments because I’m super curious.
We couldn’t find any writings from scientists that specifically predicted anything, I thought for sure there would be some literature and novels set in the far future but sci fi as a genre pretty much didn’t exist before the early 1800s.
Many people consider Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to be the first science fiction novel and that came out in 1830. Now, that’s up for debate, but before the mid-1800s, people didn’t really think about the future as this drastically different place where people lived lives we couldn’t imagine with impossible technology.
And again, I’ll make that argument about how much the world changed in the 1800s, that before then people didn’t live that much differently than they had 100’s of years prior, but by 1900, people were driving cars and making phone calls and working alongside machines in giant factories.
It’s no surprise that this is when science fiction first showed up, because for the first time, people could see technological progress happen right before their eyes. And then project that progress forward and imagine a different world in the future.
And one of the earliest science fiction authors to do that was Jules Verne.
Jules Verne was a 19th-century author whose famous classic novels include Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas.
But he also wrote a book in 1863 that went unpublished. It was his second book, and his publisher refused to print it because he felt it was too grim.
It would later get rediscovered and published but that wasn’t until 1994.
It’s called Paris in the Twentieth Century, and as the name suggests, it’s set in Paris, in the year 1960. So, he was thinking 100 years out.
And get this: It’s eerily accurate.
For example, it includes things like:
- the expansion of suburban living
- synthesizer-based electronic music with a record industry to sell it
- skyscrapers illuminated all night
- gas-powered cars along with filling stations and asphalt roads
- advanced forms of public transit like subways and elevated trains
- fax machines
- a basic internet
- like system
- and career women
Obviously not all of that was around in 1963, but we eventually got there. So how did he manage to get so many things right?
It wasn’t because he had some prophetic vision of the future, he was a nerd, who read scientific publications and kept up with technological developments. He would then infer applications for these discoveries, and extrapolate from there.
Sounds like ol’ Verne was one of our people.
But even his story was set in the 1960s, it really wasn’t until the year 1900 that we really start seeing a lot of predictions for the year 2000.
And that makes sense, they just crossed into a new century and the last century saw so many changes, of course they were thinking about where things would go from there. But many of them weren’t quite as analytical as Jules Verne.
For example, in 1900, the Ladies’ Home Journal published 28 predictions for the year 2000. Some of these predictions include:
- There will be no wild animals, and rats and mice will have been exterminated. R.I.P. Pizza Rat.
- Everyone will walk 10 miles a day. And if you can’t walk 10 miles, then you’d be considered a weakling.
- The letters C, X, and Q will disappear from our alphabet because they’ll become unnecessary.
The magazine did get some things right. Like, ready-cook meals would be widely available, telephones around the world, and hot and cold air from spigots.
Other predictions envisioned everything from dissolvable dishes to clothes made out of aluminum to car shoes.
There’s also hope that diseases are cured or eradicated. People were generally optimistic about future humans being way healthier.
Another interesting thing from that Ladies Home Journal article, it said that Americans would be two inches taller and because of the better living in the suburbs, they would live to 50 years old instead of 35. I had to go back and check that but yes, that’s what they said. I’m pretty sure people were living past 35 in 1900, so I don’t know what that was about.
Across the pond in 1900, a German chocolate company called Hildebrands commissioned a set of postcards depicting the year 2000. They’d put these postcards in with their chocolate bars as a little extra something but these predicted people traveling in personal airships, giant roofs over cities, and weather-changing machines. But it also predicted being able to watch a theater performance from somewhere else, moving sidewalks, and mobile homes.
These were… different than how they actually came about but still.
There’s also the set of postcards commissioned for the Paris World Fair that depicted life in the year 2000. They were created by Jacques de Cotere were ultimately 87 of them, and they
They were created by Jean-Marc Côté and ultimately 87 of them would be made, predicting a lot of flying, underwater travel on a whale bus, and kids at school just getting the info zapped into their brain.
These are easy to laugh at now, but it reflects where things were going for them. They saw increased automation, flying advancements happening and started thinking about what that would look like if we figured that out.
There were also a lot of predictions about underwater travel and living underwater. I don’t know, I just found that interesting.
Jumping ahead to 1964, The New York Times ran a story with predictions about the year 2000.
One of the sections talks about the future problem of leisure. The paper wrote:
“We may not anticipate the emergence of a leisure class, but we may with assurance anticipate the coming of the day when almost everyone enjoys ‐ or groans under ‐ the possession of leisure.”
The paper questioned what Americans would do if they could only work 25 or 30 hours a week, or if they were not allowed to work until they were 21. And what if they had to retire at 50?
Although recently there has been a lot of talk about 4-day work weeks in some companies so maybe we’re getting there.
But a lot of past predictions thought we’d be way healthier than we are today. Many of them almost made us sound like superbeings with incredible strength that never age. And while if you look at bodybuilders from 1900 and 2000 you can see we’ve definitely pushed the boundaries of human performance. But where they had under consumption, we hae over consumption, and all the health issues that come along with that.
Also in 1966, the BBC interviewed a bunch of kids and teenagers to see what they thought the world would be like in the year 2000…
Yeah, the zoomers aren’t the first generation to have an existential threat hanging over their heads.
But this kinda brings me to the overall point, which is predictions on the future are really more about the time period when they are made than they were about the future. Like this prediction of the year 2000 in 1995:
That… didn’t happen? No? No.
Like in the 50s, everything was about atomic energy, it was the “atomic age,” so when they predicted the future they saw everything being run by atomic energy.
Southland magazine even wrote an article predicting how crops would grow taller thanks to the positive effects of the H-bomb. In it, a fictionalized farmer said,
“… you’d be surprised what that bombing did for the soil. Things grow like crazy; and the robot doesn’t mind a bit sowing the seeds and keeping the place up.”
H-Bombs and robots, what more could you want?
In the 1960s, computers and space travel predictions were popular.
Writer Arthur C. Clarke even foresaw remote working. In a video from 1964, he said that in the year 2000, men will no longer commute; they will communicate.
He also said: “We could be in instant contact with each other, wherever we may be, where we can contact our friends anywhere on earth, even if we don’t know their actual physical location. It will be possible in that age, perhaps only 50 years from now, for a man to conduct his business from Tahiti or Bali just as well as he could from London…”
I mean… Not too shabby.
So let’s look at some current predictions about the end of the century, and I’ll give you my take on them. And I’m going to try to approach it like Arthur C Clarke and Jules Verne, you know, be analytical about it. And not just make it about trendy stuff today but the long-term trends. And if I’m lucky maybe it’ll be reasonably accurate.
And if I’m wrong then, well… I won’t be around for people to make fun of me. Unless some really crazy stuff happens.
So I’ve broken these down into different lenses that reflect the things that will affect how we live our lives in the future, and you guys can feel free to agree or disagree down in the comments, I think there will actually be some fun discussions down there. Let’s start with communications.
Like what does the internet look like in the year 2100? I mean the amount of change we’ve seen in just the last 30 years is insane. To the point that I ran across this TikTok the other day…
Now I’m not sharing that to make fun or to stir up generational hate or anything, the reason this comment stuck out to me was because I catch myself thinking that sometimes, and I was there, I grew up without the internet.
For the internet to go in only 20 years from being this thing that’s on your computer that you only check every once in a while or do your work on to this thing that is in your pocket every minute of every day, providing you with all the information available in human history at all times.
So integrated into every aspect of our lives that we seriously don’t know how to exist without it… I think it’s safe to assume the trend is toward more immersion.
In the immediate future, as I’ve said before, I think that leads to things like virtual and augmented reality through things like smart glasses.
But there’s another kind of immersion that the internet has created, one where we’re becoming immersed in opinions… and perspectives.
That’s kind-of what the internet is, it’s a giant superorganism of people, each with their own views on the world, which we’ve been sharing more and more.
We found an article on a site called Future Business Tech, which, they have a YouTube channel, if you want to go check it out, but they envision a future where the internet basically becomes a global hive mind where every human thought and feeling is available to access 24/7.
Also one where you can construct your own virtual reality based off your own brain data. Like imagine the way personalized ads work now, in the future you might be able to build personalized realities. As if we weren’t fractured enough.
Although, it could allow for even deeper understanding of other people. Because if you were able to actually tap in to another person’s emotions, actually feel what they feel about something, it might make you a lot more empathetic towards that person.
Like we have that phrase, “Always remember that every person you meet is fighting a battle that you don’t know about,” and that is an important piece of wisdom to keep in mind, but what if you didn’t need to keep it in mind because you could feel it for yourself?
Of course the downside there is that some people are lunatics. And some of the things that people “feel” is hatred. So this might be something that makes it easier to spread hate. And it will be used that way.
Of course if we have the ability to access thoughts and emotions, we’d probably be able to download skills and knowledge directly into the brain.
They might look back at smart phones in the future the way we look at the telegraph now. Like, yeah, people were able to communicate, but it was really clunky and weird. They might be like, “how did anybody understand each other when they couldn’t just telepathically share their thoughts with each other?”
Now of course all of those scenarios are only possible if we figure out how to interface directly with the brain, and I know what you’re all thinking… But I actually don’t think it’s going to be Neuralink.
I’m not trying to be anti-Neuralink, I actually defend Neuralink, I think they could be a real game changer for disabled people to give them accessibility, but I don’t think they’re going to be embraced by the general public.
Not if a non-invasive brain interface comes along, which I think AI could make possible.
So like scientists have been able to read brain waves for decades and we’ve learned a lot of general things about different parts of the brain this way. The problem is we’ve never been able to actually discern specific thoughts and memories because there’s just way too much noise in the signal.
But AI, with its infinitely better pattern recognition, could do just that. And this isn’t me making some wild prediction about the future. They’re doing that right now.
This was an article that came out last March in the Journal Science. In the article they talk about a team in Japan who trained an AI on four patients’ brain scans and then showed them images like a clock tower or a teddy bear or a train and the AI was able to figure out what they were looking at and recreate it with stunning accuracy.
Now, granted they had to do hundreds of fMRI scans and the images were created with Stable Diffusion so it’s more of an approximation that probably got it wrong way more than it got right, but of course we’re seeing the right ones but still.
With AI being able to read through the noise, it’s possible that we might have some kind of cap that we can wear that will be able to not just read what’s going on in there but with targeted trans-cranial stimulation actually input images, sounds, memories, feelings.
If we could do that non invasively, I think that’s what will take off far more than getting a brain implant – again, unless it’s related to a disability.
But, you might be saying, “then everybody would have to wear a cap all the time and nobody’s going to want to do that.” I think you’re wrong.
We are living in a very hatless time compared to the rest of history, it has been the norm to wear hats far more than it hasn’t been so yeah, I can see them coming back into fashion, especially if it gave you access to the all-encompassing global hive mind that you need to survive… It’ll be different.
All right, let’s talk about transportation. I’m going to start with a bold prediction… No flying cars.
I’m sorry, I’ve been hearing that promise my entire life and we’re still nowhere near it so yeah, I’m calling it. It’s dead. No flying cars.
And by that I mean cars you can drive out of your garage and it one way or another takes to the sky, I don’t see that. Now I do imagine air taxis like personal drones that can fly you from point to point, almost like rich people have chartered helicopters today, but everyone’s personal flying car? Yeah, I don’t think it’s happening.
Nor do I think that there will be flying vehicles powered by some kind of fantastical hover technology like you see in Back to the Future Part 2 and The Fifth Element, or Star Wars for that matter. That would require the discovery of some new exotic form of energy or gravity manipulation that we can’t even fathom right now. Now that discovery might be made in the next 80 years but implementing it to the point that everybody’s flying around on hoverboards? No. It might happen in the far future but I don’t see it in this century.
Which sucks, I know, the whole levitating car thing is such a sci-fi convention, I feel like we love the idea so much we’ll eventually figure it out. If we were talking about the year 2200 I might give it a maybe.
But I do think cars will still be the dominant form of transportation, but in 2100 most of them will be electric. Like fuel-burning cars will be a niche item at that point.
Like, is someone in the year 2100 going to want to drive a 1972 Plymouth Barracuda? Yes, of course someone will because it’s a badass car. But I imagine electric cars will be cheaper in every way by then, cheaper to buy, cheaper to fuel, will probably get over 1000 miles per charge on solid state batteries, and there will probably be extra taxes levied on fossil fuel use.
And while I really want more walkable cities and mass transit, I think we’re still going to be stuck on cars in the year 2100. And I do think autonomous cars will eventually be a thing. It’ll take way longer than we think but I think the economic forces behind it will make it happen.
I should specify, it’s kinda hard to predict transportation in 80 years when transportation norms are so different in different places of the world today. Obviously I’m thinking of the US, we are a very car-centric country, it’s such a part of our identity, I don’t see them ever fully going away.
I think for a lot of us here cars really are an expression of freedom. If you don’t have a car you have to wait for a cab or a bus or a train, you’re on their schedule. With a car, you wait for nobody. You can go anywhere you want at any time. I think for most Americans that’s pretty important.
Not to mention we kinda treat our cars like mini homes, we keep our things in there, we eat in them, sneak away and take a nap in them sometimes.
But I do think with automation, cab rides will be so ubiquitous and cheap, a lot more people might be inclined to go that route. And… I know this will sound crazy, but it might help spur on more high speed rail between cities.
Because the biggest problem rail is the last mile problem. Well if you have a fleet of robotaxis that can get you from the station to your home, you might decide you don’t need that car after all.
There are several high speed rail projects in the works right now in the US, one of them here in Texas to connect Dallas to Houston. It’s been slow going but it is still going, so that’s something.
So I think that by 2100, cars will be almost entirely electric and autonomous, which might lead to less car ownership, but I still think it’ll be the dominant form of transportation. I think air taxis will be a thing but won’t take over the skies, and planes… Planes could go in a couple of different directions.
Planes are particularly difficult to electrify, because batteries are heavy, and normal planes lose mass along the way because they’re burning jet fuel. This makes them more efficient.
So if planes are going to be fully electrified, I think we might see a lot more smaller planes that only carry small amounts of passengers but are designed for efficiency like the Celera 500L, which I covered a while back.
By the way, at the end of this last year they announced the Celera 800 that they’re developing and it looks like it’s supersonic? And super-laminar. Well consider me super interested.
By the way, For the reasons I just mentioned, I could see hydrogen and Ammonia being good fuel sources for electric aviation because the plane would lose weight throughout the flight as it used up the fuel. Might be better than batteries because they don’t get lighter as the electricity comes out.
So airplanes could go that way, a whole lot more of them but also smaller and greener, which does have its own drawbacks like it would overtax our already overtaxed air traffic controllers and more infrastructure would be needed to handle more planes, more planes landing on runways means more runway repair, and not to even mention pilots… Honestly these planes would need to be autonomous, there’s no way there’s enough pilots for all of them.
But anyway, that’s one way, the other way is for plane travel to be relatively the same as it is now, but much more efficient. Maybe still using jet fuel but with hybrid electric engines.
There were actually two big announcements in 2023, one from MIT and one from a company called Duxion, claiming to have built electric jet engines.
So maybe by 2100 we’ll have figured out how to run the planes on hybrid electric and net zero carbon fuel – possibly made from recaptured carbon from the atmosphere.
In a Popular Mechanics article from 2018, they made some predictions about the future of transportation.
They predicted autonomous cars and trucks and said it would lead to less traffic and fewer accidents.
They suggested that most good will be delivered by drones or pneumatic tubes… Dunno about that.
They also said there might be fewer goods going around in general because we’d be able to 3D print whatever we wanted. I don’t know how I feel about that one. I’ll be honest, I thought 3D printing would have become a lot more popular by now and the fact that it hasn’t makes me wonder if there’s something inherent about the way we currently shop for things that might not ever go away. I dunno, what do you think?
This article did mention the possibility of flying cars, but thought that the future would lean more toward autonomous cars. Though they suggested autonomous personal drones flying people around might be commonplace. After all, we’re already kind of there with airplanes.
As Flying Magazine’s Stephen Pope told Popular Mechanics:
“Creating future autonomous aircraft is actually much easier than doing autonomous cars because there is less of a worry of running into anything in the sky. Eventually we’ll get to the point where pilots aren’t needed at all.”
Now another future transportation option that you might be thinking about is for point to point travel like SpaceX announced for Starship… I don’t know, I don’t see it.
I mean, all of these launch and land sites would need to be far from a city for noise reasons, so by the time you have to travel out to the site and endure security and all that, you might not be saving that much time. Unless it’s like an “other side of the world” thing. And I don’t know if it’s a big enough market to support it.
I don’t know, I think it’ll be technically feasible., and I think someone will try it. Somebody else if not SpaceX, but I feel like it’s going to go the way of the Concorde, something that we can do but we just never get it right. Not by 2100 anyway.
I know there will be many naysayers on this. That’s fine. Nay away down below.
But, that is a good segue to the next lens that we can look at 2100 through and that’s space travel.
According to Interesting Engineering, Low Earth Orbit Habitats may be common, writing:
“These habitats will consist of pinwheel stations, O’Neil Cylinders, or both. They will rotate to provide artificial gravity, have functioning biomes that act as regenerative life support systems (RLSS), and accommodate tourists, research facilities, workers, and residents.”
Okay, I do think that traveling to space is going to be fairly common by the year 2100. I think there will be multiple destinations like space hotels, I think there will be multiple space labs and microgravity manufacturing facilities in space, and maybe… Maybe some kind of spinning artificial gravity space station.
Things like O’Neil cylinders and people permanently living in space… I’m shaky on that one.
Like if I’m being honest, my own criteria kinda breaks down on this because if you do go by long-term trends… there’s only been a handful of space stations in the last 50 years, most of them have been really small, Skylab, Salyut, Mir and whatnot.
But, that is quickly changing. When China sent Tiangong up in 2021, for the first time we had two long-term space stations in orbit at once. And last year in 2023, we actually had the most people ever in space at the same time, at 17 people between the two space stations.
Although, actually, technically, the most number of people in space was 19, and it only lasted for a few minutes on December 11, 2021 when there were 10 people on the ISS, three people on Tiangong, and then Blue Origin put 6 people above the Karman line in the New Shepherd. Shut up, it counts.
And on top of the two, count’em, TWO stations that we currently have up in space, there are multiple private space stations and labs in development from people like Axiom Space, Orbital Reef, which is Blue Origin and Sierra Space, Starlab – which is Lockheed Martin and Nanoracks, and India’s building their own space station.
Not to mention Lunar Gateway is technically a space station around the moon, and then you have people like Above Space with their Prometheus project that’s kind-of under the radar.
And there’s other, more pie-in-the-sky concepts, but, with massive, reusable rockets like Starship, New Glenn, and Neutron on the horizon, the cost of putting huge space station modules in orbit will become a lot more feasible.
I imagine by the 2040s we’ll think nothing at all of there being 7 or 8 space stations in orbit, 30 or 40 people at a time in space, but space tourism will still be for the ultra rich.
But assuming the economics pan out and reusability brings down the cost of going to space, I could see going to space as being a bucket list thing by the year 2100. Something really expensive, but not out of reach for most people. With dozens of space stations where people live and work, maybe even media studios.
The Interesting Engineering article also says a space elevator could be developed as soon as the 2050s. And not just one but three located along the equator.
I covered the space elevator on here a long time ago, and of course I love the idea, but I’ve gotta be honest as time has gone on, I’ve become less and less convinced it’ll happen.
I don’t want to derail this whole video by going into why, but let’s just say I think by 2100 we’ll have spaceflight cheap enough that it will make the expense and risk of building a space elevator kind-of pointless. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I do put the probabilities fairly low.
And the article says that we’ll have permanent settlements on the Moon and Mars by 2100. So, I know I’m sounding really negative compared to this article, but I think if we do have permanent bases on the moon and Mars they will be really small, even by 2100.
It’s not that I don’t think we can do it, this is one of those, “I know we will be technically capable of doing this, but I don’t know if the economics will work out. I think we will have landed on Mars by 2100, but again, it’s the economics of it that I could see not working out.
For both Mars and the moon, if there is not an economic benefit, it will struggle and take way longer than we think it should. If we can find a resource of some kind that we can exploit at a profit, then absolutely we’ll be all over both places. If not, by 2100 they might look at the Mars missions the way we look at Apollo, as this amazing, inspirational thing we did that time.
So, being conservative, I think by 2100 people will shuttle back and forth to space stations on a regular basis, maybe weekly or more, with hundreds of people in space at a time, but it’s still not something everybody can afford to do. And we may have small outposts on Mars and the moon. And I think manufacturing in space will be big business.
SOCIETY AND POPULATION
Of course, this brings up concerns around resources, which are understandable, but I think… and bear with me on this… that the big population anxiety in the year 2100 will be that it’s not growing enough.
Let me explain…
If you look at this chart from the UN Population Division, you can see that most experts predict the birth rate to decline and population to level off in the 2070s and 2080s. This is because as more people get access to advanced medicine, birth rates go down because people have access to birth control and family planning. So it’s expected that by the time 2100 comes around, the growth rate will be in the negative.
That sounds like a good thing, again, because of limited resources but economically – there’s that word again – it’s kinda bad.
When you have fewer people entering the workforce supporting a larger aging population, it puts some serious constraints on the economy. That’s something Japan’s dealing with right now.
In fact in September of last year, CNN quoted Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida saying that Japan is “on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions.”
Some people talk about the prospect of negative growth in almost doomsday terms, like global economic collapse. And I don’t know if it’s going to come to that but when the growth rate does hit zero, it will be the very first time in the history of our species – outside of weird genetic bottlenecks that we still don’t understand – that the population of humans on this planet has gone down. It will be a very big deal.
But Joe, you may be saying, “You keep talking about how the economy will affect all these things, well what if we’re using a different economic model, like a post-scarcity society…”
SURE LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT.
If you subscribe to Generational Theory like I talked about on my video on accelerationism then you believe that history works in cycles of big crisis periods, every 80 years or so, one of which we are approaching if not in right now.
Which means 2100 will be the next crisis point.
Now whether or not you believe in this theory, and I have my criticisms of it, you have to admit that capitalism seems to have a pattern of blowing itself up.
I mean during the industrial revolution capitalism was completely out of control, working conditions were dangerous and people lived in company towns that gouged them to the point they would be permanently endebted to the company, striking workers were mowed down in the streets by the national guard, people were living in some of the worst conditions in human history.
And yeah, there was a backlash. It was called Communism.
Today, we’re living in what often gets called Late Stage Capitalism, where once again everything feels unsustainable, and I imagine we could see a backlash of some kind in the next 20 years or so.
What that looks like is anyone’s guess, in the US we didn’t fall to communism but we did bust up monopolies, strengthen unions and enacted social reforms during that time.
So it’s possible we go through a phase like that again, but I don’t know if we actually create a new post-capitalist economy – not yet.
Toward the second half of the century, I think the advancements in autonomous robotics will start to have a very real effect on employment at the same time that the world population is leveling off. And this is when I think they really are going to have to come up with something completely different.
So my bet is in the couple decades before the end of the century, there will need to be an entirely new economic model of some kind. Maybe digital currencies and credit systems? I don’t know. But it’s going to be difficult.
Okay, a couple of quick angles, let’s talk about energy.
Yes, I think we’ll crack nuclear fusion by then. And so does futurologist Ian Pearson
As Pearson said in a BBC.com article in 2012:
“This is likely by 2045-2050 and almost certain by 2100. It’s widely predicted that we will achieve this. What difference it makes will depend on what other energy technologies we have. We might also see a growth in shale gas or massive solar energy facilities. I don’t think that wind power will be around.”
What’s wrong with wind, Ian?
So, I do think we’ll have wind, but when it comes to fusion, again, it’s the economics of it I’m not sure about.
I mean if the only way to do it is by building a 20 billion dollar reactor, and solar and battery storage continues to get cheaper, it’s going to make more sense for people to do that.
Hell we might be able to do space solar capture and bounce it down to stations on Earth in microwave beams for baseload power.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that renewables could make up 65 percent of the energy sector by 2030 and up to 90 percent by 2050.
That sounds pretty aggressive to me but the general trend is more toward renewables than fossil fuels and I feel pretty sure that fossil fuels will be much more niche in 2100, if they’re still being used at all.
In 2100 the average life span should be well into the 80s and we may be able to extend life to 130 years. According to some medical predictions I found.
Which by the way will only add to that population decline problem.
I like the idea that we could have bespoke treatments where a doctor diagnoses your problem and then through gene editing and protein folding a machine can just create a treatment specific for your condition.
Or, if aging is caused by epigenetic damage to your genome, maybe a doctor can pull out your genome, essentially clean it up with CRISPR and then put it back into you with a viral vector and undo all the aging damage you’ve accumulated.
And the big question, of course, is will we cure cancer? And yes, I think we will cure most of them at least. Keeping in mind that cancer is not one disease, it’s literally dozens of different kinds of disease and we’re actually curing new kinds of cancer all the time. And hopefully by then we’ll have most of them licked.
And the last lens that we can look at the future through I’ve saved to the end because depending on how this goes, it could invalidate every single thing I’ve said in this video.
All right, do I think that we’ll reach AGI by the year 2100 – yes, I do. In fact, I think it’ll happen before 2050.
And some of you may think even that is absurdly conservative considering the pace of change lately, and you might be right, but I’m thinking it might be like what we’re seeing in autonomous cars, that going from 99.9 to 100% is harder than getting to 99.9%.
So to get to where your computer or your device has the same mental capabilities as a human being, where your computer or phone could be a literal partner with you, I’m thinking that could take some time.
Next question, do I think that artificial superintelligence will be a thing by 2100? Yes, yes I do. And I think it will happen pretty soon after AGI happens.
And if it does happen… Well this is where all my predictions break down because it’s anybody’s guess at that point.
What a superintelligent AI could think of is literally outside our ability to comprehend. It is simultaneously like a god and like an alien life form.
Maybe we can have cheap fusion power, because the AI figured it out? Maybe we can build space elevators and colonize the solar system and have flying cars and cure cancer, and fix the economy, all the things I had objections to in this video could be figured out by this omniscient being who just takes care of us while we just become its pets
Or… it could wipe us all out. I’m just saying it could go in different directions.
A lot of predications address A.I. and robots and how they’ll take over our daily lives.
Maybe that’s a good thing. According to Liselotte Lyngsø, founding partner of Copenhagen-based consultancy Future Navigator, humans could then focus their energy on problems that computers can’t solve.
As she told Fast Company in 2018:
“The machines will become very good at being machines in the years ahead, so we need to be extremely good at being humans again. That means we really have to dig into individual abilities, allowing people to do their best and live out their potential.”
Now you might be wondering how I’ve talked this whole video without mentioning climate change. And.. yeah… it’s been hard.
Because when you search for predictions about the year 2100, almost all of them are about climate change.
But I didn’t want to focus on that because while yes, climate change is going to change a lot of things in the world, I mostly wanted to focus on how our lives would be different in 2100. And depending on where you live, your daily life might not be any different or it might be a lot worse. Or… in some places it might be better.
Just for some numbers though,
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that “the global temperature would rise by 3.3 to 5.7º C by the end of this century.”
Sea levels may also rise up to 1.8 meters. This could affect cities like Amsterdam, Bangkok, Dubai, and New Orleans, among many others.
Also, annual rainfall may “increase by 6.8% by 2100, compared with the period 1995–2014.”
I think we can continue to see stronger storms and more damaging hurricane seasons, which will effect how and where people live, and we’ll see massive migrations of climate refugees around the world.
There will be adjustments.
But, as the trend for electrification continues for the next 30 or 40 years, along with mitigation efforts I think we might could see a plateuing in CO2 levels as well, which could stabilize and trend back downward over time.
Unless we hit some kind of tipping point beyond which the Earth can’t recover, in which case we as a species will just have to adjust. Maybe with a little help from our god-like superintelligence.
There are a lot of maybes, coulds, and mights in the episode. That’s because predicting the future is impossible.
Nobody knows how things will go and there’s always the possibility of some crazy, unimaginable disruptive event that can change the course of history.
And that course is not yet written. Because we’re the authors, and it’s our job to write it. I know it doesn’t feel like it most of the time, we mostly feel like we don’t have any control over where things go in the world, we actually do. In the choices we make, in the people we surround ourselves with, in how we spend our money, every decision writes another letter in the grand “choose your own adventure” book of the future. We have a million possible future timelines. So my advice is to pick one you like and start working toward it.