Elon University

Forward 150: 2026 – 2045

This timeline of predicted inventions, adaptations, developments and discoveries offers a briefing that includes major statements made in 2006 or earlier by futurists, technologists, scientists and other experts about what they expected to be (at that time) highly likely changes to come over the next 150 years. The items that are not attributed to one or two specific individuals are developments that were commonly accepted by many experts in the earliest years of the 2000s as already proven to be likely, and they expected them to be brought to reality by a number of innovators at many locations around the world.

Use the 2026-2045 quicklinks below to jump to an item of interest or simply browse down the page.

Biostasis in Space
The Singularity
Space Elevator/Moon Base
Many Other Possibilities

2035 – Biostasis in Space

As technology accelerates, space travel is expected to become as prevalent and easy as people expected it to be by now. In the 1930s, some people expected humans would have accomplished intergalactic travel by the year 2006. While that was not the case, it is expected that by 2035 it will be possible for astronauts to travel extremely far distances to visit other planets without aging.

If teleportation has not yet been accomplished at this point, humans will enter into a state of hibernation for long journeys. The body’s metabolism will be slowed to prevent aging on trips that last several decades. The astronauts or travelers will sleep the entire trip while being connected to drips that will provide them with nutrients and vitamins necessary to live.

2045 or Beyond – The Singularity

The Singularity is Near Book CoverThe Singularity is a phrase that describes a time at which the simultaneous acceleration of nanotechnology, robotics and genetics change our environment beyond the ability of humans to comprehend or predict. At this point, new realities will prevail and there will be a new norm. Scientists, including National Technology Medal winner Ray Kurzweil (author of “The Singularity is Near”) say economic, social and political structures will completely change – possibly overnight. Vernor Vinge, a scientist and teacher, says The Singularity could arrive as instantly as an earthquake and completely change all terrain as we know it.

“When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress,” Vinge writes, “that progress will be much more rapid.” This accelerating loop of self-improving intelligence could cause a large jump in progress in a very brief period of time – this is being called a “hard takeoff” by people interested in this theory of development.

Kurzweil sees a more gradual acceleration – a “soft takeoff” – one in which humans work to also extend their intellectual capacity to keep up with artificially intelligent entities. Still, he predicts that The Singularity could come as soon as 2045.

The Singularity presents the idea that biological life may eventually be replaced by self-engineering, self-replicating intelligences. Some people posit the extreme, “grey goo” scenario, in which nanotechnology – not the sleek, humanoid robots seen in popular films, but a mass of gunk – displaces humans. Some researchers say that matter could be engineered to embody vast computational capacities – that entire planets or stars may be converted to what is sometimes called “computronium,” a form of matter that is an intelligence.

2040 to 2045 – Space Elevator/Moon Base

Planning has already begun for a carbon nanotube cable to run from one or more floating ocean platforms to one or more satellites, connecting Earth to space. Cargo and passengers will be sent up and down the cable as on a really, really tall elevator. The orbiting station to which each cable connects can be used as a launching area for further space exploration, a space-based observation post and a facility for accomplishing experiments and manufacturing efforts that are best completed in zero gravity. A village on the moon will also be established.

Other Possibilities by 2026-2045

The following are excerpted from the British Telecom Technology Timeline (information was compiled f by Ian Neild and Ian Pearson from worldwide sci-tech reports in 2005):

  • AI entity sets up higher-level prize for advanced intelligence
  • Learning superseded by transparent interface to smart computer
  • Robots physically and mentally superior to humans
  • Emulation of bio life form inside the computer using protein emulation
  • Living genetically engineered teddy bear
  • Production, storage, and use of antimatter
  • Space factories for commercial production
  • First war without any casualties from friendly fire
  • Robots outnumber soldiers on battlefield
  • Smart bacteria used as military threat to mankind
  • Attacks based on facilitating natural disasters
  • Smart-bacteria weapons
  • Gated cities for civilized people
  • Use of solar wind deflectors to set fire to cities
  • Nanotech-based virus communicable between machines and people, sent over net
  • Asteroid diversion used as weapon
  • Moon base the size of small village
  • Insect-sized robots banned in gardens due to effects on wildlife
  • Robotic delivery for internal mail
  • Robotic exercise companion
  • More robots than people in developed countries
  • Android gladiators
  • Genetic modification used to make organic robots
  • i-Robot-style robots with polymer muscles and strong AI
  • Emotion transmission and conversion (feel love or anger)
  • Digital image overlays enhance relationships
  • Global voting is held on some issues
  • Network-based telepathy begins to take place online
  • Language teaching decline due to machine translation services
  • Learning superseded by transparent interface to smart computers
  • 95 percent of people in advanced nations are computer literate
  • VR extensively used in retirement homes
  • Restricted capability home genetic engineering kits
  • Experience recording allows retention of complete set of sensations
  • “Running man”-style entertainment shows using androids
  • Widespread use of sensors in the countryside
  • Artificial precipitation induction & control
  • Global environmental-management corporations
  • Electronic memory enhancement
  • Many new forms of plants and animals from genetic engineering
  • Nanobots in toothpaste attack plaque
  • Fully functioning artificial eyes
  • Electronic brain implants
  • Genetic, chemical, and physiological bases of human behavior understood
  • First Bionic Olympics
  • e-babies, genetic conception
  • DNA compression used to create optimal organisms
  • Virus crosses over from machine to human
  • Synthetic immune system
  • Artificial peripheral nerves
  • Sims game using real genetics

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