“Our lives in 2025: What the world will be like in 10 years’ time
Rohit Talwar is CEO of Fast Future Research fastfuture.com
(Written in 2014)
Our world is being transformed by rapid advances in sciences and technology that are touching every aspect of our lives.
So what changes could these developments bring about for life as we know it? We only have to look around us to see just how much can change in a relatively short space of time.
Our lives have been shaped by developments which most of us couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. For example, handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets now allow us to have live video conversations with our friends, translate instantaneously between multiple languages, watch full length videos and monitor diverse aspects of our health from blood pressure to oxygen flow and stress levels.
3D printing is now being used to create everything from blood cells to entire houses, while new aircraft such as the A380 can carry over 800 passengers on a single flight.
As we look ahead, the decade could be shaped by advances in nanotechnology, information technology, vertical farming, artificial intelligence, robotics, 4D printing, super-smart materials, neuroscience, the biological sciences and genetics.
Here we take a brief look at 10 scenarios exploring how some of these developments could come together and impact different aspects of our world by 2025:
- Human 2.0
Human augmentation will accelerate in the next decade. By 2025 we will be witnessing a new breed of human 2.0 and 3.0 who have “hacked” their own bodies. Brain-enhancing drugs are already a reality and we can now have super-smart prosthetic limb replacements that have greater functionality than the ones we were born with. Both fields will continue to progress and we will see genetic treatments to eliminate conditions such as rage and obesity. All of these enhancements will be monitored and managed 24/7 by a variety of wearable technologies and devices implanted into our bodies. These will help us track every vital sign and link directly to both our own handheld devices and to monitoring services provided by our healthcare providers. 3D printing already allows us to create replacement body parts. The evolution to 4D printing – where objects make themselves – will enable the manufacture of body parts that can self-assemble and adapt their shape and properties over time, giving us limbs that could reinforce themselves as we age.
- National Sovereignty
The map of the globe will change – driven by economic forces. Many smaller and poorer countries may find it impossible to cope on their own with the accelerating pace of change and the cost of keeping up to speed with a globally connected planet. By 2025, we could see between 20 and 25 country mergers as ‘at risk’ nations seek to come together to create the critical economic strength and attract the investment required to serve their populations and compete in the hyper-connected era.
- Corporate Giants
It will all be about the new kids on the block. Half the largest publicly listed companies in 2025 will come from firms that did not even exist in 2014. We will see an ever-increasing number of so called ‘exponential companies’ that achieve rapid rates of growth by using science and technology to disrupt old industries and create new ones. For example, the taxi app Uber didn’t even exist in 2008 and is now valued at more than £25billion while a number of new technology-based businesses such as AirBnB and Snapchat are already valued at over £6billion. Many more mega-growth players will emerge in sectors such as driverless cars, 3D and 4D printing, genetics and web-based applications and services that we can’t even imagine today.
- Financial Services
By 2025, the financial services landscape will have been transformed by digital currencies like the Bitcoin, open markets and a wave of new providers offering crowd based solutions for everything from insurance to equity investment and commercial financing. These community platforms will let us lend to and invest in each other – bypassing the existing providers of saving, business investment, loans and personal insurance. Some argue that the notion of public stock markets will have been transformed by more efficient online crowd funding platforms and the widespread use of digital currencies that effectively create a single global monetary system.
- Brain Uploading
It won’t be long before we will have mapped how the human brain works and technology companies will be competing to host the ‘back up’ of our brains online – like a brain cloud.
Three major projects in Europe, the USA and China are currently involved in major research activities to understand how the brain stores information and memories. This will ultimately allow us to create memory back-ups with the information stored remotely via an online service provider in exactly the same way as many of us already do with the data on our computers and mobile devices.
By 2025 technology advances will give rise to new immersive live and virtual leisure experiences. For example, we will be able to become participants in live action adventures games from Roman battles to re-running the Olympic 100 metres final with robots performing the roles of the other contestants.
- Mixed Reality Living
The boundaries between virtual and physical worlds will have disappeared by 2025 as we overlay multiple layers of digital sensory augmentation over our physical environment. Augmented and virtual reality will have advanced to the point where we can stimulate all our senses over the internet and via our handheld devices. So, for example, when booking a hotel, these developments would enable us to feel the bed linens, taste the food in the restaurant and smell the bath products – all from a device in the palm of our hands.
The replacement of humans by robots in manufacturing has been taking place for two decades – it is now spreading to a wide range of other sectors such elder care, crop spraying and warehouse management. By 2025 robots will have entered every aspect of human life and will be commonplace – performing functions as diverse as nursing, complex surgery, policing and security, through to construction, retail and hotel service roles. All of the major vehicle manufacturers are working on autonomous or driverless cars – a form of robot that we will see coming to market in the next few years.
- Artificial Intelligence
Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are accelerating – with the development of computer software that has the capacity to mimic humans’ ability to learn and adapt over time to changing circumstances. AI is already in widespread use in applications such as satnav systems, aeroplane autopilots, assessing credit and loan applications in financial services, automated call centres and healthcare diagnoses. Advances in AI will gather pace in the next decade. For example, by 2025, the interfaces to all our devices from phones to computers, cars and home appliances will be highly intelligent and adaptive – learning from our behaviours and choices and anticipating our needs.
- Internet of Life
In the next decade upwards of 100 billion objects from smartphones to street lamps and our cars will be connected together via a vast ‘internet of everything’. This will impact every aspect of our lives – for example it could transform the criminal justice system. By 2025, evidence in a court case will include data taken from body worn cameras and microphones and sensors in everyday objects such as clothing, furniture and even our coffee cups – proving exactly what happened and who was present at the scene of a crime.”