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21st century- and OA
(10-22-2016, 02:19 PM)QwertyYerty Wrote: I like future timelines. I have been reading the 21st century timeline on the below site.

They will be different given the setting, but what stands out to y'all as most interesting differences?
I've seen this timeline before, and while I generally don't have many issues with the nearer-term predictions, they seem (IMO) to be less plausible the farther into the future they are extended.

Two factors that must be considered in any forecast of the 21st century are the effects of climate change and the fact that changes in one area beget changes in all other areas. Increasing temperatures depress economic activity through reduced productivity, increased weather-related losses (damage from storms, wildfires, droughts, etc.), while simultaneously increasing the probability for civil disorder and military conflicts. As for the second factor, consider the simple example of self-driving cars. If such vehicles can be manufactured inexpensively, to the point that large numbers of people were able to own them, then that would imply an increase in fuel efficiency, among a host of other benefits. However, as people came to realize they would no longer have to drive to work (or wherever) but could instead spend their commuting time doing other things, one effect may be that they choose to live farther away from their destinations, where housing may be cheaper and in some manner more desirable. This would effectively negate the gains in fuel efficiency, while simultaneously impoverishing the cities they fled from (making the cities even less desirable as a place to live, and setting up a feedback loop).

For example, for the 2030s, the rapid worldwide shift towards clean and renewable energy sources seems a bit hyperbolic, especially given the crises described for the 2020s. Such a shift, if it occurs at all, would likely be limited to the more-developed nations, and would probably not occur at all in those nations which had spent some fraction of the previous decade at war (their energies would be spent on recovering from war and consolidating any gains acquired thereby or, if they were not victorious, in plotting to regain their losses). The influence of nanotechnology in this regard, unless it made the shift more economically viable than would be the case then existing, would at best be minimal and limited to a niche market. The reference to progress in nuclear fusion seems problematic, in that it implies there is no actual technology yet available for widespread adoption later in the century.

In the 2040s, the timeline describes exponential growth continuing with respect to computing power. Moore's Law is already slowing (doubling takes thirty months instead of eighteen) and probably will have run its course long before the 2040s. Aside from that, IMO there will still be a significant fraction of the population that will not want non-medical implants, especially when alternatives exist that do not require surgery or injection. Augmented Reality is probably going to be more useful and widespread than VR, which seems primarily useful for entertainment (and possibly education).

The permanent colony on Mars in the 2050s seems a definite non-starter, unless one defines colony as a collection of scientific outposts totally dependent on Earth for supplies and personnel (akin to the case of the research stations in Antarctica). As for the greater influence of AI on business and government decision-making, that is already happening in RL now (consider the AI making recommendations for you on Netflix or Google); IMO, politicians and executives will continue to view AI recommendations as options to be accepted and acted upon only when it seems propitious to do so.

The 2070s describes major growth in the use of fusion power, despite not having described just when controlled nuclear fusion became a viable and practical source of energy. Perhaps the author is referring to reactors that use helium-3 for fuel, since the fusion reference is followed closely by a description of automated lunar mining facilities (though automated mining would not require the presence of lunar colonists, who would require at minimum some degree of life support, and would therefore be uneconomical).

With regard to the final two decades of the timeline, AI is (IMO) likely to be used as a tool to detect and identify patterns and linkages in "Big Data" streams; new scientific discoveries, some no doubt leading to new technologies, are a likely result. As to transhumanism becoming a mainstream phenomenon as described (transhumanism's religious overtones aside), this will depend on whether the public's aversion to non-medical implantable technology can/will be overcome to the point that a significant fraction of the population will consider having implants as the norm.

Just a few ruminations,

"I'd much rather see you on my side, than scattered into... atoms." Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe

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RE: 21st century- and OA - by radtech497 - 10-22-2016, 06:11 PM

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