The 22nd Century at First Light: Envisioning Life in the Year 2100: A Special Report by Members and Friends of the World Future Society

The Futurist, September-October 2012 | Go to article overview
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The 22nd Century at First Light: Envisioning Life in the Year 2100: A Special Report by Members and Friends of the World Future Society


Introduction

A child born today will only be 88 years old in the year 2100.

The next 88 years may see changes that come exponentially faster than the previous 88 years. What new inventions will came out of nowhere and change everything? What will our families look like? How will we govern ourselves? What new crimes'or other threats 100m. ahead? Will we be happy? How?

THE FUTURIST invited WFS members and friends to submit forecasts', scenarios, wild cards, dreams, and nightmares about the earth, humanity, governance, commerce, science and technology, and more.

So, what do we see in this "first light" view over the next horizon? A fuzzy and inaccurate picture, no doubt, but also an earnest attempt to shake out our futuring instruments and begin improving them. To build a better finlike for the generations who are depending on us, we'll need the best tools we can elevelep. It's time to start thinking and caring about the twenty-second century now.

--THE EDITORS

Timeline

Major Transformations to 2100: Highlights from the TechCast Project

By Laura B. Huhn and William Halal

Will the year 2100 bring disaster or salvation? A global population that exceeds food supply and exhausts planetary resources? Ecological collapse and severe climate change? Or will we experience a unified world heralding an unprecedented Age of Global Consciousness?

TechCast (www.TechCast.org) draws on its knowledge base of forecasts pooling empirical trend data and the knowledge of more than 100 experts to examine the big transformations ahead. Lifestyles, families, homes, and other aspects of life are likely to change because the forces of nature, technology, demographics, and economics are transforming the world dramatically.

Here is a macro-forecast that summarizes the 70 strategic breakthroughs that offer an outline of how the foundations of society are likely to evolve over the remainder of this century.

2015: Next Economic Upcycle

Our timeline begins around 2015, when the following technological advancements are expected to start the next 35-year economic upcycle:

* E-Commerce. Internet use explodes worldwide, producing trillions of dollars in revenue.

* Global Access. About 50% of the world population will have Internet access.

* Globalization. At today's growth rates, we'll halve poverty by 2015.

* Green Business. Thirty percent of corporations are likely to practice environmental management, leading to a $10 trillion--$20 trillion green industry at the end of the decade.

* TeleMedicine. Online records, videoconferences with your doctor, and other electronic practices will improve medical care and reduce escalating costs.

* TeleWork. Globally, 1 billion people were mobile workers in 2010. By 2015, that number should increase to 1.3 billion.

* Space Commercialism/Tourism. Space trips for tourists and visits to low-Earth orbit are likely to produce a boom in commercial space.

2015-2020: Global MegaCrisis

From 2015 through 2020, a doubling of global GDP will cause the Global MegaCrisis to become intolerable, with the planet teetering on environmental collapse (see THE FUTURIST, May-June 2011). Here are Tech-Cast's four scenarios:

* Decline to Disaster (25% probability): World fails to react, resulting in catastrophic natural and economic calamities. Possible loss of civilization.

* Muddling Down (35% probability): World reacts only partially, so ecological damage, increased poverty, and conflict create major declines in life.

* Muddling Up (25% probability): World reacts in time out of need and high-tech capabilities; widespread disaster averted, although many problems remain.

* Rise to Maturity (15% probability): World transitions to a responsible global order.

2020: High-Tech Era

Assuming the world survives reasonably well (Mud-dling Up), major breakthroughs are likely to introduce a High-Tech Era:

* Smart and Green Transportation: e.

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