Depending on which expert you listen to, the human race is either headed for extinction or on the verge of utopia. Let’s take a look at a 20 of the most breathtaking theories about what the near future holds for us all.
20. A Technological Utopia
Ray Kurzweil – a prolific inventor that was key in the development of voice recognition software- believes that the technological singularity is near.
According to his theory, after machines are smart enough to improve themselves the result will be the development of a benevolent super intelligence that will take care of all of humanity’s needs.
19. Nuclear War
One side-effect of this unprecedented technological growth we’re experiencing is that it won’t be long until every country figures out how to build a nuclear bomb.
Many experts believe that India and Pakistan could be the first countries to duke it out with nuclear weapons. If a nuclear showdown between these two countries occurs, how will the rest of the world react? And what effect would a small nuclear war have on climate change?
18. Massive Climate Change
Most experts agree that the world is getting warmer. The question is: what do we do about it?
Some believe we should build a massive space umbrella or throw plastic over glaciers to prevent them from melting.
Others hope that global warming could be a good thing. Large countries like Russia and Canada could benefit if large amounts of land suddenly become inhabitable.
17. Solar Flare Wipe-out
In 1859, a huge solar flare hit the earth and fried emerging telegraph systems all over the world. If it happens again, we’d have to start over from scratch as most of the computer systems we use today are not properly insulated.
16. Public Schools Are About to Get Smarter
IBM is predicting that new and improved computer programs that can learn about students abilities will soon drastically improve graduation rates and standardized test scores across the board.
15. Smart Drugs Are On the Way
Emerging drugs like modafinil have been shown to improve cognitive functions in normal, healthy people. Will it soon be a normal thing for students to pop a few brain-boosting pills before class in order to absorb as much information as possible?
14. In the Future, Everyone Will Be a Genius
The Social Science Genome Association Consortium recently discovered human DNA that affects IQ and cognitive ability. If scientists manipulate these genes, our biologically enhanced ancestors will be literally 1000 times smarter than we are.
13. Individuality Will Disappear
What would it be like to instantly know what anyone in the world is thinking? Is the Internet the first step toward a global hive mind?
British scientist and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading Kevin Warwick believes that in the near future, our minds will all be linked together.
Already, scientists have managed to link human minds to machines. It’s already possible for computers to understand video, audio and motor control signals from the brain. Sharing that information across the web is the next step.
12. A Global Pandemic
Half of the human species lives in cities. Those cities are interconnected more than ever before thanks to advancements that make international travel quick and easy. So what could happen if a super flu breaks out?
Experts say that if the right disease pops up at the right time and place, humanity could go extinct in a matter of months.
11. The Doomsday Asteroid
If a large enough asteroid hit the planet, it could cover the entire earth in fire and burn everyone to death who isn’t hidden away underground.
Even a relatively small asteroid could result in clouds that would block the sun and starve out most of the world’s plants in a few days, destroying the entire world ecosystem in the process.
10. A Huge Volcanic Eruption
An “igneous province” is a monstrous volcanic fissure that could one day rip open the earth and destroy us all. Every thousand years or so, the tectonic plates crack apart, releasing endless amounts of lava, toxic gas and ash.
9. Technology-Aided Translation Programs Will Soon Destroy the Language Barrier
Google Translate’s current capabilities will look silly in just a few years, according to experts from Google and DARPA. Soon, voice recognition software and translation programs will be smart enough to translate anything you hear while walking down the street in a foreign land.
8. Buildings Will Heal Themselves
University of Michigan’s Victor Li recently invented a new type of building material that can heal itself if it cracks. The composite contains microfibers that mend themselves when exposed to rainwater.
7. Scrolls Will Come Back Into Fashion
Already, thin, bendable digital displays are here. It’s only a matter of time before the technology gets good enough to replace tablets and smartphones.
6. Smart Clothes Will Clean Themselves
Scientists in China have developed a special kind of fabric that cleans itself when exposed to sunlight. The key ingredient in the fabric is titanium dioxide. When sunlight hits it, titanium dioxide kills bacteria and erases stains.
5. Invasive Species Will Choke Out Key Crops
The more interconnected the world becomes, the greater risk there is that a foreign plant species will take over everything. Kudzu vines, for example are capable of growing at a rate of 150,000 acres per year in the United States.
4. Human Infertility Will Result In Mass Extinction
In the United States, our public water supplies are already filled with pharmaceutical chemicals. Some say that the man-made substances in our food and drink are causing an autoimmune epidemic. What if some future substance begins affecting our reproductive organs? A mass infertility scenario is imagined in the movie Children of Men.
3. Overpopulation Will Cause Devastating Wars
Overpopulation fears were big in the 90s, but most modern experts believe that this potential disaster is no longer a problem. When a country becomes industrialized, the birth rate tends to decline. Also, technology will allow us to do things like build vertical farms and colonize space. Still, some hold on to the idea that a surprise “black swan” apocalypse event could damage mankind’s ability to get the resources it needs.
2. An Ion Engine Will Enable Mankind to Reach Alpha Centauri
According to Popular Mechanics, by the year 2063 the human race should be advanced enough to explore deep space.
1. We’ll All Live Very Long Lives
Author of When I’m 164 David Ewing Duncan believes that if we take care of ourselves we could all easily live to be centenarians. Future advances in medical science will make it all possible– provided, of course, that the human race manages to avoid all the doomsday scenarios mentioned on this list.