What will the world look like in the future?

From ancient civilizations to Nostradamus, to modern day prophets, man has been predicting the future. Visions of a world that’s paradise for some and hell for others has been a mainstay.

Yet, only fairly recently have we been able to reasonably predict what it will be like in years to come. This is thanks to available past and current data. It allows for an educated and informed prediction of the future.

City in the future in a floating world
City of the future in a floating world

With tangible data at disposal, here’s a rather reasonable prediction of what the world will look like in year 2050.

Population-wise, estimations vary, naturally, ranging from 9 to 10 billion people. The most cited
one is the UN report projecting around 9.6 billion, a 30 percent increase. There are number of factors that impact this estimation. Global population will get significantly older as a result of lesser mortality and fertility rates. Still, rapid growth is expected in Africa, contrary to a projected fall in large developing countries. Life expectancy is projected to increase in developed and developing countries, setting a global average of 76 years.

India will replace China as the world’s most populous country. The population of Japan, Russia and Germany is expected to decrease by 10 percent or more by 2050.

With a higher number of people, rises the number of diseases, especially age-related diseases due to people living longer. Researchers expect cancer, diabetes and cases of dementia to double or triple. With the advancement in medicine, some current diseases will be easier to treat. Others will be possible to cure entirely.

For instance, vaccine to stop the spreading of HIV could be developed in 20 years, according to researchers. Malaria could be a thing of the past as treatment already exists. Scientists are working hard to eradicate the disease completely. Scientist are making constant progress in understanding how our bodies react to different kinds of diseases and viruses, making various effective vaccines and cures just a matter of time.

Urban living

City in the future - world
City in the future

Meanwhile, there will be significant, if not dramatic demographic changes. Overpopulation will be a serious problem and it’s likely the majority of the people in the world will live in urban areas. That means city landscapes will look vastly different than today. Skyscrapers could very well live up to their name as modern architectural advances in building taller buildings will act as a catalyst for further changes and developments. This leads to self-contained cities, massive buildings that will house thousands of people and serve individually as residential, office and leisure space.

Aquatic and underground housing could also be available, but primarily as luxury tourist attractions, rather than permanent living solutions.

The significant growth in world population, surpassing nine billion people, will also see the demand for food rapidly rising. Per report by U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, we will have to increase food production by a stunning 60 percent on a global level, if we want to avoid serious food shortages.

Climate issues

This leads to global climate issue. Climate change is only worsening the situation as extreme weather devastates crops through floods and droughts. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely to get better. Global CO2 emissions will steadily increase with global warming reaching new highs. Crop shortfalls would continue and rises in sea levels would increase. That is why solar energy is expected to see an enormous growth to the point where it would produce a quarter of world’s energy, thus becoming the largest source of electricity by 2050. Environmentally, this expected level of production would cancel around six billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.

Other forms of clean and renewable energy such as wind energy and ocean power could also play a key role, providing almost all of world’s energy consumption with enough investment in these technologies.

City in the future in a new world
City of the future in a new world

The future is electric

electric
Image Credit: Flickr / Ian Muttoo

Reduced CO2 emissions is one of the benefits car industry will present in the future. Electric cars will be widespread as their production continually grow on a yearly basis, potentially reaching to 100 million by 2050. Vehicles generally will be lot safer. Even today, we are making a noticeable effort towards creating a fully-autonomous vehicle. Well before 2050, we can expect to significantly decrease human error in traffic, which will result in less deaths and less accidents. We can also expect to significantly reduce commuting hours, due to smart AI driving.

By 2050, artificial intelligence will play a major role in our society. Immersed in daily routines, AI will mostly replace workers as a cheaper and more effective alternative. It will also outperform human on basic, as well as more complex tasks such as research.

Technology in general will advance rapidly, to the point where everything will be “smart”. The internet will be available in every corner of the world. One of the reasons for this is because more people will have access to it because it will be cheap. This will make computerizing brain, a long-lived dream of many scientists, quite possible.

Even if digital version of human brain sounds far-fetched.

City in the future underground world
City in the future – underground world – Mexico

Body augmentation

What will be easier to visualize is artificial replacement of body parts. There are already ways of saving or at least prolonging lives via implanting artificial organs through 3D printing. With further advancement, permanent solutions for more complex organs like heart or lungs will become reality.

One of the more interesting predictions is genetically engineering human babies. We could even eliminate genetic traits that carry hereditary diseases by perfecting children this way.

In terms of society, many predict gender equality will happen. Racism will still be present, albeit the significance of racial issues will be lesser than today. Same goes for accepting different ethnic groups, with the level of acknowledgement being greater than the present.

Christianity will still be the dominant religion with Islam being the fastest-growing.

In economy, China will stay as the largest economy in the word, with India overtaking USA as the world’s second largest economy. Also, today’s emerging economies will overtake G7 countries in terms of GDP.

There you have it – what the world will look like in 2050. As the population grows and technology improves, so does the quality of how we live. It will be interesting to see how much things change in the future, but there is no doubt – they will.

Image credit: Flickr / d26b73, Ian Muttoo

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