Earlier predictions from Vision users
CNN -- Here is what some of you predicted would happen in the next 10 or 20 years. Got a vision? E-mail it to us at Vision. Please keep your e-mail to 100-150 words, include your first and last name and where you are from, to increase the likelihood of it being published.
Food for thought
Perceptions of population shifting away from urban areas and towards rural areas is only the tip of the iceberg. As surface water sources become increasingly polluted, groundwater becomes increasingly valuable. Groundwater currently produces about 40% of source water in America. Rural areas in America will increasingly become targets for "water farming." Domestic demand for clean water will threaten agricultural use as rural areas expand in population and farmland is converted to municipal expansion. Water is only the vehicle; we must eventually realize that farming itself is our most threatened economic sector. Cheap food will be a fond memory.
Larry W. Linder
Plus ca change...
Today will be like yesterday and tomorrow. There won't be an end of the world, no global warming, no nuclear holocaust. Dictators, presidents, terrorists will come and go. There will be a new consumer fad every Christmas. There will be a new crime fad for the media to focus every month. Technology will be miniature and powerful. People will realize that they are drifting away from what it is to be part of a community and will slowly regain older values, like eating dinner with the TV off and being home to take care of their kids. People will also realize that major media is only infotainment that obscures real life issues and perverts the views of society to what is not real.
1. Within 25 years, accessible (money and otherwise) trips to orbit.
2. Within 50 years, accessible "four-day space cruises" to the moon.
3. Within 100 years, accessible "space cruises" within the solar system. Go to Jupiter and Saturn and back in a seven-day space cruise!
Reinaldo Martinez, Cayey, Puerto Rico
Someone discovers how to desalinate water. An accident kills hundreds of sea animals but Africa and the Middle East are saved from droughts and water shortages.
Ricardo Abaunza, Orange County, CA
Global warming will continue to expand even if we change fuels so the ocean will rise and the Arctic and Antarctic will become smaller ice caps. Polar bear and other Arctic wildlife will diminish in numbers but not perish and fish populations will be depleted. Water will be our greatest challenge and energy resources will be depleted resulting in the use of biofuels, wind, and solar power. Oxygen depletion will be a new and unusual challenge as desertification of earth expands, but we will plant more trees to counter the result, yet acquisition of water will again be our most forbidding need.
Norm Nelson, Boise, ID
I believe advancements in technology will lead to a world in which, as we look back on the industrial revolution, we will find it hard to believe how primitive we were. I think pollution, especially in the richer countries, will begin to subside. New scientific breakthroughs for energy and water purification will have to come to fruition, or fresh air and water will be scarce. The digital world will combine even more with the technical world and bio-engineering to give us fantastic drugs and disease-fighting, manmade organisms. The 21st century will in some ways be the scariest century of all. We are on the brink of a civilization that is capable of created a world free of disease and famine. We are also on the brink of degrading our ecosystem to unliveable conditions and creating weapons of true world domination. The 21st century must be a century dedicated to the survival of humanity and advancements in the human condition.
Unfortunately we are late in arriving at reasonable solutions to many problems that we face -- environmental degradation, overpopulation, clean and sustainable energy sources, education, and poverty. Our continual over-use and mis-use of the environment is perhaps the most pressing problem. The pressing need for sustainable energy sources has been gaining support much too slowly. We are burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate, hurting the environment, and depleting un-renewable resources. Governments need to encourage the design and production of systems which foster true sustainable energy sources.
Mission to Mars
I have a vision of a world that comes together under a common goal -- the manned exploration of Mars. If a world leader were to champion this cause, and all of the world were to align their goals under this common cause, then we would have focus and hope, the two elements missing in modern life. Every person on Earth could play a part in this shared goal, and our social ills would dramatically reverse, as hope and vision replace despair.
Chris Gorski, New Hartford, CT
Fuel of the future
Through sheer determination, need and will power, humankind will find the right solution and make renewable energy both safe and affordable to us all. Hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the universe. One day hydrogen hydride (solid) cartridges will be available in re-fueling stations for us to buy as we stop by. These cartridges will allow us to drive for hundreds of miles at a time before a change is needed. Transportation, afforded to us by the invention of the automobile, has been the most significant factor driving the economies of the world. It will remain so because humans will demand it as an expression of our freedom to go and explore, both on our planet, our neighbor planets and others beyond.
Land and sea
I believe that in the future more people will be living directly on the water. Land will be needed to produce food and livestock as well as setting apart areas of the world to save other living creatures. We spend billions of dollars on wars, weapons and only the government knows what else, we should spend money on building water purification systems using sea water to pump to areas that are starting to turn to desert and plant trees. We should also try cutting the population growth by helping women to space children and not to have so many. We can do a great deal to save our beautiful world and undo the harm we have done, but we can't continue to be so selfish if we truly want to leave a better place for the future.
Arlene F. Voelker, Baltimore, MD
Every single nation on earth should begin a space exploration support industry. End the petty squabbles over an imaginary line on the ground. This is our planet together -- all of us are involved. We need a space observation station on the moon and a full Mars mining colony. Ready to conquer the stars rather than trying to conquer each other.
Sam Blackstock, Thailand
The 21st century is going to give us more peace and understanding than any other time. Why? The world now knows what each of us wants and will co-operate.
Dr Firozali A Mulla, Tanzania
In 20 years the percentage of those who believe in God will be reduced to a single digit. The United States will collapse and give way to a World Community. Natural disasters will increase each year while we argue about the cause. Humans will look at recent technological advances as the earned right to become as gods. With this new knowlege and power we will do as humans always have with great power -- destroy ourselves, and try to rebuild with the hope that we will do better next time.
I think that it is very important that we follow the President Bush's space vision as outlined in the Moon, Mars and beyond plan! After that the most important thing, as I see it, will be the development of greater means of propulsion so as to be able to explore farther out into space -- the rest of the solar system and eventually the stars also! I know that learned papers have already been written on the subject of the "warp drive" so perhaps the first "baby steps" have already been taken along this road.
Power lines: We have lived with those large poles and their lines, power and telephone, for well over a century. Soon cell phones will outnumber the wired kind and the need for their lines will diminish. But power lines remain. In the future I see electric power transmitted by some wireless means. Water will be made drinkable by some cost efficient means In the long run. What this, and the mobility of other major services, will mean is that communities could be built wherever people wish. An end to "urban sprawl," pollution, traffic jams and many other problems. These things, along with a cure for major diseases and a better quality of life for all (not just who can afford to buy it), will happen because they have to. Anytime mankind has been faced with major problems someone, or some group, has stepped forward to save us. It will happen again.
Doom and gloom
There are too many humans. We have become so numerous that we have overburdened the planet to such an extent that overcrowding, pollution, disease and war threaten to destroy the earth, our species and all life. In the beginning, we were few, we were in balance, we were an integral part of the natural world. Through our inventions of medicine, agriculture, villages, and technology, we circumvented the laws of nature. With the expansion of cities, the rampant use of chemicals and fossil fuels, the use of nuclear energy and weapons, the move to artificial and genetically modified nutrition (not to mention the rabid pace of life, the deadly levels of stress, and probable pandemics) we are on the verge of destroying ourselves and this lovely world. I see only one appropriate personal response and that is to live a balanced and intensely spiritual life. Viva le gloom and doom!
Kurt Gustafson, Corvallis, OR
I envision that in eight to 10 years we will have a shot for leukemia. Specifically, T-Cell PLL (Prolymphacytic Leukemia). My husband just went through a bone marrow, stem cell transplant for T-Cell PLL. It is an extremely rare disease. Allegedly, only 20 others in the U.S. have it. As a result of the success in treating this disease, additional research developed childhood immunizations for breast cancer. Wouldn't that be nice! My husband is currently an inpatient at the University of Michigan Cancer Hospital. We continue to pray for success.
Bob and Lynn Hause, Gobles, MI
I would like a penny of every water bill paid by individuals and corporations and a half cent for every bottle of water bought to go to creating publicly-owned water works to provide clean, potable water to every person in the world -- especially in the developing nations of the South.
Kathleen Docherty and Steve Marks Tucson, Arizona
Future of the species
Most predict that there will be an extinction of the human species as we know it. Surveys of the solar system will provide chemical analysis of suitable areas containing frozen water, which will become the bed of future human evolution. A "seed pod" will be developed, implanted with a biotechnological soup. It will be launched in massive numbers to the frozen places in our solar system and beyond. The seed pods will lie dormant until the ice melts, when nano-robots will be released. The robots will begin weaving DNA strands until new entities are formed containing human DNA strains. From there, nature and evolution would take its course. The motto here would be to preserve our form of life, not necessarily our way of life.
I currently put patients with chronic or even acute pain syndromes in water to simulate a semi-weightless environment. The patients are able to exercise more effectively and respond better to treatment because they are comfortable given less affect from gravitational forces. I can see a time when patients will be treated in the weightlessness of space, reconditioned and gradually returned to the gravity of Earth. I just hope I am around to see it!
Todd Ketron DPT
I have a vision for the 21st century that would help eliminate some of the world's pollution. In a science magazine called Discover there was an article a few years ago that discussed a power plant machine called a depolymerization plant. This machine could break down every kind of waste that is carbon-based into purified water, oil and leftover nutrients. If we used this technique to clean up the world's pollution then that would make a gargantuan difference!
Sea level rise causes collapse in shoreline property values; street protests force emergency legislation extending unemployment benefits for former factory workers; California mandates all new cars and trucks sold in the state be low/zero emissions vehicles; Chinese technocrats stage silent coup with support of military; South America follows EU example with common currency.
Bill Manzke, Dublin, OH
The final frontier
The 21st century would be the beginning of a new era to have the human race begin to expand and colonize the cosmos. The reason for this evolution would be necessity. This could be due to the need for new natural resources, a threat to human existence such as from a comet or asteroid. The first race will be to figure out how we can get into space cheaply from our planet. Once that is accomplished then that is when we will see a move to greater things -- space tourism, colonization of the moon and mars, mining for resources from planets, moons, asteroids.
Sharing Dreams and Experiences
Scientists will map activity in one person's brain (Subject A) for every sensation using precisely controlled stimuli. They will perform the same mapping process using the same stimuli on another person (Subject B). Another map can then be created that correlates how their brain activity maps differ or agree for each and every stimulus. Using highly sophisticated sensors, Subject A's brain activity is recorded while he or she is have some experience (preferably a nice experience). The recording is played back and delivered to Subject B using a powerful and selective magnetic generator which energizes the proper parts of Subject B's brain, those proper parts being determined by the previously created correlation map. Imagine being able to send a loved one an electronic Valentine, complete with a real kiss.
Neil Donovan, Salem, U.S.
Top 10 predictions
In the 21st century, I bet the following 10 things happening: 1) Man/Women walking on Mars. (There will be a significant discovery on Mars... water/life/or fossils) 2) Solar power and hybrid power technology widespread and nearly free. 3) African nations will start forming strategic alliances that will explode economically. As is currently happening in India and southeast Asia and with the advent of cheap labor and nearly free energy (Africa's desert is a prime location for solar power). It will surely attract hefty amounts of foreign investment 4) Genetic and Stem Cell research collide and make discovery's that lead to cures for almost all genetic disorders. Average Human Lifespan spurts over 100 by 2099. 5) Formation of a world intelligence/enforcement organization formed primarily with focus on eliminating international terrorist cells. It'll be like INTERPOL on steriods and very little red tape. Their capabilities powers will broaden with every terrorist attack. Attacks will dwindle off and lessen in intensity. 6) Personal identification will be implanted in the form of a chip and/or instantaneous DNA identity methods will be developed. 7) Wireless robotics and artificial intelligence will be fine tuned (especially in military purposes, ie. Unmanned Mobile Turrets/Warplanes). Households will begin purchasing smaller robots that automatically do things such as mowing lawn, clearing snow, vacuum floor, clean windows, and even garden! 8) Satellite Radio will get rid of charging monthly fees will become the new high tech version of the 50's transistor radio. They will rely on advertising income. 9) Education reforms take place and spawn initial woes, but after a few years, educational productivity skyrockets. A second renaissance of ideas and inventions will occur. 10) Extinct animals such as the dodo will be successfully cloned and put on exhibit in a special zoo similar to Jurassic Park. Q. Are some of these ideas cooky? A. Yes. Q. Do they have the potential of actually happening? A. Yes. Anything's possible.
Best wishes, Andrew
Time to rock the boat
Call me crazy, but my vision of our world is as such: The accusition of wealth and power should no longer be the predominant driving force in the world's economy. We, as a people, should strive to better ourselves as a whole, to benefit all humanity. War, disease, poverty, all these afflictions could easily go away if we simply put more emphasis upon the greater good, instead of ourselves. We have gone from a society that was virtually proud to work for a living, and wouldn't mind lending a helping hand, to a society where a great number of people are actually lured to the TV every night, frantically concerned over the trial outcome of a former pop star. The bottom line is this: Greed, wealth, social status, power; these things cost money, and are putting a terrible strain on the people of this world. Kindness, generosity, and the truthful fulfillment of brotherly love cost nothing. I realize this all sounds unrealistic. But if we are to truly preserve the human race, we must start changing things, more so than what we have been doing. Subtle changes mean well, but will sadly take way to long. It's time for the unconventional, it's time for the unorthodox, it's time to rock the boat!!! At least, that's my vision.
David N. Howse, U.S.
I cannot argue with the wisdom of the visionaries who are suggesting what we will experience in the future. I would, however, suggest these attractive possibilities will only transpire if far more embracing and profound events and trends allow them to unfold. The themes presented focus primarily on science and technology, and lifestyles. These two arenas of change are, indeed, the most promising and exciting ones to consider. They are also only the "icing on the cake." Civilization (a word we should probably revisit) is volatile and unstable. Until the threats posed by economic deprivation, lack of education, hatred and aggression and potential pandemics are arrested, the exciting future posed by the visionaries is uncertain, at best. Just as history can trace the ascent and descent of great civilizations, it is possible to develop a similar scenario for planet Earth as a whole. Until our global leadership is more than egocentric politicians, dictators and extremists, this scenario has alarming legitimacy.
James S. Taylor, Portugal
A numbers game
Among the largest challenges of the 21st century will be population management, and this has profound implications for our ideas of private property, morality and infrastructure. Economically, a few things are inevitable: We shall exhaust several resources that, until the present day, we have considered inexhaustible: These are land, water and oil. By the end of the century, we can perhaps add natural gas to the list. I predict the demise of the present day commuter vehicle. It is not merely a case of fuel economy, it is also a question of whether we have any more land to give to eight-lane freeways. So I believe this will be the century during which Americans finally start to consider what it means to be a civilized nation, giving some consideration not just to private property rights, but also to the rights of others, and how these must both be embraced to create communities in which people care to live and work. This is the century of renewable technology. At the same time, we cannot avoid a very difficult and perhaps painful reconciliation between our ideals of private property and emerging values of cooperation and community spirit.
Jay Abel, Honolulu, Hawaii
I think all this stuff the so-called "visionaries" come up with is very, very dangerous. The person who thought about the "Terminator" movies may have been the true visionary. Computers are machines and they should stay that way. If these visionaries are so smart, surely they can see ahead far enough to know that giving computers (machines) consciousness is the most ridiculous and stupid idea yet. That's the problem with society these days, not enough people look at the Earth and its natural eco systems as being the most important thing. Also, solving poverty and living as one across the globe should be the most important "vision" right now along with stopping pollution. After all, this is the only Earth we have!
Dave Lamoureux, Canada
Some things will not change
With the invention of dazzling new technologies, we will integrate them into our lives, but the fundamental landscape of who we are will always lead right back to our roots, and no matter what we try and invent or change, there'll always be room for improvement on the things we all cherish, and want to see keep going on. We will continue to build buildings, one right next to the next, and huddle them into cities, however gracefully (or not so ergonomically,) the architects' goal will not change, to build them taller and taller than ever before. We'll still have families where two people fall in love, marry, and pass on their traditions to future generations. We'll still eat the same foods and enjoy them all the equally; apple pie and bean chili, French fries and hamburgers, grilled-cheese sandwiches and hot dogs with sour kraut. It won't matter how genetically modified or enhanced they may become; we'll enjoy them all the same. People will still visit far away places, swim in the ocean, and dine on the slopes of the Alps, sampling the finest of thousand year-old European cuisine, or visit the Great Wall in China and marvel at the craftsmanship of ages past. We'll still have our favorite actors and listen to our favorite songs, and even if it's a 5,000 gigahertz with 15,000 megabytes of memory, we'll still buy PCs and play the latest games that aren't already on the Playstation299 or the Xbox 514. We'll all still turn out at the steps of the Capitol to watch the 273rd (and counting) president of the United States take office. We'll build evermore advanced space ships, but the desire will still be that they go farther and farther. We'll even cure cancer, but we'll still go to hospitals when we're sick. And no matter how many dozen mega-pixels or how far the x3 zoom, a picture will still be worth a thousand words. And when it's all over, and we await the dawn of the next century, we'll still reminisce, and think, "What will it all be like in the 22nd century?"
Who will be in control?
There is only one unanswerable question regarding the future of mankind. Will conscious computers attain spiritual enlightenment before it's too late for mankind? The expectation of future A.I. (artificial intelligence) machines which know they exist as we and other animals do is all but inevitable. By the end of this century no man alive will have a certain understanding of how the Internet might work or of the intentions of all or any A.I.s. We will be relegated to following the orders of machines that will have infinite minds compared to ours.
Energy and automation
Advances in computer technology will bring developments in the following areas: Energy: The use of high temperature fission reactors developed to produce inexpensive hydrogen may fill the gap until fusion reaction technology replaces it. The promise of fusion reaction is -- limitless safe power, reclamation of wastes from our garbage dumps, elimination of carbon dioxide producing fuels. Automation: Intelligent and mechanical automation will replace most everyone in existing jobs. This has serious ramifications. If the transition to socialism is not done carefully many will suffer needlessly. Even though the road will be treacherous the outcome will be beautiful. The way I like to visualize what the future will be is a stronger family cell consisting of generations living together. The primary interest will be education with formal education continuing throughout life. As people enter their 20s they marry have children and go back to school. Most education will be done at home but people will also gather because it is desirable to socialize. Everyone will be more active in government. Everyone will serve in some capacity in the government during their lifetime. The importance of human life will be recognized and acknowledged. This will create a goal for civilization to strive at improving the life experience for all.
Roy E. Oetting
The next 20 years will bring technologies that are difficult to imagine now. We will be able to download people's personalities and memories to a computer, which will enable them to live in virtual reality. The Japanese are seriously working on this now. Knowledge has continued to increase exponentially since the beginning of the knowledge explosion in 1948. In the early 1900s some thought that all knowledge had been discovered.
Michael McRae, Toronto, Canada
Before 2100, a new venture into space will be accomplished, with hotels and factories in orbit that produce large incomes for those smart enough to invest in the right places. When large pharmaceutical companies find out just how much cheaper it is to produce drugs in free fall, along with the possibilities of creating new drugs you can't put together on Earth, business in orbit will really start booming.
Fritz Owens, New Orleans, Louisiana
Little will change
I believe that many of the visionaries on the Vision Web site are very far-fetched. Wasn't it imagined that around the year 2000 we would be driving flying vehicles like in the "Jetsons." I can't see any around in 2005. How about the "robots taking over our lives" theory? I don't see that happening either. I believe that things will be about the same in the next 10 or 20 years, with maybe a little more developments in technology -- but nothing that's so revolutionary.
Growing pains be gone
Human cloning will be the biggest scientific discovery of all time. Within the next two or three years, scientists will be able to clone humans, directly from stem cells to a complete fully grown adult human being within a few hours -- or maybe even a few minutes. There will be no need for a human host, only a machine in which to incubate and grow the stem cells. Humans will no longer have to go through the growing pains of childhood and adolescence. Also, this scientific breakthrough will definitely put a huge dampener on the religious belief that man was created by God.
Sylvie Elliott, Montreal, Canada
To Mars, and beyond
The 21st century will be the age of wonderment and immense tragedy for humankind. A cure for many afflictions will be found. Dramatic strides in space exploration will take us to setting up a base on Mars to discoveries of other planets like ours, and beyond. Contact with extra terrestrials will occur. Advances in technology will result to the world's first computer with a conscience. This new century will also bring about calamity in unimaginable tragedy. Major earthquakes will cause death worldwide. Greenhouse effect will raise the earth's temperature, resulting in the melting of the polar caps and the rise of the oceans. This will flood coastal cities throughout the world. With the ever-increasing rise of terrorism, terrorists will either release a deadly bio-agent killing thousands, or they will finally get possession of a "dirty bomb" and will hold the world hostage.
Global warming will surpass the threat of nuclear weapons and become the biggest concern of the 21st century. At the end of the century, electricity will be our main energy source, and it will be produced with little waste, and without fossil combustibles. Violence will be decreased greatly worldwide and wealth will be more extended. Population growth will be controlled. And all this achieved without major trauma or crisis.
Fernando Torrente, Madrid, Spain
By the end of the 21st Century, we will have placed a Hubble-like space telescope at the extreme outer reaches of our solar system. This device will utilize the gravitational lensing that amplifies light, energy, space signals that enter our solar system, as well as amplifying signals that could be sent out to other solar systems. This phenomenon and its existence, witnessed more and more around other systems, can be found 550 AU out from our Sun (51,150,000,000 miles!). How such a telescope would get there, whether by an highly efficient nuclear rocket, unmanned "Bussard Ram-jet", etc, is beyond me. At this distance, a signal traveling at the speed of light would take two and a half weeks to get back to us! The rewards to NASA, SETI and other space agencies observing a clearer, broader cosmos, however, would be "astronomical."
My vision is that nearly 100 per cent of the world's electricity will be produced by clean, safe, nuclear fusion, minus the electricity produced by water power. Along with this energy source, we can then inexpensively produce hydrogen for fueling cars and replacing propane and gas as a heating supply for houses. As far as outer space is concerned, I don't think we are ready to spend billions of dollars on space that could be better spent developing the aforementioned sources of energy. Space exploration will come in time but we have more immediate needs to solve first.
The 21st century will be a lot different from today because medicine will advance DNA technology to the point where we can "re-grow" our heart tissue. We will know exactly how to stop a cancerous growth internally by programming a viral vector that has been designed to destroy only that type of cancerous cell. Our normal tissue will be rejuvenated with our own stems cells, as tissues or organs run into medical problems. Organ transplants be a thing of the past and our own DNA will be sliced diced and designed for us to live longer and healthier than ever before. Pain will become only a faint memory.
Houses will have mainframe computer systems with permanent high-speed Internet connection, with touch screen terminals in individual rooms. There will also be wireless portable terminals, a bit like a laptop with a touch screen. Keys will be replaced by thumbprint and voice-identification systems. Phone handsets will be replaced by systems in the computer terminals so that phone and video calls can be answered in any room that has a terminal. Sensors that detect when you're in the room will activate room lights. Showers will be pushbutton-activated to control temperature and flow-pressure, and will have presets available. There will be a flat screen above the kitchen sink so that you can be entertained whilst washing-up. Computers will continue to incorporate home entertainment -- TV, Radio, CD, DVD, Pay TV, games, Internet, etc. Books will be available in digital format, so you can read on the portable terminal laptop. Computers will take care of waking up alarms, playing soothing music or heavy metal whilst opening the curtains to let the morning sunlight in. Front doorbells and knockers will be replaced with call buttons and video displays so you can see who's at the door without getting up to answer it or admit you're at home. Great for Mormons! Expiry dates on foods will be micro chipped, so your fridge or digital-pantry can notify you when something is out of date.
James Musgrave, Australia
By the time supercomputers can download the "brains" of the rich and of geniuses, the common folk will be able to get implants that will hook up to computers. These implants will remind people of schedules, retrieve phone numbers, directions and "tell" the user the information. As an option, the data will be transmitted to contact lenses specially calibrated to project pictures, including downloadable movies, books, newspapers and TV programs.
Rev. Alex Howard, Pueblo, Colorado
Paying for thin air?
I once thought to myself, "I wonder if one day we'll be paying for water?" Now, here I am today wondering if we'll soon be paying for air. I do think that one day we will be walking around with name-brand "oxy-generators." It'll probably be some form of mask/handkerchief, which will filter pollution or carbon dioxide and turns them into air.
A bright future
Architecture will dramatically develop to handle massive quakes and land shiftings. Buildings will be mainly pyramid-shaped (such as the Maya and Egyptian pyramids that have stood for centuries) to prevent high and narrow skyscrapers being swayed and collapsed during earthquakes that are 10 or greater magnitude. Highways will be double-decked to reduce congestion. Aerial floating lane lights will be lined up for jet land/aerial vehicles traffic overhead. International currency and economies will be solidified and united into standardized, non-corruptive democratic governments with equal civil laws and responsibilities. New ecological sound energies will be commercialized, such as solar power, fuel cell (hydrogen) vegetable-based (yielded by potatoes, corn, hemp, for example) gasoline, plastic and electricity. Recycling programs will also expand to a new level. Our passion for sport, adventure and leisure will remain but the nature of what we do will change, thanks to advanced equipment. We'll be getting our adrenaline rushes from jet-powered surfing and riding waves of 100 or more feet swells. The future looks magnificent!
Mario Garbarini Huerta
The next great revolution in science and society will be the 'security revolution'. We are seeing the initial stages of it already: mobile telephones that can transmit to the police (in seconds) images of criminals caught in the act by passers-by. This will be superseded within a few years by cameras on our clothing, in our cars and in our homes for the express purpose of identifying and catching criminals. Meanwhile, ID cards bearing info on our genetic make-up and carrying our photos, fingerprints etc will become an essential transactional tool. Don't leave home without it!
David C, Christchurch, New Zealand
Following Sweden's example
Within two generations, all the major environmental problems will be solved. The economy will be sustainable and growing, thanks to the understanding that environmental work goes hand-in-hand with economical growth and social development. While the world is confused about how to reduce CO2, waste, air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity -- and still keep a strong economy, there is a nation which has already produced success results: Sweden.
Peo Ekberg, Japan
Running on hydrogen
I see a nation where hydrogen is delivered to homes (like propane is today) to be stored in a "fuel tank" for the house fuel cell. The tank would also have a hose on it to allow the filling of the vehicle's fuel tank, which also runs on hydrogen.
Technology the solution
Our rapidly growing technology will one day resolve the three needs for survival, namely food, shelter and clothing. Other problems will become most relevant, namely the need for morality and ethics that may arise out of this new life.
Salvatore F. Biscardi
An increasing world population will lead to more intense regulation and use of the police power to provide control services and to keep order. Local and regional conflicts will emerge with more frequency as interest and affected groups contend with one another for increasingly scarce resources and influence. Societal class structures will form for dominance among the players of these regional/local contentions and will themselves be qualified by local and regional motivating influences such as religion, tribe, resources under control, etc. The phenomenon of private armed groups and private power blocks will increase and complement or contend with traditional governmental power holders. Individuals and families without access to societal resources will sustain declining standards of living and shorter life spans. Power of contending groups will be increasingly formed and implemented by force, which will use all means available to secure their ends even at the risk of self-destruction. Government will lack the resources for resolving other than the most severe conflicts with other subordinate issues being ignored or addressed with minimal assets. The tools of power with be sustained and those resources that inform an improved standard of living will decline except as the holders of power and resources use them for their own benefit.
The natural way
I envision a time in the every near future where homes will have co-generation units fueled by natural gas. These units would generate heat and electricity while using one source of fuel. The natural gas will also be compressed to fuel the car in the home. Eventually, all of those ugly phone poles will be removed from society. Cable and phone service will be provided wirelessly.
Conventional aircraft will be used only for long-distance travel (supersonic transport will be revived, primarily for ocean routes). For domestic travel, people will use DTVs (Directional Thrust Vehicles, capable of vertical take-offs and landings), eliminating the need for space-taking airports. Computer systems will use "Eyecons" (optically activated navigators). "SPAN" (Solar Power Array Networks) projects will be built in places like Australia, the southwest US, and the Gobi and Sahara deserts. An atomic power breakthrough will link fission (the splitting of atoms) and fusion (the merging of atoms) in an oscillatory binary reaction chain that is nearly perpetual (with by-products serving as the fuel for the opposite side of the reaction).
Ray Andrews, Japan
My ultimate vision for the end of the 21st century would be a world society where wars are a thing of the past, borders do not matter, greed is seen as irrelevant and unnecessary, everyone has enough to eat and mankind is working towards the common goals of the quest for knowledge, betterment of life on Earth and galactic exploration and settlement of other worlds.
Recreating the world
Environment reconstruction will power the world economy by the end of the 21st Century. Earth environment (reduction of rain forest to critical levels, air pollution, water pollution, ocean life, etc) will all be in a very bad condition, which will have direct economical and environmental effects on developed countries. Because of this, "environmental companies" will be created to "reforest" forests and deal with pollution management. Unfortunately, this will be too late for many undeveloped countries that depend heavily on natural resources for viability.
Hard work ahead
In 20 years, we will be in the midst of a great decline in our standard of living, with China fast becoming the economic superpower of the world. We will face major upheavals in our political landscape and -- for all intents and purposes -- the level of civil liberties will be only slightly better than either those in Russia or China. We will not solve the energy dilemma "in time" to avert tremendous socio-economic hardship. Our children and grandchildren will be working harder and longer than the current generation of workers, and on an inflation-adjusted basis, the per capita income will be half of what is today. Global warming will continue unabated -- and the fallout from that will have numerous pros and cons. The greatest threat will not be from losing prime beachfront property -- it will be from the inevitable shift in global temperature and precipitation patterns. The primary and richest agricultural areas of today very well will not be in the same place. And if you go out to say 50 years from now -- if 'oil' doesn't lead to wars -- the need for food and water will.
Steve G, Chicago, Illinois
On this day in 2025...
We'll travel to work on horses because all of the oil will be gone. A trip to Mars is cancelled due to extreme high cost to generate the necessary fuel. All involved with the mission are now found in local bread lines. Trees are making a comeback due to the fewer number of loggers -- the cost of fuel ($300 per gallon) has forced 99 per cent of loggers out of business. A scientist discovers that there is only one possible planet to live on in the universe, Earth. Another "landfall" occurs in the Middle East and swallows a major city caused by hollow voids underground where the oil used to be. Another scientist blames all this on our lack of interest in the environment in the early 2000s, caused by a U.S. Administration who thought it was more important to own the only weapons on Earth. The only bright spot in the news on this day in 2025 is that the air is becoming breathable again since all of the vehicles have stopped.
It the future, body modifications will be taken to logical extremes. People will genetically re-engineer their bodies to assume a wide variety of forms. Some will choose something simple, like looking like a Vulcan. Others will change their skin, hair and eye colors to all the hues of the rainbow. Others still will have a wired-in connection to the Internet -- always on and always plugged in. We will not need to discover alien life because we will be all the alien life forms we can imagine.
Brenda Von Ahsen
Longevity not far away
We now have a world full of people who understand the complexity of computers and software -- the next step is to get people interested in understanding cells, which are like small machines that are programmed with DNA/RNA and chemical signals etc. Once people connect that cells and computers are complex systems, which can be reprogrammed, custom-built and modified, using the new developing biotech, nanotech, stem cell tools, we will be able to get away from the religious dogma that limits the potential of this field. Information about biotechnology is doubling rapidly -- sometimes as fast as three months -- thanks to new bio-informational technologies. Compare that to the already fast rate of 18 months -- the rate at which the amount of transistors per chip doubles, and you can see the coming explosion in biotechnology and the applications like slowing/stopping/reversing and the aging process. After all, nothing else matters but health and if you could live 1000, or 5000 years as a young person, I can't see why more middle-aged millionaires are not investing in The Methuselah Mouse Prize.
Gary Salter, Canada
Enough is enough
I understand the fear many have of dying, or the fear many have of not living anymore. What I don't understand is the desire of living forever. I have tremendous respect for science and technology -- it has made our lives so much easier to live, yet it is also changing our species. Now, today, it can be said that the Human 'animal' has two evolutionary roads: the natural one, where some of our species have lost their wisdom teeth; and the artificial evolution, where it has been possible to survive appendicitis, improve its vision, straighten its teeth, enlarge its breasts and reconstruct its body from the most horrendous accidents, or even survive the most deadly illnesses. Thanks to science and technology, we are overpopulating the planet beyond its capacity to maintain us, and I truly believe we are wearing our welcome on this planet very thin. We are going way too far. What's going to happen when science makes it possible to live to 200, 300 or the 1000s? In the beginning it will be only the very rich, but then it will trickle down to the lower classes and maybe a future like the one predicted by movies such as "Soylent Green" may not be too far away.
Advances in genetic engineering will help cure genetically inherited diseases. Fewer vaccines will be needed because gene manipulation will allow babies to be more resistant to illnesses. Super conductivity will finally make an impact, although it won't be 100 per cent efficient. A zero emission automobile with only a tiny power source will become viable. Advanced (military and government) institutions will use generators based on super-conductors, freeing them from outside power sources. A huge number of planets will be discovered with quite a number with favorable conditions for life. But finding intelligent life will prove to be frustrating. When intelligent life is found it will not make huge impact but more curiosity and possible commercialization of information about them. RFID tags will start to emerge everywhere with large groups protesting against their use.
Rajiv Fernando, Sri Lanka
In Australia, vast areas of uninhabitable desert will be populated with solar arrays. Undersea cables will allow for the export of energy to nearby booming Asian economies. Carbon credits and ecotourism will become mainstays of the Australian economy. Richard Branson's empire will extend to a chain of orbiting recreational facilities. All Internet transactions will incur a global tax, paid to the country of origin. Spam will be classified as a terrorist activity. It is likely that India will be the first nation to develop the Quantum processor -- which will lead to an unprecedented degree of cooperation between intelligence organizations, and a massive jump in crime-force effectiveness. Personal networks will replace the notebook/PC. A combination of metropolitan area networks, LEO satellites and WiFi enabled PDA/GSM/GPS with remote data and profile storage, allows for ubiquitous access. Photonic processors result in very low power requirements. Single hydrogen fuel cell lasts a year.
Mark Munro, Perth, Australia
In 10 to 20 years we will see another major leap forward in robotics, especially in the home. Controlling computers "accurately" through voice recognition. Advancements in nanotechnology will provide faster computers in homes and enhancements in medicine.
James Whitus, Buck Creek, Indiana
In 10 years, most of Earth's glaciers will have melted, along with a substantial part of the northern ice sheets. In 20 years, the continued ecological and concomitant economic catastrophe will have reduced America to the status of a third world nation with a totalitarian government.
The next few years will see oil prices rising inexorably. This will send shock waves through the economy, since oil is vital to transport, manufacturing, electricity generation and agriculture. Economic growth will cease, there will probably even be shrinkage. Jobs will be lost in all sectors, at the same time, prices for everything will rise, the stock market will suffer and investments will become worthless. The dollar will plummet in value, too. All in all, not a very pleasant future.
Connectivity in the home
A central computer will handle everything in the modern home, from entertainment to utilities. A single cable will deliver power and an Internet connection. Television, telephone and Internet browsing will all occur on the same instantaneous connection to your central home computer. Your thermostat and home security displays will be replaced with a single touch-screen interface where your computer will let you regulate climate control, lighting fixtures throughout the house, and keeping tabs on power and water usage. It is only a matter of time before traditional telecommunications become obsolete as Internet connections become faster and more reliable.
I hope to see a world where we no longer rely on oil for energy production. There are lots of other "clean" sources already available. With oil prices rising so much, there will soon be a greater incentive to use these other sources. Solar energy technology should be refined. I would like to see a community of 100 or 200 homes and businesses, which rely almost exclusively on solar power and/or other clean sources of energy. This could be used as a model for future community planning.
Aerodynamic cars and light trucks
Trains, cars and trucks of the future need to be more aerodynamic. Increasing the highway mileage of light trucks up to 30 per cent is possible with proper aerodynamic improvements. Cars could be improved up to 20 per cent with better aerodynamics and weight reduction. Changes in final drive train power requirements are possible with even more weight savings inherent. This area of engineering in vehicles has been mostly ignored because of styling taking precedent over sensible engineering.
John Gilkison, Las Cruces, New Mexico
I looked at two of your last visionaries and wondered if large, bushy, white sideburns were a requirement?
Because of our unbreakable link to fossil fuels and lack of realistic and sufficient funding toward renewable energy resources economies, societies and cultures will slowly break down. The result? Chaos. What one author labels "The Long Emergency" will be our planet's ultimate crisis. Our farmlands have gone the way of "McMansions." Trucks deliver goods, all ways, everywhere. A hypothetical fuel crisis in just this sector alone would wreak havoc and send shock waves through our economy. 21st century life? I see it as scary, and as the father of a 12- and five-year-old, I fear for them because no amount of technology will save what we have failed to learn from.
Jeff Gebhardt, New York
Everything we do seems to involve gravity in some way, shape or form. If it's not propulsion, it is something else. All of the great scientists have studied it and have developed theories about it. But I feel the next step should be to be able to create gravity. Only by doing this would we be able to then develop "anti-gravity" ships that could then be propelled with greater ease. A question: Does space ever end? If it does end, what is on the other side?
One hundred years from now, people will be traveling in air cars instead of gas-powered cars, and they will routinely travel between Earth and colonies on the moon, plus orbiting space stations. This may sound far-fetched, but recall that 100 years ago, no one imagined the things we have now.
Travis M. Whitehead
Nanotechnologies will be topics of consideration for life extension, and considerations as to the ethical practices. Religious and scientific communities will debate on the definition of the boundaries of artificial and natural life. Society will come to a critical impasse as to what is deemed as successful versus mainly existing. New energies will be available to provide for all the world's needs, but will still only provide the barest of necessities to the neediest. The unification theory will be unraveled, and light travel will be investigated. SETI will make recognition of ordered signals, representing at least an intelligent life form of some manner. The government will keep this covered up.
Ronald W. Wilson
The 21st century is going to make the horrors of the 20th century look like a garden picnic. The human population has already far exceeded what the Earth can reasonably be expected to support. Since we have refused to control our population, nature will do it for us and that will not be pleasant.
For the next 15 to 20 years, things will pretty much be the same. By 2025, PCs will be obsolete. Most folks will have Web-enabled game consoles. A six foot flat screen TV will cost less than $500. Eye glasses will become a thing of the past by 2050. All cars will be electric, but large vehicles, like cargo trucks, will still be fuel-powered.
Thomas Grillo, Mississippi
New kind of energy
Soon, a new form of energy production will be developed. It will be a small battery that lasts more than 10 years. These energy cells will be extremely cheap to make and will produce no by-products or pollutants. Cars will no longer require gasoline, planes will no longer need to be refueled, houses will no longer require electricity or heating oil or gas as neither will industry and factories. People and their devices will become, essentially, self-sufficient and the need for centralized power generation will become virtually non-existent.
Clean water, clean air
My vision is clean drinking water for everyone, and efficient water management systems in place. Of course, flying cars and flying procedures also in place to eliminate ground-bound movement of people.
Reprieve for planet-friendly cars
Governments should encourage the sale of hybrid vehicles by reducing road taxes and vehicle registration costs.
Ananth Pillai, Bangalore, India
There will be no runways -- aircraft will take-off vertically with sub orbital and orbital flights being the standard. No telephone or electrical wires, clean personal home generators and remote cellular systems will prevail. Cars will run nearly silent, be pollution-free, totally safe and virtually indestructible. Invasive surgery and venipuncture will be considered barbaric and primitive and will be replaced by optical and interventional radiological devices. Surround holographic video entertainment. Truth will prevail. Deception will be increasingly difficult.
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