are becoming intimately merged with machines
fields, the pace of technology has become so fast that humans can no
longer comprehend it without augmenting their own intelligence. This
is particularly true of computing, nanotechnology, medicine and neuroscience, all of which have seen exponential progress.*
home PC of today has an integrated AI system equivalent to over a billion
human brains.* This machine can think
for itself, communicate with its user and suggest new ideas in ways
that surpass even the greatest minds on Earth. Due to the flood of data
being exchanged on the Internet and elsewhere, these computers receive
literally millions of emails and other communications each day.
way for a user to interpret this avalanche of information is to merge
their consciousness with the machine. A growing segment of society is
now turning to on-person hardware to achieve this. The most advanced
method involves the use of microscopic, wireless, implantable devices
linking neural activity directly to electronic circuitry. These "nanobots"
have already been used in full
immersion VR and certain medical
procedures. The latest versions are capable of marrying AI with
human intelligence in ways that combine the best aspects of both.
or projector of any kind is required for the latest generation of computers.
The nanobots can instead produce a virtual image of the screen which is
augmented in the user's field of vision.
system is controlled by their thoughts - and those of the AI - running
at speeds vastly greater than a real time physical version would allow.
Many individual actions can be performed at once,
thanks to the robust wireless connections between the nanobots and neurons.
the user's entire sensory experience can be instantly shifted to a full
immersion virtual reality. This is a popular choice for gaming and entertainment,
but also has many practical applications in the world of business. Meetings
and conferences can be hastily scheduled between vast numbers of participants
from around the globe - sometimes with barely a few second's notice
- and lasting only a few seconds in duration. Communicating at this
speed is no longer possible using conventional means, which is creating
an enormous divide between those who have the technology and those who
people, nanobot implants are becoming permanent and essential - rather
than temporary and optional - due to the bewildering speed and level
of information now being encountered in day-to-day situations together
with the explosive growth of AI. Military personnel, scientists and
medical staff were among the first to take advantage of them, but mainstream
society is now following.
are merging with machines in various other ways, too. Nanobots can boost
immune systems, for example - helping to exterminate pathogens. They
can also regulate blood pressure, or repair some of the damage caused
by the ageing process, or accelerate the healing of wounds. Cybernetic
organs are now available that almost never fail and can filter deadly
poisons. Brain-computer interfaces are increasingly used in middle class
homes to open doors, control lighting and operate everyday appliances.
extreme cases of enhancement involve people opting for "decentralised"
circulatory systems - along with a form of synthetic blood - reducing
physical vulnerability still further. This particular option is still only
available to the rich, as it involves a highly complicated procedure
that radically alters their internal anatomy. The end result is that
a person can survive multiple gunshot wounds or other damage relatively
easily. A number of politicians and other famous people are taking advantage of this. It is also popular with gangland bosses and career criminals.
between man and machine is starting to blur. Later this century, there
will no longer be a clear distinction.
© Billyfoto | Dreamstime.com
The Chūō Shinkansen high speed maglev route is complete
Tokyo and Osaka are now connected by a direct high-speed maglev route - the Chūō Shinkansen. This megaproject began construction in 2014, at a cost of over 9 trillion yen ($115bn). By 2027, the first trains were running between Tokyo and Nagoya,* and by 2045 the route has been extended to Osaka,** with trains travelling beneath the Japanese Alps (Akaishi Mountains). The first generation of these vehicles reached 313 mph (505 km/h), but newer and even faster designs are now in use.
Coast cities are being abandoned due to super hurricanes
concentration of atmospheric CO2 has led to rising sea levels, a warming
of coastal waters and a more volatile climate system. In the Gulf of
Mexico, a new category of "super hurricane" has emerged. This
is becoming a regular occurrence by now.
weather events are nightmarish in scale and intensity. At their peak,
winds of nearly 200mph bring untold devastation. Trees are uprooted and hurled
like matchsticks, while skyscrapers visibly sway. Storm surges
and flash floods travel up rivers with surreal speed, overwhelming
defences and bringing waves tens of metres high.
Damage from these various disasters has run into hundreds of billions of dollars. A number of Gulf cities are being permanently abandoned during this time, including Houston and New Orleans.**
transitions towards a democracy
growing social unrest, China transitions towards a Russian-style democracy.
The ongoing internet/IT revolution and the resulting decentralisation
of communication has brought down many of its former barriers.
extinctions of animal and plant life
end of this decade, many well-known animal species are going extinct,
or else have declined in such huge numbers that only those in captivity
eastern coast of Australia one of the world's most beautiful natural
wonders - the Great Barrier Reef - has been virtually destroyed by climate
change, with less than 2% of coral remaining.* Rising levels of greenhouse gases have made the water too acidic for
calcium-based organisms to grow.* Most
of the colourful fish for which the reef is famous have also disappeared.
On land, more than 50% of the continent's 400 butterfly species have
died out, as well as numerous reptiles including Boyd's forest dragon, a rare and colourful lizard.
an astonishing 50% of amphibians have disappeared due to pollution,
disease and loss of habitat caused by climate change. This includes
many previously common species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and
caecilians.* On the same continent, more than 20% of bird species have been lost, and around 15% of plants.
Africa's Kruger national park, a major conservation area, nearly 60%
of the species under its protection have been lost. In the same region,
35% of proteaceae flowering plants have disappeared including the national flower, the King Protea.*
America, nearly half of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed, with
more than 2,000 native tree species becoming extinct.
nearly 30% of animal species are either extinct, or critically endangered.
Asia, the Indian elephant is on the brink of extinction. Once a common
sight in this part of the world, it has declined in huge numbers due
to poaching for the ivory of its tusks, loss of habitat, and human conflict.
Arctic, nearly 70% of polar bears have disappeared due to the shrinking
of summer ice caused by global warming. By 2080 they will disappear
from Greenland entirely, and from the northern Canadian coast, leaving
only dwindling numbers in the interior Arctic archipelago.
well-known species of fish, bird and mammal become critically endangered
around this time.
is often referred to as the Holocene extinction event. As a
direct result of human influences, the rate of species extinctions this
century is between 100 and 1000 times the natural "background"
or average extinction rates in the evolutionary time scale of Earth.
Credit: Elisei Shafer