Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Bright Future? What to Expect from the Next 40 Years on Earth

A brief summary of ideas laid out in a new futurist book, Technology’s Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business and Society, by William E. Halal:

2010: The World Online.
The decade should continue to focus on intelligent advances in information systems and e-commerce. The world in 2010 is almost certain to be smarter, faster, and fully wired, setting the stage for the breakthroughs to come.

2020: High-Tech Arrives. This decisive period should see major breakthroughs in high tech. Green business, alternative energy, and other practices are likely to ensure ecological sustainability. AI should permeate life, and the next generation of quantum/optical computing will permit huge advances in telemedicine, virtual education, and e-government. Biotech should mature, providing personalized medicine, genetic therapy, cancer cures, and other advanced health care.

2030: Crisis of Maturity. Industrialization will reach most developing nations at this point, with as many as 5 billion people living at modern levels of consumption. Although technological powers will be vast, intercultural conflict, weapons of mass destruction, and threats of environmental collapse are likely to grow into such challenges that they force a global shift in consciousness.

2040-2050: Global Order. Civilization has withstood the Fall of Rome, World Wars I and II, and threats of nuclear holocaust, and it will probably survive globalization. The challenges facing civilization are likely to be resolved to form a modernized, fairly harmonious globe, somewhat like a far larger and more diverse version of the United States or European Union. Local wars, ecological disasters, and other mishaps will continue, of course, but limited to the normal dysfunctions of any social system.

Will Technology Create a Wiser World?