Now through 2021
Foxconn and Heartland Robotics and other companies will be driving costs down and capabilities up for robotics for manufacturing and home usage. There should be 100 million to 1 billion highly functional robots by the end of 2021. There will be a new category of robot using smartphones and tablets as the head (processing, cameras and sensors)
Virtually every person will have smartphones and tablets by 2016 and people in the developed world will have more than one.
There will be a variety of competing quantum computer technologies. Dwave will have a 512 qubit adiabatic quantum computer next year.
There will be large scale optical computers.
Memristors, graphene and plasmonic computers will enable superfast universal memory, neuromorphic computers and terahertz clock cycles.
There are many kinds of hot and cold nuclear fusion technologies that I am tracking closely. The “cold fusion” is likely some other kind of energy mechanism. I believe that several will get commercialized in this decade. However, the real impact even if things go well will be in the next decade as society adapts and the technologies are perfected and fully deployed. Just providing clean energy that does not have resource limitations is great for the environment and takes away some worries but only will have huge impact with massive reduction in energy prices and enabling massive new capabilities like space travel throughout the solar system and making industrialization of space easy.
The latter half of this first decade will see the impact of Spacex Falcon Heavy and solar electric sails and inflatable space stations. Spacex Falcon Heavy success could see launch costs go down to $1000/kg. 2016-2022 could see success with reusability could see launch costs go down to $100-200/kg.
There will be some commercialization of gene therapy, stem cell treatments, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
Myostatin inhibitors, SARM steroids and other treatments will combat frailty in the elderly and enable people to get more muscle mass which will burn more calories to combat obesity.
There will be early detection of cancer, immune system boosting against cancer and other diseases (new vaccines and other treatments.) There will be progress against air pollution and prevention of the 37 million early deaths in the developing world caused by lack of clean water, lack of sanitation and other relatively easily avoidable problems. There will be early stage anti-aging treatments. Several things that mimic calorie restriction which are emerging now and treatments like Stem Cell 100 (screened herbs that help fruit flies live longer). Some countries will edge over a life expectancy of 90 and anyone who takes care of themselves with exercise and diet will have reasonable chances to live to 100.
There will be growing effects of synthetic biology, DNA nanotechnology, RNA nanotechnology and protein nanotechnology.
Quantum dots for displays and electronics will get big.
Carbon nanotubes and graphene will achieve 100,000 to 1 million tons of production per year.
2022 through 2031
The energy revolution that emerged in the prior decade will disperse and have a broad impact.
Additive manufacturing will have broadened its impact to vastly speed up construction.
Broad Groups factory mass produced high rises will dominate all commercial construction.
Reusable Spacex rockets and possibly Skylon spaceplanes and other systems will revolutionize space access along with a blend of fusion powered systems.
1. Pro-growth Policies (variable and uncertain by region)
2. Energy Efficiency – superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid
3. Energy Revolution – Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion
4. Additive manufacturing
5. Not so mundane – neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics
6. Automated transportation (leading to robotic cars and planes)
7. Urbanization MegaCities
8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers, Tata flat packed buildings
12. Improve medicine and public health
14. Synthetic biology and recombineering
15. Sensors everywhere
16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation
17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems
18. Memristors and other significant computing and electronic improvements.
2032 through 2041
True molecular nanotechnology will finally emerge (possibly could happen in the 2025 timeframe, but I am certain it will happen by this time). Diamondoid, nanofactories etc… the real deal.
SENS and nanomedicine will pay off with radical life extension.
Diamond-nitrogen vacancy quantum computers.
The main cognitive enhancement that I would prefer to focus upon is the enhancmement of the capabilities of civilization to solve problems. Quantum computers and quantum algorithms will enable far more efficient solutions. Quantum computers for pattern recognition and superior database searches by many orders of magnitude will expand capabilities.
Expanded technologies will enable open the implementable solution space.
Additive manufacturing, factory mass produced buildings and large structures with molecular technology enhancement will enable rapid upgrades and expansion of world infrastructure and development of the solar system.
Whatever AGI and cognitive enhancement that comes from super charged neuromorphic systems and million or trillion zettaflop systems with optical computer and quantum computer coprocessing will be very interesting. I look forward to seeing it unfold with the radical life extension of molecular nanotechnology enabled SENS.
Currently the world economy is $74 trillion on a purchasing power parity basis. the IMF is forecasting about 6% per year growth through 2015 for a world economy of $99 trillion.
A world economy ten times larger will be a quadrillion dollar economy. Inflation and using future dollars will accelerate that milestone.
This would be a forecast for the third column in the table below where there is 6-18% worldwide GDP growth. However, corruption and really bad decisions would cause the world to underperform.
Increasing growth every 20 years Year flat 6% 6-11% 6-18% 2015 100 100 100 (trillions of dollars, World GDP PPP) 2020 134 134 134 2030 241 241 241 2.5 times energy 30K per cap 2040 431 474 571 3-4 times energy 50-70K per cap 2050 770 940 1390 5-10 times 80K-140K per cap 2060 1380 2000 4300 10-20 times energy 140K-430K per cap 2070 2500 4500 13700 15-40 times energy 250k-1.37 Million per cap 2080 4400 11600 56000 20-80 times energy 440K-5.6 M per cap 2090 8000 30000 230000 35-200 times energy 800K-23 M percap 2100 14000 86000 1200000 60-500 times energy 1.4M - 120 Million per cap
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.