When I consider what will happen the future. I look at how much money and how aggressive the people, companies and nations are who are trying to bring about technology.
Some people forecast some kind of shocking upheaval and the junking of capitalism.
I also try to cast a broader view at what can substitute and the economics and business of the competition for new technology or ways of doing things.
I try to think like the consumer (individuals or big companies or governments) in terms of adoption. Adoption goes better if the new thing is way superior in some way and not worse in the other aspects.
What will have to happen to get best various stages of acceptance to alter purchasing decisions ?
I also consider if the group making it has a better business plan or approach to get across the chasms and how strong
the early adopters are for that area.
Books – Lean Startups and Crossing the Chasm discuss adoption and successfully launching new products and companies.
Also, I try to analyze in detail the real differences and advantages in something new.
Detail Analysis of Impacts of supertechnology
Consider AGI and quantum computers and brain emulation –
We have a lot of answers and capabilities now and a complex society that mostly functions alright. Where we do not have the perfect correct answers we often good approximations.
We do not need AGI, quantum computers or superior brain emulation to solve global warming, climate change, feeding ourselves, molecular nanotech, space tech or commercial nuclear fusion. We could get to kardashev 2 just with our current level of intelligence and roughly the same technology without breakthroughs but with continued development.
Quantum computers at Dwave are helping Google to train its neural network and AI by finding bad outliers that skew the selection metrics. Even hundreds or thousands of qubits would/will have narrow applications for now. We need to be able to get them as coprocessors that can alter large database and internet search to be orders of magnitude faster. But we have workarounds now to avoid the raw large search.
We also have shown the ability to piss away trillions of orders of speed improvement to get some extra usability features. The Microsoft Excel of 1995 compared to today. A computer a million times faster and how much better ?
A World Government Layer but true power will reside in Megacities
I do not see world government as inevitable (over the next 40 years for sure). But we are seeing this extra layer getting more powers. Trade organizations and treaties. But the UK and China leadership are smart enough to not give up currency sovereignty. They know the game that Germany and France are running.
Long term as we expand out into the solar system then sure Earth could have its own government, but there will still be the layers below. Not sure how it would all split out – like US federal versus states versus local. Or Canada – federal v provinces.
I see a lot more power vesting in the cities. I see mega cities forming. Especially with Sky city – factory mass produced skyscrapers at about ten times less cost and high speed transportation (high speed rail in China and perhaps low pressure or vacuum trains at higher speeds and high energy efficiency, the US could go pocket airports, robot electric cars, and small planes, beamed power could make that work.) You could have 50 major cities in the 50-300 million pop range.
Say 7 in China, 3 in the 200-400 million range and 4 in the 50 million range.
Similar number in the US but smaller populations.
Robotics/additive manufacturing/nanotechnology, energy breakthroughs, super-urbanization will ramp up GDP growth.
Resources – ocean floor and ocean mining and about 3-20 times more from improvements on land (boosted agriculture yields, breeder reactors)
Abundant energy and nanotech – means no water and air problems.
I do not see the singleton -fast take off scenario where one group or thing can get such utter dominance.
You can get 80-99% market share for a time in some area (apple, google), but not across the board in everything in society and the economy.
Still massive breakthroughs can happen from smallish teams of a dozen to a few thousand people. Leap Motion interface, Planetary Resources, Spacex.
AGI, quantum computers, brain emulation first markets appear to be fast trading, internet search, defense applications. It will take a collective effort of teams to drive it forward.
Even something sweeping like Sky Cities and factory mass produced skyscrapers. Broad Group is getting partners and franchisees. The new breakthrough comes through with a peaceful version Borg strategy and assimilates with incentives. They do not do not pick unnecessary fights to cause more resistance. They disrupt what they have to but maximize profit by having society work better afterwards.
The system works, why would anything smarter choose to take over in an overtly hostile way or way that leaves people with nothing to do but want to fight. There have been plenty of peaceful shifts in political control, where people gladly support the change. Control could change but if something smarter was doing it, we would never know what happened and would be happier in the new way.
We would be the happy crops in the Matrix in a semi-Utopia. There would be no innate sense of wrongness. And we would not be crops because with molecular nanotech, fusion and other advanced technology there is no need for labor, energy or resources from people.
Human Implosion Risk Not high but do not overconfident and fix the problems
Main human implosion risks – astronomical (asteroids, solar events, gamma bursters etc…) events or some kind of big and really bad human war, super disease. I do not think the chances are high for either but we should close the vulnerabilities to these and any other things.
RNA vaccines, RNA interference etc… and other means to counter disease and boost immune systems
Planetary Resources – space mining and organizing the asteroids to prevent stray impacts
Better buildings – more resistant to weapons.
Space colonization – spread out and have more people all over
I want an immortalized and dynamic future human civilization.
That means making the right choices and getting to Kardashev 2 or higher, with molecular nanotech and commercial nuclear fusion for energy and space or better.
Future Shock last minutes to days from announcement, then the impacts are accepted
Every step along the way the effort will be made to achieve smooth and easy adoption. Changes will seem amazing to us now but as we live through the years they will quickly be accepted. Planetary Resources and Spacex are starting to do amazing things but when the telescopes that are one hundred times cheaper go up and we get the reusable rockets go up, the developments that follow will all make sense and will be accepted.
iPhones and tablets have come and were better than what came before, but it took several versions to crush Blackberry and Nokia. Plus we are waiting for even better and the integration of Leap Motion interfaces.
Industrial Robots, ATMs, self serve check out and vending machines have had an impact and there are new waves and versions coming. They become the fabric of the now and what has happened.
Most people will remain oblivious to changes. Other than the in your face developments (like if robots go from 10 million now to 5 billion or more). But they will get the shock of seeing them all around and not care and it will happen and different points for different people. They see Roombas and don’t care. PCs went from mainframes and minis to PCs and laptops and smartphones and tablets. There were the magazine stories of amazement for a while but then it fades.
Plus there will be the general coping when people do notice things.
or OK that happened.
Something for them but not for me.
How can I make money from that
How can I make this better
How can I combine and leverage these things.
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.