Recently, Redditors weighed in on the question, “What Major Events Do You See Taking Place in the Next 50 Years?”
There were some incredibly insightful answers. Some of them were serious, others were downright hilarious. But all the responses made people wonder what's really in store for the future.
When you were a child, you could never have dreamed of owning something as technologically advanced as an iPhone, or being able to connect with old high school friends who live halfway around the world via a website like Facebook.
But today, hobbyists and technology aficionados dedicate huge amounts of time and resources into preempting the next trends. Now, there is enough of a precedent in the digital age to predict future trends with a reasonable degree of accuracy or credibility. With the help of some clever Redditors and a few other sources, here are ten things humanity can look forward to in the next decade or two. Sure, some of these may seem outlandish. Others may seem tongue in cheek. And yet others will likely give you a glimmer of hope for the future of mankind.
That is, unless the robots take over by then. But by our estimates, we should be good until at least 2030 (but don't hold us to that).
10 Someone Born Today Will Live to Be 150 Years Old
Back in 1850, the average lifespan was only 43 years old. Today, it's more like 80. More and more people are living into the triple digits, and many scientists believe that it will become the norm within the next few decades. It's even believed that children today could conceivably live to see 150 years old.
Changes that will contribute to this include ways of growing new organs from adult human stem cells, gene therapy to treat disease, and the power of 3D printers that can be used to one day create body parts. It almost sounds like science fiction, but these are all very real advancements.
Some even believe death could be avoided altogether one day – though that's certainly still sci-fi territory.
9 Restoring Vision to the Blind
Stem cells. Two words that scare many people who don't understand what they are or how they work. But it's a good thing science knows what it's doing, right?
Scientists have recently reported strong evidence which indicates that stem cells can improve vision for those who are legally blind. In fact, of the 18 patients tested, more than half showed some improvement in their vision. And these were people who were suffering from otherwise incurable eye diseases who had lost so much of their vision.
Before these procedures, there was little hope that they'd ever see any improvement whatsoever. While the work is preliminary, it's also promising, and not just for those who are blind - but for those who are deaf, and who suffer from other diseases as well, since stem cells are able to become any kind of cell in the body.
8 No More Pennies in the United States
Will the U.S follow their Canadian neighbors in abolishing this useless coin? Many folks over at Reddit seem to think so, and there has been talk about how it costs more to produce the penny than it's worth, so there might be something to this thought. Not to mention the fact that there aren't many items you can buy for a penny these days. In fact, there's pretty much nothing.
Pennies are all but useless, and they wind up collecting dust in a can somewhere – until you spend five minutes counting them out at the store to buy a soda or a piece of candy, meanwhile annoying everyone else behind you in line.
Of course, the mere thought of abolishing the penny scares a lot of people. Cries of “But then everything will be rounded up! It'll become more expensive!” are predictable. But since most people tend to pay with credit or debit cards these days, any electronic transactions can still be calculated to the penny, like in Canada.
If you're paying in cash and the total comes to $1.63, you might be paying an additional two cents, but think of it this way – you probably would have lost those two cents behind your car seat anyway.
7 Self-Driving Vehicle Will Become A Reality
What started out as a search engine has grown into world leader Google; a monopoly on e-mail, a stake in social networking, and now a leader in wearable tech. And currently, they're working on a self-driving car.
Experts believe that cars that rely on computer control – and not human control – may hit showrooms as early as 2019. Google claims their self-driving vehicles have traveled 700,000 miles without a single accident.
Compare that to accidents caused by humans behind the wheel, and rest assured that the number of human accidents is much higher. In fact, Google advocates for the self-driving car, claiming that it will eliminate accidents caused by human error and distraction.
But while this all sounds great in theory, there are still questions that remain unanswered. For instance; if there is an accident between two self-driving cars, who's at fault? Will drivers even need a license if they're not driving? If the car is driving itself, can people then do whatever they want while traveling? Can they read? Sleep? Text? Or will laws be in place to limit what they can and can't do?
6 Mind-Machine Interfacing
Currently, you can activate many features of your phone with your touch or your voice, but what if it became easier than that? What if you could play Candy Crush with your mind instead of your fingers?
This sounds too wacky to be believed, and maybe people are getting a little ahead of themselves, especially if they're only talking about the next decade or two. But scientists are, indeed, working on what's known as mind-machine interfacing, and there are more benefits to it than simply playing a game or changing stations on your TV. By utilizing the electrical signals in the brain, a paralyzed woman was able to eat a candy bar with a mind-controlled prosthetic arm.
Think about the advancements that can be made for those who are paralyzed. This technology could give them more freedom. And because it's not all seriousness, there are also cases where scientists were able to control robots and drones with nothing but their thoughts, thinking about the directions it was to go and making it move. Of course, this technology has its kinks that still need to be worked out. But if all goes to plan, this could change lives significantly within the next decade.
5 Audience-Driven Entertainment
Most adults can still recall a time when the only option for catching their favorite shows was to be there, in front of the TV, watching as it aired or maybe recording it with their VCR. But the way we partake in entertainment has changed a lot in recent years thanks to DVR, as well as streaming services like Netflix and YouTube.
And with products like Apple TV and Roku, more and more people are leaving the expensive cable packages in the dust. Why is this?
How many stations on cable do you actually watch? And how many just play the same things over and over again, leaving you with nothing to watch anyway? That's where these game changers come in, allowing people to decide when and what they want to watch. And the future will likely see even more of that, with even syndicated stations moving toward on-demand services.
People want to have control over these things, and they want to choose what shows, bands and even books they read. So, they are no longer content to leave that up to big corporations to choose for us.
Which is why you're seeing an increased interest in self-published books, Kickstarter campaigns for everything from new gaming consoles to Hollywood films, and YouTube stars making a career of their shows and music. The consumer is taking control back, and in the future, you'll see more entertainment choices than ever before. This time, you'll get to control when and where you get to consume them.
4 You'll Be Able To Change Your Eye Color
If you've always dreamed of having a pair of baby blues, but happened to be born with brown eyes instead, there's some good news on the horizon. There's a new procedure that's currently being tested out around the world for safety that can permanently change your eye color. With one stipulation, of course: It can only turn brown eyes into blue eyes, not the other way around.
The procedure does this with the use of lasers. It sounds almost too simple when you hear about it. Apparently, all eyes are blue - but some people have a layer of melanin (the pigment that colors our skin) over the iris.
The procedure uses gentle lasers to break up that pigment in the eye, uncovering the blue eyes that were always there underneath. So far, everything sounds good, but it's not readily available to the public just yet. There's no way, yet, to know if it's safe for the long-term. And even when it does become available, consumer should expect to shell out about $5000 to have it done.
3 We Will Go Back To The Moon. And This Time, We'll Stay
NASA themselves declared that by the end of the next decade, astronauts will once again have the opportunity to explore the surface of the moon. And they promise us that this time, we'll stay. No, this doesn't mean we plan on moving to the moon, but it does mean they plan to build outposts that will aid them on eventual journeys to Mars – and yes, even beyond.
The spacecraft being designed for such a mission can be reused up to 10 times, making it more affordable than ever to send men up into space. These new ships will not only get us to the moon and help us one day get to Mars, but they will also be used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
And once they land on the moon, an outpost will be built where crew can remain on the moon for up to six months at a time. This compares favorably to the five-to-seven day trips they were limited to before.
2 NASA Will Capture an Asteroid
Yes, you read that right. NASA is currently working on redirecting an asteroid to orbit the moon so that humans can be sent to explore it.
Not only do they hope that this will aid us on our journey to Mars; they think that studying the asteroid could help save Earth from a catastrophic impact in the future.
NASA is working on two different methods for this. The first one would involve enclosing a large asteroid with an inflatable system and the second would use robotic arms to capture a smaller boulder from a larger asteroid.
This is of interest to scientists because studying the contents of the asteroids could help humans find ways to survive in space. There's even a growing interest in mining asteroids for resources, since it's possible they could hold enough oxygen, hydrogen, water or even rocket fuel within the rocky surface to keep mankind going for centuries.
1 Humans Will Visit Mars
It's hard to imagine that years ago, even getting to the moon seemed like the stuff of science fiction novels. Yet, here is mankind today, talking about sending not only spacecraft, but also humans, to the red planet.
And from the sounds of it, it may very well be possible.
Sure, there are corporate interests promising to offer trips to Mars before NASA ever gets there, but many of them seem to be blowing hot air. Because getting to Mars isn't an easy venture by any stretch of the imagination. It's not as simple as shooting a rocket into space. Just from the sheer distance alone, it would take nine months of travel to get humans there. And they would need fuel for the trip (and the trip back), food, oxygen, water and everything else they'd need for a regular nine months on Earth. But perhaps, with the ability to build outposts on the moon, a vacation to Mars isn't as far off as it may seem.