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HomeAIEternal life or war with AI: what awaits humanity in 30 years

Eternal life or war with AI: what awaits humanity in 30 years

What awaits humanity by 2050 and what trends are already affecting society?  economist and forecaster Alexander Chulok told TS Trends about fantasy that is becoming reality

About the author: Alexander Chulok is a Russian forecaster, international foresight expert of the United Nations Development Program, Doctor of Economics, Director of the HSE ISSEK Center for Science and Technology Forecasting. Specialist in technology trends, forecasts and foresight.

Forecasting. Specialist in technology trends, forecasts and foresight.

Long term play into the future

For many developed countries, the forecast for 30–40 years is not futurology, but practically investment plans. The horizon of 2050 is increasingly appearing in global foresights and forecasts.

Economists are increasingly referring to the big Kondratiev cycles, discussing the beginning of a new wave until 2060-2070. When we build long-term strategies, we usually start from the life cycle of the forecasting object, that is, from how quickly processes in the economy, society, science and technology change. In the last 10–15 years, the main horizon has been 2030. Now the assemblage point is 2045-2050.

Many processes that need to be controlled now have a long-term effect. These are climate change, city design, increasing society’s readiness for various risks – from natural to man-made, restructuring of industry and the economy on a new technological base. Therefore, countries that are building such a long-term game into the future want to understand the contours of what can happen.

The speed of technology diffusion, decision-making and the emergence of new markets has increased dramatically. If earlier technology could be integrated into our lives for decades, now it can be days – take at least ChatGPT, neural networks, or the victorious march of Pokémon GO a few years ago.

To be successful and competitive in the time period of 2030-2050, decisions need to be made literally in the coming years. That is, laying the foundation for a place under the sun in 2053 will take place over the next three to five years. It is not surprising that many countries, including China, the USA, France, Germany, organize entire ministries and departments to manage the technologies of the future – AI, quantum computers, cloud research systems, new types of energy, biotechnology, terraforming technologies, ocean and space exploration. .

We want to understand what is happening and what will happen. Humanity is indeed entering an era of intense turbulence where factors are changing rapidly and decision makers need a one-touch game. It will not be possible to process materials for a long time, conduct research for years, wait for results. Decisions will have to be made almost in real time. And, of course, the demand for a new type of analytics dictates the emergence of new concepts of how to work with the future.

Over the past six months, we have seen a rapid growth in demand for knowledge about long-term trends among Russian businesses. It is available to private companies, and to state-owned, and large, and small, from completely different areas. Companies, without saying a word, say: “With a real increase in efficiency, cost management, time management, team building, we have already somehow learned how to work.

But, investing in current tasks, we forgot to look to the future.” And this is recognized not only by state players who are obliged to develop innovative development programs – this is also a request from private business. They ask not to tell them about today and even about tomorrow, but ask them to tell them about the day after tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

It seems to me that this is a historical, turning point, because it is commonly believed that Russian business is not interested in innovation and science, and does not invest in the future. However, this reversal is supported by empirical data.

Last year, together with the Association of Managers, we conducted a survey with the participation of more than 240 companies and found out what the main threats to business development they see on the horizon of five years.

About 69% say that the innovation gap and the loss of understanding of what is happening on the global scientific agenda is a serious threat to their development. That is, companies understand that they need an investment in the future.

What other countries are planning

China plans to become a “modern socialist country” by 2050 and sets ambitious goals, including building an ecological civilization and a climate-resistant society. He declares that he strives to develop green innovations and become the world’s largest investor, producer, consumer and exporter of green energy.

For the consistent implementation of these ambitious plans, the country’s leadership has identified five areas: the economy, innovation, green development, knowledge and culture. The latter is assigned a special role – to ensure the growth of China’s “soft power” to promote the principles of looking at the world as “harmonious, but different” and to involve more and more people on the Earth who share China’s values ​​about the life of “different nations in harmony”.

And for the government of the country, one of the key tasks is to ensure economic growth without burdening nature and the environment, which is significantly different from the old approach, which allowed progress to be achieved at any cost.

According to the US long-term strategy, they plan to become carbon neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Much of this must be done through the development of renewable energy, electrification, increased operational efficiency, the development of clean fuels, including hydrogen, and the development of carbon capture systems. The ambitions of the country are not limited to this.

In the public domain there is a document of the US National Intelligence Council, indicating global trends until 2040. It examines different scenarios of world development: from the renaissance of democracy to a climate catastrophe. The key actors are typically the US, China, Russia and the EU.

Germany aims to provide sustainable and climate-neutral technologies by 2045 while remaining globally competitive. Another task is to intensify space exploration and protect the use of outer and sea space. They did not bypass society either. It, according to German experts, should be safe, equal in capabilities and able to withstand hybrid threats.

South Korea has a 4.0. On the way to the technological revolution. They see one of the tasks not just technological development and digitalization, like many other countries, but also increasing the resilience of society to emerging risks. Investments in the development of modern technologies will amount to $ 53 billion. Moreover, South Korea has already appointed a responsible company – Samsung, which has demonstrated its success to the whole world.

It’s a smart decision – it’s much more efficient to entrust the implementation of the plan to a successful company with a huge history of innovation and large budgets for research and development. South Korea has also set a goal to have at least ten carbon-neutral cities by 2030. And put flying taxis on a commercial stream.

Japan has a science and technology foresight until 2050, which talks about building a society 5.0, where one of the key characteristics is an increase in average life expectancy to 120 years.

In total, Japanese scientists have identified more than 800 different technologies, the development of which is distributed over time and eight key areas of scientific and technological development, including biomonitoring and bioengineering of a new generation for precision medicine, analysis at the atomic and molecular levels using advanced information technologies, advanced electronic and quantum devices that are revolutionary for ICT, technologies for monitoring, assessing and predicting nature management.

Cities of the future: smart, clean, creative and inclusive

Cities may well be the rallying point for the technologies of the future. In 30 years, many of them may indeed become carbon neutral. There will also be cities with “smart” energy and transport systems, advanced agricultural technologies. Creating spaces and opportunities for revealing the creative potential of a person.

Created on new technologies and construction principles, including buildings with low energy consumption. But designing such megacities, perhaps, will no longer be human architects, but neural networks, immediately creating a digital projection of the city in the virtual world.

Technologies in the field of bioelectronic interfaces will be developed, which allow connecting the human brain and a computer. It may very well be that after some time we will pay, for example, to travel through the iris of the eye, and by the power of thought to call an elevator or open doors.

Although with the development of such technologies, the risks of cyber attacks and hacking will also increase. If neural interfaces are in use, then it is likely that there will also be hackers capable of hacking thoughts, from which it will be necessary to install an antivirus in the neurochip. The current success of neural networks in “guessing” human thoughts makes such predictions quite real.

I hope that the city of the future will be with clean, safe and free energy. So, now the question of cold thermonuclear fusion has again arisen. In China, for example, the number of publications on the subject of “artificial sun” has increased.

Perhaps quantum computers in 2030 will become commonplace for everyone. But they can also bring big risks associated with the same cybersecurity, because it will be a doomsday for encryption in its current form. This means that new ways of protecting information will be invented.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the citizens of 2053 will also observe digital hygiene, related to the control of their digital footprints – or what is called the protection of their personal data. Maybe every citizen will have several different digital avatars for all occasions.

Eternal life, or movement towards a happy man

I hope that there will still be a breakthrough in medical technology on the horizon of 2053. For example, a futurist, a member of the expert panel for forecasting the scientific and technological development of Russia until 2030, José Luis Cordeiro, in his book Death Must Die, says that by 2050 humanity will gain immortality. And Elon Musk promised to take 1 million people to Mars by 2050. I think that by 2053 we will see if these two outstanding visionaries of our time have succeeded in delivering on their promises.

In any case, there are several important trends in medicine now. Firstly, it is the use of artificial intelligence and big data to model various types of drugs (the so-called drug design). Mankind has mostly been spying on nature, from Petri dishes, when penicillin was invented, to biomimic technologies.

Perhaps artificial intelligence will prompt us with some non-standard interesting solutions in the fight against key socially significant diseases. Nature itself can also be digitized: starting from mathematical models that accurately predict the onset of cataclysms (this is one of Japan’s priorities until 2050), and ending with a digital label for each plant, which will allow not only to take a different look at the world around us,

A very interesting area is genetic and cellular technologies, biodegradable materials. With their help, it will be possible to treat many diseases, and rehabilitation with the help of neural interfaces will allow a person to control prostheses with the power of thought in the same way as his limbs.

The doctor of the future will have artificial intelligence and robots as assistants by 2053. The decision will still be made by a human, but according to our survey , 35% of respondents (a representative sample of 18 to 65 years old) would be ready to trust a robotic surgeon.

Since the best treatment is prevention, new technologies will help catch the disease faster. Medical services can be built into a refrigerator, laptop, bathroom or other elements of a smart home. In the automotive industry, you can find developments that monitor driver fatigue, heart rate and avoid car accidents if something happens to him.

There are technologies that, using computer vision, help track whether a person is moving or not, what his pulse is – this makes life easier for people caring for elderly or seriously ill relatives. In 30 years, these technologies will become as familiar as a blood pressure monitor and a glucometer. In general, by 2053 the concept of “older person” should be transformed.

Thanks to neurointerfaces that prevent neurodegenerative diseases – Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the rehabilitation industry and hormone therapy, an 80-year-old person may well be cheerful in spirit and body and remain an active member of society.

And this is a big challenge, because for young people the main advantage is age, and it may not be so important by 2053 against the backdrop of experienced and energetic adults. In such a society, perhaps the role of psychologists will increase dramatically, helping to find meaning for a long life and answering the age-old question “What to do?”.

It is possible that the key indicator for such a society will be the level of human happiness, which, as you know, is only to a certain extent determined by money.

Digital Society: Towards an Ecosystem

Nothing but the truth, the truth, and the truth. Fact-checking and the fight against hallucinating neural networks and deepfakes can reach their zenith in the next three to five years. And on the horizon of 2050-2053, perhaps, digital models of a person will begin to live an independent life.

Whether the programmer will remain a promising profession or machines will design machines is a big question. However, the current demand for such skills is enormous. Soon, applicants will write “confident user of neural networks” in their resumes.

There is evidence that the salary of a top specialist can now reach $ 20 million a year, and by 2030 this skill will become as natural as typing text on a computer or searching for information on the Internet now.

The development of virtual universes, worlds and avatars could bring about unprecedented changes in society. The human psyche has hardly changed over the past 100 years, and from the point of view of anthropology, 30 years is one second.

However, technology is quite capable of transforming communication, relationships between people. We all know that on the Internet, many people say things that they would not say in person, so it is quite possible that widespread digitalization by 2053 will lead to the fact that we will see the manifestations of human qualities brighter and more polarized.

Today, many people are afraid of the digital divide, but we must not forget that there has always been inequality, and the digital divide is likely to be easier to overcome than, for example, the economic one.

Digital social elevators may be more accessible than real life elevators. In my opinion, it is the “figure” that can make it possible to reduce the level of inequality and entry barriers in society. It is possible that digital technologies will be able to greatly replace traditional means of exchange, replacing, for example, money with social and ethical ratings or completed levels in computer games.

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