The year is 2036. Cloned humans walk the earth, artificial intelligence machines sit on the board of major corporations, and pizza is delivered by drone. It’s not so hard to imagine for some.
Discover Magazine points us to a new study commissioned by London & Partners that asked 2,088 US adults to make predictions on the future of our world in 2036. Most questions revolved around the evolution of technology and its role in our lives.
Check out their surprising responses:
66% of Americans surveyed predict drone pizza delivery will be considered “normal.” Amazon and Google have already built advanced drones capable of ferrying packages, but current regulations set by the American government make it criminal for businesses to use drones. The US Federal Aviation Administration is currently developing and rolling out new rules that would permit commercial drone use.
60% of Americans surveyed think it’s likely driverless vehicles will outnumber “regular” vehicles on major roads. Tech giants including Google, Uber, Apple, Tesla, and China’s Baidu are racing to bring self-driving cars to market, in the hopes of making roads safer and less backed up. A Business Insider Intelligence report estimates there will be 10 million driverless cars in use by 2020. Bringing down the cost of ownership and clarifying the regulations around self-driving vehicles will help the market grow among mainstream consumers.
49% of Americans surveyed expect communication devices to be embedded inside the human body. The human body may be the last frontier of connected devices. The body-hacking, or biohacking, movement involves embedding microchips under the skin (among other, less invasive enhancements) to create a smarter, happier human race. The trend is gaining momentum, though its enthusiasts vary in objectives and applications.
One noted biohacker and Transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, has been running an underdog presidential campaign for months. He had a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip implanted in his hand, which can do things like open doors to a home and office and store information.
69% of Americans surveyed think cashless technologies will fully replace physical money. More and more young people are cashing out using mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Square. Apps like Venmo and Splitwise let friends and roommates track shared expenses and pay what’s due.
Millennials are more likely to ditch their wallets because they’re more comfortable using their phones than older generations, according to some experts. The total value of of mobile payment transactions is expected to grow 210% in 2016 alone.
52% of Americans surveyed guess it’s likely the first cloned human being will have been born. No human has ever been cloned, though scientists around the world have successfully cloned other mammals. In South Korea, there’s a lab that will clone your dog, no matter its size, age, or breed, for $100,000.
The National Genome Research Institute explains cloning humans is a far more difficult task than cloning other mammals from a technical perspective. Even when the technology becomes available, it’s unlikely to take off considering the ethical qualms. Cloning has a very low success rate, with only 1% of cloning attempts ending in a viable animal.
65% of Americans surveyed expect doctors’ appointments to be routinely conducted via virtual reality. In 2016, doctors are already seeing patients by phone, email, and webcam. Last winter, I got a prescription for medicinal marijuana by video-conferencing with a physician. Virtual reality may be the next generation of telehealth technology.
Patients could strap on a headset and seek medical advice without ever leaving the couch. BigScreen is a virtual reality application that lets friends interact, watch Netflix, and play video games together in a luxury-style apartment. It’s not hard to imagine a virtual doctor’s office down the line.
54% of Americans surveyed believe 3D printers will be used to make human organs. Scientists are developing 3D printers that use live cells as “ink,” assembling layers upon layers as organs take shape. At Wake Forest University, a leading institute for bioprinting, staffers have already implanted artificial skin, ears, bone, and muscle on lab animals that grew successfully.
This kind of innovation potentially removes the need for human donation, though whole organs available for human transplant are years and years away. Clothes will be connected to the internet.
58% of Americans surveyed think clothing will be connected to the internet. Imagine losing a shoe and
Googling to find it. Some 10 billion products in the apparel, accessories, and footwear market are in the process of becoming connected to the internet, according to a Forbes report. This could bring location-tracking to our belongings.
While smartwatches and sneakers that track steps have ruled the wearables space, internet-connected clothing will only get more fashionable moving forward. Designers are working on fabrics that glow thanks to embedded LED lights, headdresses that read brain activity and change colour accordingly, and leather jackets that take photos. Some forecasts put the wearables industry at $70 billion in 2025.
39% of Americans surveyed predict the first artificial intelligence machine will serve on the board of big corporations. Titans of industry might one day make room at the board table for a machine powered by artificial intelligence, according to roughly one-third of Americans surveyed. Pro: Someone’s vote will value metrics and reasoning over emotion. Con: It’s creepy and weird.
48% of survey respondents said it was less than likely. People will hitch a ride to space from an airport.
45% of Americans surveyed believe commercial space flights could take off from major airports. 2016 has been a breakthrough year for commercial space flights. Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first company to ship private cargo to the International Space Station on a rocket, and NASA teamed up with Boeing to manufacture vehicles that will take humans into low Earth orbit and beyond. The earliest commercial trips to the International Space Station may launch as soon as late 2017.
35% of Americans surveyed think it’s likely avatar girlfriends and boyfriends will be commonplace. Considering most relationships exist, at least partly, from behind the screens of our phones, it comes as no surprise that many believe chatbots and virtual reality could someday replace real-world lovers.
Future technologies might be capable of rendering an avatar with the personality of a deceased person based on their writings, social media accounts, and other artifacts. Others are not expecting the plot of “Her” to play out so soon. Nearly half of survey respondents say avatar girlfriends and boyfriends are not likely by 2036.