Top 10 Highlights
Good news stories don’t sell so this list is almost guaranteed to get next to no views. But, despite the deluge of bad news stories that hit us every day there is plenty to be positive about and we think it’s worth putting something out there that challenges the medias bad new bias.
This is not to say that it’s all skittles and roses. There are plenty of people on this earth having a really rough time, but the good things being done should be applauded a bit more and a bit louder because it’s these things that will reduce the impact of the bad things and make the world, dare we say it, a happy place for future generations to live in.
10. There Will Be More Incredible Gadgets
We will certainly have smarter phones and other personal devices in the future, but it will be the things we have not yet imagined that will make the future such an exciting place. Virtual reality that is more reality than virtual, allowing us to walk inside hotels we might want to stay at, or ‘attend’ concerts or events on the other side of the world. Communicate via three dimensional holographic avatars. 3D printers in our homes that magically manufacture whatever we want at the touch of a button. Refrigerators that automatically order staple items that are running low. Instant, low cost access to music, movies and games. Hold on, that’s here already isn’t it?
These are incremental improvements to our lives but are nonetheless exciting and make us feel positive about the future. But what might really blow us away in future is artificial intelligence. It’s getting closer and we don’t think the general public really understands yet what it means.
Check out the film Her and you will get the idea. Here’s a clip:
9. More Energy Will Be More Portable
The ability to store energy is holding back a number of great new technology’s, electric cars being the main one. Advances in the development of graphene-based super capacitors are promising batteries that can charge and discharge thousands of times faster than existing batteries. That means you could charge your phone or laptop in seconds. That’s right, seconds. Not minutes. Seconds.
An electric car might take a few minutes to charge. There would be no more petrol stations. Just pull up at a charging station, maybe buy something to eat or go to the bathroom and when you get back to your car you are ready to go for another week or so. In fact the whole oil thing that has dominated global politics for decades could be gone, to say nothing of the air and noise pollution benefits.
Here’s the indomitable DNews to tell us all about graphene super capacitors:
8. People Power
The internet has enabled all sorts of connections. Business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), consumer to consumer (C2C) and people to people (P2P) for both social and economic purposes. At its best the world wide web gives every person connected to it the power to reach out to millions of other individuals and when this is harnessed in a positive way the effects can be monumental. Crowd funding is a great example of this.
But what really excites us about people power in the future is the ability of worthwhile causes to gather the social and economic support that would have been impossible previously. Even now, information about any natural disaster spreads quickly through social media and independent reports from the scene and donations, food and clothing quickly follow from all areas of the globe.
Since the 1960’s people power in the form of marches and demonstrations has proven to be reasonably effective. But in the future an internet-enabled people power has the potential to drive social change and positive causes in ways that our forebears could not have imagined.
This ad from Change.org gets the message across:
7. There Will Be Plenty Of Food
New technologies are disrupting the power generation landscape, the production of clean water, our transportation needs and more. While we don’t hear much about technology and food production, the advances being made in producing everything from fruit and vegetables to meat and leather is significant.
A startup business called Modern Meadow is looking at using the tissue engineering technology used to grow tissues and organs for medical purposes to ‘grow’ meat and leather. No need for feeding, watering, housing, slaughtering and transporting animals (a process that produces around 50% of manmade green house gases). No need for the toxic processes used to produce leather. Wow.
In Singapore, where land is scarce, a vertical farm has been constructed to grow vegetables. 9 meter towers have tiers of planting troughs that rotate to receive sunlight and are watered from overhead reservoirs that collect rainwater. This vertical farm produces up to ten times more vegetables than would be produced on the same amount of land using traditional methods and the end product is competitive in price.
These are just two examples, but there’s much more going on. With plentiful amounts of water and energy in the future, these sorts of innovations in food production will provide us with more than we can eat in the future.
Another great TED talk. This is truly amazing stuff.
6. The World Will Run On Cheap, Clean Energy
Solar power technology keeps getting better and better as do wind generators, wave generators and other types of alternative energy solutions. Most countries in the world are going through a phase where the incumbent energy providers who are still locked into dirty power generation are fighting to keep the new generators out. But they are fighting a losing battle and really it’s just the normal kicking and screaming that goes on when any outdated industry is in the throes of dying.
Cheap, clean energy will be abundant in the future and the flow-on effects of this are far reaching, particularly in developing nations where things like refrigerators are still a luxury. The earth will be much less polluted in the future than it is now and the amount we pay for energy will be way, way less as well. We can’t wait for that future!
Quayle Hodek talks about his success in the alternative energy industry, but it’s not until about 6 minutes into his talk that things get really interesting. What will cheap, clean energy mean to people in developing nations? Watch, please:
5. We Will Be Healthier
This can be debated because our lifestyles have such a big impact on our health and what sort of lifestyles we lead is totally up to each individual. However we certainly have the potential to be healthier now than at any time in the past and our knowledge of what makes us healthy continues to grow. Whether it be our diet, which clearly has a massive impact on our wellbeing, our level of stress, or the technology that can catch diseases at an early, treatable stage, future generations will have everything they need to lead exceptionally healthy lives.
And imagine what our cities would be like without the raging pollution from petrol driven cars and oil based manufacturing. A healthier environment can only be a good thing for our own health and we think the future will be a cleaner and healthier place.
TEDx talk on the future of health:
4. There Will Be Clean Water For All
Early adopters always pay a premium for the product or service they are buying and this is certainly the case for desalination plants. They are pretty expensive pieces of infrastructure. But with new technology and better processes desalination plants in the future will cost less to build, less to run and produce more fresh water than current plants. So not only will future generations have use of the infrastructure that’s already been built and paid for, adding to that capability across the globe will be achievable even for poorer nations.
And where desalination plants are not feasible, technology like Slingshot will produce up to 800 litres of clean water per day from sea water, river water, even sewerage and use less power than a hair dryer doing it.
That means clean, fresh water in ample quantities should become a reality for everyone in the world in the future. The impact this would have on those people who currently drink dirty water, or carry water miles each day to their home, or simply don’t get enough water, is hard to imagine. It would literally transform their lives.
Solar powered desalination plants (big energy users) are the perfect combination of modern technologies:
3. We Will Eliminate Transmissible Diseases
This is a big call, but even if we only consider the impact of global access to clean water, it’s achievable. Waterborne viruses are the biggest cause of illness in the developing world. Diarrhea, Botulism, Cholera, Dysentery, Salmonellosis, Typhoid, Legionellosis and other illnesses are all spread by waterborne viruses and bacteria.
Add the incredible work being done to eliminate Malaria (which effects up to 500 million people annually) and other mosquito borne diseases like Dengue Fever and the world is well on the way to eliminating these widespread, transmissible diseases.
Reducing these diseases will free up the enormous amount of money spent on caring for the sick allowing more to be spent on improving other services to the needy. Note that we are not talking about ’non-transmissible’ illnesses like heart disease and cancers.
Waterborne diseases. Here’s a taste:
2. The World’s Poor Will Be Better Off
This is a tricky point. There is an increasing gap between the rich and the poor all over the world and that gap is increasing. But the poor are better off in absolute terms. In developed countries the poor will generally have somewhere to live, a television (probably a flat screen), a refrigerator, hot and cold running water, a mobile phone (quite possibly a smart phone) and an internet connection. These are things the poor of the past, or the poor in the developing world now, could barely imagine.
From a global perspective the potential for real improvements is massive. Communications throughout poor areas of Africa and Asia have improved immeasurably with mobile phones and that has enabled innovations like banking through phone accounts. That’s just one example.
If improvements in the availability of clean water, inexpensive power and better health follow as predicted elsewhere on our list, the poor of the future will be significantly better off than the poor of today. Hopefully increases in living standards will increase globally to the point where we just have the rich and the middle class. No poor. No more.
A little about the poorest people of Bangladesh:
This is a bit of a catch-all in the sense that it will be the things that philanthropy enables that will benefit future citizens of the world, not the philanthropy itself. It’s a rather circular argument. Anyway, according to an Oxfam Report released earlier this year, we live in a world where the 85 richest individuals have more wealth than the bottom half of the entire population. That’s right, 85 people own more than 3,000,000,000 people.
Wealth and income inequality is cause for an entire list on its own, but the point is that many of these 85 people are giving enormous amounts of money to philanthropic causes. The Gates Foundation is well known, as is Warren Buffett’s involvement in it. Each of the Gates and Buffetts have given away more than $25 billion to philanthropic causes up until the end of last year. The Gates Foundation is involved in global health initiatives, development programs, education programs and policy and advocacy. The impact this is having, and will continue to have on the future of the people of this planet cannot be underestimated.
Other philanthropic figures to have given generously include George Soros ($10 billion over his lifetime), Chuck Feeney ($6.5 billion), The Walton Family (over $4 billion), The Broad Family ($3.5 billion), Michael Bloomberg ($2.7 billion), Gordon Moore ($2.5 billion), Paul Allen (over $2 billion), Mark Zuckerberg ($550 million) and John & Laura Arnold ($500 million). There are many others.
To sum up, Warren Buffett has challenged other billionaires to give away at least half of their fortunes during their life or when they die. “If you have trouble living on $500 million, I’m gonna put out a book, How to Live on $500 Million. Think about whether the other $500 million might do more for humanity that it will for you and your family”. Amen.
A very, very interesting TED talk on the issues facing the non-profit sector:
Another great TED talk, this time Bill and Melinda Gates talking about the satisfaction of giving their money away:
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time”. Abraham Lincoln.