Have our grandparents ever think of self-driving cars, widespread internet access, semi-smart robots, and many things that the current century holds? Not sure about the time, but we soon are witnessing such technological changes around us. Despite having these beyond-the-imagination advancements, we are unable to wean ourselves off from so many issues that are affecting and disturbing the nature and its created balance.
I am talking none other than fossil fuels or antibiotics; have we protected the rainforest? Is the stigma surrounding mental illness reduced? Are our cities flood-proofed? Are we doing something to protect our energy grids from natural disasters? No matter how fast the tech world is moving, we are still negating all the significant issues that the world is facing in this so-called Tech-era.
If this Tech-generation is facing multiple global challenges, then what you say about the world and its related problems in coming decades, let’s say in 2050. Can anyone think of questions that would rule us after 3 decades from now? Don’t be shy if you can’t, global analysts and predictors have already mind-mapped the grand issues that would possibly be threatening us in 2050, get to know five of them here.
1. AI will Rule Our Lives
Futurist Ray Kurzweil has made predictions – some inspirational, while others are downright alarming. Top of them is the sci-fi-sounding notion that claims that artificial intelligence will one day become more powerful than human intelligence and improve its an exponential rate, otherwise known as ‘the singularity.’ It’s far from the majority perception, but only few would deny that AI is going to get more powerful. So, the tech and AI community will consider the ethical and societal implications of their work as AI is ready to transform more realms of our life, from healthcare to financial institutions. For end-of-the-world extinction scenarios, it’s not likely – it can’t be ignored that AI is poised to change our lives and work in profound ways. It is not impossible that specific AIs could malfunction or leave their creators’ control, and lead to human disasters, where millions of dollars are wiped out, our lives are lost forever.
2. Aged Population Would Be Highest
Currently, we are wrestling with the fact that the global population is exploding, but by 2050, we will be having more than 9.8 billion with the highest ratio of elderly people. People will be living longer than ever, which is great – but those senior citizens will require extensive care. The rise in the urban population will put pressure on energy demands and potentially make the air toxic to breathe, similar to the situation in Beijing in the last decade, is yet another debate.
The number of centenarians will stretch more than 50 times – from 500,000 to over 26 million by 2100. From the UK to China to Japan, societies with the greatest ratio of people over 65 will become common. In a couple of decades, as the increase has already started, we’ll soon be needing better health care resources for the elderly (Japan has begun working on eyeing robots) and policies to allow immigrants, aging workforces and in some cases, reducing birth rates.
3. The Evolution Of Social Media
Social media has already complicated the way we communicate. Congratulations! It’s not fading anytime soon, given that news gathering is the second most use of social media after social networking. That’s before we even fall into a mess of online harassment.
What might social media look like in 30 years, and what would be the threats it might pose? A world without privacy, for one; isn’t something we are already seeing? It will be worse or won’t be needed anytime soon. Many charities across the world are mobilizing the fight against internet trolls but do the law enforcement agencies, and the social media companies are fixing it or getting it worse? Ask yourself! Then there’s also the problem of information diet; if the status quo of ubiquitous fake news persists, can you imagine how it will shape how people see the world? If we spend months, years, even decades exposed only to unreliable news; it won’t augur well for civilized society. You may say, the speed at which social media has evolved, it could solve those problems at the same pace. But don’t forget, Facebook is just 13 years old, how in 30 years we may be dealing with those social media issues that we’ve not even considered yet.
4. Convenience Will Outweigh Privacy
We, private citizens, are already increasingly concerned about the use of drones and related technologies, data lies in the current digital revolution. Continued growth will undoubtedly require greater transparency between people and devices; that means less privacy. Take the idea of digital twins, our computer-based personalities that can take decisions and complete tasks in our stead. To use them, privacy will take a back seat. The Pew Research Internet Project surveyed 2,511 internet experts and builders, broke out a few notable predictions in the realm of cyber privacy;
1. “Big data equals big business. Those special interests will continue to block any effective public policy to ensure online security, liberty, and privacy.” – an executive at an internet top-level domain-name operator.2. “We have never had ubiquitous surveillance before, much less a form of ubiquitous surveillance that emerges primarily from voluntary (if market-obscured) choices. Predicting how it shakes out is just fantasy.” – John Wilbanks, chief commons officer.
3.”Citizens will divide between convenience and privacy.” – Niels Ole Finnemann, Director of Netlab.
Legally, police can create fake social media accounts to catch criminals, while privacy experts are already voicing concerns about body cameras and other sake-of-convenience tools.
5. The Tangible Damage of Cyberattacks
A movie “The Interview” undeniably cleared that cyberattackers mean a successful business. Even minor breaches, like that of the Careem that lately compromised the data of 14 million users in the middle east, have increased frequency and strength. By 2025, according to experts “nations, rogue groups, and malicious individuals” will extend their hacking games, according to a report from the Pew Research Center – of the 1,642 experts, 61% predicted that a significant attack could cause a significant loss of life or property, costing tens of billions of dollars.
Today, countries with their militaries don’t typically attack in two dimensions that have already ventured into the hacking territory. For example, the Islamic State group ( ISIS or ISIL) launched its “cyber caliphate,” and it’s rumored that Russia will support a state-sponsored hacker group. These hacks could affect not only institutes like banks, businesses, and private data but also damage tangibles in a world increasingly reliant on technology. An attack on a German steel mill in 2014 has caused significant damages to its furnaces. The year before, the Stuxnet virus destroyed approx. One-Fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.
Even the users are also confident and smart enough to defend the vulnerabilities of cyber attacks using technologies like Virtual Private Network; faster the VPN, more the anonymous.
In the coming decades, it’s not sure whether the aging population would easily be controlled or not but would be protected at least virtually with the help of current or upcoming technologies like VPN.
Want To Be Threatened?
Mentioning these dangers is not to threaten you or your coming generation, but to aware you beforehand, so that you can take preventive measure in advance.
To wrap up, let me share you some more global challenges that the world would be dealing in coming decades if the preventive measure would not be taken at the right time;
- Genetic human modification
- Lost cities due to rising sea level
- Geopolitical tensions
- The sheer number of cars is going to skyrocket
- Dwindling resources
- Boosted brainpower
- The urban population would be tripled
- Polluted air
- More than half of the world’s population may not have access to water
- Millions could be without food
- Easy widespread of diseases
- More severe hurricanes
- Prohibitively expensive oil