500 Years From Now – What Will Life On Earth Be Like?

500 years ago, roughly only half of the earth
had been thoroughly explored and colonized, and the Americas were home to indigenous civilizations,
but were largely unknown to the rest of the world. People lived and died in the same homes, or
at best, could aspire to end their lives no more than a few miles from where they were
born. Yet today, globalism has connected the planet,
and for most of the world, your future is in your own hands. The jet engine and the internet have brought
us opportunities that can take us around the Earth, while modern medicine keeps pushing
the limits of our mortality. But what might the future hold? Welcome to this episode of The Infographics
Show- where we take a look at what life on earth might look like in 50, 100, and 500
years. Fifty years ago the computer was just starting
to replace slide rules in the most advanced industries of the most modern nations- but
today handheld cell phones with many thousands of times the computing power are in the hands
of most people around the world. Per Moore’s Law computing power doubles every
18 months, and for decades this law has held true. Yet today that law is being tested as our
computer chips are reaching the very physical limits of the material they are constructed
from. In short- we are starting to hit the maximum
efficiency limits we can reach with physical materials. Enter quantum computing. While incredibly complex to fully explain,
the basics of quantum computing is that it will allow us to bypass the limits of physical
materials as instead of using voltage or charge to store information, it does so with subatomic
particles, making quantum computers exponentially faster than a conventional computer. In 50 years we will likely see quantum computers
replace conventional computers on a massive scale, even while new materials science continues
to push the limits of conventional computing. You likely won’t be carrying around a quantum
phone, but your desktop at home will be a quantum computer. All of this raw computational power combined
with advanced AI will give humanity the ability to exponentially accelerate its ability to
solve problems and conduct research, greatly increasing the pace of new discoveries. All of this new computing power will revolutionize
artificial intelligence, likely bringing about the technological singularity- or the point
at which our technology becomes more intelligent than us. While many people fear this event, it is mostly
due to a gross misunderstanding of intelligence. All intelligence is after all not equal- for
example you are vastly more intelligent than a monkey, but if you were transported to a
rainforest and left there to fend for yourself, the monkey could be considered the more intelligent
animal as it knows how to survive in that environment and you likely don’t. In that case we could consider the monkey
to have a specialized intelligence that surpasses your own in that specific circumstance- it
does not have the raw capabilities that you have, but in one specific area it is far more
intelligent than you. This is likely the route that artificial intelligence
will take in 50 years- machines will become hyper intelligent but will become specialized
intelligences that are incredibly efficient in one specific area, while all but inept
in any other. This is likely simply due to the nature of
programming, as an intelligent machine will still need a human programmer (for now) to
teach it what to use its intelligence for, and programming something as complex as the
human brain that can do a nearly infinite number of things well is incredibly challenging
if not impossible for a human programmer. But programming a machine for a small number
of tasks is relatively easy. So in 50 years we will have hyper intelligent
AIs to assist us in every facet of our lives, but need not live in fear of them wishing
to overthrow us. All that machine intelligence will lead to
things such as wearable technology that can monitor our health and warn us of pending
illnesses, or by learning our biological patterns over weeks and months even be able to predict
when we will get sick, depressed, or stressed out, offering ‘mood’ forecasts. For example, your smart wearable may pick
up on the unique patterns of your brain and body that will let it know you are becoming
more stressed out, and be able to recommend diet changes or activities to take to avoid
increased stress in the near future. By linking these wearables together over the
internet, doctors will be able to prescribe treatments and medicines that are uniquely
tailored to your specific biology, greatly increasing the effectiveness of medical treatments. In 50 years advances in nanomanufacturing
will revolutionize the world in ways that can be difficult to predict. By manufacturing materials at the molecular
level we will create materials that are hundreds of times stronger or more electrically conductive
than today’s. The energy efficiency of our cities will skyrocket,
greatly reducing the demands placed on power plants. Vehicles made from nano-manufactured materials
may be all but indestructible, saving millions of lives every year. Nanomedicine will also allow tiny robots and
genetically engineered viruses to attack disease and infection on the molecular level, eliminating
the side effects of drugs and greatly increasing our resistance to disease. In 50 years each human may be host to millions
of tiny robots who constantly patrol the body like artificial white blood cells, constantly
attacking cancers, viruses and other illnesses- being sick may be a thing of the past! Most scientists are pretty confident that
we will have mastered nuclear fusion within 50 years, giving humanity access to abundant
and very cheap clean energy. Unfortunately the consequences of global warming
are not likely to be averted, though a growing awareness of the threat we face is helping
to limit the inevitable damage we will cause to our planet. Global temperatures will likely rise by a
degree to a degree and a half Celsius, which will see the dying of most coral reefs around
the world and along with them the vast majority of fish species that rely on them. Sea levels will rise by anywhere between one
to three inches, making flooding a constant and ongoing threat to most coastal cities. The Arctic may become completely ice-free
during the summer for the first time in history, driving polar bears and some seal species
to extinction. On a positive note though, humanity may begin
the process of transplanting warm water corals such as those that grow in the Persian Gulf
and the Red Sea around the world. Adapted to the warmer temperatures, these
coral reefs could in a few hundred years completely replace the old reefs, bringing back fish
populations and diversity. The melting of the Arctic will also open up
the last of the world’s untouched fish stocks and underwater energy reserves, helping to
stave off a complete energy and commercial fishing collapse. And absolutely nobody will be killed by Polar
Bears anymore. That’s a lot of changes for us in 50 years,
a lot good, but some pretty bad. Still, there’s hope for us if we learn to
manage the world and its resources in a responsible way and use powerful new technologies to aid
us in that endeavor. So what will life look like in 200 years? That becomes more difficult to predict, and
relies heavily on how we choose to spend the next 50 years, however some trends can be
easily predicted, and some optimistic guesses can be made. While global populations will explode in the
next two hundred years, the rate of growth is predicted to slow dramatically and not
reach the apocalyptic standing-room-only predictions so popular with doomsayers today. This is because even today population growth
in the First World has slowed dramatically, and in some places such as Japan all but stalled. That’s due to people living better lives and
having more opportunities, thus choosing to wait longer to start families. As more of the world catches up to a modern
way of living, the exploding populations of the Third and Second worlds will experience
the same dramatic slowdown- so while humanity will grow well above the 10 billion mark,
we almost certainly won’t run the risk of dramatic overpopulation. Still, with a desire for greater personal
freedom and to escape overpopulated mega-cities, humanity will move to the oceans, both above
and below them. Floating cities have already been designed
by architects today, and future advancements in materials and manufacturing will make them
a reality. People will live under the waves as well-
the ocean retains the vast majority of the earth’s natural resources and is all but untouched. To feed a population of 15-20 billion, farming
will also move offshore. Advances in genetic engineering will allow
humanity to replace meat in most of our diets, and in fact the primary foodstock for all
of humanity may be algae. Genetically engineered ‘super algae’ could
be easily farmed and harvested in vast mid-ocean reserves, which are already mostly devoid
of life thus not harming any wildlife. The harvested algae could be reprocessed at
the molecular level and manipulated to simulate the taste and even texture of nearly any food
item, while avoiding the calories and fats of red meat and sweets. And while humanity certainly won’t give up
meat completely, instead of farming animals we will instead create meat from scratch-
a technology already under development. ‘Lab grown’ meats will be healthier, tastier,
and cheaper to produce, bringing better and more delicious diets to people around the
world while avoiding untold amounts of animal suffering and the staggering impact of traditional
farming on our environment. Greater advancements in computing will likely
see the creation of the first true artificial intelligences, though what they may be like
is as of yet a complete unknown. We may in fact not even be able to communicate
anything meaningful with these artificial intelligences, as simple evolutionary barriers
could make them vastly psychologically different than us. That’s because human intelligence is shaped
by millions of years of evolutionary pressures, creating a unique psychology that operates
on the basic principles of a need to sexually reproduce and compete for limited resources
such as food, water, shelter, hunting ranges, etc. These basic tenets- need to procreate and
compete for resources- are universal throughout all life, and we can predict that this holds
true for even the strangest alien life, as even if you are a jellyfish from the Zarlblarg
nebula, your ancestors still had to compete for whatever you eat as food and had to procreate. Even plants, who passively collect sunlight
and carbon dioxide, compete against each other for the best, sunniest spots, and to attract
pollinators. However, an artificial intelligence will not
have experienced any of these evolutionary pressures, and with a constant supply of power
feeding its hardware and no imperative to reproduce in order to ensure its survival,
will never face them. The psychology of such an intelligence and
how it might think is beyond our scope of understanding at the moment, and may be forever. Thus its likely that artificial intelligence
in the common science-fiction sense will simply never exist, as we will have no imperative
to create an intelligence we cannot communicate with or have any use for. What is likely is that humanity will instead
continue to develop artificial intelligences that are useful, continuing the track of specialized
intelligences that are hyper intelligent in specific areas. We will likely hand over the reins of development
over to these hyper intelligences, allowing them to optimize themselves and stepping out
of the creation loop entirely. These hyper intelligences will continuously
strive for greater and greater efficiency, creating constant updates to themselves that
improve their capabilities, resulting in an explosion of capabilities that is all but
impossible to predict. By harnessing these titanic intellects and
directing them at our pressing problems however mankind will absolutely revolutionize itself
and the world, solving in years or decades problems such as global warming which may
take us today centuries to fix. By this point it’s certain that man will begin
to merge with his technology, everything from artificial and hyper efficient organs to implants
that directly increase our intelligence and ability to process information. Humanity will become a trans-human species,
and combined with genetic engineering completely remove ourselves from the process of evolution,
putting its power to shape our bodies and minds completely in our own hands. With abundant clean energy and resources,
poverty will become extinct. The standard of living around the world will
become universal, which will eliminate the majority of sources for human conflict creating
an era of unparalleled peace and prosperity. Humanity will begin to take its first real
steps to establishing itself outside of the earth. What will begin as tourist destinations on
the Moon and Mars will grow into actual colonies, though still heavily dependent on Earth. The exploitation of resources in space will
begin in earnest well before 200 years from now- companies on earth are already mulling
the possibilities of harvesting raw materials from asteroids. With the incredible wealth of materials available
in asteroids throughout the solar system, humanity will have no shortage of materials
to create a true space-faring civilization. Life in 500 years becomes even more difficult
to predict- after all how could the first European settlers in America have possibly
predicted the internet? Some predictions can still be made though. With 500 years worth of computing, nanomanufacturing
and genetic engineering knowledge, disease and illness will likely be a thing of the
past. People simply won’t get sick anymore, our
bodies will host tiny implants that will monitor our health and create nanobots from the raw
materials in the food we eat so it can combat any threat to our bodies. Regenerative medicine will allow for the growth
of missing limbs, and genetic engineering will eradicate genetic disease entirely. Human lifespans will double or triple as we
reprogram our cells to stop deteriorating or simply replace them entirely with artificially
created copies. We may even become immortal, either by constantly
regenerating our bodies or by simply uploading our consciousness to computers. Humanity will almost certainly have taken
to the stars, but just how far is a complete unknown. While modern physics tells us that things
such as the warp drive and its ability to cheat the speed limit of light is theoretically
possible, our ability to ever actually create and power one is questionable at best. Unfortunately the most realistic prediction
for just how far into the stars humanity may get could be answered by observing space around
us- despite the earth existing for billions of years, we still have no evidence that it
was ever visited by aliens. And our planet is a late-comer to the galaxy,
many other star systems have existed for far longer than us, meaning there is certainly
life in our own galaxy that has been around for millions- if not billions- of years longer
than us. With all that time to solve the problem of
long-distance space flight, we still have no evidence for visitation. Perhaps we are simply in a backwater neighborhood,
far away from where the rest of life evolved, but sadly it’s far more likely that the distance
between all but the nearest stars is just too great, and humanity will never get further
than its own neighborhood. Life is set to change in ways we can hardly
imagine, and predicting life in 200 or even 500 years is almost impossible. Technology advances so rapidly that imagining
future technologies is as impossible for us today as it would have been for the early
European settlers to imagine the internet or space flight. What is clear though is that the world of
tomorrow depends entirely on the choices we make today, and the inventions of our children
will be shaped and guided by the values we instill in them today. Whether we teach our children to respect each
other and the world they live in, or don’t, will shape what our future looks like, and
may in fact mean the difference between continuing to thrive, or our complete extinction. So, what do you think life will look like
in the future? What future technology are you most excited
about? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video
What If You Only Drank Coke (Soda) and Nothing Else?. Thanks for watching, and as always, please
don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!


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