Utopia: Life in the Year 2100

 
Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.
— Eduardo Galeano
There’s no such thing as designing the perfect utopian city. Everything is subject to change. There are no final frontiers.
— Jacque Fresco

Overview

Hello everyone and welcome back to those of you who have been following along with this series. As you can see I decided to title this article, Utopia: Life in the Year 2100, and I’d like to start off by explaining what lead me to associate speculation of life in the year 2100 with the concept of Utopia. There is some literature on the concept of Utopia which appears from the 16th century to the 19th century. In the year 1516, Sir Thomas Moore published the book, Utopia, in which he described a society in which religious freedom applied to everyone. Two other books written in the seventeenth century, namely Civitas Solis and Adventures of Telemachus, describes societies in which slavery is abolished and ones which have a constitutional government, respectively.

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Of course, the vast majority of people living in those times viewed these prognostications of the future of humanity as fanciful and outlandish. And yet, despite popular disbelief, all of these predictions eventually came true. And literature in the nineteenth century argued that gender equality, universal education, governmental safety nets, and preventative healthcare would eventually become ubiquitous throughout society. These predictions were also met with ridicule and hostility; but since then, the public zeitgeist has radically transformed and most of the world’s people now embrace these sentiments with open arms. As our science and technology progresses—and, even more importantly, as our social, economic, and value systems progress—these nineteenth century Utopian ideals will one day be fully realized.


The Big Three

“A diorama showing   Homo erectus  , the earliest human species that is known to have controlled fire, from inside the National Museum of Mongolian History in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.”\(^{[1]}\)

“A diorama showing Homo erectus, the earliest human species that is known to have controlled fire, from inside the National Museum of Mongolian History in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.”\(^{[1]}\)

The invention of language, like the inventions of fire and agriculture, lead to major changes in our lifestyle and species; in fact, many believe that those three technological breakthroughs caused changes in humanity more dramatic and progressive than even the industrial revolutions. But speaking about the invention of language in particular, I posit the question: What is so special about language? Well, language did give us the ability to hunt and kill larger prey like the Woolly Mammoth which, along with fire, increased our calorie intake and intake of nutrients so much that our brains grew by a pretty staggering amount. The fact that language also gives our brains the ability to form synaptic connections which couldn’t be formed without language also contributed to the increase in size of our brains. All in all, fire and language allowed humans to evolve brains with a mass three times greater than the brains of chimps. And so part of the reason why many would consider the inventions of fire and language to be more transformative than even the industrial revolutions is because not only did it change us on a social and economic level, but it even changed us on a biological level by causing us to evolve huge brains. And the technological revolution which will occur in the 21st-century is the biggest one ever, even bigger than the developments of fire, language, and agriculture; like the development of fire and language, this next great technological revolution will not only change our social and economic systems, but also our biological systems as we merge with our machines and transition from humans to cyborgs (indeed, we are already cyborgs) and eventually from cyborgs to either robots or computer simulations, the latter being something envisioned by the futurist and chief Google engineer Ray Kurzweil.

Photographs of the two pioneers of rocketry science, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (left) and Robert Goddard (right).

The reason why I brought up that old literature about Utopias and their predictions of the future is because most futurists and researchers who make predictions about what the future could be get similar reactions: ridicule, fear, hostility, disbelief, and all the rest. I do not grasp why this is and not only are many predictions about the future eventually attained but many of them are oftentimes surpassed. Whenever people have or have had talked about the future (and this is especially true for people in our time), the knee-jerk reaction tends to be that such visions of humanity’s future are far-fetched. There is an endless list of examples of this: the Wright brothers who once said that we’d build machines capable of flight were considered crazy; and then, just a few decades later, we had developed the airplane. Or Robert Goddard’s and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s vision that humans would one day build vehicles that could travel to space were also considered crazies. Now this is of course essentially a non-argument because how fantastic an idea is says nothing about whether or not it is actually feasible; whenever people in the past had rejected an idea for no other reason than it seeming to them “far-fetched,” most of the time this was essentially just a failure of the imagination as opposed to a well-thought out argument rebuking the flaws of the idea in a way that is logical, rational, and empirical.

I’m going to put this out there that not only will any ideas that you hear about in regard to the future tend to be “far-fetched” or, a term I’d prefer to use, fantastic, but we should expect such ideas to be “far-fetched” and fantastic. Why should we expect this? The simple answer is because of how fast technology is progressing. More technological change occurred in the past 40 years than in the past several thousand years. If you walked up to someone 40 years ago and told them that in the year 2018 billions of people would have a device that could fit in their pockets which could access the totality of all human knowledge by just typing in a few words, they would not only tell you that that sound “far-fetched” but they’d probably think that your crazy. And the same will be true over the next 20 years: in the next 20 years, there will be more change than the past 40, and so on. And so, my point is that so much change will occur in just this century that everything that we discuss will naturally sound “far-fetched” and just kind of crazy, but that’s just the way it is.

The  Neolithic Revolution  (which began, independently, in multiple different civilization 10 to 12 thousand years ago) occurred when, for the first time, we humans began to domesticate plants and animals.

The Neolithic Revolution (which began, independently, in multiple different civilization 10 to 12 thousand years ago) occurred when, for the first time, we humans began to domesticate plants and animals.

There have been countless technological innovations in the past which have improved our standard of living, but the most fundamental and important ones are usually considered to be the inventions of fire, language, and agriculture. Those three technological inventions changed the way that we live so dramatically that it would’ve been literally impossible for people alive during those transformations to actually predict just how much those technological breakthroughs would have changed society and the way that we live. For example, the first cavemen and hunter-gatherers could have never predicted the works of Shakespeare, or dictionaries, or that language would have enabled their descendants to understand the inner-working of the universe. Similarly, the cavemen who first invented fire could have never guessed that cooked meat would eventually make their brains vastly larger. And when agriculture was first invented, no one could’ve ever guessed that agriculture would lead to the invention of the city, the division of labor, money, a vast population growth, and modern civilization at least as we currently know it.

The technological breakthroughs of our time, which will mainly be shaped by AI and robotics, will lead to a transformation in the way that we live that is far more dramatic than even those big three technological breakthroughs, which many argue are the biggest that have ever occurred, even bigger than the industrial revolutions. Until now, that is. Out of all the technological transformations (and, transformations in general, not just in technology) that have happened in the past, the changes that AI and robotics will cause during this century will top them all. More change will occur during this century than in the previous 200,000 years since our species first came to be. Just like how it would’ve been impossible for the first cavemen that invented language to predict something akin to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it is also impossible for us to predict to what point AI (and, particularly, AGI) and robots will progress. Any predictions about what things would look like centuries or millennia from now would be highly inaccurate because, quite frankly, too much change would have occurred—we would be like cavemen trying to predict Shakespeare. And, interestingly enough, Einstein had once said that the full automation of nearly all human tasks caused by this kind of technology would make today’s society look like cavemen. So trying to predict the far future of human civilization to even a modest degree of accuracy is impossible, especially when you consider artificial general intelligence (AGI) as well as the fact that more change will occur during this century than in the previous 200,000 years—and that’s just this century, let alone another thousand years. For this reason, we’re just going to try to wrap our heads around what things will be like by the end of this century—a formidable task.

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Robots

When it comes to talking about what things will be like in the year 2100, a good place to start is AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IOT) since these three things will cause the biggest changes. It isn’t these three things separately that’ll change everything; what will change everything is when you combine all three of these technologies. IOT is just the idea of putting computer chips and sensors in various different objects (not just computers) in our environment. When you put them in robots, you can program AI into those robots. Throughout this article, we’ll be primarily talking about AI robots with sensors in them and also sensors in their environment: how they’ll shape our future, how they’ll make our lives easier, and how they’ll, eventually, replace nearly all human tasks and human-occupied jobs. In the future, robots will have a vast number of applications: they will be used to build our homes, bridges, and cities; they will cook food for us and deliver that food to us lest we decide to pick up that food by ourselves; they’ll manufacture our goods and products and even deliver those goods and products to us; they’ll effectively reclaim the environment by planting one billion trees a year (assuming what’s practical today) in order to reclaim the forests; they’ll remove all of the plastic and other junk from the oceans in order to reclaim the oceans; they’'ll sequester toxins and excess elements from the atmosphere in order to clean our air; they’ll drive us to recreation centers and coffee shops; they’ll work for us and do most human jobs; they’ll even be inside of our bodies monitoring our health 24/7. This list of robotic applications hardly even scratches the surface but hopefully it gives you some notion of just how ubiquitous and diverse robots will be in our future.

Now what we just discussed isn’t some distant, far-off future like, for example, a K2 or K3 civilization and, in the next article which will be all about robots, we’ll give explanations and a fairly comprehensive overview about how everything that I mentioned in that aforementioned list of the uses of robots will be fully reified during the 21st century. I suspect that many of my readers are still fairly young; due not only to your young age but also to advancements in technology which will enable you to live much longer than the present average human lifetime, I suspect that many of you reading this will live to see all of these uses of robots come to pass. Many people reading this article now will in fact live to the year 2100 and perhaps even some of you are reading this in the year 2100 right now.

Such a future—where the robots and machines work in obedient service to humanity, the biosphere, and the supervision and maintenance of all the Earth’s habitats and ecologies—has long been the topic of science fiction. It wasn’t really until the mid-20th century until researchers and scientists ever contemplated the prospect of using science and rigor to develop such sophisticated robots; and it wasn’t until the 21st century (which is to say, our time) has this prospect been considered likely by scientists and engineers. Indeed, all those futuristic robots that I mentioned earlier have already been made; over the next few decades, those robots will continue to get better, smarter, cheaper, and more ubiquitous.

When I was writing this article for the first go, I found it very difficult to keep the discussion organized; this was because there are so many different kinds of robots out there that trying to cover even just the main ones, let alone all of them, is a pretty formidable task. In this article, we’re going to try to keep the discussion as organized as possible. In the Overview section and in the subsequent three sections entitled The Venus Project, Intelligent Environment, and A Day of Life in the Year 2100, our goal is just to give a broad overview of the main kinds of robots and machines which will shape our future. Afterwards, in the next article entitled Robots and Their Uses, we’ll have a more in-depth discussion of each of these different kinds of robots which include agricultural robots, retail robots, transportation robots, construction robots, and finally nanobots. Those five categories of robots—despite the fact that they aren’t representative of all robots which have been made or theorized—are nonetheless some of the main and most important robots which will shape our future.

The Venus Project

In a 1971 Larry King interview, the extraordinary polymath, inventor, industrial designer, and futurist Dr. Jacque Fresco predicted that, in the future, nearly all human tasks and jobs would be done by machines and robots. He proposed designs for futuristic cities, homes, and transportation systems which would be maintained primarily by artificial intelligence. No more than a handful of scientists and engineers would be needed to oversee those AI systems. He argued that the machines and robots could perform nearly all human tasks including some of the ones that we’ve mentioned throughout this article: cook and deliver your food, drive you to the coffee shop, and so on. (Indeed, at the end of this article, we’ll discuss the prospect of machines doing 100% of human tasks and, essentially, replacing humanity.) Fresco proposed that we could place sensors just about everywhere including homes, forests, plants and animals, vehicles, our cloth, agricultural facilities, and in all relevant manufacturing facilities. He said that a super powerful computer at the center of each city could use data collected by those sensors to autonomously (without any human intervention), and all by its own, arrive at decisions about industry, economics, and even politics.

Now keep in mind that all of these predictions were made during a time when the field of AI got little attention, a time which preceded the internet, and when computers were big, bulky devices that hardly anyone owned. I imagine that most people during his time must have had laughed at these ideas upon hearing them; indeed, no scientist or engineer (besides Jacque Fresco of course) at that time would have taken any of those ideas seriously. But a lot has changed since then and, from the standpoint of nearly all experts in AI as the polls have demonstrated, such a cybernetic age of robots, super intelligent computers, and decisions arrived at on the basis of data collected from the environment is inevitable.

Intelligent Environment

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According to Jeremy Rifkin, as time progresses more and more computer chips will be dispersed throughout the environment and, according to one estimate, there will be trillions of such chips dispersed everywhere all across the globe by the year 2050. As Ray Kurzweil and Michio Kaku have pointed out, the reason why this number will continue to increase over the next few decades is because the cost of computer chips is dropping exponentially. According to Michio Kaku, those chips will be just about everywhere that you can think of and will be used to collect data about just about everything you can think about too. As Dr. Kaku explained in his book, Physics of the Future, those chips will “make everything intelligent” by endowing everyday, mundane objects with artificial intelligence. Such objects and matter would be programmable and almost everything that you can think of could be made into a kind of robot which has a certain degree of intelligence.

Programable Matter

“What if you could fax someone a real, three-dimensional object? The solution might come in the form of programmable matter - a material that takes on predetermined shapes and can change its configuration on demand. We're already seeing early prototypes coming from Carnegie Mellon and Intel in the form of ‘claytronics.’”\(^{[2]}\)

This process of putting sensors into various objects in our environment and connecting them to the internet (which gives us the ability to program these objects and convert them into robots if we please) is called the Internet of Things (or just IOT for short); the Internet of Things is a relatively new phenomenon which approximately began about a decade ago. This is not to be confused with something called programmable matter which is something completely different: programmable matter is matter which is ultra-modular and can be programmed to change its color, temperature, size, shape, texture and so on. This is the kind of stuff that has long been the topic of science fiction.

In many scifi stories, you’ll see some everyday mundane object inside of some kind of container; then, some kind of scientist comes along, and presses a few buttons; subsequently, that object turns into buddy and then, after that, turns into a completely different looking object. Today, we are capable of creating objects with highly modular and tiny components which can reconfigure themselves to change various different properties (color, temperature, texture, size, etc.) of the object. By the year 2100, this technology will have likely improved to the extent that everything in your room will be built out of programmable matter.

Take as a hypothetical example the sofa and countertops made of programmable matter that was mentioned in Michio Kaku’s book, Physics of the Future. Now, by the year 2100 everyone will have 3d-printers in their homes which can 3d-print any object that they want right on the spot. So let’s say that they 3d-print a couch but are unhappy with it. Using the same computer interface (which, by 2100, could be controlled using sheer thoughts alone) that they used to 3d-print the couch, they could request that that couch gets reconfigured into a couch that, for all practical purposes, is a totally different couch: one with different textures, colors, and shapes. It would be unnecessary and wasteful to 3d-print a whole new ouch when you could just reconfigure that components of your current couch to form what is essentially a totally different couch. And the same would also be true of your countertops which would also be composed of programmable matter that can rearrange itself to alter the physical properties and characteristics of those counter-tops. By the year 2100, we might build entire cities and infrastructure out of programmable matter. When you combine this possibility with the Internet of Things that allows you to essentially make everything robotic and also with internet contact lenses and technology which can convert your thoughts into mechanical actions (by the way, we discuss all of these things in greater detail in other articles), humans essentially become like the gods of mythology. You could walk down the streets of any city and manipulate objects using only your thoughts; indeed, you’d even be able to alter the physical characteristics (i.e. color, temperature, shape, size, etc.) of objects using only your thoughts.

A Day of Life in the Year 2100

Imagine that the date is January 1, 2100 and Bob, drunk and hungover from last nights party, wakes up in his bedroom. Bob’s bed has computer sensors in it which connects it to a computer that keeps track of Bob’s personal preferences: for example, the color and fabric decor and texture of the bed, it’s softness or firmness, its temperature, and it’s shape. In 2100, computers aren’t just limited to the form of the big clunky laptops which were used in the 21st century; Bob can also use his contact lenses as a computer. Using his internet contact lenses, he is able to check the physical parameters (color, texture, shape, softness or firmness, temperature, etc.) of his bed and make adjustments to them if he desires. (The bed would be able to make these changes because it is made out of programmable matter.) Indeed, all of the sensors in his bed and throughout the rest of his house will collect data about Bob, including his state of health, and make adjustments to the physical parameters of that bed based off of that data. And the same is true about all the other furniture in Bob’s home including his sofa and chairs. And if Bob ever wants to invite guests over to his home, a personal profile of all their preferences could also be used to modify the physical parameters of Bob’s furniture so that the furniture is optimally comfortable for Bob’s guests.

As we mentioned previously in this article, the Internet of Things will eventually extend to virtually all objects; this is to say that virtually all objects will have sensors in them which will allow them to become programmable (not to confuse this with programmable matter which is different); this means that almost everything that you can think of could be made into a kind of robot which has a certain degree of intelligence. This is to say that, in the future, we will have robot mirrors, robot trash cans, robot refrigerators and cooks, robot cars, and so on. Dr. Kaku also described in his book that chips placed inside your mirror and clothing would be used to monitor your health continuously. And every time you use the restroom, the sensors in your toilet will be able to scan your waste for any possible signs of disease. Upon leaving your restroom, you might then decide to check your email or watch a funny YouTube video about cats riding on skateboards. A resident onboard Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth in the year 2100 need not pull out a big clunky laptop or iPhone to accomplish these things. Recently (and this is coming from a development made in our time) researchers created a thin and flexible sheet which used a bunch of tiny LEDs to render visuals on the surface of that sheet. Such a sheet, for example, could display a computer desktop screen. What makes this so convenient is that the sheet can be compacted and rolled up into a scroll which could fit inside the interior of one’s pocket.

A resident of Spaceship Earth in the year 2100 could check their email or watch hilarious cat videos by using the interface of such a sheet to access the internet. But this resident, who we shall name Bob, has other uses in store for that scroll as we shall discuss later on. Instead, Bob uses his internet contact lenses to access the internet. By using sheer though alone, Bob is able to request an AI assistant to open up his email or YouTube. He is then able to use sheer thoughts alone to move the cursor on the computer screen (the screen generated by his contact lenses), click things, and type sentences.

On a less mundane level, like the cell phone in your pocket enhances your human intelligence by giving you fast access to the totality of all human knowledge, Bob’s contact lenses enhance his intelligence too. A recent poll determined that over 1,000 of the world’s leading experts in artificial intelligence think that there is a 90% chance that super human level artificial general intelligence (SIAGI) will be developed by the year 2070. So it’s safe to say that the vast majority of experts in this field would think that super intelligent artificial general intelligence (SIAGI) will be developed by the year 2100. Thus, the AI assistant on Bob’s computer interface would be infinitely more intelligent than Siri or Cortana used in today’s computer. Such SIAGI could answer any question posed by Bob in any subject and that SIAGI could answer Bob’s question better (in terms of accuracy, comprehensibility, and any other desirable characteristic) than any human. Today, computers are dumb machines which follow human instruction; but tomorrow, it might be the reverse. At any rate, those contact lenses that Bob is wearing makes him a kind of “enhanced human” with superior knowledge and intelligence. This brings us to the topic of transhumanism which is the notion that technology can be augmented to our bodies in order to enhance our biology.

 

Image (click to enlarge) of lab-grown meat.

When Bob leaves his restroom, he walks over to his kitchen. But before he gets their, a small three-foot tall android prompts him that there is a 50% chance that it’ll rain outside. That robot could be covered in muscle and 3D-printed skin and given a voice that resembles that of a real human; but Bob requested for the android to not be given those human attributes. Aesthetically, he preferred for the android to, instead, have a robot feel and look to it. Bob walks by the android, enters his kitchen, and approaches the refrigerator. RoboFridge keeps track of all of Bob’s previous meals and uses data about Bob’s current energy levels, state of health, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and all of Bob’s previously eaten meals to come up with meal options that are most suitable for Bob.

Bob has the option to eat whatever he wants but, knowing that RoboFridge has superior knowledge about nutrition and Bob’s own health and even his own preferences, Bob decides to take RoboFridge’s advance and have a Kale shake, lab-grown meat, and some organically produced vegetables which were produced in Bob’s home.

Robot Chefs

Two robotic arms then proceed to remove the ingredients from the fridge which are needed to make Bob’s meal. This is RoboChef. The first general-purpose robot chef that was made was a robot named Molley Robotics (see video above).


”Flipping good ... the Japanese cuisine machine hasn't dropped a pancake yet.”\(^{[3]}\) Image: Huis Ten Bosch/Facebook

The extraordinary Jacque Fresco, in his 1971 Larry King interview, had long ago foresaw the time that robot chefs would learn how to cook and “dice the carrots the way that you like them” from the world’s best human chefs. This is precisely how Molley Robotics learned ow to cook like a world-class chef. But robots, having far greater dexterity and memory than any human, eventually became better cooks than we humans. Eventually, robot chefs would learn from other robot chefs. Bob’s RoboChef used its ultra-dexterous robot arms and hands to use a pan, a stirrer, a knife, a cutting board, and plates and utincils to prepare his breakfast. After Bob grabs his plate, RoboChef puts the pan, stirrer, and other items it used into a dishwasher in order to clean those items. Bob proceeds to sit down and have breakfast. But right when he sits down, he realizes that he forgot his book. Using his internet contact lenses, he is able to ask the robot Spot (see video above) to bring him his book. After Bob finishes his breakfast, spot puts his dirty dishes into the dish washer to be cleaned.

Bob also pulls out a scroll and lays it out on the kitchen table that he had breakfast on. Bob would like to talk to his mother who lives on the other side of the Earth. The scroll generates a 3D hologram of Bob’s mother. The hologram is able to move around the room mimicking every move that Bob’s mother makes. In the year 2100, people might prefer to communicate with their friends and family using holographic technology over the conventional phone call because such a process is far more humanized, interactive, and fun. After the call is finished, Bob leaves his house; the sensors in the house detect that Bob left and automatically lock the doors.

Bob wants to resume a studying session with his friends and they decide that they would like to meet up in the cities recreational center where they plan to continue to work on their project. Now Bob has many different options to get to the recreational center. After all, cities in the year 2100 would vary immensely based on their location. By the year 2100, it is totally feasible that there could be cities on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, and perhaps an artificial rotating space habitat. Due to the intense radiation which continuously blasts the surfaces of the Moon and Mars, on those worlds most of the cities would be subterranean—meaning, they would be underground.

Using enormous boring and digging machines like those used by Elon Musk’s Boring Company, vast and complicated tunnel systems could be built connecting each city. Those tunnels would incorporate maglev trains which would be used by lunar and Martian residents to commute from one city to another. To make the trip less boring, tiny LEDs could be placed in all of the trains “windows”; each LED would generate a pixel. Those LEDs could effectively generate a “moving image” or video of some kind of environment. Thus, as passengers commute from one city to another via subterranean maglev trains on the Moon or Mars, as they peered out the “window” they would see what appears to be a natural environment. Indeed, this same illusion could be created on subterranean maglev trains on the Earth/ We’ll assume, in our hypothetical future scenario, that Bob lives on the Earth.

On Earth in the year 2100, not only are there subterraneous maglev transportation units but there are also maglev transportation units at ground level and various different heights above ground level, there are flying drones which are capable of transporting passengers from one region in the city to another. In the year 2100, there are also gargantuan cities which float freely in space.


The Earth is surrounded by a great orbital ring which is connected to the central domes of each of the major cities on Earth with space elevators. One of the major engineering challenges of the 22nd century is to build many dynamic orbital rings which float freely around the Earth. Those rings would be capable of rotating and moving a space elevator from one city to another.

We discussed in a previous article, Orbital Rings and Planet Building, how for each space elevator an elevator cab could move across the length of the tether from a city up to the orbital ring, and vice versa. I suspect that such a project would be completed sometime during the 22nd century. In the year 2100 there would be terrestrial cities, subterranean cities, cities in space, cities on multiple worlds, cities on the surface of the oceans, cities within the volumes of the oceans, and maybe if we are really ambitious there could even be cities on the sea floor. In the article, How to Colonize the Earth?, we discussed how super strong tethers (perhaps comprised of carbon nanotubes) could be attached at the sea floor and run all the way up to the orbital ring. This would enable convenient transportation of passengers and cargo from between the orbital ring, cities located within the vicinity of that orbital ring, cities on the surface of the sea, cities within the volume of the sea, and perhaps even cities on or underneath the sea floor.

We’ve also discussed in the article, Orbital Rings and Planet Building, the possibility of a vast and complicated network of transparent (made transparent for aesthetic purposes), underwater tunnels which would connect to each and every underwater city; maglev transportation units could transport people and cargo across the length of these tunnels from one city to another. And as Bob’s descendants colonized other far more exotic worlds in the solar system and eventually in other star systems and even human-made planets (see article, Orbital Rings and Planet Building), there would be other far more spectacular ways to get around.

Colonizing Uranus’s Moon Miranda

Take, for example, one of Uranus’s moons, Miranda. The surface gravity on this world is only a small fraction of the surface gravity on the Earth—small enough, in fact, for humans to strap on pairs of wings and fly using power derived from their muscles.

Out of all the known topographies of different worlds in the solar system, Miranda has the tallest cliffs and the most extensive system of plateaus. We could excavate and remove enormous quantities of rock from those cliffs and build dwellings which extend from the surface of the cliff to slightly within the interior of the cliff. Each dwelling built into the side of the cliff would be an entire city which would be governed and maintained mostly by artificial intelligence. To commute from one city to another gliders or zip lines could be utilized. Another option would be to strap on a pair of wings and fly from one city to another. I imagine that this would become a popular recreational activity. And I can hardly fathom how exhilarating of an experience that it would be for groups of perhaps a dozen or more people to fly like birds across the sky and to see all of the breathtaking visuals: Miranda’s geography, the other people flying with you, and the far-off sight of a dazzling city built mostly of glass hanging off of the side of a vast, multi-kilometer tall cliff.

Life in the year 2100 and beyond would be astonishingly different than what it is today. And the gap in technology between 22nd century and beyond descendants and us would be more dramatic than the gap in technology between us and cavemen. And every little detail about the quality of their lives and the way that they live would be profoundly different than ours.


Virtual Reality (AR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

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Transportation on other worlds aside, let’s get back down to Earth and discuss how Bob will commute to the recreational center. Bob decides to take a self-driving drone to the opposite side of the city where the recreational center is. Bob and his friend huddle at a table. Bob proceeds to pull a compacted, rolled up sheet out of his pocket, place it on the table, and then unroll the sheet on the table. The surface of that sheet uses tiny, built-in, LEDs to create a computer desktop screen which appears on the surface of that sheet. Bob asks an AI assistant built into the sheet’s software to holographically display architecture from ancient Rome. Promptly, a hologram of a building from ancient Rome appears. Bob, by the way, needs not use the sheet to do this. His contact lenses also have augmented reality (AR) capabilities. AR is a type of technology which superimposes holograms (either static or moving) into the “real world” that you and I experience on an everyday basis.

In our time, one must wear large goggles to experience AR or virtual reality (VR). VR is when everything that you see through your goggles (or, in the future, maybe contact lenses instead) are holographic images 0 in other words, all the stuff that you “see” isn’t actually in the “real world.” According to Elon Musk, the graphics generated by video games (or, indeed, AR or VR too since they rely on the same technology) will eventually become indistinguishable from reality. Thus, the holograms which users see while in AR or VR in the year 2100 could be made to have an amount of resolution which is totally indistinguishable from reality. In our time, we also have special gloves which users can wear which allow them to “touch” a hologram (something which isn’t actually there). These gloves use haptic technology to generate pressure on one’s hands when they touch a 3D hologram. Those gloves can also simulate the sensation of various different kinds of textures including wood, a rug, cloth, and so on. As time progresses, such technology will become more and more refined. Eventually, I imagine that users will, eventually, not need goggles to generate AR or VR; instead, they will be able to just use their contact lenses. And instead of gloves, a special layer of transparent skin could cover the users allowing them to “touch” and “feel” holograms in AR or VR. I also suspect that as time progresses, we will be able to simulate more and more different kinds of textures. The holograms which people talk to could also have artificial intelligence and, according to nearly all AI experts, we’ll likely have created SIAGI before the 21st century. Also, don’t forget that there’s also a good chance that graphics will be eventually indistinguishable from reality. All of these facts imply that there will come a time when virtual reality (or VR) is indistinguishable from reality.

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I imagine that people will indeed use such technology to travel back in time (not literally of course) to see what things were like in previous epochs. They could, for example, visit ancient cities as demonstrated in the video above. AR/VR, along with robotics, will also have profound applications in education. We might one day be able to download knowledge and skills into the brain like in the movie The Matrix; but until then, people will have to learn the good ol’ fashion way. Sometime in the near future (but before the time when we can just download new knowledge and skills into our brains) education will involve all of the current methods of learning including reading, watching videos, and by doing hands on work but it’ll also include newer methods of learning which rely on AR/VR technology and robots. Robots like Robelf could read children bedtime stories, for example.

AR/VR technology will completely change the way that we learn many topics. Take, for example, medicine and surgery. By putting on AR goggles, you’ll be able to examine human body parts and do surgeries on them where the body and body parts are holograms which exist in virtual reality. Engineers and architects could analyze and study 3D, holographic versions of their creations. With special gloves, users will be able to touch and pick up parts of the hologram; this would make such holograms highly interactive. For example, an engineer could dismantle and take apart a holographic engine in order to better understand how real engines work or a surgeon could do surgery on a holographic body as a way to practice and to get experience for the real thing.

Robots will, fairly quickly, steal more and more jobs and perform an ever-increasing number of tasks which we once thought only a human could do. Indeed, there is a famous 2013 Oxford University study which concluded that 47% (nearly half) of all jobs in the US alone will be eliminated due to just automation, due to the sole fact that the overall applicability and intelligence of robots has become general enough to do almost half of all jobs in the US. A recent study by McKinsey assumed that additional progress would be made in deep learning software and concluded that an astonishing 58% of all jobs would become automated in the next 20 years. And that’s a rough idea of what we expect will happen in only the next 20 years, let alone the next 50 or 100. This trend of robots and AI replacing jobs which we once thought that only humans could do won’t magically stop at 20 years, but it will continue. Given that over 98% of researchers in AI believe that the advent of super-intelligent artificial general intelligence (SIAGI) is inevitable, we can be nearly 100% confident that all human jobs will eventually be automated. As radical and extravagant of a conclusion that might seem, all trends in AI, computer science, and information technology predict such a future. Such prospects for the future of humanity elicit many questions such as: how will displaced workers (which will eventually be all of us by the way) survive? How will SIAGI be used for the betterment of humanity and the biosphere? Without work, what will give us a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives? We have already gone on many tangents throughout this article and, for the purposes of staying focused on the main topic, we’ll save discussing the answers to each of those questions for subsequent articles. In the next article, I’d like to discuss all of the various different kinds of robots which will eliminate human-occupied jobs in the pretty near future.


This article is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

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