How our new Technologies remade the World from 2020 to 2050

mediumThis post was originally published by at Medium [AI]

The remarkable advance of Infotech and Biotech during those decades provided the foundation for The Transformation as seen from the year 2100

Editor’s Note: We continue with the second installment of our interview with Stuart Rand to mark the arrival of the year 2100. The esteemed journalist and author started out with an overview of the critical years from 2020 to 2050 in the first installment and here he first focuses on the huge advances in what was then called infotech that led to an unexpected explosion of innovation. He then moves to the breakthroughs in biotech that provided new pathways to sustainable everything. The interview has been lightly edited to bring out just the narrative from Stuart.

Universal Connectivity: A Media Infrastructure for the Entire World

Of course, the introduction of a fundamentally new communication and media infrastructure that connected 8 billion people for the first time in history was going to take some time to sort out and get working right. To their credit, many in the developed world — from governments to the tech companies themselves — were fully engaged in dealing with the many problems by 2020 and beginning to come up with solutions that continued to roll out for another decade. Some solutions had to do with treating the new environment as a powerful commercial medium that needed to be properly regulated by nimble government oversight to prevent abuses by businesses. And some had to do with thinking of the internet as an essential infrastructure that needed to be protected from cyber-attacks by the military.

Interactive Video Virtualized Much of Knowledge Work & Education

The world of interactive group video itself came into its own during the Coronavirus Crisis. The lockdowns forced almost all businesses to virtualize as much as possible of what they previously did. The early days were chaotic and unproductive, but soon the work processes became more efficient and organizations of all sorts realized there were advantages to this approach too. After the virus threat passed, many decentralized work habits remained. Employees realized they liked being able to avoid long commutes and frequent business travel. Business leaders realized they might not need as much expensive downtown real estate. In the decades that followed this new approach to work impacted everything from home construction to transportation to regional development.

Ubiquitous AI: Supercharged Human Capabilities Just in Time

When I was a kid the specter of artificial intelligence freaked out almost everybody even before the actual impact of AI arrived. One strain of fear had to do with AI becoming intellectually superior to humans and ending up as our overlords. The other strain of fear centered on the displacement of human jobs as AI and advanced robotics spread into many different fields. Manual workers feared the robots and knowledge workers feared AI.

The Massive Resorting of Work Between Humans & Machines

The worries about AI disruption to jobs and the economy were more grounded in reality. The global economy in the 2020s and 2030s went through a great sorting process. Pretty much any job, manual or cognitive, that was based on routine tasks became vulnerable to the application of AI or advanced robotics — particularly after the pandemic. All essential services that needed to operate even through health scares or climate disruptions were particularly vulnerable to replacement by machines.

Accelerated Innovation: The Outcome that Surprised Us All

One of the most unanticipated developments of the 2020s was the unprecedented explosion of innovation that happened all around the world. Very few people back then could see accelerated innovation coming, though it seems obvious in retrospect. At the time we simply underestimated the potential of our human resources and new tools. The lesson is to never underestimate the ingenuity of humans and their ability to maximize a new tool.

Genetic Understanding: Reinvented Human Healthcare

Right around when I was born scientists cracked the first human genome at a cost of about $2 billion (a lot of money back then). In two decades the cost fell to $1,000, and by 2030 sequencing an individual genome pretty much cost nothing. So it shouldn’t be surprising that by today in 2100 the average lifespan of an American is roughly 100 years and a guy like me — lucky to be healthier than most centenarians — can possibly live up to a couple decades more.

The Capability to Edit Human Genes Forced Global Accords

The second step in the genetics revolution was more complicated. CRISPR technology arrived on the scene in practical form around 2015, enabling easy and cheap gene editing. Now humans could use the genome to not only read but also write. The age of genetic engineering had arrived.

Biological Engineering: Made Sustainable Everything Possible

The first half of the 21st century saw a dramatic leap in our ability to manipulate living things for our benefit. Think of it this way: In the previous 4 billion years life on Earth evolved over eons through random mutations and natural selection. By the 2020s humans became able to immediately evolve any living thing through non-random mutation and un-natural selection. The age of biological engineering had arrived, with immense consequences.

The Biological Revolution in Materials Superseded the Industrial

One more front in the synthetic biology revolution made an impact on the environment — materials. The majority of things that a person in the early 21st century touched each day were biological — food, clothing, buildings. The actual materials they touched were grown, whether vegetables, cotton or wood. The biological toolkit that opened up in the 2020s allowed innovators to rapidly improve all those materials. Over time that just made organic material better and better. And anything that organically grows also sucks C02 out of the atmosphere, so the growth of synthetic biology scaled up carbon sequestration.

Spread the word

This post was originally published by at Medium [AI]

Related posts