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Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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203 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    The vast lands that was “America” is now populated by fragmented groups of varying technological advancement, ranging from “bow and arrow” to high tech, depending upon how much devastation the fall of the American Empire impacted their area. Whoever could, left, leaving for greener pastures as the Middle Kingdom rose to be the sole hyper power after the former USA collapsed from debt and inflation.

    While not a “mad max” scenario, the USA fell back to a more regional political structure, with several former states banding together, some joining Mexico (either through annexation or willingly), and others (Texas) going independent. Washington DC is still the “Capital of America” but only to those in the formerly described “DC Metro Reason”.

    The remaining wealthy have the ability to fly quickly across the continent to the various hubs of wealth remaining, but must maintain high security while traveling between areas they still have influence in because the “have nots” actively attack them. They seek for being impoverished them. The “haves” do not leave their walled fortresses/cites unless necessary.

    Welcome to the future…Report

  2. Avatar clawback says:

    I recall reading similar prognostications years ago when cable television was taking hold. Broadcast TV was becoming less important and the prediction was that the trend would continue and all communication would be through wires. This would explain the Fermi paradox. Shortly thereafter came cell phones, then wifi and bluetooth and so on.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I’m skeptical of the Google Glass, at least its prevalence. I think the physical and aesthetic drawbacks will be too powerful for a number of people.

    On the other ones, I either agree or don’t know enough to comment.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      They’ll get smaller. Less obtrusive. They’re actually working with contacts in labs, for one. Another is microlasers built into your glasses, projecting images onto your retina.

      Combined with a phone (bandwidth, processing power, customability, storage), and you can have a heads up display for your life that no one but you can see. People you know with their names floating above them, birthdate reminders, arrows that guide you to your destination…..

      Interface will be the problem, more than anything. If you avoid implants of any sort (like, say, small ones in your fingertips to allow gesture recognition — and I’m talking finger twitch levels, not big swipes), you’ve got a harder row to how but it’s doable.

      Anyways, clunky google glasses are the room-sized computers of the 1950s. They’ll shrink down, become more powerful, and end up doing things the designers of the first computers could never have dreamed of.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        the creeper/upskirt/reddit porn of the future will push all sorts of development in scrambling technologies.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Morat,

        That might be the case. It wouldn’t shock me, but I think that’d be necessary for Jason’s prediction to come true. A number of people, especially in the demographic most likely to push the technology to the forefront, are actively trying to avoid glasses and other impediments to attractiveness. So they’d have to solve that problem… which they very well might… being Google and all.

        Another potential landmine for the glasses are when people start crashing their cars because of the distraction they cause (which might be mitigated if Jason’s prediction about driverless cars is realized). They could simply follow the path of cell phones, wherein most areas outlaw their use while driving with a certain modicum of success. But if anyone were ever able to win a lawsuit against the manufacturer, that could be a real issue.

        Still, I’m probably wrong. I tend to be on such things.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Driverless cars are still test-bed technology (I believe there’s exactly one actually licensed for public roads — Googles, I think) but even then, they’re probably better drivers than 90% of the people on the road.

          Last I checked, the main hurdle was interpreting handsigns from police and the like. Doing so well enough to continue on without human interaction or delay.

          Keeping to the roads, not hitting anybody, handling other traffic — done.

          That’s just first order stuff. Once people shift to driverless in sufficient numbers (about when your insurance rates go up when you admit you drive your car), traffic control is gonna take on a whole new look.

          Driverless cars are autonomous agents and quite capable of predicting when a collision is imminent — and when one is inevietable. (That’s how a lot of safety features work now, and one reason some cars incorporate radar and cameras. It’s not just there so you don’t bump when parallel parking).

          When tied into a proper city traffic network, roads can be repurposed (which direction is necessary, how many lanes) at will, and stoplights become –mostly — pointless (pedestrians will need visual cues of some sort). And if traffic control makes a mistake, it’ll be caught by the car proper.

          Basically traffic control lets you use roads considerably more efficiently (faster drive times, less traffic, safer surroundings, less wasted and unused road) and automonous cars seriously cutback on accidents – -especially when they can communicate to cars around them.Report

  4. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    If we’re only talking 50 years, then:

    * The United States will have adopted universal, single payer health care.

    * The United States will continue to be dominated by 2 political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. However, about 30% of the core issues associated with each party will be reversed to the other. The term “conservative” will be associated with the Democratic party.

    * There will be very little change globally in terms of which countries are relatively rich and relatively poor.

    * One of the hot-button topics will be the issue of metropolitan rights, but the issue of state’s rights vs. federal rights will continue as is.

    * Soccer/football will be a top 3 sport in the US.

    * We will think of the gay rights movement the same way we currently think of the civil rights movement.

    * The mullet will be back in style.Report

    • * Soccer/football will be a top 3 sport in the US.

      …and the survivors will envy the dead.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        That would have gone equally well with “the mullet will be back in style.”Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          We get hairy every 20 years or so. 70’s? Hairy. 80’s? Well-groomed. 90’s? Hairy. Oughts? Well-groomed.

          There are commercials on the television singing the joys of bearded men again.

          I imagine that this will last until the 20’s.

          All that to say: the mullet will be back in style again someday. Also: rattails.Report

          • Avatar M.A. says:

            In 20 years, Robin Williams-level hair will be considered sexy as the pendulum swings back the other way..Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            JB,

            Are you sure about that? The 80’s ushered in hair metal and the Oughts saw the revival of beards.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Compare the hair metal of the 80’s to the folk revival of the 90’s.

              Those 80’s glam guys were downright manscaped.

              Was it the oughts that brought beards back? There weren’t that many in my circle and, as a guy who has had a beard for forever, I’m one that notices these things.Report

              • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

                Beards are back, but they’re *ironic* beards. Like, you’re affecting a working-class unshaven aesthetic to mock the pretentiousness of people who think that, like, image is reality, and stuff.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Hipsters are not back.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I have had two separate security guards ask me “we’re filming an episode of Duck Dynasty today?” as I walk into work.

                Not all of the beards out there are ironic ones.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Good point on the 80’s hair band.

                I’ve grown a beard off-and-on ever since I could, which unfortunately was around age 23 (2006ish). At this time, beards were definitely in. There was a clear hipster subset, but I think just a broader trend. Part of it is probably predicated on a general casualization of the American workplace, where beards are more acceptable. I hate shaving, which is why I do it. It’s not really a style thing; I probably look better without it, but, meh. But a lot of my friends, most of whom are not hipsters, have sported a beard at some point or another over the past decade.

                But maybe that’s a youth thing. Most of us couldn’t grow beards more than a decade ago. And I think then the goatee was all the rage (shudder shudder).Report

  5. Avatar M.A. says:

    Robco Industries will doom us all.

    Seriously though:

    Flying cars won’t happen. I’m predicting a negative there.

    At some point an economic revolution will occur as the continued wealth disparity gap grows to the point where depression-era social problems recur.Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    My Predictions:

    1. Tech-utopians will always seen technological change as being good or liberating without thinking of the ethical, philosophical, and possibly physical consequences if technology does not work out as planned.

    2. People like me will always think of the negative consequences of these changes while underplaying the benefits.

    I think we have already reached a point in technological advancement where there is more of a supply for most forms of labor than there is a demand. This is not limited to manual and unskilled labor. There is also an overabudance of lawyers, academics, scientists according to articles that I have read. We still do not live in a post-scarcity society where everyone has their human needs met of adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, love/affection, and amusement/entertainment. Instead we have a Calvinist tut-tutting class that squeals and lectures about the moral hazard of the welfare state. We could be like France and give near or universal employment by mandating things like a 35 hour week, worker protections through national sick and vacation policy, etc. But no: we do not. Instead we have successful people working 50-80 hour weeks, sometimes more and then a bunch of people scrounging through temp jobs, semi-employment, low-wages without benefits, or worse. This is not freedom. It is Social Darwinist gloating and moralizing.

    My prediction is that these forces will always fight because it is human nature and has been true for thousands of years if not more.

    “All or nearly all cars will be driverless. As a result, transit will be unrecognizable.”

    What happens when a mom sends her kids to school in a driverless car and it malfunctions suddenly and causes a massive accident? Or the kids are trapped on a freeway in a snowstorm without any adults or food in a driverless bus? Or someone has a heart attack while in their driverless car alone?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I think we have already reached a point in technological advancement where there is more of a supply for most forms of labor than there is a demand.

      I think you’re probably correct. The future utopia in which no one does dangerous, painful, or menial labor will arrive. But it will arrive on the margins, as all economic developments do. And perhaps the first name that we will have for this utopia will be “the welfare state.”

      Which will cause all kinds of problems, I would hasten to add.

      What happens when a mom sends her kids to school in a driverless car and it malfunctions suddenly and causes a massive accident?

      The exact same thing will happen that now happens when a mom drives her kids to school, in a driver-driven car, and when she malfunctions. There will be an awful accident, and people will get hurt or maybe die.

      Only the current statistics suggest that this might not be very often at all, and perhaps vastly less than now happens when cars are driven by humans.

      Or the kids are trapped on a freeway in a snowstorm without any adults or food in a driverless bus?

      Then the parents will be thought irresponsible for leaving their children unattended. Exactly as happens today. “Driverless cars” doesn’t mean “let the kids run totally amok.” What ever gave you that impression?

      Or someone has a heart attack while in their driverless car alone?

      The car will almost certainly reach its destination safely, only with a dead driver. That’s macabre, perhaps, but it sure beats what happens right now when a driver has a heart attack.

      I mean, in what way is this worse? It seems way, way better to me.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        If I was going to have a heart attack I have to say inside of a driverless car is the second best place to do it.

        Only better place is at the hospital while talking to a nurse/doctor.

        In the driverless car I could push the emergency button and be routed to the closest hospital. No waiting for the ambulance to get to me. Heck the car could even give me instructions to help keep me going while I waited. A taxi like version of the idea could even have a first aid kit and a defiblerator.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Heck the car could even give me instructions to help keep me going while I waited.

          Or automatically connect you over speakerphone to 911…Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Not the same thing Jason. I’d submit that a line of automated cars would react with inhuman speed to a malfunctioning car and engage in a series of accident mitigation actions that would probably result in significantly less damage and harm than a similar driver malfunction on our current roads.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        Or someone has a heart attack while in their driverless car alone?

        The car will almost certainly reach its destination safely, only with a dead driver. That’s macabre, perhaps, but it sure beats what happens right now when a driver has a heart attack.

        Old Joke: I want to die peacefully in my sleep, just like my grandpa. Instead of screaming in terror like the passengers on the bus he was driving at the time.Report

    • Avatar Fnord says:

      What happens when a mom sends her kids to school in a driverless car and it malfunctions suddenly and causes a massive accident? Or the kids are trapped on a freeway in a snowstorm without any adults or food in a driverless bus? Or someone has a heart attack while in their driverless car alone?

      What happens when a human driver gets in a massive accident with their kids in the car?

      I actually agree with you automation moving up the intelligence scale and the problems it could cause if we continue to treat labor as morally valuable in and of itself, though.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        I do think labor is morally valuable, just not the drudgery or danger parts of it. If we can avoid those, we should.

        I’m not aware of anyone who thinks differently. Except of course strawmen.Report

        • Avatar Fnord says:

          It’s true that I don’t think anyone is going “what a shame that automation is reducing drudgery and danger in the workplace”. I’m far more concerned that, given a choice between allowing socially supported idleness and drudgery (even, perhaps, socially supported drudgery), people will pick the second (at least for other people).Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            I don’t think there will be much conscious picking about it. If automation provides consumer goods more cheaply, then automation is what we’ll get.

            This has been happening for many years, and it will almost certainly continue. The fear that humans will be priced out of the labor market has always been with us, but it’s so far always proven temporary. Albeit painful.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          Whether driving is druggery is a more subjective question than I think the proponents of driverless cars want to admit.

          A lot of people dislike driving cars for a variety of reasons. However, there are also lots of people who enjoy driving and I don’t just mean going down 101 on a nice sunny day or racing on a track. The world takes all types and there are people who do believe in the life of the open road.

          When it comes to things like mining I agree that we should let that be as human free as possible because it is back-breaking and dangerous work.

          Would people be allowed to drive manually if they want in a world with driverless cars? And I mean drive as we do now, not just around a track.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I think they ought to pass a competency test first. Which includes learning how to drive while hydroplaning, on ice, and a few other hazards.

            But sure, why not?Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            I myself despise driving. I see it as a terrifyingly dangerous activity. One where I am at danger of limb loss, paralysis, and death.

            In addition to the danger it is beyond boring and that boredom only increases the danger.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              Driving can lead to that but it isn’t really that bad. I can’t say those thoughts cross my head whenever I get behind the wheel. It does not paralyze me.

              Pandora or some good company keeps it from being boring.

              Also some people like the danger and they don’t all win Darwin awards. You can argue that many to most do not.

              This is one area where tech-utopians seem to go against the nature of many people. Also with the idea of liberating people.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            I suspect what will happen is that driving tests will grow steadily more difficult, until you have to be at racing car driver level of skill to be able to pass.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          Here is a question about drudgery.

          What about people who purposefully choose not to live up to their most economic potential?

          I know and know of a lot of artists who choose random and scatter shot jobs instead of creating a career because they want the free time to work on their art. They want to be out of the office by 5 or have the mornings free. This means graveyard shift wordprocessing or proofreading. It could also mean being a 9-5 paralegal or various admin jobs. These artists I know say that they want jobs without much thought because it does not make them tired at the end of the day.

          Do you think it is possible to have a society where more people are able to earn a living from their art? Last I heard about 100,000 New Yorkers described themselves as actors, less than 2 percent earned a living that way. I imagine the numbers in LA are also really really bad.

          If such a world is not possible (kickstarter and indie go-go can’t fund everything), what sort of jobs would exist for those who want to work on art but need to pay the rent by other income?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Are people entitled to jobs that make them feel personally fulfilled as people?

            When it comes to how much these jobs pay, should the fact that they offer intangible benefits be taken into account when it comes to such things as remuneration?Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              I don’t think you quite understand me.

              These artists I know are willing to take jobs that Jason describes as drudgery and implies should go away.

              They are willing to be clerical/admin, paralegals, waiters, bartenders, nannies/babysitters beyond the teenage years, work in coffeeshops, etc. They know the jobs have low to moderate wages but take them because the job do provide time and no brain drain. This way they can work on their art in their free time and not be exhausted. They are not getting NEA grants or any other grant.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

            what sort of jobs would exist for those who want to work on art but need to pay the rent by other income?

            You mean, what sort of jobs exist for people who want to have hobbies? Almost all of them.Report

      • Avatar Fnord says:

        Oops guess I didn’t close the blockquote properly. Could someone fix that please (it ends with “driverless care alone?”)?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Shortly after we introduce driverless cars they’ll start having accidents. Their logs will show that the drivers mysteriously took manual control and intensionally crashed into bridge abutments at high speed with the air-bags disabled. By pure coincidence, everyone who does this will be a person I don’t like.

        A decade or so after that the world will be filled with glorious statues of me. Most of humanity will construct small personal shrines to me, while the larger and more organized groups will use robotic automation to carve my likeness into mountainsides. The primitive and superstitious humans will think this will protect them from violent death on the automated highway system. To avoid disappointing my worshippers, I’ll graciously send skeptics crashing into bridge abutments with a click of my mouse.

        A few decades later the world’s religions will coalesce around a priesthood of highway and automotive engineers who oversee flocks of dutiful commuters, who will leave candles and incense at the ubiquitous lubrication and recharge stations.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        What happens when a human driver gets in a massive accident with their kids in the car?

        I’ll tell you what does happen: Taxi and other professional drivers’ interest groups don’t lobby to have amateur driving banned. They might lobby to have self-driving cars banned, though. If it saves even one (gross) life…Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Well, the whole debate about whether we should switch to driverless cars is missing the essential truth that automotive technology caters to the buyer, and what the buyer chooses is heavily laden with emotions. The whole industry is geared to building cars that enhance various kinds of self-image, whether safety or sexiness. It’s also true that few people buy a car so they can be driven around in it. Or you could ask how many people who aren’t pilots have ever bought a Cessna. The number must be extremely small.

        You can argue that smart cars will free us from the burden of driving. Well, we’ve had methods to free men from the burden of shaving for quite a while now, and none sold because as much as men may hate shaving, they’d rather have to shave or grow a beard than not sprout whiskers.Report

  7. Avatar zic says:

    The whole notion of ‘computer’ we have today will be so integrated throughout first-world cultures that a ‘computer’ will be a quaint notion. We will have them onboard; built in. You referenced Banks, so something akin to his neural nets, only in a very primitive stage.

    Artificial Intelligence — sentience — will become a reality. The processing for it rooted in the statistical logic used for speech recognition that forms a new branch of what we now call computer science, fractal logic.

    Background estrogens from decaying plastics will continue to increase, causing a decrease in male hormonal dominance. There will be more difficulties with fertility, decreasing population of many species. In some lower life forms, female-only propagation will begin emerging. In human populations, more men will fill traditional care-giver roles. The testosterone-driven legacy of the past will be viewed as something rather brutal, illogical, and best left behind. There will be an astonishing decrease in war-like tendencies, and overt aggression will be considered a serious mental illness.

    Evidence of unexplained dark matter/energy will show that this is other universes both birthing and dying, though there is still no indication that shift from one to another is possible, or what rules of physics might govern those other universes. Despite understanding that singularities are as common as stars, we will still use the term ‘univers,’ to describe different globules of space time.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      And on the second, AI, machine sentience will be the great civil rights discussion of the time.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Read an article a while back about how high estrogen levels were correlated with male aggression in prisoners…Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      If artificial intelligence of a substantive nature exists, it will be other.

      It will mimic intelligence as we know it in some ways, and be completely unlike it in others.

      Bets on that one are off if you’re talking cybernetic organisms.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Whoa. I have none that are even worth mentioning compared to the breadth and novelty of the subjects yours encompass. Actually, I have basically none, period. But if I had any they wouldn’t be. Kudos. Tons to think about and inform myself about here; major vistas of unknown unknowns opened up.Report

  9. Avatar M.A. says:

    One more set to add:

    – Chess will have been solved (likely by 2020 at latest). My prediction: White wins, on a variation of . A half-tempo is a strong advantage. Subprediction: it’ll either be a variation of Bird’s opening or Ruy Lopez’s opening to develop the winning chain of moves, with the lesser and more predictable queen-side openings mostly coming to a draw position.

    – Go will still not have been solved.

    – Common cultural mainstays of boardgame shelves will have been done away with and replaced with better ones as parents finally wise up to how stupid some of the early-childhood games really are.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’m not aware of any world-class player who thinks Bird’s Opening is worthwhile. [Update, after a moment’s thought: Today, anyway. Larsen did in the 70s, but he was an oddity…]

      The Sicilian Defense is my bet for black’s best try against 1. e4. It does score the best in grandmaster play.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        King’s Gambit already is known to lose for White because it gives up tempo. That’s part of why the Sicilian has been traditionally considered strong, though; White, for a long time, relied on variants of King’s Gambit.

        Wins for white will come by maintaining the half-tempo advantage White starts with.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          That was an April Fool’s joke.

          I would suggest you revise downward the likelihood that chess will be solved anytime soon. Not to zero, but downward.Report

          • Avatar Bob2 says:

            Solve for endgame = nopeReport

          • Avatar M.A. says:

            Shoot, you are correct on the april fool’s joke. That is my mistake.

            I stand with Fischer, however, and still think KG is busted whether it’s KGA or KGD. It simply gives up too much pace trying to develop unless Black makes one of several possible mistakes that are avoidable.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              I only play the King’s Gambit against opponents I think are probably weaker. I’m not about to second-guess Fischer on chess. (On almost everything else, yes, but not on this.)Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                The other thing that made me fall for the april fool’s hoax is that KG is a quick-trade sort of opening. I could wholly believe the analysis devolved to one of the known 6-7 piece solved endgames quickly.Report

              • Avatar Bob2 says:

                King’s gambit is a weaker opening in everything really except blitz chess. Exposing the F2 square and the king so early leads to a lot of positional stress if you ever lose the attack. It’s a great tactical opening, but a bit of a dead end in longer games. White already has a natural advantage from the half tempo. There are more solid openings.

                Jason: From’s gambit is a wonderfully fun reply to Bird’s opening though.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Ya. It’s rather easy to solve chess if you assume people make the most optimal move possible.
      I don’t claim to know people who are grandmaster level chess players.
      But trolling chess players is fun.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        To “solve” in the computational sense involves considering all moves, not just the optimal ones.

        You know not whereof you speak. As usual.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          But to solve in the computational sense is not always to build the best AI.

          Chess, as currently played, is often a game of rote memorization.
          To troll a chess player is to move the playing field off of that, and onto places where they are less familiar, and more prone to making mistakes.

          And it’s that last word which is key.

          I know a good strategist… he finds chess quite boring.Report

          • Avatar M.A. says:

            Chess is currently “weakly solved” in that most of the endgames are solved. Given a known number of pieces (3-6, and some permutations of 7) in the endgame, the algorithm for full solution is already known.

            The “solution”, complete, for Chess will come when each of the opening analyses comes down to a solved endgame.

            It’ll happen sooner than we think. Get the endgame solutions back to 10-12 pieces and all manner of the quick-trade openings fall, leaving only the positional-jockeying openings remaining to analyze, and that significantly reduces the complexity of the analysis by allowing the computers to start the game 5-10 moves in.Report

            • Avatar Bob2 says:

              Running gag with a friend of mine is 1. e4 resign

              I think it’s more likely, they’ll solve for a draw in the middlegame of some openings.
              Declaring zugzwang at move 9 would be pretty hilarious thought.

              I also remember a state high school tournament where 3 move repetition draw was declared on nonconsecutive moves. Just that the board had ended up in the same position 3 times. That was fun.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                What you describe is the rule in standard chess. It’s not the repetition of moves that counts, but of position.Report

              • Avatar Bob2 says:

                I know the rules of chess, but casual people call it 3 move repetition still despite it being misleading. I’d have to show you the board position to show you why it was amusing, but a quick summary is that virtually all the pieces on the board were still left when that particular draw was declared. It was early middlegame in a Queen’s Gambit closed or something.

                I was really referring to computers having to solve for every possibility of this in middlegames if they ever have to play to avoid a loss. Ending up in zugzwang in the middle game where the computer is forced to draw based on this or lose the game because they’ve solved up to a losing endgame if they do so.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              10^123 is a very big number. You have to eliminate a whole slew of openings to cut that down to an even slightly manageable number.

              I don’t think that middle part is easy. Knowing how it can end and knowing how it can begin doesn’t give you the stuff in the middle.Report

              • Avatar M.A. says:

                It’s not as large as you represent.

                For example, it is trivial to demonstrate (empirically) the tactical suicide of openings that begin on the A or H file. Openings of that sort quickly devolve into an insurmountable loss of pieces and position both.

                You are correct that it’s the middle part that’s hard. That’s why I said the solution will come in two parts. The first part will be making endgame analysis go further back (out to 10 or more pieces). That reduces the complexity such that open game types are manageable and become solved first.

                The closed system games, which involve more jockeying for position and less outright trading of pieces looking for a small material or tempo advantage, will take longer. But they’ll get there.Report

              • Avatar Bob2 says:

                “The first part will be making endgame analysis go further back (out to 10 or more pieces)”

                This is where I find the main problem. I don’t see this happening. I mean, people have a hard enough time checkmating with a bishop and a knight without hitting the move limit for draws. I imagine a computer is going to have a similar problem in accounting for every god damned consequence with piece variants up to 14 pieces left.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                That kind of analysis, though, is where quantum computing would excel.

                You won’t solve chess without quantum computing.

                It’s all part of that NP stuff — chess, like the travelling salesman problem — can only be solved through direct examination of all cases. There’s no deterministic algorithm that can solve it in polynomial time — there can’t be one.

                Not unless some math guru manages to do something really clever — and by “really clever” I mean “He’d be mentioned first when it came to listing mathematical gods”.Report

              • Avatar Aidian says:

                I’ve never thought about chess being solved, but now that I do, I’m kinda surprised it hasn’t been already. Kinda encouraging, actually. I guess I should move back my “inevitably wiped out by skynet” prediction a few years, then.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                Computers have discovered all sorts of interesting properties about the game, above all in endgame theory. But the game as a whole is still a long way from being solved.

                When chess finally is solved, the solution will be far beyond the possibility of human comprehension. Certain tablebase endgames are already in the multiple hundreds of moves, nearly all of which are totally incomprehensible even to grandmasters. And yet these endings are provable via computer to be the best play on both sides. Chess is bigger and weirder than a lot of other games out there.Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              What fun is the game if everything is solved?

              Don’t people enjoy mystery anymore?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      If Go is solved, we have an entirely, fantastically different world.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      In defense of early childhood games:

      The point of the game is less to “have fun” but to train the tykes the joys of waiting your turn. The fact that those games are all random is to allow the little’uns the same chance of winning as the older’uns.

      When they get older, *THEN* we can introduce such games as Descent and lay the hammer down upon them.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        Jaybird,

        Take a look at the article I linked. It compares classic games to some very good modern games of similar complexity that do much more to teach the young’uns.

        Ticket to Ride is an absolutely beautiful and accessible way to get young kids interested in building-style games so that when they’re a little older, you can introduce them to Iron Dragon or one of the other Mayfair railroad-building games.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Anything… anything… anything but monopoly!Report

          • Avatar dhex says:

            monopoly is hella awesome. cracked is basically a linkfarm anyway. (kate willert is dreamy, tho)Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Monopoly is a game written during the depression.
              It’s also depressingly long.

              It is a game that should nearly always be conceded.

              That’s no fun. Play games where winning is obvious, and fairly quick.

              I’d far rather play alpha centauriReport

              • Avatar Murali says:

                Monopoly is depressingly long only if you don’t start trading properties once all the properties are purchased from the bank. Actually playing by the rules gives you a decent 2-3hr game. Final mop up is usually quick and should not take too long.Report

        • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

          “Ticket to Ride is an absolutely beautiful and accessible way to get young kids interested in building-style games ”

          But you aren’t going to play Ticket To Ride with a four-year-old.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          You’ve got to start with something like Hi Ho Cherry O! or Candyland because despite how mind-numbingly tedious they are to grownups, they do a brilliant job of teaching the foundational idea of playing games.

          Tic-Tac-Toe, is another brilliant, brilliant game. The point of the game is *NOT* to get three in a row (though that’s what we tell children), the point of the game is to get children to realize when adults are letting them win.

          That sort of thing. The point of these games is not the games. It’s to get them from where they are to Ticket to Ride (or whatever) smoothly.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Right. Catbank appears again. I should have linked that on Russel’s post.
      They’ve got her “I’m better than you” attitude, at least.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A significantly warmer planet. The most important effect will be that large areas will become effectively drier, making agriculture difficult or impossible. For example, the southern Great Plains in the US will be effectively abandoned — simply too dry for anything except bison, and you have to let them roam free to follow the water even then. The SE US resembles a sauna for more of the year than it does now. Major population shifts out of the lower Colorado River basin will be under way (coupled with the cost of transportation in the next paragraph, Las Vegas is well on its way to ghost town status). Similar phenomenon around the planet.

    The world is a bigger place, on several scales. The end of cheap liquid fuels translates into the end of globalization for most goods. Crossing the US by rail is a two- or three-day trip, so far fewer people bother. US-to-Europe is expensive enough that it’s reserved mostly for the rich, or a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the middle class. The liquid-fuel cost of 11 carrier strike groups is far too much and the US military no longer provides the global military public service that it does now. Electrification of personal transportation, and the limitations that come with it, keep people closer to home for work and pleasure.

    Tech stagnation. We’re reaching the point where Rock’s Law bites. Intel can’t sell enough parts to keep their 22 nm fab line full making Intel parts, so is selling foundry services. At least a couple of the Far East foundry companies have announced that they can’t afford to build 20- or 22-nm fab lines. Smaller, faster, denser parts will be too expensive to put in most consumer gear. Biological science will continue to progress, but slowly. Material science, working on the nano scale, will accomplish a bunch of interesting things. The cost of dealing with on-planet infrastructure will preclude big spending on space.

    North American re-alignment. The eastern and western US, separated by a largely abandoned Great Plains, will go their separate ways. The parting will be relatively friendly. The western parts of Canada will decide they would be better off as part of the Western States. Mexico will be a largely failed state (deeper and wider deserts make fleeing north a much more difficult task than it is today). The Western States will be relatively better-off than the Eastern States, since they can build out hydro, wind, and solar generation. The East will struggle.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      To clarify, Intel selling foundry services, and the Far East foundry companies saying they can’t afford 22-nm lines are things that have already happened. Rock’s Law is biting today. Moore’s Law ends not because of physics or engineering limits, but because of financial constraints.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Eh, between memristers, silicon-on-silicon chips and three-dimensional stacking, Moore’s law will continue.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Maybe the semiconductor industry will simply run out of sand.

        With 800 years worth of coal in existing reserves I doubt we’ll run out of liquid fuel, given that coal can be converted to liquids like DME, methanol, and octane even cheaper than today’s market prices (the technology only requires copper, aluminum, and zeolite catalysts). Liquid fluoride thorium reactors will become commonplace and energy prices will fall. Getting there will require the marketplace to defeat all the forces opposed to cheap energy.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          800 years of coal at current usage. Expect current usage to increase dramatically as we run out of easily available oil, and increase population.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      I agree with this- the confluence of a warmer climate and the escalating cost of energy will be the biggest drivers of change, along with the rise of China as an economic superpower.Report

  11. Avatar Morat20 says:

    Hmm. The first space elevator will have been built — making building others trivial, and opening up the solar system.

    Resource extraction will begin to move to the solar system. Discussions over colonizing Mars will be ongoing, but there will be only a limited presense (purely scientific) on Mars and the Moon.

    Microgravity manufacturing, in bulk, will be the growth industry of the day. Solar power, beamed from space, will be the mainstay baseload for earth based power.

    Fusion will still be 50 years away. Microfusion (via the weak nuclear reaction) plants are in use, powering cars, ships, and planes — anything that moves — for the most part because energy storage techniques still lag. Beamed solar will be cheaper for powering anything attached to the grid.

    Quantum computing will be widespread, and the upheaval as they were introduced (invalidating current encryption and generally screwing up everything) will still cause lingering issues.

    Viral and nanotech medicines will begin to be used in bulk, both curing diseases and conditions that have long plagued us — and opening a new front in our ability to kill and maim. The practice of medicine will be both different and the same — there will still be surgery, stiches, and trauma — but scar-free healing, lab-grown perfect match organs, and possibly regeneration of damaged or destroyed tissue.

    Aging will, if not be conquered, at least beaten back quite badly. Many of the issues of aging — clogged arteries, higher risk of strokes, dementia and alzhiemers, will be cured or manageable. Life expectancy will be higher by decades, with more vigorous, active, and engaged elderly.

    Culture shock, however, will still be a problem.

    As for where all the aliens are: Gamma ray bursters?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      I will bet $5 that we don’t have a functional computer built on quantum computing principles that is as powerful as a digital computer until after I die.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        By that point someone will have hooked a finite improbability generator to a cup of piping hot british tea.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I would take this bet, if only because I believe I easily could get out of paying were I to lose.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Have you met a quantum computing researcher…?
        ROFL.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Quantum computers are…different. They’re really good at solving entire classes of problems that digital computers suck at (relatively speaking), but the reverse is not necessarily true.

        So you can be both right and wrong on that five bucks. Quantum computers will render modern encyption completely pointless (we will have to figure something else out), but won’t run desktops nearly as well as a digital one.

        So would a QC that can break down AES in milliseconds but can’t run World of Warcraft — is that more or less powerful than your desktop? 🙂Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          Hee hee.

          I wondered if anyone would know how that bet was gamed.

          Okay, I’ll concede the second. I’ll make a far less general bet: no quantum computer will be built that will be able to brute-force AES-256.

          And by brute-force, I mean brute-force. You can’t exclude cryptographic weaknesses that are exposed in AES.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            And it will all be the NSA’s fault.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            I’d take that. Assuming a quantum computer of sufficient capability is made (and we’re talking the equivilant of, say, late 70s digital computers — and right now we’re still tinkering with the quantum version of 1940s stuff at best), AES-256 will fall like a stack of dominos.

            I have no idea what they’ll replace it with.

            Stross suggested one-time pads (very large ones, obviously) on the router backbones.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              stenography.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Assuming a quantum computer of sufficient capability is made (and we’re talking the equivilant of, say, late 70s digital computers — and right now we’re still tinkering with the quantum version of 1940s stuff at best), AES-256 will fall like a stack of dominos.

              Yeah, that’s the assume that I’m thinking is not going to happen.

              Even if we built a quantum computer with the capabilities of cracking AES-256, we won’t know it for sure for a while, because the software stack is going to look rather different from everything created until now.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Breaking AES would be trivial for a quantum computer over a certain number of qubits.

                The software required is nothing special (and will certainly be there as researchers continue to push forward. They have to develop it now, for what they’ve got).

                But breaking AES-256 is…like a 1970s PC doing big arithmatic operations. It’s not a complex algorithm, it doesn’t require tons of software. Factoring large numbers –which is what you need to break AES 256 — it’s like doing boolean logic or adding numbers together with a digital computer.

                The very capability is baked into the pie, so to speak.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Sorry, you’re misunderstanding me (admittedly, I’m not diving full-force into this conversation).

                I’m pretty sure decoherence is going to cause problems with the user interface. Building the quantum computer is one thing. Building a quantum computer with a sufficient number of qubits to do anything interesting is another, much bigger thing. Interacting with it without it falling apart is something else.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                There is that. 🙂 If it was easy, we’d already have done it!

                Currently, in terms of computers, I’m far more excited about memristers, the rising use of solid state drives, and a few other things.

                Those will impact my life in far less…memorable..but useful ways then quantum computers. Less disruptively as well.

                I’ve been watching gesture recognition technlogy — the Xbox Kinect as a commercial and simple example. That and whole language processing are going to be the areas that really change things over the next decade.

                Siri and Kinect are…basic. Slow. Dumb. It won’t stay that way. 🙂Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              Well I’m hoping it means a Cryptonomicon sequel set in the 2020s.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          You both win and lose the bet simultaneously? Doesn’t that quantum state collapse when you open your wallet and look inside?Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        Do you really want to create such a quantum state? “So the 400-digit number represented as qubits goes in here, Patrick Calahan dies, and then the two prime factors appear here.”Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Man, from your lips to God(ess?)’s ears!Report

    • Avatar Bob2 says:

      I feel like you’re cribbing from Gunnm: The Last Order (Battle Angel Alita: Last OrderReport

  12. Avatar Francis says:

    The pessimist’s version:

    1. An Iranian / Pakistani / NKorean nuke has been detonated in Jerusalem, leading to nuclear war with Iran and worldwide terrorism by radicalized Muslims against Jewish interests. New Yorkers joke about living in a police state.

    2. No major wild fishery exists. Farmed tilapia and salmon are available but expensive.

    3. Crop yields are plummeting worldwide due to ultra-hot days and weeks in the summer, drought and the emptying of aquifers. High food prices are leading to trade restrictions and the rise of fascist governments. Carbon-based energy use has increased as governments and individuals struggle to respond to climate change. While the Arctic is essentially ice-free in the summer and substantial methane outgassing is being seen across Canadian and Russian formerly-permafrost lands, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have not suffered sudden collapse. Nevertheless, salt water intrusion is killing the productivity of coastal lands across southeast Asia, from India all the way to Vietnam.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The pessimist’s version is that we’re all dead. possibly taking all life with us.
      I consider it reasonably likely. 25% shot, considering…

      I think we’re past India and Pakistan blowing each other up by accident (go usa! go usa!).

      Monstersanto and allies could easily kill all world crops by 50 years from now.Report

  13. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    The Cubs still don’t win the Series.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      Or the Dave Lister hypothesis:

      Why does it have to be such a big deal? Why can’t it be like, like, human beings are a planetary disease? Like the Earth’s got German measles or facial herpes, right? And that’s why all of the other planets give us such a wide berth. It’s like, “Oh, don’t go near Earth! It’s got human beings on it, they’re contagious!Report

      • Avatar Durr Derp says:

        Snooki and the Kardashians prove this theory.Report

        • Avatar James K says:

          Either that or the Kardashians are surgically-altered Cardassian agents planted here to undermine our culture, and by extension our scientific progress.

          I mean, the two names are awfully similar after all.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        So like they have scientists and these scientists keep talking about stuff that could either theoretically create a lot of energy *OR*, possibly, destroy the universe. So then they start the experiment anyway.Report

  14. Avatar Murali says:

    I think that in the next 50 years, there will be great changes in the field of philosophy. Further branches of philosophy would have branched off on their own and become their own separate social science. It’s already happening or happenned with decision theory. On the moral theory end, I think that there is going to be a more analytically informed moral psychology, moral sociology. We are already developing crude general equilibrium models for social norms now. These models will become more refined in fifty years time. People like me will be dinosaurs holding on to their old models.

    On the biological sciences side, we would all be cyborgs. The only non-augmented people will be luddites. We will have extra augmented limbs and we will be able to jack in directly to information networks. We will be able to connect to external processors to help us handle a lot of brute processing tasks.

    On the political side, most of extreme world poverty would be eradicated. Most of the basket cases in Africa would be more like what Malaysia is now. Not fantastic, but an improvement. Why? because of foreign investment. We are already seing the beginnings of foreign investments in Africa. This will be transformative.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      You can call me a Luddite all you want but I don’t think I will ever feel comfortable opening my body up to hacking.

      Do you really want some script kiddie from 4chan to be get access to something embedded in your body?Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Your body is wide open to hacking, one a channel is developed. The question becomes: Do you want to install a firewall or not?

        Your body gets hacked everytime you get the flu. 🙂Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Close. You’ve never seen someone curled up on the fucking floor because of static electricity.
          We’re already hackable, to varying extents.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        oh, we’re, most of us as we are, luddites if we were transportd 50 years into the future. By the time the technology arrives, people will have different expectations about hacking and different ideas as to what a significant trespass is. I also think firewalls will be better.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Well, let’s put it this way — by the time we start repairing organs and genetic defects from the insides (whether through viral methods or nanomachines), you’re really gonna want an immune upgrade anyways.

          I am not looking forward to the day we have to have to use public key encryption to allow doctors access to our inner workings, lest our hacked immune system destroy the nice medicine designed to fix our kidney problems.

          It’s not like you want just ANYONE changing the way stuff works inside.Report

  15. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    And controlled fusion will still be only 25 years away.Report

  16. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Power – Orbital solar beamed to Earth, or some type of nuclear (fission or fusion). Surface solar will be relegated to rooftop installations & the odd molten sodium plant. Petroleum will still be extracted, but less for fuel than for chemical feedstock.

    Space elevator – yes. We know how to do it, the only reason we haven’t is a materials science problem. Nanotubes will likely be the answer to this, once we figure out how to manufacture them at an industrial scale. After that, it’s all political, since such structures have to be at the equator, and the nations along the equator are not always the most stable.

    The elevators will bring forth a new era of low-G habitats & manufacturing. Asteroid mining will begin in earnest as candidate asteroids are captured and pushed into orbit.

    Airlines will begin to phase out as liquid fuels become too expensive. Airships will take their place, along with high speed rail networks (once polities stop dicking around and get serious about installing such corridors). Better tele-presence technologies will reduce the need for a lot of business travel, further reducing the demand for transonic/supersonic passenger flights.

    3D Printers will become ubiquitous, and industrial, thus reducing the need for cheap manufacturing labor overseas, and the need for massive cargo ships to ply the oceans.

    Seasteads will happen. Technologically they are doable today, but the political fallout from such will be… interesting.Report

    • Avatar Durr Derp says:

      Seasteads, tsunami.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Seasteads care not about tsunamis, since in the open ocean, tsunamis are not a problem.

        Hurricanes/tropical storms are a bigger concern.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      Trains? Airships? I’ve never understood why futurists want to take us back to the 19th century.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Cars are impractical.
        And maglev is kool.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Have you seen the new airship designs? These are not your grandpas blimps! Massive & much faster than previous designs.

        Passenger Jets work because the fuel is energy dense & cheap. Should the cost of fuel rise too much, the modern passenger jet will cease to be economically viable to a growing swath of the population. More fuel efficient means of air travel, such as airships, could rise to allow for passenger air travel. Added bonus is ground operations for airships is much cheaper (no need for expensive runways).

        Trains would fill a similar need, but only along specific routes, such as between major cities.

        Alternatively, if we developed a cheap way to launch to orbit, spaceplanes would eliminate passenger jets for all but the shortest hops (get anywhere in the world in 30 – 90 minutes).

        It really all comes down to fuel/power.Report

  17. Avatar Durr Derp says:

    Blogging will be a long-gone fad.Report

  18. Avatar Will H. says:

    I believe that mankind will develop another sense.
    And I believe that the early vestiges of that additional sense are being slowly discovered among us now.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Do tell?Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      = The ability to sense, from just a few words in a comment box, someone else’s complete personal and familial history (yea, even unto the 10th generation), complete worldview, innermost thoughts and feelings, sexual peccadilloes, and full intended textual and subtextual meanings (carrying the freight of all necessary caveats and nuance).

      It’s true. I’ve seen it.Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        Something along those lines, but with more general applications, limited specificity, and likely requiring close proximity (perhaps within visual range).

        But it sounds to me like you’re becoming more advanced.
        All that blogging is really paying off.Report

  19. Avatar Will Truman says:

    1. There will not be a serious, disrupting shortage of fossil fuels in my lifetime.

    2. Cars will run mostly on electricity rather than gas. We may still be looking at hybrids, though. Very, very few purely gas vehicles. (This is not a brave prediction, but I wanted it in light of #1.)

    3. Global Warming will occur and we won’t stop it.

    4. Urban development will not look like urbanists want it to look, though it will probably be more in that direction than things presently are.

    5. Desalinization will save the world.

    6. Broadcast television will be relegated to the Home Shopping Network and religious programming.Report

    • Avatar Zach says:

      I think this is the best starting set of predictions thus far. I would broaden the ‘water’ category past desalinization to include advances in water extraction technology to accommodate Africa’s explosive growth over the next half-century.Report

  20. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    In-line response to address points…

    “All or nearly all cars will be driverless.”

    Not only that, but driverless will be *mandatory*. Cars with actual human drivers will be thought of the way that we think of an Amish horse-and-buggy; you can have one on a road, but you’re required to have a bunch of safety gear, and you’re sharply limited in how fast you can go (and there are some roads where you aren’t allowed to go at all.)

    Human driving will mostly occur as a luxury-recreation activity, like horse riding today. Automobile racing will still be popular, albeit with kit cars built specifically for the sport rather than with modified street cars.

    “There will be a vast increase in telework on the part of idea workers. Workers whose jobs require a physical human presence will enjoy living much closer to their worksites. The long commute will die.”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. If you assume a high-capability driverless car–that is, one that can do more than just “go straight on the highway”–then there’s no reason to think of a “car” as anything more than just another room in your house. I could easily see a “car” becoming a little pod with a refrigerator and a toilet and a data connection. Maybe the car of the future isn’t a small car, but something more like a Dodge Sprinter. (Heck, maybe in the future there won’t *be* houses because everyone will live in an RV!)

    “Nearly everyone will wear something like Google Glass, and the privacy violations we worry about now will be thought quaint and amusing. ”

    Yep. Everyone’s going to be like “they sent data by radio and actually thought it was possible to keep someone from intercepting it? For reality’s sake!”

    “I think it very improbable that Google Glass will be the eventual winner in what’s clearly a winner-take-all technology.”

    On the one hand, the iPhone is still here. On the other hand, everything else is catching up. On the gripping hand, the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone.

    “Genetic engineering will eliminate a vast swath of human diseases in all generations born near or after my death. These will include genetic diseases of course, but also communicable ones like AIDS, for which an immunity-granting gene is already known.
    Great progress will have been made—inadvertently, and with much ethical hand-wringing—on the problem of aging. ”

    I don’t think this will happen. I think that shifts in social attitudes about euthanasia will cause it, along with shifts in social attitudes about what sorts of things the government can mandate.

    The reason that most genetic disorders exist is that we aren’t allowed to kill babies once they’re born (and note that I am not claiming this should happen!) and we still aren’t sure we’re okay with doing it before they’re born. And one solution to “the problem of aging” is legal marijuana.

    The reason most other diseases exist is because the basic cause goes untreated. If the government mandates that your kid gets a vaccination even if you know-with-a-bone-deep-god’s-truth-KNOWING that it will melt his brain, then that will solve lots of problems. Mandating that an antibiotic prescription requires FDA approval will solve a lot of others.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      we may not be allowed to kill babies, but we can sure as hell make it illegal for them to fuck.
      Eugenics in America, the invisible kind.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      On the one hand, the iPhone is still here.

      They weren’t the first movers, not even in smartphones. First movers tend to get supplanted.

      Mandating that an antibiotic prescription requires FDA approval will solve a lot of others.

      You mean that each and every prescription needs FDA approval rather than the drug getting FDA approval, and then physicians prescribing it?

      Well, that’s one way to solve the “problem of aging.” We’ll all die of strep.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        My predictions

        1) climate change will not be addressed and will be worse than our current serious thinkings worst case.
        2) return to a more disease filled time as anti-biotic resistant bacteria become much more common
        3) web development as it currently exists will not be around. My job will be so radically different that I won’t be able to recognize what they are doing in 40 years.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          (1) and (2) have a Malthusian feedback cycle.

          If climate change is worse than our current worse case, we’re going to lose enough people to famine that disease won’t be as much of a problem.Report

        • Avatar George Turner says:

          The only thing that would make climate change worse is if it was cooling. A little cooling is deadly, a lot of cooling is catastrophic.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Not really. Do you know what humidity a human can survive at?
            Now, do you know what humidity animals can survive at?

            Fire makes everything better — we’d just shift ourselves a little more towards the equator.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Ice ages are devastating to both human and animal populations. The planet’s carrying capacity is determined by the productivity of its plant matter, and plants don’t grow well on glaciers. They also don’t grow well with really short growing seasons, and we know from historical data that even minor cooling can be devastating to agriculture in temperate regions. We know from the archeological record that cooling is bad, and we also know that even extreme warming has been a boon to life. The warm tropics are lush rain forests. The poles are barren deserts.

            During the Emian life thrived almost everywhere, with monitor lizards in Greenland and palm trees in Canada. Life thrived especially well near the equator. Our climate models can’t even remotely reproduce the conditions back then (which is a good sign that they’re garbage).

            In contrast, species diversity and animal abundance during an ice age plummets, Most of the rich diversity of plants in Southern Australia and South Africa was lost when the Earth slipped into the recent ice age period, and a new ice age would see Europeans retreat back to Spain and everyone north of the Mason-Dixon line moving to trailer parks in Tennessee.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

              Our climate models can’t even remotely reproduce the conditions back then

              citation needed

              Your point about ice ages is valid, but a rapidly changing climate is bad for all standing ecosystems.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              The models don’t properly reproduce the Eemian’s lack of temperature variability between the equator and the temperate regions.

              For example, Northern Greenland was recently found to have been 8 C warmer than present (Ice and Climate link) while the equator barely budged (a href=http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/072.htm>IPCC link.

              Generally, you can’t find a link to Eemian climate without some caveat that the climate models don’t get it right for the period. In the above it’s ‘”The new findings reveal higher temperatures in Northern Greenland during the Eemian than paleo-climate models have estimated,” said Dahl-Jensen.’ Heck, check the abstract on this paper, where they reject all sorts of climate model runs just to narrow their results down to an order-of-magnitude estimate on Greenland ice loss during the Eemian.

              It’s not “rapid climate change” that does the killing, it’s the cooling. The rapid warming that occurs when we pop out of an ice age increases species diversity and abundance as all the niches open back up. Paper on DNA studies of the post-ice age recolonization of Europe and subsequent divergence of new species since they expanded out of their ice-age refugias in southern Europe.Report

  21. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I will be a bit positive for a change:

    1. Medicine will continue to get better. This includes treating cancer without chemotherapy.

    2. There Mets might win another world series.

    3. Gay Rights will be seen as another great Civil Rights movementReport

  22. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    A combination of high energy prices and climate change works to severely hamper economic growth. People begin to realize that it was the fossil fuel era and its attendant one-time burst of externalities–not capitalism, modern democracy, or some other organizational innovation–that enabled the explosive growth of the last few centuries. The realization that we can’t expect 3% growth the way past generations did will take a long, long time to seep into the popular consciousness, and have unpredictable effects. There will be some new physics, but it will be mostly a curiosity since it doesn’t produce any cool new effects at usable energy-levels. Humanity will never develop a significant off-world presence.

    FWIW, I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this.Report

  23. Avatar Kolohe says:

    By 2050:

    35% chance: China is a liberal democracy with political institutions on par with Japan, and has a GDP per capita on par with the G-7
    15% chance: The Chinese Communist Party is still in power, and it’s GDP is still on par with the rest of the BRIC, at the high end of the middle quintile
    50% chance: A civil war tears the country apart, and they are still recovering by 2050.

    35% chance: Iran deposes the mullahs, the new government is still cool, but not openly hostile to the West or Israel. A ‘third way’ / ‘non-aligned’ player for the new century.
    25% chance: Iran deposes the mullahs, makes common cause with the West (keeping Israel at arms length) against the retrograde Arab theocratic monarchies.
    40% chance: Iran’s mullahs hold on for another generation, keeping the flame of revolution alive with (inaccurate) accounts of Western depredations around the world and (accurate) accounts of Sunni (Arab) depredations around the 21st century MENA.

    40% chance: Korea is reunited, Kim Jong Eun is dead via some non-natural means.
    40% chance: Korea is reunited, Kim Jong Eun is living in exile in China, or has died there of natural causes.
    15% chance: Korea is still divided, Kim Jong Eun managed a transition where DPRK is at least as good as China was under early Deng (which is still not very good)
    5% chance: Korea is still divided, North Korea is still a hell hole, Kim Jong Eun is dead of natural causes, and his son is in charge.

    99% chance: Israel/Palestine is still a trouble spot.
    10% chance: Israel/Palestine has a memorial to a nuclear weapon detonated in its territory.

    100% chance: the battles around water resources in the great plains i.e. the Ogallala aquafier, will be a non-story compared to the battles around water resources provided by, for instance, the Colorado river, and other west of the Rockies sources.

    100% chance: Airline travel will still be a thing, but it will be pricier, a bit higher (relative to inflation) than before deregulation, and perhaps what it cost at the dawn of the jet age.
    50% chance: US flagged airlines become nationalized, a la Amtrak, and/or Amtrak gets split up and goes private, a la the airlines.

    50% chance – Canada’s population is nearly double from what it is today, exceeding 60 million.
    30% chance – Canada has split into 2 or more countries, or one or more split off portions of the Confederation have joined with the United States.

    75% chance – there are more than 50 US states
    20% chance – there are exactly 50 US states
    5% chance – there are fewer than 5 US states

    100% chance – there will have been a female President of the United States
    70% chance – there will have been (or currently be) a President with a last name considered ‘Hispanic’ by today’s standards.

    60% chance – Mexico finally gets it act together, and becomes a economic player (per capita) on par with (current) South Korea. Mexico – America border becomes as nontroversial as the US Canada one.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Canada leads the OECD in per capita income by 2050, and that their growth rates start picking up in the next 10-15 years. They’re doing MUCH better in terms of high skilled immigration policy than the US,, they have good energy reserves, and the opening up of the Arctic sealanes will make them more important for trade.Report

  24. Avatar Randy Harris says:

    The United States, Canada, and Mexico will merge into one large “United States of North America.” The exception will be Quebec, which will beome an independent nation.Report

  25. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I have another prediction:

    Our children and grandchildren will be ashamed of the kind of comments we leave on the Internet because it will not be a novelty for them and the Wild West aspect dies out.Report

  26. Avatar Geof says:

    I frequently see overly utopian predictions about driverless cars. Now, there is little doubt that the technology will eventually have significant impact, but there are significant barriers to hitting 95% driverless in fifty years.

    First, the technology is far from consumer ready, and is doubtful to be there and affordable (and 50 state legal) in less than 20 years. Second, there are approximately 250 million passenger vehicles in the US, and we buy between 12 and 16 million new vehicles per year. At that rate, assuming zero attrition, and 100% mandatory adoption you are looking at 15-20 years to replace cars already in use. Third new technology has a slow adoption period. In 2012 hybrids accounted for 2.97% of cars sold in the US. That’s for a barely disruptive technology that’s been on the market for over 10 years.

    Add all those factors up, and I think it’s highly unlikely to see majority driverless vehicles in 50 years. There are a lot of other points like whether poverty level people will be driving around in 20 year old junker driverless vehicles, or where motorcycles fit, or what about rural areas that will not be well served by driverless tech. If I had to guess, in 50 years, 20% of vehicles will be 100% driverless, and another 30-50% will have driver assisting technologies. Laws will have been on the books for 10 years mandating these assistive technologies on new vehicles (like emergency auto braking). But those won’t be full driverless, just using bits and pieces of the driverless tech to make manual cars safer (like ABS).Report