It’s 3017. I’m 1,027 years old. Somehow. Probably just a giant head in a giant glass jar, on display at some ramshackle museum underneath an overpass in a bad part of town. There are worse ways to spend one’s days as a head in a jar, I’d assume, coming at this from the perspective of someone who, so far, has never actually been a head in a jar. Yet. You might think the human race has simply stopped evolving, but you would be wrong. Just in the last 150 years, the average height of human beings has increased by four inches. In the last 65, we’ve added 20 years on to the average lifespan. But what about in another 1,000 years? What will the world and the people that call it home be like? Maybe we’ll have gotten taller, developed heat vision, or become intolerant to bacon sandwiches. And that’s a world I certainly don’t want to live in…
Over the next 1,000 years, the effects of global warming will begin to tighten their grip on our fragile blue rock. The rising temperatures and continued deterioration of the ozone layer will lead to most humans having darker and darker skin to protect from the ultraviolet radiation. No more pasty white people… erm, like me. I wonder what I look like with a tan. Like a cooked chicken, one would assume, although nowhere near as tasty.
The heat will also affect our appearance in other ways, too. Taller and thinner bodies would be better at dissipating excess body heat, meaning, in 1,000 years time, we’ll all be dark skinned, tall and thin. You won’t have much variety on Tinder, put it that way. And that’s just the human race. By 3017, computers will have the computational speed of the human brain and artificial intelligence will be a part of daily life, like missing the bus or sleeping with the milkman.
At the moment, the most advanced computer on Earth uses 705,024 processor cores and 1.4 million gigabytes of RAM, to take 40 minutes to process the same amount of data processed by one second of human brain activity. As the machines become more and more advanced, so will we become more and more integrated with the robots. Most scientists agree that, in the future, we’ll have tiny robots named nanobots swimming around our bodies, greatly enhancing our natural abilities. This is known as transhumanism, a great word, by the way. I can’t wait for the first Olympics scandal to involve this. “Ah, it was the nanobots that made him break the sound barrier. I thought he’d just bought some really nifty shoes…”
Some even speculate that the nanobot utility clouds (NUCs, as I call them) may even be able to assemble into any shape and disassemble just as easy. Thus meaning you could wake up in a NUC house one day, made entirely of nanobots, and disassemble it when you leave for work, allowing the space to be used for something else. Imagine that. Imagine the day when you don’t have anywhere to sleep because someone parked in your house spot. “Oi, that’s my nanobot house site, and don’t you forget it, buddy!”
It’s not just robots and the human form taking turns for the evil and weird, respectively. Genetic engineering will soon become the norm, meaning what we look like will be determined by human taste. Your parents might want you to have blonde hair or an increased lung capacity in the hope you’ll become a world class diver. One thing we can’t control are our brains. They will continue to grow, as will our eyes. One scientist said that our eyes will grow ‘unnervingly large’ as we start to colonise the solar system, farther and farther away from the Sun, having to adapt to dimmer and dimmer environments. Like Croydon.
Some have even said that much of this could be a reality as soon as 2050, by which point, we’ll be living longer, as old as 120 for the average human, having children at older and older ages. Relying on artificial intelligence for the mundane tasks that we hate, like vacuuming and planting tall trees in the garden to piss off that irritating neighbour. It’s believed that, by this point, the older people in our society will be spending most of their time in virtual reality. That’s nice, isn’t it? I can picture a room of old people sitting in comfy armchairs, smiles across their faces as they re-live their youthful endeavours. Although I guess it depends on just how ‘virtual’ this reality is. Is it a holodeck, like in Star Trek, or is it one of these visors you wear nowadays? I hope it’s not that. “What’s going on with Harold?” “I think he’s re-living the first time he made love to his late wife.” “Yeah, but… why’s he humping the lamp?”
Living longer may sound nice, but not so fast. Increased brain sizes mean organisms need more energy and more time to reach their full potential, meaning human beings in the future will go through sexual maturation much, much later. Into our 20s? 30s, maybe? Imagine that. 30 years on this planet before you can have sex. And don’t tell me a longer childhood would be a blast. Childhood sucks. You’ll have children living at home for up to 50 years, too. Imagine the cost, eh? I mean, I don’t have kids but I can’t imagine I’d want to spend more than 50 seconds with the little bleeders…
All this said, Mr. Professor Stephen Hawking thinks the human race won’t make it to 3017. He believes our fragile Earth is at an ever increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or the ever present threat of more and more artificially intelligent robots. He argues that we must travel into space to continue the human race. He once said to an audience of students from the University of Oxford, “Remember to look up to the stars and not down at your feet.” Oh. I rather like my feet.
The likelihood is that the human race will have spread throughout the cosmos, by this point. Space travel will be far less expensive and far more practical, thus increasing our chances of interacting with other intelligent life, probably ending up realising that, actually, we’re rather dumb…
One study, by the BBC, looking at things in 100 quintillion years time, paints a world of utter chaos. Apart from Chernobyl. That’ll actually be fine come 20,000 years from now. The Earth’s axis would’ve switched by 13,000 years from now, giving us extremely hot summers and extremely cold winters. The Niagara Falls will disappear around 50,000 years from now, because Lake Erie would’ve vanished overnight, certainly a… spooky occurrence. I should’ve probably gone for eerie, there. Damn it. Around 500,000 years, we’re expecting a half-mile wide asteroid strike, which will make short work of any life left over. And even that will be screwed shortly after when a super-volcano is due to erupt, killing most people left standing. And then, due to the weakening of the Y chromosome, men will go extinct around five million years from now. And the human race will be gone in around five billion years, assuming any of us are left standing, irradiated by a growing and dying Sun turning 10% hotter than it is today. You might wonder what women are gonna do for reproduction and fun times for the four billion and 995 million years between men going extinct and being irradiated by the Sun. I imagine there’ll be one almighty party for most of it. And as for reproduction, I mean, I’m a man… it’s literally not my problem. But yes, women will inherit the Earth. Never in doubt, never in doubt…
The future is a funny thing, readers. The human race will literally look a bit funny and the world doesn’t sound like it’ll be doing all too well. The farther and farther we travel into the future, the harder it is to predict things, but in reality, we’ll all absolutely screwed. No matter what we do, we’ll either wipe ourselves our or the Sun will finish the job. The star, not the newspaper. I mean, the big ball of light in the sky, not The Star newspaper. Oh, boy.
What will the world be like in 1,000 years time? Weird. Very weird. That said, to our human descendants, we’ll probably be the strange ones…
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