What will it be like in the year 2050?

I have often thought about this topic. But I would like to know: What will civilization be like around the year 2050?
In terms of:

  1. Science
  2. Technology
  3. Politics
  4. Pop culture
    How will we live and what will we do in the year 2050 A.D.?

Nobody can answer this question definitively. I think this is more IMHO than GQ…

BTW, it’s difficult to predict what will happen next year, how can we predict something that is 36 years away?

It will be more advanced in many ways than we can imagine, but it will also much less advanced than we hoped. We will still be living in the same kind of houses we live in now, not giant floating domes or moonbases or anything. We still won’t have flying cars. We might have sent men to Mars but chances are an early mission went catastrophically wrong and the programme got canned. People will still be posting messages on some iteration of the internet wondering where “this future we were promised” is.

I reported and suggested it be moved to IMHO.

36 years isn’t that long a time. I will probably be past my “best if used by” date by then.

Barring a significant social upheaval of some unpredictable nature, or a major natural catastrophe, or a major war, there is always war, things will be the same but different.

Devises and technology will come in smaller packages with more utility. Media devices will be combined and you will not be talking about separate TVs, PCs, phones, but rather access devices that are compatible with all of these formerly separate tools. I am looking forward to a virtual screen that will just pop out of my portable phone/computer.

Clothing styles will change. Old people will not approve of the changes.

I think there will still be people driving cars with internal combustion engines. I will believe that fossil, petro fuels are running out when there are less than a million people flying around the Earth on 10s of thousands of aircraft, just because they want to go some place. When the planes are grounded you can scare me about Peak Oil.

There is always the next new thing, that hasn’t been thought of that will change industry and jobs in ways we can’t imagine, some new breakthrough in materials science, etc

Board is responding too slow for my typing so I will cut this post short.

If you go in the reverse direction, back 36 years to 1978, what are the changes?

The cars and associated technology got much better, but the basics did not change. We now have better mileage, safety, comfort, reliability, but anyone who drove a AMC pacer from that time could hop in a modern car and be just as bad a driver as they were back then.

Computers and the Internet were not even a dream except for a few visionaries. Had these things not happened, industry would have moved in another, probably equally productive way. Things that need getting done, will get done.

The clothing style changed. Old people did not approve of the changes. I wish I could burn every picture of me in bell-bottom casual slacks and paisley shirts. In the future old pictures are forever.

There are more and better beer choices now, so we have that going for us.

I wonder if the World Wide Web will still be the primary Internet protocol.

Ah, for the days when “Coors” was considered an exotic regional beer.

We’ll probably have fewer conflicts overall, though ethnic conflicts may continue to rise in the emerging world. We will likely also see low intensity conflicts if not open war over clean and potable water, especially in Asia. Liquid fossil fuels will be replaced by other sources (natural gas, ethanol, methanol, dimethyl ether, propane) as reserves are depleted. This will probably be led by China and then Europe, while Russia and the Americas keep trying more desperate measures to find and extract more reserves.

Medicine will become more and more advanced with genetic therapies, tailored phrama, and better diagnostics and imaging. The medical insurance industry, however, will continue to become more convoluted and drive higher costs and poor access. You will be able to get diagnosis, including blood testing, at home over the internet. We may or may not have eliminated various diseases and parasites, depending on just how devoted various private foundations and goverments are to addressing this very solvable problem.

Puerto Rico will still not be a state. Texas and Alaska will not secede from the Union. Some Latin American country will probably annex another Latin American country. Russia will still have pretentions of grandeur. Continental Europe will congeal into an increasingly ubersoveriegn state with Germany largely at the head. The British will still fail to understand the concept of good food and automobiles.

Crewed space exploration will proceed in a halting and goal-less fashion. China will not revolutionize space exploration, and will probably give up before establishing a permanent base on the Moon or going to Mars. On the other hand, commercial space, especially smallsats, will take off and become a massive industry that provide wide-ranging benefits in telecommunications, surveillance, and climate/ocean measurement, unless the orbital space environment becomes polluted by orbiting debris (Kessler) cascades, in which case cleaning and protecting existing satellites will become its own booming industry. Uncrewed exploation of the Solar System will continue apace as the cost of performing various mission capabilities reduces by an order of magnitude. We’ll send out probes to the Oort cloud and to explore various asteroids for resource utilization, but no wide scale habitation or space infrastructure is likely to exist.

People will still be smelly, dirty, panicky, bigoted, hairless apes and democracy, while increasingly widespread, will still be fundamentally flawed as most people will not be well educated in critical thinking. So it goes.


Volkswagen will own everything. Nobody will be drinking beer except a few isolated people in Arkansas.

<nitpick> The World Wide Web is a service that travels over Internet Protocol connections. It’s not the only such service; others include file transfer and voice and video calls. But already, these differences are largely invisible to the casual user.

This is an interesting question, because my friends and I were talking about something similar, except we were trying to figure out what behaviors / clothing / style we would be embarrassed about in 10 / 15 years, or how people would dress for a theme “00’s” or “10’s” party, much like people dress up for a “80’s” party nowadays.

By 2050 we will see the start of a worldwide revolution against the current economic and philosophical order, akin to the Protestant Reformation, in which a single person questions the existing order in such a way that it causes a huge rift among people then-unaware that such a rift could take place. As a result, countries are convulsed with internal strife as these issues get resolved - some peacefully, some not - and then, once they gain internal peace again, they start aligning themselves against each other in a titanic struggle so vast that it makes WW2 appear as a practice round.

Or not.

Robots will be as lifelike as humans. You won’t be able to tell them apart. They will be police, soldiers and even work at fast food places.

And humans (men AND women) will have sex with them instead of other humans because they will be much better looking and will be able to be programmed for any kind of sex you want.

To be fair, most large companies commonly had mainframes and microcomputers, and the internet existed in government and academia for a long time prior to 1978.

What didn’t exist in 1978 were IBM PCs. There were quite a few personal computers available at the time- Commodore PETs, TRS-80s, Apple IIs were all available, to name a few, and quite a bunch came available in 1979.

Personally, I think in 2050, we’ll see some major advances in healthcare technology, that we don’t really dream of today, and we’ll see a few changes in terms of the details of transportation- cars may be electric if there are battery or fuel cell advances, or they may burn natural gas or something besides gasoline. They’ll probably be autonomous, or at least be more like a modern airliner than a modern car in terms of navigation and automatic driving. But they’ll still have tires, and they’ll still drive on the same roads we have today.

I suspect that by 2050, the idea of having separate internet, cable TV and telecommunications will be a quaint idea that’s been gone for a long time, and that we’ll have options beyond tablets and TV screens for viewing and creating content.

I doubt we’ll see intelligent robots or any serious AI though.

I do think we will get serious AI, and it will be thanks to the advances in health care technology. I do see it as a feedback. One of the best approaches to progress in the AI front is to replicate how the human brain does work, and to make it better.

First at a smaller scale. But before we get to get to the serious AI, I envision bioroids that thanks to medical science will allow us to do experiments that are now unethical. Like: what would really happen if we simulate a bipolar disorder and do poke around in the artificial brain for a cure with no worries at killing someone as we will do it with an artificial being.

Yes, I’m still working on the details, yes I’m still working on my hard science fiction tales… :slight_smile:

People will be wearing lame jump suits with Nehru collars, but they’ll have a different name for them. People will have personal jet packs. People will have chips implanted in them so they’ll no longer need smart phones or computers. Esperanto will NOT be spoken by anyone. The buzz will be about casting Star Wars XIII. Kids will be dancing waltzes and minuets and their parents will sadly shake their heads at them.

My two cents:

You will pay a single “information bill” each month instead of separate data, phone, and cable bills. PCs and laptops will be less common as technology allows us to cram more and more performance into a tablet-sized devices. Tablets, smartphones, and TVs will be seamlessly integrated.

A mixture of EDM/techno and hip-hop will have supplanted rock 'n roll/country/“lead singer, drums, lead guitar, and bass” type music as the dominant type of popular music.

Cars will be largely autonomous, but will follow the same basic layout as today. Hybrid cars will become “standard,” although plenty of non-hybrids will remain.

Things that won’t happen: flying cars (if this was ever going to be a “thing,” civil aviation would be MUCH more popular today than it is), meat grown in vats, crazy changes in architecture. There may be more red tape associated with gun ownership, but by and large any firearm you can buy today you will be able to buy then.

Conan Obrien will be an old geezer and will do a skit called “In the year 2040”


Democrats and Republicans will be fighting each other tooth and nail over everything and very little will be accomplished, except for that which directly benefits the politicians. No viable third party will exist. Taxes will be higher, but spending will out pace income anyway. elections will be determined by who is tallest and/or cutest. People will complain, but incumbents will still be re-elected the vast majority of the time. Political ads will be full of mud slinging, half lies and untruths.

Gee, that was easy. Sometimes past performance DOES indicate the future!

Self-driving cars will be in use in limited locations, and heavily restricted. The average person will still not have one.

The development of new treatments and drugs will blunt the sharp edges of the “post-antibiotics” era. However, there will definitely be a new reality as deaths due to previously-treatable illnesses tick up. Since the world doesn’t end, some people will claim that the problem was wildly exaggerated by Chicken Littles. (Much like the Y2K problem, certain people will not understand that the reason the problem wasn’t greater was because society realized the potential for disaster and put significant resources into preventing that disaster.)

Creationists will continue to take over the occasional school board. That board will get public attention, the area will become embarrassed, the problem will be slowly corrected, and the cycle will continue. They will never give up.

Fax machines will still be in use, even though nobody can really explain why.

That’s the thing though… just because we figure out how the brain works, it doesn’t mean that we can easily replicate it in a computer. Knowing how neurons work doesn’t at all mean that we understand how they interact and communicate, and further, how that translates into consciousness or intelligence or problem solving ability.

My prediction is that any AI advances that we see are probably going to be due to being able to process a lot more stuff a lot faster than we can today.
I also think that even if fully autonomous cars aren’t common (which I think they will be) by 2050, there will be more autonomous features- things like the radar assisted braking that some high-end cars have to prevent collisions, swarm-style inter-car communications for things like traffic optimization, collision avoidance, etc… will also be common by 2050. Basically the driver will steer, brake and accelerate, but the computers will prevent him from driving into trees, other cars, or going at speeds unsafe for the conditions… much like airliners do already.