DARPA: Here’s what 2045 will look like

Personally, I struggle to predict what will happen next week, let alone in 30 years’ time. Fortunately, other people are prepared to pin their colours to the mast, and have a stab at guessing exactly how much the world will have changed. And when those people work for DARPA – the science and technology wing of the US military – their guess is probably better than yours or mine.

In a series of videos entitled “Forward to the Future”, three researchers give their best guesses. Bravely, they uploaded these to YouTube so be prepared to dig them out in 10,950 days time and marvel at their clairvoyance/inaccuracy.

First up is Pam Melroy, an aerospace engineer and former astronaut. Given her department is chiefly concerned with drones, that’s the focus of her predictions. The drones of 2045, she explains, will feature advanced AI that will “allow us to work as partners with machines and have them understand our intent for much more complex tasks.”

Next up is neuroscientist Justin Sanchez, who sees a bright future for thought-powered technology. Not only will this change the way our houses function (imagine an Internet of Things powered by the mind), but Sanchez reckons we’ll be able to chat with “friends and family just using neural activity”. Careful what you think.

Finally, there’s geologist Stefanie Tompkins who believes the future belongs to nanotechnology. Being able to build things from an atomic level will open up a whole world of possibilities for strong, but lightweight materials:

Some of these may seem a little bit like science fiction, but there are two things to remember here. The first is that the folks at DARPA work with very cutting edge technologies and see mindblowing developments every day, so have a pretty good handle on what’s possible. The second is that, 30 years ago, the cutting edge consumer technology was carphones and LaserDisc: a lot can change in three decades.

On the other hand, predicting the future is a mug’s game, as this wonderful video predicting the fashion of the year 2000 shows.

Turns out there were a lot more puffy jackets and baseball caps than predicted.

READ THIS NEXT: The trains, planes and automobiles of 2030.

Image: Neil Kremer, used under Creative Commons

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