By Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, April Koury, and Maria Romero, Fast Future
2017 has been an ‘interesting’ year! Will we see more of the same in 2018 – or will the next 12 months herald some unexpected changes?
Here are 10 developments we might see emerging in 2018 – plus a look at how they may play out in the near-future.
All around the world in 2018, we will see pilot schemes to test fully autonomous electric vehicles on the road in normal driving conditions. China will be the first to actually have driverless cars driving alongside human-operated vehicles on a regular basis. Because these cars become a new status symbol, vehicle pollution in cities like Beijing will start to decline demonstrably as the growing Chinese middle-class flocks to purchase their first autonomous vehicle. Driven in part by the targets in the Paris climate agreement, more than 25 countries will have fully functional driverless green energy vehicles available for sale or hire by 2023. By then we could also see the first city authority introduce restrictions on manually driven cars in favour of autonomous vehicles.
Want your date to hang on your every word, never interrupt, and always do what you want? The first matchmaking websites will appear for those who want to date physical robots or virtual avatars – with personalities customised to our precise preferences. Around the world, women’s groups rise up in protest at services that they perceive as objectifying and dehumanizing women, and returning them to the role of fawning 1950s housewives. Within five years, the systems will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to determine and create our perfect match and allow us to have real babies with our robo-partners using donors and surrogates.
Head / Body Transplants
Following their much-disputed claims of completing a successful human head transplant to a corpse in 2017, controversial surgeon Professor Sergio Canavero and his team repeat the experiment in front of international observers in 2018. The individual survives less than 48 hours, but the observers acknowledge that the experiment was successful. By the end of 2023, the technique has been refined and there are now more than ten people around the world who are still alive six months after their transplant operation.
Bitcoin at US$50,000
Speculation will drive the price of Bitcoin to at least $50,000 during 2018. This will drive down the amount of commercial use for transaction purposes, as coin holders will hang on to them as an appreciating asset. Within the next two years, China will announce its own government backed digital currency. This will see rapid adoption by a number of countries that will also outlaw Bitcoin and its rivals. By 2023, the price of Bitcoin, like many other competitors, will decline sharply as it returns to its role as just another digital currency, predominantly used for trading purposes. Massive losses are incurred by individuals, investment funds, and even countries who invested heavily in Bitcoin on the way up, but didn’t sell out their positions quickly enough before the crash.
2018 will see the first pop song written by artificial intelligence (AI) enter the top 20 of the pop charts in a major economy such as South Korea or Japan. By 2023, predictive algorithms will be used to determine the music and lyrics for over 50% of number one’s – with the majority written by AI software.
Pound – Dollar Parity
The continued strength of the US economy, a favorable stock market response to President Trump’s tax plans, and chaotic uncertainty around Brexit all serve to drive down the value of the pound to parity with the US dollar during 2018. Following erratic gyrations which take the pound below US$1 during the Brexit wilderness years of 2019-2021, the UK economy eventually reaches a level of calm by 2022 as the shape of the new semi-Brexit clarifies. The pound settles at an exchange rate of around US$1.10 by 2023.
Hot on the heels of the announcement of her planned abdication by year end, 2018 sees the Queen also announce that she will have her body cryogenically preserved on death. The hope is that the technology to rejuvenate her body, and restore her memory and consciousness will have emerged within 20-50 years. The intention is twofold – firstly to give future generations access to the wisdom and experience the Queen has amassed over more than nine decades. Secondly, the goal is to give a major boost to the UK cryogenics industry as one of the new sectors that will carry the UK economy forward post-Brexit. Within five years, the entire UK Royal Family, most senior UK political figures, and a number of prominent business people, performing artists, sports stars, and media personalities have all committed themselves to cryogenics – with many becoming shareholders in the leading cryo service providers.
Zero Growth Nation
UK growth will plummet to zero and below in 2018. Brexit concerns will see more companies leave the UK, while those that stay will reign in spending and engage in deep discounting. Households will cut their spending amid concerns over personal debt and job prospects as public-sector redundancies rise, more jobs are lost to automation, and firms cut headcounts to reduce costs. Other major nations also see growth stalling, but few hit the buffers like the UK. After a chaotic few years of Brexit mayhem, growth starts to stabilize by 2022 and crawls above one per cent in 2023.
Following successful trials of single person passenger drones in 2017, commercial services are launched in China and the UAE during 2018. The technology continues to improve over the next few years, despite some fatal accidents and many near misses. Around the world, by 2023 more than 20 countries have licensed the use of both single and multiple occupant passenger drones.
Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Maria Romero, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future – Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. See: www.fastfuture.com