The world has changed so much from 50 years ago, further than anyone could have dreamed of.
Who could have predicted the advent of the internet, smartphones, virtual reality, after all, all inventions that have indelibly touched our lives and will continue to make a major impact on the way we live in the future.
50 years ago, the concept of a package holiday was only just becoming fashionable and few Britons ventured abroad for holidays.
There are thousands and thousands of options on TV at anyones’ fingertips compared to the handful of channels and networks available to people back in the day. Thanks to our phones, tablets, and computers, we can even take our favourite shows with us on the move.
Life is vastly different today than it was 50 years ago, thanks to improvements in technology and science, as well as paradigm shifts in romance and religion.
Yet for all the changes that have come in the last 50 years, what the future has in store for us promises to be far more dramatic in the rate of change.
New inventions and innovations will only start increasing, promising to change the way we live, eat, work and entertain ourselves. In this article, we hope to enlighten you on ways the future could have an impact on all parts of our lives.
Food is part of every country’s cultural DNA and is by no means a static thing. In modern times, there is more acceptance of the weird and wacky, to fully embrace the new and aspirational food trends of all kinds.
The blurring of cultures and food traditions in cities means there is a melting pot of different styles and techniques in most places in the world.
In a future Earth, with a growing population and more stress on natural resources, will the trend of sustainability and increased awareness of the effects of our eating habits on climate change affect what we eat 50 years from now?
One of the things you can expect in the future is a multitude of new ingredients. Caci fruit, guanabana, mamey sapote, cashew fruit, cherimoya, and lucuma are just a few of the fruits to look out for and can expect to see more of.
The warming of our climates means there is more ease in growing tropical fruits and an entire world of new and fresh tastes and textures will be available to us. Simultaneously, many fruits and vegetables will be less exotic to our tastebuds.
Previous prejudices and aversions may have to be forgotten. Insects and dishes such as fried locusts could be the new buzz.
The practice of eating insects, entomophagy, is nothing new in many countries but eating insects as a way to relieve the pressure of climate change is relatively recent.
Due to the large amount of food and land required to rear livestock such as cows, new sources of good protein are almost necessary. Without a doubt, the livestock industry as it is cannot continue to expand without affecting the environment in major ways.
Insects only consume a fraction of the food, water, and land, yet the protein they produce is high-quality and contain all necessary proteins. And they’re great for pets too!
As people become increasingly worried about food miles and the harm inflicted on the world by air transport and intensive farming, which wastes water and plastics and is turning certain places into dust bowls, local, rather than exotic, will have become the new watchword.
As a result, the tendency will start to be to cultivate locally and buy seasonally from ethical farmers, as well as maybe even foraging for wild ingredients!
Food is more than just what we eat, it is who we are in many ways, and it will adapt and evolve as we do.
Work, education, leisure
The next few decades will bring the biggest changes in how we work and play. The continuation of the Digital Revolution will mean constant connection, instantaneous communication and being always available.
Most of the changes that this entails means a reduced impact on the planet and environment.
Commuting to work may all but disappear as remote work changes from being not only a viable alternative to traditional office work but being the main method of working.
We could work from anywhere, whether at home or on the go; smart cars could function as both an office and a hotel room, providing the ideal working environment tailored to everyone’s separate needs.
Networking could become truly global with being able to talk, meet, and socialise, independent of your physical location. Advances in virtual reality mean the carbon footprint of standard company meetings are reduced to zero by being phased out completely.
Shopping and leisure:
Retail, as it exists now, will be a lot less prevalent. Online shopping in the Covid pandemic has already seen unprecedented highs and the death of the high street may be quicker than expected.
Changes in the global supply chain mean that hopefully large-scale transport in cargo and freight ports will be largely eliminated.
Manufacturing will move from massive factories to your own home with the use of 3D printers meaning a much more personal and customised connection to your devices and items. In this world, everyone is a hobbyist.
Education equips us with the tools to adapt to the future and the blistering pace of technology.
New jobs come into existence and old jobs are phased out. 50 years ago, entire fields were not even thought of.
The question is: how can we educate children to be capable of jobs that do not even exist yet? How do we provide skills that mean they can undertake any task regardless of the specifics?
In this new world, perhaps it is more about adaptability than rigid learning.
Remote learning blurs the lines between home and work. Will traditional schools, colleges and offices still be here in 50 years, or will education become more and more flexible, designed around life rather than cutting into it?
In 50 years, the commute (if it even exists) will be unrecognisable to modern eyes, with massive shifts in transport technology. Maybe instead of taking the regular old bus, you’ll be hopping into a subsonic tube system, or maybe even a reusable rocket.
Perennial traffic problems and annoyances such as jams and roadworks can also be wiped from the mind as whole processes and industries might be streamlined.
Infrastructure companies will ideally no longer need to repair pipeworks, as what use would a greenhouse gas generating fuel be needed for in 2070?
Bridges, tunnels, roads and other road infrastructure can be continuously monitored by advanced embedded sensors which will be able to see the condition and check whether any structures are compromised and might need repairing.
Because the traffic systems will all be linked, you will never miss a connecting train or flight due to delays. In a variety of ways, our future cities will be technologically connected.
It'll be a supercharged version of the Internet of Things.
To keep traffic moving, roads and infrastructure will communicate with automobiles in a massive network. There would be no need for traffic signals since motorists will be forced to slow down to allow for upcoming junctions.
Self-driving cars are an entirely new industry that could change the way we travel in the near future.
It might be that human-steered vehicles are just too dangerous to remain on the streets compared to the immaculate safety record of autonomous cars.
Steering wheels could become a quaint artefact of the past if you wanted to be transported back into 2021.
As with all things current, the healthcare of this age will be considered crude and unsophisticated.
The current era of medicine will be regarded as primitive as how we see the science of medicine before germ theory, antibiotics, and anaesthetics.
The fitness tracker will still be relevant but in a far more all-encompassing way as one of the many sensors dedicated to making sure your health is top-notch at all times.
Blood pressure, heart rate, and vital signs of all kinds will be monitored at all times by devices intended to take care of you and only you.
Consumers will have much more autonomy over their health data, being able to know exactly how healthy they are without a need to pay private fees for particular tests or blood analyses.
Robotic advancements will herald a new age of surgical procedures.
Major operations will be performed by hybrid teams made up of robot surgeons and human surgeons who will operate in tandem to deliver a level of care that is safer, less expensive, and faster than that provided by human surgeons.
Artificial organs may have finally made important breakthroughs by 2070 meaning that instant replacements for people who require transplants may finally be possible. The sometimes years-long waiting lists will have to say goodbye.
Over the next 50 years, the confluence of developing technologies will change many areas of healthcare and lead us to new horizons.
Cities only continue to grow with a higher and higher percentage of the human population moving to live in urban areas. By 2050, it is projected that more than two-thirds of people will live in cities.
Living with nature:
Humanity continues to encroach on the few truly wild spaces that are not already inhabited by people or used for farming.
To protect the wildernesses and have room for nature to still flourish, new and radical solutions are needed that will change the face of our cityscape forever.
We need to figure out what can be supported and what can't, where cities can be built and where they can't, and how we'll get in and out, and between them.
Picture this. Massive climate-controlled megacities surrounded by domes that can modify things like temperature, turbulence and weather.
Nature has always been an inspiration for architects, unique structures like anthills and caves could become the basis for buildings of the future.
After all, buildings like the Gherkin (inspired by sea sponges) and the Eastgate Development (termite dwellings) already exist. Biomimicry is not only the future, it is the present.
Cities that are designed to complement nature and have large amounts of lush greenery will become commonplace. Less concrete, more jungle. Hydroponics has been present for a long time.
In the future, this agricultural technology will mature and alter our urban landscapes.
The beauty of hydroponics is that it grows genetically engineered crops without soil, instead using nutrient-enhanced water as a growth medium. Every element of a plant's growth can be monitored and kept pest- and disease-free.
Cities can become self-sufficient, growing their own food supplies, without seasonal limitations. Transportation of food will become a non-problem, reducing costs and carbon footprints.
All these technologies already exist, and soon will be here in our cities, making our way of living more sustainable, high-tech, productive and most of all enjoyable to live in, as citizens of beautiful cities.
Pondering on the future, reflecting on the past
Humans have always been deeply curious about the future and what it holds. Many have claimed that this cognitive ability, to be aware of the future, is unique to humans and that only humans are capable of future-oriented cognition.
Whether it is true or not, there is no doubt that our conception of the future is one thing that is a key part of ourselves, and allows us to continue advancing ever forwards, striving to achieve goals and dreams.
Every one of us hopes for a happy and healthy future, where we are fulfilled, and to achieve that, we are becoming ever reliant on technology to free our time and streamline our work to do better and more rewarding things.
The increasing bond with our technology, to change our cities, our food, our entertainment, lead to fears that we become more and more isolated from each other. That the more computerised our lives become, the less human they will be.
Yet that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
The integration of technology within our lives could mean that it will become more personal and help us to reconnect with each other more, that it will mean we can support nature more rather than fight against it.
Reflecting on the past and the things it can teach us will help us more than anything else to learn to live with the presence of technology and use it in better ways.
“Like a man rowing a boat that floats on the tide, we enter the future facing the past. Our eyes see only the landscape of the past; what tomorrow looks like, nobody knows.” is a quote by French poet Paul Valéry.
However, we can make very educated guesses.
Let us hope that the future will be an amazing one. Personally, I cannot wait to see what it brings.