Predictions for 2040, made in 2004

The following are my predictions for the year 2040. They were made in the year 2004 and have not been changed since (as you can check with the Internet Wayback Machine).

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World politics

Russia and Morocco have joined the European Union. The EU slowly takes on the character of a nation; it has a common foreign policy and a standing army.

The US remains the world's strongest power, militarily and economically.

China has turned into a capitalistic authoritarian system, similar to the Hong Kong or Singapore of 2004. Based on total GDP, it is among the world's ten strongest countries, and growing. Taiwan has joined Mainland China, and has received a long-term guarantee of independence in return. The US see China as a strategic enemy, while relations between the EU and China are good. Japan aligns itself more and more with China.

South-East Asia has joined the first world, and parts of South and Central America are about to. Africa remains the world's poorhouse.

The Arab-Israeli conflict continues.

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German politics

The joblessness rate has reached 15%. To support the financing of the social system and counter the low birthrate, Germany has instituted an aggressive program to attract qualified foreign immigrants.

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Intellectual property

The owners of music and movie copyrights vastly increased their legal and technical measures to protect their content, causing a widespread counter movement of "open source" media which may be copied freely. Software to create music and movies is ubiquitous and cheap; several magazines and tv shows exclusively promote open source music; successful artists make money through advertising deals, live acts and teaching.

Wikipedia has grown into a respected resource. Linux, after successfully fighting off several patent claims, has become the most widely used operating system in the world.

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Science

A "theory of everything" combining quantum mechanics and general relativity has been found; its mathematical elegance causes it to be widely accepted, even though it has hardly been tested.

In mathematics, the Riemann conjecture has been proven, but the Goldbach conjecture remains open. It was shown that the question "P=NP?" is independent of the first-order Peano axioms of arithmetic.

An effective AIDS vaccine has been developed, and the WHO carried out a world-wide vaccination campaign. There are almost no new AIDS cases. Malaria remains the biggest killer. There is no clear "cancer cure", just a plethora of different methods to treat the different cancers.

DNA tests are a routine part of diagnosis, to determine the most effective treatment for the patient based on his specific genome. Many genetic conditions are routinely diagnosed in the womb and lead to early abortions.

Transplantation of human organs are not performed anymore: spare organs can be grown from scratch.

Human cloning has become an accepted alternative to the ordinary method of reproduction.

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Technology

Oil has become too rare and expensive to be used in cars. Cars now run on fuel cells; the fuel however is not hydrogen but a substance that can be transported and stored more easily. Fusion reactors produce a good part of the world's energy.

Computers regularly come with 3D displays and speech recognition; keyboards are rarely used.

Several machines have passed the Turing Test, however these are not traditionally programmed computers but robots that were raised almost like humans. Robot psychology is an important new discipline. Robots start to perform better than humans in various intellectual fields, such as medicine and science. The extent of "robot rights" is a very controversial topic. The world champion in Go is a machine. Machine translation is as good as human translation.

Full body immersion units exist that allow people to explore virtual worlds as if they were real. They are used for gaming and pornography. There are also devices that directly stimulate the brain's pleasure center, and many drugs exist that improve various cognitive functions.

Tiny radio-controlled flying cameras are widely available; they have been outlawed in many countries because of privacy concerns.

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Reader's comments

I have set up a place on the web where you can leave your comments regarding this page or read other people's remarks and respond to them. Check it out!

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Other people's predictions

If you have a similar page containing your future predictions, let me know and I'll place a link here.

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Last change: 12-Aug-2004 .
Copyright 2004 Axel Boldt
This material is available under your choice of the OPL or GFDL.