Talking buildings. Self-driving cars. Artificial embryos. Genetic Fortune-Telling.
No, we are not describing the plot of the next sci-fi hit on Amazon Prime. These are glimpses of a very likely future. Most things we see and use today are poised to change – be it the way we talk, travel, live, watch movies and listen to music. The change is set to occur within our very lifetimes.
Surprised? No reason to be. Who had imagined, 30 years ago, that one day most people would be holding in their hand more computing power than what was first used to send a man to the moon? Self-driving cars and smart homes did not exist, even in thought.
All these things are now a reality.
Of course, in the midst of all this change, there will be a few constants. Like humanity, the desire for love, the love for cheese and of course, money. Here’s a quick look at the ways the world will change by 2050 and impact your life.
Technology has so far been the biggest driver of change in almost every field. It will continue to be so. In fact, technological changes are predicted to be even more radical by 2050. For instance, according to various studies and predictions, it would be possible for people to live in a virtual world before 2050, robots would do most household work and even provide companionship by the next, say, 10-12 years.
Similarly, some predict that our omnipresent smartphones will become obsolete in the next 7-8 years, that cancer will be cured easily, and that intercontinental railways could be a reality.
Whether it is travelling to work or holidaying around the world, everything will change. As predicted by Toby Walsh in an Australian website human beings will most probably be banned from driving by 2050 and autonomous cars will take over, fundamentally changing road safety. Commuting by autonomous cars aside, futurologists predict pod-like commuting vehicles for intra-city travel.
Many other studies have predicted that even if flying cars are a distant dream, there will definitely be self-driving cars galore by 2050. These will not just drive themselves, but also use data to predict people’s needs.
Add to that hyperloop travel – rapidly being explored all over the world including India. This could mean commuting kilometres in minutes. That is, if virtual offices do not make such travel unnecessary.
Elon Musk’s Space X is already working on making inter-planetary travel possible, particularly on making travel to Mars routine. With a human base on earth’s neighbour, vacation packages for the moon, if not the red planet will be offered, at least to those who can afford it.
Some trends are already very clear. Cash will virtually vanish. The world will run on digital transactions across devices. With AI and VR stepping in, new modes of payment and financial transactions will emerge. Perhaps the kitchen refrigerator will automatically compare prices, source grocery and make payments? The rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain are already heralding this change.
But whatever the new face of money, one truth will remain. Money, even in 2050, will not grow on trees. Expenditure and income will still be the building blocks of the economy. This will be a substantial challenge for those who, by 2050, are expected to be senior citizens.
4. Real Estate
Real estate and the way we live will also change significantly. Smart homes are already a reality, enabling us to accomplish tasks with tech. For instance, the door opening and lights switching on automatically upon someone’s arrival. They also let us control lighting, temperature, entertainment and security systems through a single touch screen panel or remote.
The homes of the future will work on voice activation, allowing you to give verbal orders and get things done. With the use of artificial intelligence, they will follow your command like a robot and execute your orders. Futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson predicts in a feature published in Business Insider that buildings will be miles tall by mid-century, while “some may be so large that their capacity enables them to function as small cities in their own right.”
5. Health, Fitness and Education
Wearable devices that monitor vital signs are already on millions of wrists. More such devices wedded to the IoT framework will mean real-time health monitoring. Some even predict that mundane home fittings such as the toilet will become mini path labs, doing quick testing of body vitals on a daily basis. Others are predicting gene therapy, organ replacements as routine thereby removing infirmities caused by many birth diseases and age-related damage or injury to organs caused by accidents.
Consider this. A person earning Rs 50,000 per month in 2018 will need to make Rs 2.4 lakh per month in 2050 (inflation of 5% per annum) to maintain their standard of living. How does one provide for that?
India will have to become a country that must provide for those not able to work due to age. With the medical advances listed above, humans will live much longer. This means a person will have to earn for a much longer period of time.
To get Rs 2.4 lakh monthly in 2050, one will have to accumulate a lump sum amount of about Rs 4.25 crore. This, when invested in an FD giving 7 per cent interest rate will give the desired monthly amount. To achieve the goal of accumulating the corpus of Rs 4.25 crore in 32 years, a monthly SIP of nearly Rs 20,600 will be needed in a mixed portfolio of debt and equity giving average CAGR of 9 per cent.
The good news is that while there is uncertainty, there are enough products available today to provide a cushion. Youth who start out today with insurance-based pension, annuity, saving and investment products and who set aside money regularly will have a much better chance of not just surviving but also taking advantage of circa 2050. And, perhaps, even fancy a trip to Mars!
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(This article is sponsored by HDFC Life)