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Over the coming years and decades, the explosive rise of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) is set to revolutionise our lives, society, and even our deaths.
We picked the brains of our resident AI expert, Head of Business and Computing Dr Ajaz Ali, to learn more about the exciting, useful – and perhaps a little bit scary – ways that things could be different by 2050.
Have you watched ‘The Matrix’ or ‘The Terminator’? Well, that might be part of our reality in coming times.
Adoption of AI-based technologies is becoming the norm. Some of the developments in the next couple of decades will revolutionise how AI will embed in every system to work with humans.
Just 30 years ago, I had to obtain special permission to use a 486DX computer at my workplace. Today, the mobile phone in my pocket is more powerful than that.
Similarly, a further 25 to 30 years down the line, quantum computing will make today’s AI look like obsolete technology. It is possible that we could develop an AI system that surpasses human intelligence in many ways.
Are you using a watch that monitors your blood pressure, ECG, heart rate, stress levels, and activities? In the future, more advanced biotech sensors will be embedded within wearable technologies for a lot more advanced monitoring, such as glucose and cholesterol levels.
It is likely that by 2030, embedded sensors will be sending real time health data to an AI-based system which will be highlighting any critical issues to doctors for immediate attention (or resolving them autonomously).
All-in-one wearable smart glasses with built in augmented reality (AR) will be common. With these, we wouldn’t need to carry mobile phones, digital watches, headphones, or other tech in our pockets. The glasses would have biotech sensors, cameras, sound systems, and a complete entertainment suite that will personalise our experiences on the go.
By 2040 or even earlier, neural interfaces and AR will be so advanced that people could perceive the world in entirely new ways. AI systems will be integrated with these technologies to provide real-time translation, contextual information, and personalised recommendations.
By 2050, most economies will be dictated and run by AI-based systems. Superpowers will be using their AI-based systems for financial management and tweaking the data analysis powers of AI, which will put AI in competition with other AI systems.
AI will enable more accurate risk assessment, fraud detection, and fraud prevention. It will be used for algorithmic trading, which can optimize investment strategies and minimize risk.
By linking AI with digital technologies and motion capture tools, our consciousness, knowledge, and experiences could be transferred to digital twins. Using natural language programming (NLP)-based tools (which will be way more advanced than ChatGPT and Bard), people will be able to interact with these digital twins in real time and benefit from their knowledge and ideas.
Loved ones could carry on interacting with their relatives who have already died but exist in a digital twin form. Imagine what would you ask if you were able to trawl through a directory of digital human beings who were once alive and interact with them?
AI will be used to create intelligent space probes that are capable of autonomously exploring our solar system and beyond. By 2050, it could be possible to send a mission to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, and potentially even discover alien life.
Robots and automation would be ubiquitous in many industries, from manufacturing to healthcare to transportation. This could lead to a world where many jobs are automated, but also a world where people are freed up to pursue more creative and fulfilling work.
By 2050, AI systems will be indistinguishable from humans in terms of personality, emotion, and behaviour. These AI companions for individuals, elderly, and children will provide emotional support, companionship, and assistance in everyday tasks. They could even become a significant part of people's social lives and relationships by 2050.
Have you watched The Jetsons? That cartoon series from 60s is becoming today’s reality. Autonomous and human-controlled drones will be flying all over the place in designated flying corridors, which will be as busy as the M6 motorway.
Self-driving cars are expected to be commonplace by 2050, making transportation safer and more efficient. With the help of AI, self-driving cars will learn and adapt to changing traffic patterns, road conditions, and pedestrian behaviour. This will reduce the number of accidents caused by human error and decrease traffic congestion.
As AI systems become more advanced and powerful, there will be challenges on how to ensure they are used ethically and responsibly. By 2050, we need to develop systems to ensure that AI does not discriminate against certain groups of people or reinforce existing biases, derived from humans.
Another challenge will be ensuring that the benefits of these technological advancements are shared equitably across societies. We will need to develop policies and regulations to ensure this.
Dr Ali's predictions have also been featured in The Daily Mail and The Mirror.
Ravensbourne University London
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