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An inflection point for human-AI interactions

By 2045, artificial intelligence (AI) has reached a level of development that is beginning to reshape human society and culture in profound ways. This year marks the date of the so-called technological singularity postulated by futurist Ray Kurzweil.* Although Kurzweil tended to be overly optimistic in a number of specific future predictions,** his basic premise of exponential growth in technology proved to be accurate.

Speculation abounds during this time, much like the build up to Y2K in 1999, the Mayan calendar predictions in 2012, and other such dates. The Internet is abuzz with rumours and singularity-related memes. While most of this talk is unfounded hype – with life carrying on as normal for most people – the "normal" of 2045 is changing at a pace that would seem alarmingly rapid to observers from earlier decades. The leaps in technology from 2020 to 2045 have been much more noticeable than those during the same timespan from 1995 to 2020. The leaps now anticipated from 2045 to 2070 appear even greater still.

Robots, for example, are now widespread in everyday society, their numbers having expanded by orders of magnitude in preceding decades.** They are ubiquitous in factories, farms and industrial environments, eliminating much of the traditional manual work of humans.** Additionally, these machines have gained visibility in more public settings, giving a futuristic look and feel to many cities, towns and suburbs. Similar to how touchscreen smartphones moved from science fiction to reality some 40 years earlier, these robots are quickly becoming accepted as a routine part of life. This includes fully automated waste collection in streets and parks, robotic cleaners in offices and hotels, robot security patrols, robots for grocery and other deliveries. Such applications had begun to emerge during the 2010s. Following exponential growth, they are a common sight by 2045. Furthermore, bipedal humanoid form factors account for a growing percentage of newly deployed units, particularly in homes and other indoor settings.

With a ten-thousand-fold improvement in computing power compared to 25 years previously,* robots in 2045 can perform a multitude of tasks independently and without human supervision.

Many years previously, advances in deep learning and natural language processing had made it possible to generate portions of text indistinguishable from a human writer, which led to chatbots passing the Turing test, a major landmark in the field. Alongside this natural language processing, AI gained the ability to master real world environments and an increasingly diverse range of 3D objects. Whereas earlier robots had been limited to "fixed" movements, the generation now emerging had more dynamism and flexibility – adapting to new situations and solving more and more problems. These capabilities received a boost from 5G and then 6G wireless communication and the exponentially growing amounts of data being gathered from sensors, allowing robots to learn from their experiences and disseminate knowledge to each other.

In the past, limited processing power meant that robots would often spend minutes identifying an object or situation and the interaction required. By 2045, however, these calculations can be performed in near real-time, enabling a much more human-like response. Although a few technological hurdles remain, this is close to what many would consider to be artificial general intelligence (AGI).*

In addition to their cognitive abilities, some of the latest robots have gained extremely lifelike appearances. The most advanced models are now crossing the 'Uncanny Valley', with faces and bodies that appear almost – but not quite entirely – like a real person.* This bizarre and disturbing phenomenon is fuelling demand for more natural-looking facial expressions and limb movements. The problem is solved by user feedback (the robots can auto-detect a person's emotional response – good or bad), combined with techniques such as motion capture, in a process that is somewhat similar to generative adversarial networks. These subtle iterations of data are used to determine the "best" appearance and movement, allowing gradual optimisation in successive generations of machines. 3D printed bones, amounting to all 206 in the human anatomy, along with new materials developed for more flexible skin and muscles, as well as more realistic eyes and teeth, help to iron out the remaining issues.


2045 singularity prediction technology timeline


These cutting-edge prototypes are rarely seen by average members of the public, being mostly restricted to government, corporate, and research institutions, households of the rich and famous, TED talks and so on. Less advanced models are now relatively common in society, however. They are popular for those in upper-middle income brackets and are comparable in cost to a second car or similar major purchase. Their roles include household chores such as cleaning, cooking and tidying, as well as looking after children and elderly family members.*

Although typically geofenced within the owner's property and/or local neighbourhood, these androids can also be seen further afield. They serve as excellent training partners on sports grounds, running tracks, parks and other leisure settings. Being able to replicate movements, it is possible to play against the recreation of a tennis champion, for example – or fight against a famous boxer. With the right motion capture, an owner can even play against a version of themselves if they desire.

Androids had emerged in the sex industry some decades earlier, though in rudimentary forms with limited functionality. The sex robots of 2045 are incomparably more sophisticated and engaging, to the point that many customers (mostly men) are forming long-term relationships with machines. Human-robot marriages are legalised in some jurisdictions in the latter half of this decade.**

There are many moral, ethical, legal, economic and philosophical issues around the proliferation of robots in society – all of which contribute to a growing sense of "future shock" around this time.

Other singularity-like effects are emerging in 2045. This includes the ever more rapid progress of brain-computer interfaces, enabling deeper integration of AI and human intelligence, going beyond medicine and into consumer uses such as gaming and VR, as well as education. On-person technology in general is becoming exquisitely compact and miniaturised – such as bionic eyes nearing human levels of visual acuity* and single-chip devices now approaching the size of individual blood cells.* Meanwhile, the option to extend one's lifespan appears to be a realistic prospect, thanks to recent success in human rejuvenation trials.

The rapid growth of AI and robotics, alongside many other disruptive technologies, is occurring at a time of geopolitical turmoil, as the world grapples with a convergence of social, economic and environmental issues the likes of which have never been seen before. This volatility and the sheer pace of change is creating a "mental blur" for many people in 2045 – a sense that humanity is reaching a pivotal moment in history.



Advances in LED and laser systems

By 2045, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers are much cheaper, better, and more energy efficient than in earlier decades.* Their progress has followed the lighting industry's equivalent of Moore's Law – known instead as Haitz's Law – which states that each decade, the cost-per-lumen plummets by 90% while the output of a packaged LED climbs by a factor of 20. This has led to improvements in a number of industrial and consumer applications.

Among the most important developments has been the widespread deployment of LEDs that output deep, ultraviolet light (UV), able to quickly kill bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. When fitted to ventilation systems and air conditioners, for example, they can sterilise 99.9% of the air sucked in and then emitted into a room.* These systems are now so common in offices, homes, and other interiors that the risk of new pandemics is significantly reduced. UV LED is also now the dominant technology for purifying water.

In addition to these public health benefits, video projection has improved in every way possible. Consumers in 2045 can purchase the equivalent of a circa 2020 cinema-quality digital film projector. For just a few hundred dollars, machines are now available that can project 8K-quality colour footage onto the outside wall of a house or other large surface.

Similarly, the latest smartphones have a small laser emitter, able to project high-quality images and video footage onto a wall. These consume so little energy that a full-length movie can be watched on a single battery charge. In other words – wherever a user is, if they have a blank, light-coloured wall in front of them, they can generate a big-screen TV. They can either use a tripod or other stand, or simply prop their smartphone against something like a backpack or small stack of books to get the correct angle for the laser beam.


smartphone 2045



Homosexual discrimination has declined substantially

In 1800, more than 120 countries had laws against homosexuality. This number increased over the next century, peaking at 160 in the 1920s.* The mid- to late-20th century saw great progress in human rights, culminating in the first gay marriages during the early 2000s.*

With the floodgates now opened, many more nations began to allow same-sex couples to form civil partnerships, or full marriages, including the United States.* This trend was reinforced by the continued spread of democracy and the rule of law,* better education, and rapid societal changes wrought by the Internet and social media. Younger generations in particular were more open, liberal and willing to support such policies.**

By the mid-2040s, a clear majority of the world's countries allow same-sex marriage, while the overwhelming majority have decriminalised homosexuality. Only a shrinking minority of hard-line, authoritarian regimes – mostly in Africa and the Middle East – continue to outlaw the practice.


timeline of countries legalizing gay marriage
Background image: Tony Webster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons



The Chūō Shinkansen high speed maglev route is complete

Tokyo and Osaka are now connected by a direct high-speed maglev route – the Chūō Shinkansen. This megaproject began construction in 2014, at a cost of over 9 trillion yen ($115bn). By 2027, the first trains were running between Tokyo and Nagoya,* and by 2045 the route has been extended to Osaka,** with trains travelling beneath the Japanese Alps (Akaishi Mountains). The first generation of these vehicles reached 313 mph (505 km/h), but newer and even faster designs are now in use.


tokyo nagoya maglev future 2020 2025 2027 2030



Gulf Coast cities are being abandoned due to super hurricanes

The rapid growth of CO2 emissions has led to rising sea levels, a warming of coastal waters and a more volatile climate system. In the Gulf of Mexico, a new category of "super hurricane" has emerged. This is becoming a regular occurrence by now. These extreme weather events are nightmarish in scale and intensity. At their peak, winds of 200mph bring untold devastation. Trees are uprooted and hurled like matchsticks, while skyscrapers visibly sway. Storm surges and flash floods travel up rivers with surreal speed, overwhelming defences and bringing waves tens of metres high. Damage from these and various other disasters has run into hundreds of billions of dollars. A number of Gulf coast cities are being temporarily abandoned during this time, including Houston and New Orleans.**


future 2040 super hurricane global warming climate change environment houston new orleans gulf coast cities



Apollo 12's third stage returns to Earth

In November 1969, the Apollo 12 Saturn V blasted off towards the Moon. This rocket consisted of a three-stage launching system. While the first and second stage dropped back to Earth after launch, the third stage (S-IVB) was used to propel the docked Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module into a lunar trajectory.

In 2002, amateur astronomer Bill Yeung discovered what appeared to be a 30-metre (100 ft) asteroid in orbit around the Earth. Initially, it was believed to be a second natural satellite of Earth (the Moon being the first). However, later measurements of the electromagnetic spectrum were consistent with titanium dioxide paint used for the Saturn V rockets. Back-tracing its orbit showed that the object had been orbiting the Sun for 31 years and had last been near Earth's vicinity in 1971. This seemed to suggest it was part of Apollo 14, but NASA knew the whereabouts of all hardware used for that mission – the third stage, for instance, was deliberately crashed into the Moon for seismic studies.

Another explanation emerged that it could be the S-IVB third stage for Apollo 12. NASA had originally planned to dump this spent component into a solar orbit, but an extra-long burn of the ullage motors meant the remaining propellant could not provide enough energy to escape the Earth–Moon system. Instead, this stage ended up in a highly erratic orbit around the Earth, after passing by the Moon.

Sure enough, this antique space junk, with an empty weight of 9,600 kg (20,000 pounds), would return to Earth during the mid-2040s, after drifting for over 75 years.* Objects with similar mass tend to impact Earth's surface about once every 10 years.


apollo 12 third stage orbit 2045



Total solar eclipse in the USA

A total solar eclipse occurs on 12th August 2045; the fourth longest of the 21st century. It is visible throughout much of the continental United States, with a path of totality running through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The eclipse is greatest over the Bahamas, before continuing over the Virgin Islands, Hispaniola, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil.

The path of totality is witnessed over many major cities – including Reno, Salt Lake City, Colorado Springs, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Nassau, and Santo Domingo. It lasts for at least six minutes along the part of the path that starts at Camden, Alabama, crossing Florida and ending near the southernmost Bahama Islands. The longest duration of totality is six minutes and 5.5 seconds, located at the coordinates 25°54.594'N 78°32.19'W, which is over the Atlantic Ocean east of Fort Lauderdale and south of Freeport, Bahamas.* A solar eclipse with a very similar path occurs in 2017.


solar eclipse 2045 map



The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is retired from service

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress was an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. Designed and built by Boeing, it was operated by the United States Air Force (USAF), with official introduction in 1955. Capable of holding up to 32,000 kg (70,000 lb) of weapons, it had a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refuelling. A total of 744 of the aircraft were built, with the last one delivered in 1962.

The strength, reliability and versatility of the B-52 allowed it to become the backbone of the U.S. Air Force and a veteran of numerous wars. It played a key role during the Cold War – carrying nuclear weapons for deterrence and standing on alert, ready to conduct "doomsday missions" if necessary; though it only ever dropped conventional munitions in combat. During the 1960s, it performed large numbers of conventional strikes in Southeast Asia, pounding enemies with massive firepower.

While some variants were retired, the B-52 continued to see active service for many more decades, undergoing a series of upgrades and modernisations with new avionics, equipment and weapons. B-52 strikes were an important part of Operation Desert Storm (1991) and Desert Strike (1996), the latter including a 34-hour, 16,000-mile round trip from Guam – the longest distance ever flown for a combat mission. B-52s also contributed to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan/Southwest Asia (2001) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003).

Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs continued to keep the B-52 in service, despite the introduction of more advanced aircraft. As of 2015, 58 were in active service with 18 in reserve. After being upgraded again, it would serve until 2045 before finally reaching the end of its life, an unprecedented 90 years after introduction. The B-52 is replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.*


b-52 retired 2045
Credit: Allen J.M. Smith




Major extinctions of animal and plant life

By the end of this decade, many well-known animal species are going extinct, or have declined in such numbers that only those in captivity are now remaining.

Off the eastern coast of Australia one of the world's greatest natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef – has been almost completely destroyed, with less than 2% of coral remaining.* Rising levels of greenhouse gases have made the water too acidic for calcium-based organisms to grow.* Dumping of dredged sediment to help create the world's largest coal port has caused further damage.* Most of the colourful fish for which the reef is famous have also disappeared. On land, 50% of the continent's 400 butterfly species have died out, as well as numerous reptiles including Boyd's forest dragon, a rare and colourful lizard.

In Europe, an astonishing 50% of amphibians have disappeared due to pollution, disease and loss of habitat including many previously common species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.* More than 20% of bird species have been lost, and around 15% of plants.

In South Africa's Kruger national park, a major conservation area, nearly 60% of the species under its protection have been lost. In the same region, 35% of proteaceae flowering plants have disappeared including the country's national flower, the King Protea.*

In South America, nearly half of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed, with more than 2,000 native tree species becoming extinct.

In Mexico, nearly 30% of animal species are either extinct, or critically endangered.

In Southeast Asia, the Indian elephant is on the brink of extinction. Once a common sight in this part of the world, it has declined in huge numbers due to poaching for the ivory of its tusks, loss of habitat, and human conflict.

In the Arctic, nearly 70% of polar bears have disappeared due to the shrinking of summer ice caused by global warming. By 2080 they will disappear from Greenland entirely, and from the northern Canadian coast, leaving only dwindling numbers in the interior Arctic archipelago.

Many other well-known species of fish, bird and mammal become critically endangered around this time.

This period is often referred to as the Holocene extinction event. As a direct result of human influences, the rate of species extinctions this century is between 100 and 1000 times the natural "background" or average extinction rates in the evolutionary time scale of Earth.


future mass extinctions 2040 2050 21st century threat
Credit: Elisei Shafer




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1 The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil (2005)
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

2 Kurzweil's 2009 was our 2019, Reddit – r/Futurology:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

3 Timing the Singularity, Part 1, YouTube:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

4 Industrial robot population, 1990-2040, Future Timeline – Data & Trends:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

5 Personal service robot population, 2000-2050, Future Timeline – Data & Trends:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

6 See 2025-2050.

7 See 2039.

8 Moore's Law, 1970-2100, Future Timeline – Data & Trends:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

9 Viewpoint: When Will AI Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from AI Experts, Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

10 Uncanny valley, Wikipedia:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

11 Strategic Trends Programme: Global Strategic Trends - Out to 2045, Ministry of Defence:
Archived at: https://www.futuretimeline.net/21stcentury/pdfs/global-strategic-trends-out-to-2045.pdf
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

12 Humans will be marrying robots by 2045, Canoe:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

13 A.I. expert David Levy says a human will marry a robot by 2050, CBC:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

14 See 2048.

15 World's smallest single-chip system is <0.1 mm³, Future Timeline blog:
Accessed 23rd September 2021.

16 Article from 2020:
Predicting The Future: Looking Ahead 25 Years,
Compound Semiconductor:
Accessed 27th January 2023.

17 UV-emitting LED lights found to kill coronavirus, Science Daily:
Accessed 27th January 2023.

18 Where is it illegal to be gay?, BBC:
Accessed 25th March 2014.

19 Timeline of same-sex marriage, Wikipedia:
Accessed 25th March 2014.

20 Same-sex marriage in the United States, Wikipedia:
Accessed 26th June 2015.

21 See 2055.

22 See 2020.

23 "We see a whole generation of young people growing up who can't even conceive of the idea that there was a time when gay men or lesbian women couldn't get married."
See A Global Look at Gay Rights: 'The Fight Against Discrimination Must Go On', Spiegel Online:
Accessed 25th March 2014.

24 See 2027.

25 Chūō Shinkansen, Wikipedia:
Accessed 2nd April 2012.

26 Japan Flashes Green Signal for Maglev Train Line, Environment News Service:
Accessed 29th December 2017.

27 What will climate change do to our planet?, Times Online:
Accessed 10th June 2010.

28 Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas. Amazon.co.uk:
Accessed 10th June 2010.

29 J002E3, Wikipedia:
Accessed 3rd January 2018.

30 Total Solar Eclipse of 2045 Aug 12, NASA:
Accessed 7th March 2015.

31 Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Wikipedia:
Accessed 24th October 2017.

32 Acidic seas may kill 98% of world's reefs by 2050, Guardian.co.uk:
Accessed 13th April 2009.

33 Acidic oceans threaten sea life, BBC:
Accessed 28th April 2009.

34 Australia Great Barrier Reef dredge dumping plan approved, BBC:
Accessed 1st February 2014.

35 Half of Europe's amphibians could be extinct by 2050, Telegraph.co.uk:
Accessed 13th April 2009.

36 Climate threat: What species are at risk? BBC.co.uk:
Accessed 13th April 2009.


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