future timeline technology singularity humanity
21st century»2040-2049»




Humans are becoming intimately merged with machines

In some fields, the pace of technology has become so fast that humans can no longer comprehend it without augmenting their own intelligence. This is particularly true of computing, nanotechnology, medicine and neuroscience, all of which have seen exponential progress.*

A high-end consumer PC of today has an integrated AI with processing power equivalent to over a billion human brains.* This machine can think for itself, communicate with its user and suggest new ideas in ways that surpass even the greatest minds on Earth. Due to the flood of data being exchanged on the Internet and other connected devices, these computer AIs often receive and send literally millions of communications each day.

The only way for a user to fully interpret this avalanche of information is to merge their consciousness with that of the machine. A growing segment of society is now turning to on-person hardware to achieve this. The most advanced method involves the use of microscopic, wireless, implantable devices linking neural activity directly to electronic circuitry. These have already been used in medical procedures and niche consumer technologies. The latest versions are capable of marrying AI with human intelligence in ways that combine the best aspects of both. No monitor or projector of any kind is required for the latest generation of computers. The implants can instead produce a virtual image of the screen, augmented in the user's field of vision.

This operating system is controlled by their thoughts – and those of the AI – running at speeds vastly greater than a real time physical version would allow. Many individual actions can be performed at once, thanks to robust wireless connections between the nanobots and neurons.

If necessary, a user's entire sensory experience can be instantly shifted to full immersion virtual reality. This is a popular choice for gaming and entertainment, but also has many practical applications in the world of business. Meetings and conferences can be hastily scheduled between vast numbers of participants from around the globe – with barely a few second's notice – often lasting only a few seconds in duration. Communicating at this speed is not possible using conventional means, creating a significant divide between those who have the technology and those without.

For many people, nanobot implants are becoming permanent and essential – rather than temporary and optional – due to the sheer speed and level of information now being encountered in day-to-day situations together with the explosive growth of AI. Military personnel, scientists and medical staff were among the first to take advantage of them, but mainstream society is now following.

People are merging with machines in various other ways, too. Nanobots can boost immune systems, for example, helping to exterminate pathogens. They can also regulate blood pressure, or repair some of the damage caused by the aging process, or accelerate the healing of wounds. Cybernetic organs are now available that almost never fail and can filter deadly poisons. Brain-computer interfaces are increasingly used in middle class homes to open doors, control lighting and operate everyday appliances.

The most extreme cases of enhancement involve people opting for decentralised circulatory systems, as well as a form of synthetic blood, reducing physical vulnerability still further. This particular option is only available to the wealthy at this stage, as it involves a highly complicated procedure that radically alters their internal anatomy. The end result is that a person can survive multiple gunshot wounds and other internal damage relatively easily. Politicians and a number of famous celebrities are taking advantage of this. It is also popular with gangsters and career criminals. The line between man and machine is starting to blur. Later this century, there will no longer be a clear distinction.


nanobots 2045 singularity humans machine merger



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


future timeline of gay marriage legalization and homosexual decriminalization 2040 2045 2050



Air accident fatalities have been eliminated

Recent decades have seen an explosion in the level of computer control in vehicles of all types, greatly reducing the need for human involvement.* This includes the aviation industry, which has become highly automated.** Although manned crews may still be present, their roles are limited and supervisory, with only minimal if any need for intervention during the flight process. On the ground, airport infrastructure and navigation systems have seen major overhauls, leading to vastly improved traffic management and safety.*

Revolutionary new materials (such as graphene) – in combination with self-healing, nano-sensors and other systems embedded throughout the wings and body – have largely eliminated the structural failure issues that plagued earlier generations. Most aircraft now run on purely electric systems, without the need for dangerous and combustible liquid fuels.*

Hijacking and violent incidents, meanwhile, are now practically impossible, due to the sheer level of surveillance and security in place. Quantum encryption has made hacking of navigation systems difficult if not impossible.

Consequently, air crashes involving passenger deaths in large commercial aircraft are now almost unheard of in the news.** The age-old phobia of flying will soon become a thing of the past. In addition to safety, the rise of computer intelligence in aircraft design is leading to improvements in overall comfort experienced by travellers.*


air accident trends, aircraft accident trends, aviation accident trends, 2040 2045 2050



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 permanently 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 Singularity is Near – SIN graph – Exponential Growth of Computing, Singularity.com
Accessed 27th December 2009.

2 The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil (2005)
Accessed 27th December 2009.

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

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

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

6 See 2055.

7 See 2020.

8 "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.

9 See 2035.

10 Airbus unveils its "Smarter Skies" vision for the future of sustainable aviation, gizmag:
Accessed 1st September 2013.

11 Pilotless Planes, What's Next: Top Trends:
Accessed 1st September 2013.

12 See 2025.

13 Once a Joke, Battery-Powered Airplanes Are Nearing Reality, MIT Technology Review:
Accessed 1st September 2013.

14 A chapter of accidents, The Economist:
Accessed 1st September 2013.

15 Air accident fatalities recorded by the Aircraft Crashes Record Office (ACRO) 1918–2009, Wikipedia:
Accessed 1st September 2013.

16 See 2050.

17 See 2027.

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

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

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

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

22 J002E3, Wikipedia:
Accessed 3rd January 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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