I don't have much faith since the Space Corps fell through. The idea of a military branch in space makes it seem like Trump— a man stuck in the militarized '50s— would've been the first one to throw all his weight behind it, but it's just not happening.
But I can hope, because at least Pence has a stated interest in space exploration. If he can at least get the ball rolling, then we might be in for a treat in the 2020s and 2030s. And maybe we'll eventually get the Space Corps. At least an Air & Space Corps (we kinda have that now, but not really).
There's a potentially new timeline opening up, what I'd like to call the "Accelerated Timeline".
So far, I've believed there to be two fundamental timelines into the future— the Fast Timeline and the Slow Timeline. Ever since 2014, I've believed we lived in the Fast one (hence why I was so sure that we'd not get ourselves involved in nuclear war back then; remember the "Saga of Our Destruction" and all that?) and everything that's happened since has only supported that. Perhaps even Trump winning when he did (2016 rather than 2020 or 2024). In the Slow Timeline, we never discover that GPUs are good for deep learning. Deep learning itself never takes off outside of relatively few papers. Watson is still the most impressive computer in the world as of 2018, and although it's advanced, it's not using deep learning architecture (which means an AI Winter has set in). DeepMind is never purchased by Google or anyone for that matter, and neither is Boston Dynamics. ASIMO's 2013 update is the best thing in humanoid robotics. Hence why we live in the Fast Timeline.
The Accelerated Timeline is something I still won't pin hopes onto, but it's increasingly possible (like 3% instead of 2%).
What defines the AT is:
- This. Plasma Magnet Sails. If everything goes well, we could see them in tests by the 2020s. It won't cost much to build a magsail, but in space, everything's expensive. We could test it out by sending a Roadster to Mars. If it's truly possible to get to Mars in a week, the biggest hurdle towards space exploration— getting to these distant worlds in the first place— will have been overcome, at least somewhat. Not to mention that a magsail would accelerate deep space science. 0.2% light speed = 1.3 million miles per hour, and that's only if you accelerate for half of a day. If you can potentially get this up to 1% of light speed, it would be possible to reach Jupiter in 72 hours. Even with 0.2% light speed, you could get there in 15 days. Of course, the problem then is slowing down; it'd take much longer if you wanted to actually orbit the damn planet. Also, if we could regularly travel to Mars in about a week, we could easily try out that magnetosphere reconstruction we geeked out over a while back.
- Fusion power. We've all been hearing about the amazing advancements in fusion recently. With the addition of AI in architectural design and plasma control, it's possible that we'll see first ignition by the 2020s.
- Silicon quantum computers. Google is clearly teasing something, and if we can create silicon quantum computers, we could have QCs with billions of qubits before the 2020s are finished. Do you know what that would do for machine learning? Sure, calibration would be terror, but it's possible. Imagine starting the decade with virtually nothing except a quantum computer that barely reaches quantum supremacy, news stories about a new Moore's Law for quantum computers being huge for a while, and then all of a sudden, Alphabet Corporation comes out with a 1 billion qubit universal quantum computer in 2025. We've already created billion-plus qubit entanglement in silicon (edit: it's far better than that; it was ten billion qubit entanglement); we just couldn't use it.
- Brain scans + neural networks. Starspawn0 has already explained this. One of the things quantum computers can do expertly is machine learning, it turns out. That even goes for D-Wave's quantum-not-quantum computer. Imagine deep neural networks + brain scans + billion qubit quantum computers.
Talk about acceleration!