On The Horizon – Part Five (Side B)

This is Part Five (Side B) of a six part mini series (er, seven parts now, I guess) on Predicting the Future. You can catch up on all our ramblings here: Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart Four, and Part Five (Side A).


After my last post exploded past the 3000 word count, I realized I wouldn’t have time to incorporate the other two predictions into one post. I didn’t have the time, and I wouldn’t expect anyone to read a novella. In Part Five (Side B) we pick up where I left off, with Mr. Magnetite putting on a crazy hat of his own and shooting for the stars.


THE WORLD 50 YEARS FROM NOW

(2066 – TAKE TWO)

Mr. Magnetite – Alright, this is getting harder now but my last few predictions have set me up nicely for this week’s outing. I’m willing to bet that, after we’ve conquered the moon and made going to Mars a reality, we’re going to take the next step and start mining the asteroid belt.

dsi-05
Feel free to geek out, my dudes. Source

The world in 2066 is a strange one. For starters, it’s a world that won’t only be a single term referring to this world, planet Earth. When someone uses the euphemism “in the world”, they’ll be the referring the the entirety of Human enterprise in the solar system.

In 2066, I foresee a constant human presence in most parts of the Earth-Moon system and Mars. By this time, Mars will have been established as a colony with a steady residential populace. Employment will be one of the main forces driving the colony. Many private organizations and government agencies have established that myriad different resources exist and are readily available within the asteroid belt. Some could be transported back to Earth (gold, silver, platinum, palladium, etc.), some could be used to in-situ construction (iron, aluminum, titanium, etc.), and some could be used to support the astro-miners and be harnessed as propellants for their spacecraft (water, oxygen, hydrogen and ammonia). To be able to mine the asteroid belt will require a steady workforce that can be housed on nearby Mars. Mars will be more a way-station and a hotel than a colony. Think of the fly-in, fly-out work camps of today at many mines around the world, except it won’t be a three weeks on, three weeks off rotation. It will be at least two years on, two years off, due to the insane logistics of sending people to Mars from Earth (or the Moon), and to the asteroid belt from Mars.

h-mars-colony-960x540
Home away from home… away from home. Source

Larger bodies that exist within the asteroid belt, such as Ceres and Vesta, may be used as on-site residential and work areas, and perhaps even medical posts. These bases would be used to collect material which would then be sent to either Mars or Earth for processing (depending on what has been established on Mars at this point). This will require a massive and round-the-clock workforce which will work in the asteroid belt much the same as off-shore rig workers work today, and the living arrangements will be spartan to say the least. But picture it, you’re grandkids could be part of a pioneer force of intrepid interplanetary miners and adventurers. The thought has me giggling with child-like wonder and I can hardly contain myself.

With all that in mind, where can we plot exploiting the vast resources of the asteroid belt on the Future Prediction Spectrum?

FPS Asteroid Mining
Too many variables, too much money, so much could go wrong. I have no idea, so it’s a solid maybe.

Mr. Wüstite – It took me a while to develop this idea, but I think it can definitely show up in our world in 50 year’s time. I’m betting that in 2066 that computing will reach such a complex level that we can create virtual worlds that are as convincing as the real one.

we-were-blown-away-by-virtual-reality-park-the-void
The virtual world is your oyster. Source

Think about a night when you went bowling. How you can pick up a bowling ball and intrinsically know it’s real. You don’t even think about it. It has mass; you feel it’s weight and texture in your hands. When you approach the lane and prepare to throw the ball, you plant a foot in front of you, you feel your centre of gravity lower, and your arm raises behind you. The weight of the ball causes tension in your arm muscles, and with strength you rotate your arm and release the ball at the apex of your throw, sending it careening down the lane. It smashes into the pins with an audible ball-hitting-bowling-pins sound as a smile creeps onto your face. All around you, other people are going about their business, talking to each other, walking around, and sending bowling balls down lanes themselves. The world seems infinitely complex, and we were just talking about one boring bowling alley. How could this ever be simulated?

As we’re seeing realism in video games increase over time, it’s starting to become apparent the answer lies in our capability to develop increasingly powerful processors. From this, it’s logical to think that we will use these more powerful systems to create a virtual world as complex and compelling as the one we exist in today. You must remember that at the core of the universe lies fundamental components. The proton, the neutron, the electron, and all the other physical particles interact with the universal fields and forces under a set of rules which can be observed, deduced, described, and finally, reproduced.

375px-standard_model_of_elementary_particles-svg
These are all the ingredients you need to make our universe (plus maybe a few more we haven’t found yet). Source

You must realize, then, that someday, somehow, someone will develop a system with such vast computing power that we’ll be able to input all the necessary fundamental particles or fields (rules as per programming), and then our universe could be simulated to a startling degree of accuracy.

But, to merely simulate our universe, while it would allow incredible scientific insight into its inner-workings, sounds boring. Why not enter the simulation? This is where advanced virtual reality comes in. With advances in the studies of neuroscience and psychology, paired with methods to hook your brain up to a future computer (wirelessly or otherwise), you’ll be able to walk around inside this new reality. Okay, that’s cooler, but still why just walk around in a virtual world as convincing as the real one? Then it’s just the same and there isn’t anything novel to the experience. The caveat here is that, since the world is artificial in nature, you’ll have access to its programming, or source code. Not only would you be able to alter it, but you’d be able to cheat the system altogether and do whatever you could possibly imagine. Want to run at supersonic speeds? Go right ahead. Fly up into space without a spacecraft or suit and not die? Sure. Make anything you want come into existence right in front of you that looks, sounds, feels, smells, and behaves exactly as it may in the real world? Yup. You would enter a world of potentially unlimited bliss and leisure. You’d be God and anything you wanted to do, you could do.

 

sept24252715trump_004
A virtual world is the only world in which this should be allowed to happen. Source

This begs the question: If you could choose to live in a virtual world where anything is possibly and your wildest dreams could come true, would you ever want to leave it? I probably would, because I’ve lived my entire life in the real world, but what about someone who grows up with this technology at their fingertips? Some people already choose to neglect their real world lives to engage in fantasy, just look at some cases of people playing Second Life or World of Warcraft. Now imagine World of Warcraft looks real and try and figure out how many people would want to do that instead of work a job and pay taxes. It’s hard to say, and I see some possible implications. Perhaps after the technology is adopted there will be a virtual migration where people choose to live in the virtual world, abandoning their bodies in the process. Specialized companies would crop up offering to store and keep your brain healthy as you are perpetually immersed in the digital realm. Maybe you could even have a clone body waiting for you if you decide to flip-flop between worlds. It’s hard to say and anything could be possible given that future landscape, but one other thing becomes apparent: you could become immortal. You have no body but your brain is cared for and will be indefinitely rejuvenated? I’m pretty sure that equals immortality. There’s still that tricky question of consciousness and the soul, though.

screen-shot-2012-08-18-at-11-36-50-pm1
“Man, Bob’s in great shape these days. He doesn’t look a day over 150.” Source

Another, slightly darker, implication of all this is that we’re all currently living in a simulation right now. The premise behind this line of thought is that, if we ever achieve a realistic-style simulation or virtual reality, who’s to say some other civilization didn’t already do it and we’re living in the simulated universe? The prospect of this is horrifying, especially when none of us has the cheat codes or any control over it whatsoever. And the reasons to simulate our reality are abundant: to study us, our time period, or introduce stimuli and see how we react to it. There could be millions of simulations running in tandem, each with different inputs and conditions.In fact, there are some people that put our odds of living in the real reality being astronomically high against us. This could explain the Fermi paradox, the Big Bang, or strange phenomenon like ghosts and supposed tales of reincarnation. If it’s the truth, do we not matter? Could the simulation end at anytime? It’s a scary though, and I’d like to think we’re the real ones, though, thank you very much.

hqdefault
We’ve already used too many Matrix references. But still: Nope, nope, nope. Source

50 years is a long, long time. A lot can happen. Now let’s turn to the FPS and plot this bad boy.

FPS VR JPEG
This is 100% possible. This might even happen way before 50 years go by. Hopefully we don’t figure out we’re in a simulation by then, though.

Thanks for joining us for a look at the world in 2066. Next week marks our last set of predictions, the world of the early 22nd century. We’ll hope you’ll open your minds and take that doozy of a trip with us in Part Six.

Cheers.

Featured image: Virtual Reality meets Asteroid Mining. – Source


¹ – Wikipedia page on Asteroid Mining. Source


{the hematite blog} is a very new blog by a very regular guy that wants to learn and write about all sorts of stuff. I’m a little rusty, and this blog is about my journey to shake some of that rust off, get better at stuff, learn, and try new things. Maybe we can all learn something along the way. Thanks for stopping by!

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