George ChurchProfessor of genetics, Harvard Medical School
George M. Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, a founding member of the Wyss Institute, and director of PersonalGenomes.org, the world’s only open-access information on human genomic data. He developed the first methods for the first genome sequence. Church is director of IARPA and NIH BRAIN Projects and National Institutes of Health Center for Excellence in Genomic Science.
Who will run the world?
More responses to Who will run the world?
Generalist-capitalists like Walmart, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet (and their descendants).
What will cause the biggest conflicts?
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As usual, economics. If the trend toward less violence is real and continues, then both the means and the causes will be economics.
How will people earn a living?
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We will be human-machine hybrids (basically what we are now via smartphones) and do what we've always done: make copies of ourselves and entertain ourselves along the way. Most jobs will be leveraged by virtual reality, machine learning, and the internet of things (and their descendants).
How will we entertain one another?
More responses to How will we entertain one another?
Today, our ancient drives—healthy drink (yeast-killing pathogens) and food, mating, hunting, teaching (stories)—have become hyper-amplified to substance abuse, obesity, porn, spectator sports, and click-bait. In 50 years, we will either exaggerate these further, or use biology or electronics to curb our urges, or to direct them to more modern needs.
What will we eat?
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Algae-derived food and drink that taste better than the best Michelin three-star meals of 2019.
How will we die?
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Solar flares, supervolcanoes, and asteroids, since genetic diseases, accidents, infections, and probably aging can be eliminated.
What will we wear?
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Light. This allows rapid adaptation (ranging from communication to camouflage) for a variety of settings.
How will we find love?
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Online. Even for the most casual encounter we will pre-screen to avoid serious Mendelian diseases, which currently affect 5% of births. This can be done today via whole genome sequencing for $0 to the consumer.
What forms of transportation will we use?More responses to What forms of transportation will we use?
What will cities be like?
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They could have much more diversity—neural, social—and higher average EQ. But they could also be more physically isolated to remove accidental or intentional manipulation of the bodies and minds of other people.
What will our borders be like?
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They will be much easier to virtually cross due to VR, but much harder to actually cross due to quarantines and/or vast distances (space colonies). There will possibly be very fine-grained and hardened borders (as fine as individual people) along political and social lines, as happens for gerrymandering and gated communities. But in the future, they will be for real physical, health, and social reasons.
Will we have ventured to other planets?
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Yes. Mars, Venus, and Jupiter’s four moons with more liquid water than Earth.
What will our most valuable resource be?
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Depends on location. On Venus and Mars it may be hydrogen. In general, it may always be creativity.
What will the biggest change to our natural world be?
More responses to What will the biggest change to our natural world be?
(A) Reversal of pollution and climate change via ocean algae and arctic grass (and cold-resistant elephants).
(B) Concentration of people in cities (already shown to have a positive impact on efficiency and environmental quality).
(C) Dozens-fold higher food productivity per square km via rapidly replicating photosynthetic (bio)chemistry.
Will our world be more equal or less equal?
More responses to Will our world be more equal or less equal?
Even if the gap is bigger, the minimum and median quality of life could be much better.
What technology will bring about the biggest change in society?
More responses to What technology will bring about the biggest change in society?
(A) Colonies. (B) New education/communication. (C) Mammalian genome engineering (aka cell and gene therapies).
What’s your best prediction for the world in 50 years?
More responses to What’s your best prediction for the world in 50 years?
Our “best” predictions will be self-fulfilling prophecies—i.e. those on which we work hardest, most persuasively, and most creatively.