By Kaspersky Lab
In a project celebrating their 20-year anniversary, cybersecurity leaders, Kaspersky Lab have launched the Earth 2050 project. A joint collaboration with futurologists and the general public, Earth 2050 is a vision of how our world will look over the next three decades.
Predictions are invited on all aspects of the way in which the world is likely to change from law enforcement and healthcare to how we interact with other humans and the cyber world. The site invites you to offer your own visions for the future, comment on others and vote on whether you think each eventuality is likely or unlikely. Not only is the project a lot of fun for sci-fi enthusiasts and social observers but is also a fundamentally important way that technologists like Kaspersky Lab can try to develop and adapt its technology to meet the advances of new threats.
By imagining what risks the future holds, we can try to prepare our defences. Of course, few people imagined the way in which our current world would take shape and a quick look at the movie, ‘The Terminator’ now over thirty years old, which tried to imagine a future world will show you how little we knew of what was to come. Why, for instance, does Arnold Schwarzenegger need to look up the address for Sarah Connor in the phone book – surely he would have had this information from the internet?
The project may seem like a lot of fun and there are certainly some ‘interesting’ suggestions that may seem farfetched; however, each pearl-like prediction contains a piece of truth, like a grain of sand, as a starting point.
The Tale of Tomas
To start the ball rolling, Kaspersky Lap kicked off the project with the story of ‘A day in the life of a young doctor’. Tomas is living in 2050 and the story takes us through a typical 24 hours in this future world. As the day progresses we see a vision of the future created from the building blocks of how today’s technology is being developed.
Some of the key moments in Tomas’s world include:
- Having a brain implant to help him study whilst he sleeps. In the story, this implant lets his learn sixty words and two verb cases of a new language (his 8th) during the night.
- However, the course he is using to learn is a free one and features ads which play in his brain implant overnight. Understandably, he wakes up with a desire to buy the products that have been advertised.
- Using smart contact lenses to access the internet making screens a redundant thing of the past.
- Keyless car entry (sound familiar) using an identification chip embedded in his hand (his passport and other security data is implanted too).
- Tomas can change his physical appearance at will using his ‘virtual image’; all his friends also use smart contact lenses so his appearance is adjusted according to how he wants to present himself.
- Arriving at work, his virtual assistant (a replica of him; Tomas 2) has already started the chores for the day and undertaken the routine paperwork.
- Tomas is able to consult with a new patient online using the smart contact lenses to create a virtual meeting. The patient has a home medical robot which takes blood for testing and sends instant results to Tomas.
- After work, Tomas heads down to the ‘antisocial’ park, an anarchic playground where you can behave exactly how you want with no-one able to see what you do.
- Arriving home to his almost lifelike humanoid robot girlfriend, we are left with Tomas reflecting on how lifelike his girlfriend is and, by contrast, how like a robot humans have become.
You may read this with an edge of excited anticipation or with nervous horror. However you view it, there is an element of truth in the fantasy of this future world.
Whilst many people would argue that there is no room in the human world for robots doing work that requires empathy such as medical assistants. However, it is looking ever more likely that even by 2030, we could see robots that have developed emotions. Not only that but versions of human emotions we are unlikely to be able to understand.
What about ads being targeted to brains as we sleep? That doesn’t seem at all far-fetched in a marketing world that is developing rapidly and a society that has given up much of its right to privacy in this regard. This will shock and disturb many people; the notion that humans will no longer value privacy but look around you and you will see the evidence that many people do not value this commodity. Or, if they do value it, they are prepared to barter with it in return for the benefits that a digital life can afford us.
The Earth 2050 project makes milestone predictions across the globe based on the years 2030, 2040 and 2050. Getting involved is easy; just pick a country, city or global predicted and indicate whether you are in agreement or disagreement. Make your own predictions and see whether anyone else thinks you are on to something.
You can find the Earth Project at 2050.earth