Sunday, 23 August 2015

My Predictions

As someone who's interested in the future, I thought I'd give my predictions on what it's going to be like.  I know that it's impossible to accurately predict the future, so I don't expect these to be perfect, but it will be interesting to look at this in the future and see if I was spot on or slightly delusional.

When thinking of the future, one has to think exponentially, which I don't think comes naturally, and which is why so many people underestimate the speed at which change will happen.  Looking at the past, there were hundreds of thousands of years during which humans progressed very slowly.  Then in the 1800's we had trains, in the 1900's we had cars and now, in 2015, a spacecraft has arrived at Pluto, which is billions of miles away.

In the past ten years alone we have developed things that we might not have thought possible.  My internet speed is about a thousand times faster, we have cars that can drive themselves and computers which we can talk to, that live in our pockets.

For the future, the exponential trend means that we could advance as much as we did in the last ten years in the next five, which is mind blowing.

So, given the exponential trend, this is what I predict for the next ten years:

The self driving capability of vehicles will become standard in new cars and trucks.  In order to save money, companies will start replacing truck drivers with self-driving trucks.  I'd guess that about a quarter of truck drivers will lose their jobs in the next ten years, with some truck drivers becoming truck guards.  In twenty years the concept of a professional truck driver may no longer exist.

Supermarkets will improve the efficiency and automation of checkouts.  I'd guess that in ten years time there will be shops in which you'll be able to pick an item off the shelf and walk out of the shop, and everything you've chosen will automatically be paid for from your bank account.  There may be people employed who pack the shelves, but robots will also be used for this purpose.  Except where a supermarket decides to employ people purely for job creation, I don't think there will be people at checkout counters.  That will be pointless.  There will probably be a few security guards who are notified of potential incidents by computer systems programmed to identify suspicious activity.

Governments and economic systems will take a long time to catch up with technology, leaving millions of people unemployed and struggling to make ends meet.  This will also lead to more advanced crime, and more advanced crime fighting technology.

We will continue to pollute more, increase our greenhouse gas emissions, increase our energy consumption and use up forests and other resources.  This is due to the short term profit motives built into our current economic system, which is very resilient to change.


In about twenty-five years time I think that AGI (artificial general intelligence) will be able to do pretty much everything that humans can do, making human jobs irrelevant.  By this time governments and citizens will hopefully have realized that the entire economic system no longer works, and a guaranteed basic income will have been implemented in most countries, making it unnecessary to try to find a paying job.  After this the concepts of money and ownership will be phased out.  One will be allocated a home and be able to switch homes, but nothing will really belong to anyone since there will be an abundance of everything.

The result of this system change will be that we can change our priorities to address all of the environmental issues that we've created, hopefully reversing the damage before it's too late.


After a hundred years everything will become unrecognizable.  Our AGI will have learned everything there is to know about consciousness and be able to build consciousness generators (like brains).  The idea of still having a meat based body that can get damaged, wear out and contract diseases will be ridiculous.  We will simply be consciousness that experiences adventures we cannot even fathom today.

The next challenge to the AGI will be to protect us from extra terrestrial threats like comets, supernovas and eventually, the end of the universe.

Image credits:


Sunday, 16 August 2015

List of books to improve thinking skills

Here's a list of books that I enjoyed, that can help to improve thinking skills:

Software for Your Brain (Download for free)
English Thinking: The Three Methods (Updated version of Software for Your Brain)
Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me (Easy to read book on cognitive dissonance)
Your Deceptive Mind (Audio book on critical thinking)
The Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagan's excellent book on critical thinking)
When Prophecy Fails (Practical example of cognitive dissonance)
Bad Science (Mostly about medicine and how to figure out which ones to trust)
Tricks of the Mind (For fans of the magician Derren Brown)
Nonsense On Stilts (Discussions about various topics)