I rented the movie Knowing, staring Nicholas Cage, the other night. It was a good movie. Not a great movie, but a good movie. The plot centered around a letter written in 1959 that was filled with predictions. The letter was found in 2009 in an elementary school time-capsule that had been put in the ground when the school first opened in 1959.
It got me to thinking about doing my own time-capsule here in the house. I have one, small piece of trim in the dining room that still needs to be nailed on. It is the perfect place behind which to hide my predictions. I’ve put lots of things in the walls over the years, but mostly they have been contemporary items – newspapers, pictures, a 1980s porno collection that came with the house, and even a few blog entries. This time capsule will simply be a letter of predictions of how I think things will be 100 years from now.
So, here it goes: Home life in 2109 according to The Petch House.
1) Revolutionary advances in battery design will mean that most things that are plugged in in the house today won’t need to be. Essentially, things like TVs, phones, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances will come with a battery that has enough power to outlast the practical use of the thing that it powers.
2) Electricity for the more permanent and power hungry items of the house - lights, refrigerators, stoves, and other large appliances will be transmitted over the air waves like radio and TV signals today. This will eliminate the costly repair and replacement of transmission lines and transformers. This is actually an old idea first developed by Nicolas Tesla around 1900. Electricity will be produced by microbes in centrally located facilities. Fossil fuels will be a novelty and solar power never really catches on.
3) Most houses will be built from an organic material that is grown in to new house parts. Think along the lines of a coral reef. This organic material would be grown inside of forms to take specific shapes of house parts. The growth would be based on photosynthesis. Perhaps some sort of algae. A mild electrical current will be applied to a synthetic skin that covers both the inside and outside of the structure to change the color. This process might be based on the cuttlefish.
4) All of the genetic markers for the major chronic diseases will have been identified. Cancer, diabetes, asthma, etc can be treated early on, and maybe even while still in the womb. Identifying and correcting these problems will become a routine part of childhood immunization process. Of course, there will still be no accounting for bad life-style choices.
5) The world will be largely vegetarian. There will be a series of pandemics that wipe out hundreds of millions of people. The source of these pandemics will be determined to be coming from high-density hog, poultry, and cattle operations. Because of the high-population growth of humans, land for raising animals for slaughter will become much more expensive and the operations will become much more condensed. This will be possible due to the advances in synthetic feed production and growth hormones. After the pandemics, laws will be passed limiting the number of animals that can be raised in a given space there by making it so expensive that meat will be reserved only for special occasions by most of the population.
6) Paper for most common uses will be in digital form. A book will look like a normal 500 page hard-back book today but it will have only about 75 digital pages in it. The chapters of a book will be loaded one at a time from storage in the spine of the book. Thousands of books can be stored in one device. Although they do make the flat panel digital books today, I don’t think the idea of “turning a page” will ever go out or style. Newspapers will be similar, only in a larger, thinner, and more flexible format. Newspaper sections will be purchased on an ala-carte basis. They can either be downloaded at home or purchased from kiosks on street corners. Holding something in your hand and reading it will never be completely replaced by a screen on a desk or wall.
7) The world will become more secular. War based on religious differences won’t end, though. The only differences is that the secular and non-believers who will have grown in great numbers will now be a participant in the mayhem. Some different religious groups, whose numbers have shrunk and are feeling more isolated will find common ground in their mistrust of the ever growing secular world. Things will get worse before they get better.
8) We will have discovered life on another planetary body within our own solar system. I’m not talking little green men or anything. I think that somewhere under the ice caps of Mars or maybe at the bottom of a pool of methane on one of the moons of Saturn or Jupiter there is life. I’m not talking sentient life, but definitely life of some form.
9) More things will be regulated like our local utilities are today. Certain things like transportation, housing, telecommunications, and health care will be deemed absolute necessities of life. These things will be run by the private sector, but they will be regulated so that services will remain affordable and uninterrupted, while at the same time allowing companies to show a profit. Gone will be the wild swings of boom and bust cycles while large sectors of the population do without. Most innovation will come from public and private universities, and other institutions supported by industry groups.
10) Flying cars. I’m not giving up on this. They’ve been promising us flying cars for the last 75 years, and damn it! I want a flying car. Since, as a tax payer, I am now a majority owner of GM, I'm going attend board meetings and start soliciting the government and get them to start developing the flying car right away. This is just the sort of thing that GM needs to put them back on top. While all of the others are working on hybrids, electric, or hydrogen cars, GM can literally fly past them all with the first flying car to go in to wide scale production. It is a no-brainer.
Of course, here is another view of the future that may come true…
Any other ideas out there of what the future may hold?