I've noticed that people of my generation — baby boomers — are in a nostalgic mood. Facebook is full of posts of boomers remembering their youth — sometimes wistfully, and sometimes boastfully, comparing themselves to today's supposedly softer generation.
My favorite recent boomer lament (from Facebook) is this one: "Well, when I was little, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel."
As we boomers drift out of middle age and into our senior years, I hope we can occasionally lift our sights from the rear-view mirror. As the father of two young men, ages 17 and 22, I'm more interested in what dreams may emerge for the boys in 2050 than revisiting what happened in 1975.
To that end, I went on a little web hunt for morsels of hope for the mid-21st century, when my kids will be turning the corner on midlife and any grandkids that might come along might just be coming of age.
› By 1950, almost no cancer deaths will be in people under 80 years old. This bold prediction was issued by researchers at the University College London. In a footnote to the study, researchers said a daily low-dose aspirin "is the single most effective action to protect against cancer."
› The Rand Corp., in cooperation with the government, has issued a study that imagines zero traffic fatalities per year in the United States by 2050. It might not happen this way, but the fact that it's being discussed lifts hope. The study says autonomous cars will prevent most crashes, and enhanced safety features (such as lane-departure warnings and automatic braking) will prevent others. Future cars may also refuse to budge if they detect any alcohol on a driver's breath.
› The U.S. Census Bureau notes that there will be more people over age 65 than children in the U.S. in midcentury, and 2.5 times as many people over 85 in 2050 than there are today. So if you think America is getting older now, just wait a couple of decades. Today's young adults will continue to live in a world dominated by seniors — at least numerically, and probably politically.
› By 2050, there will be robots, lots of robots. FutureBusinessTech.com predicts that robots will not only be smarter and intuitive, but they will look more like us. "In addition to cognitive abilities, these more advanced robots have extremely lifelike appearances, facial expressions and body language. ... These robots (will) almost look and act like real people," according to the website.
Hopefully, this will happen fast enough for human-like robots to be caregivers to remnants of the boomer generation. That would be a boon to our kids.
› The Daily Mail reported earlier this year that, by 2050, "people could 'live on' after death thanks to artificial intelligence." Through a combination of digital capture and voice recordings, AI could create "digital twins" of human beings that would replicate the image and personality of a person even after they pass away.
Futurists say it might be possible, for example, to check in with mom or dad for "advice" decades after they die.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com or 423-757-6645.