The World in 2035

Reinaldo Normand
Jan 1, 2017 · 6 min read

After writing my book Innovation², which lists the 15 disruptive tech trends that will define our future, I became wondering what might happen with our world in a couple of decades; and I’ve decided to make some predictions and imagine the world in 2035, just for fun.

The best way to predict how the world might look like in 2035 is by simply extrapolating the trends already set in motion in the last few years.

For instance, by applying a more accurate version of Moore’s Law (processing power doubling every 1.5 years) and assuming no breakthrough in science or technology will happen (which is extremely unlikely), I can safely affirm that, in 18 years, microprocessors will be at least 10,000 times more powerful than the ones we have today.

To put things in perspective, these multiples mean an average PC in 2035 will execute tasks at a higher speed than the top supercomputer on Earth in 2015. A PC will also have more computing power than the human brain. Imagine the possibilities.

A video-game console with this processing power can render a virtual world so intricate and interactive that no humans would be able to distinguish it from reality. We will surely surpass the uncanny valley paradox in the next decades.

By 2035, many Hollywood movies will be using 3D actors to replace humans in dramas or comedies. Computer generated actors, after all, happen to be flexible, amenable and potentially more convincing than humans when playing their roles. They can even be resurrected.

Humans will still be responsible to animate them in the short-term, though, which is a great opportunity for young and talented actors. But I am afraid artificial intelligence algorithms for acting, singing, playing instruments, and dancing will be a reality in the 2030s.

A new generation of fans will idolize computer-generated characters in the same way they worship flesh and bone celebrities. The future of entertainment is inside a computer, for sure.

By 2035 we’ll have finally cracked battery issues so smartphones may be bendable, foldable, and wearable, some as thin as a sheet of paper. Smartphones will measure all our vital signals by communicating with wireless nanochips implanted in our skin.

Every inhabitant of this planet will have one. A smartphone more powerful than an iPhone 7 will cost less than $1 by 2035. They’ll be the devices that integrate the poor with the modern world, where new opportunities for studying and learning become cheaper and more equalized. Physical universities will lose relevance and online courses will boom. Brands will still be very valuable.

In 18 years, broadband Internet will be beamed by satellites and will reach the entire planet. I suspect it will be free, sponsored by advertisers. Wireless connections will have average speeds 10,000 times faster than those of today, about 1 terabit per second.

Wireless Internet chips will be built into most products, ranging from our clothes to toothbrushes, guns, and even food packages. These chipsets will automate tasks and communicate with other objects to make our lives safer, more convenient, and efficient.

In 2035, a micro-SD card the size of your fingernail could hold 128 petabytes of data, one million times more than a 128 gigabyte model that you buy today for less than $99. This is enough storage to stream 43 million hours of HD video from Netflix. Unfortunately, I suspect SD cards won’t exist anymore, as cloud storage will be free.

Using a VR headset to play a game would literally immerse you in The Matrix. You will not only see and hear a very realistic environment, but also be able to feel it through advanced tactile sensors. I believe we’ll spend most of our time in 2035 in a virtual world, no matter whether for business or pleasure.

Augmented reality lens will be common and all young people will have one built into a regular glass frame. They’ll have 8K cameras and will fuse the real world with computer graphics. They might replace smartphones as the must-have gadgets of 2035.

Consumer 3D printers will have the quality of the industrial printers of 2017 and will print high quality plastic, metal alloys, organic materials, and carbon. Users will be able to create and print most smaller objects. That will change e-commerce.

Packages delivered by drones in less than 15 minutes will be a common sight in large cities. When we look up to the skies we’ll see thousands of drones doing the jobs of postmen and delivery guys. Maybe even cloud cities.

In 2035, physical retailers in developed countries will be in serious financial trouble, as most people prefer to order their groceries from home. Amazon becomes the largest company in the world by revenues, surpassing Walmart.

Bionic implants and limbs become common and augment our physical and cognitive abilities. People do not find them scary anymore. Humans without implants might descend to the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. A movement against technology and the preservation of the biological purity of the human race is born and gets billions of followers.

Nanorobots the size of cells are used regularly to treat diseases. We find a cure for cancer, AIDS, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many incurable illnesses of 2015. We can create new life forms from scratch and resurrect extinct species. The brain is reverse-engineered successfully, and talks about uploading our conscience to the cloud become scarily real.

In developed countries, manufacturing and drug discovery is entirely done by robots. Meanwhile, a new startup unveils the first generation humanoid that is affordable and can perform most tasks better than us. Hundreds of millions of people become unemployed due to the popularity of robots.

By 2035, no more gasoline vehicles are manufactured in rich countries. Electric autonomous cars now represent the majority of our fleet. These self-driving automobiles help to combat pollution in large cities, alleviate traffic by a great degree, and collaborate for the reduction of accidents by 95%. Flying cars never take off.

Humans are forbidden to drive in some countries because they represent a great danger for public safety. Most people in large cities opt to not have a car and just use an autonomous vehicle from Uber and other competitors. The auto industry suffers dramatically and many iconic brands disappear.

In 2035, suborbital flights become routine and the first electric supersonic plane prototype is unveiled. Air travel is greatly improved but still sucks. Many Hyperloop tracks are built and proven to be much more efficient and safer than bullet trains and planes.

The majority of the energy generated in the US comes from solar power. Several companies build the first nuclear fusion reactors and oil loses its economic and political importance. The Middle East is engulfed in more turmoil and the Gulf States lose their grip on terrorist groups and their own population. Anarchy ensues.

The US fights wars with autonomous drones and ground robots to avoid casualties. Rogue states and terrorists use swarms of cheap drones for terrorist attacks and asymmetric warfare. Hacking becomes the biggest security threat for police forces and governments worldwide. Countries create their own private Internets.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become mainstream after governments unsuccessfully attempt to ban them. Profound economic implications arise from the use of digital currencies, from the collapse of the banking industry to the creation of powerful new players. We enter an era of digital globalization.

Silicon Valley rejoices and becomes the new Wall Street. It now controls the world economy and the algorithms behind all the financial systems. Human trading and investment is halted. The new Warren Buffett is an AI.

By 2035, at least one human expedition visits and settles on Mars. Our probes find alien life in Europa or Enceladus. Hundreds of planets similar to Earth are discovered by new telescopes and unmanned spacecraft. We come to realize the universe is indeed booming with life and we’re not unique.

The Large Hadron Collider and its successors find many new particles, dark matter, dark energy, and our understanding of quantum physics and parallel universes advances exponentially, challenging our concepts about life and the cosmos. Interstellar travel is made possible by the new discoveries.

Computers infuse intelligence into the legs and arms of robots and bring their existence into unusual forms. Politicians try to stop the trend but are unsuccessful. Machines become better laborers, teachers, scientists, engineers, designers, programmers, writers, investors, leaders, and thinkers.

Quantum computers become a million times faster, as predicted, and a superintelligence arises. Robots learn how to deal with emotions and artificial intelligence takes over, surpassing humans in every single task. We are finally able to create legislators to be proud of.

People get scared and doomsday predictions abound, but the machines don’t destroy us, yet. We have the first evidence we live in a computer simulation and that our existence is nothing more than a highly sophisticated computer program invented by an advanced civilization.

We become unsure about our future as a species and what to do next. We collectively look for a new purpose in the universe and reboot the human race for the new paradigms of the 21st century dominated by AI and machines.

Reinaldo Normand

Written by

CEO and co-founder of InnovaLab (http://www.innovalab.us). I blog about tech, innovation, entrepreneurship and culture. Opinions are my own.