5 Predictions For The World In 2039

You will probably live to see a time when we can make backup copies of your brain.

5 Predictions For The World In 2039
[Top Photo: Anneka via Shutterstock]

Natalia Hatalska says there are two types of people in the world: those “who take one day at a time” and “those who have a vision, look far ahead [and] see its opportunities and threats.” She puts herself in the latter camp, and she’s gazing pretty far ahead in her new book “FutureMakers.Today”.


Looking to the year 2039, her book includes interviews with a dozen well-known futurists on everything from brain research to the future of cities and money. Download the free version here. We picked out a few ideas below.

Multi-level cities

Polish designer Janusz Kaniewski expects to see fewer cars in the cities of 2039, and a change in their basic layout. We won’t have wide boulevards for cars. Instead buildings will be closer together and transport will take place at upper levels, not on the ground. “Streets will evolve into town squares, as there’s no longer a need for long passageways for just a few vehicles to maneuver through. Courtyards, in the form of enclaves surrounded by buildings, will make a return,” he says.

Kaniewski expects to see a version of the “vertical city” with public services on upper levels. But he doesn’t think it will be equal place; it will be more like a gated city on stilts. “The ground floor will be reserved for the everyday lives of the poor. The second floor will be reserved for the wealthy people who will be able to afford building a garden on the roof of their house and figure out a transport system via some linkages on the higher levels,” he says.

Car manufacturers will sell miles, not cars

Millennials haven’t bought into car culture the way their parents did in a previous generation. Fewer people are getting driving licenses and fewer people are buying cars (in America anyway). What will this mean for the future car company?

“What I see is that sometimes for some consumers access is more important than ownership,” says Sheryl Connelly, the Ford Motor Company’s in-house futurist. “Some years ago, we entered into a partnership with Zipcar. What we love about Zipcar is that they don’t say they’re renting cars, they actually say that they’re selling cars one hour at a time. And I believe in that.”

Connelly expects to see a more mixed transport system with the line between personal and public transit blurring. “Bill Ford, our Chairman, says that there will be multimodel forms of transportation and car-sharing, rentals, all elements that we believe will be part of that future. We’re not just a manufacturer but an enabler of mobility,” she tells Hatalska.


Brain backups

Hatalska interviews theoretical physicist Michio Kaku who discusses the future of brain research, including two major publicly-funded projects in the European Union and the United States. “For a billion euros, the European Union wants to create a simulation of the brain with the computer, while the United States have a parallel project, slightly different, which will be to look at all the neural pathways of the human brain,” he explains (read more about these projects here).

“Brain 2.0 means having a backup copy of your brain,” he says. “In principle, if you die, your backup copy will still be there, so in some weird sense, this will be a form of immortality.”

The end of death?

Max More, CEO of Alcor Life Extension Foundation, thinks immortality will be more actual than that. He predicts the whole notion of death will change in the future as cryogenics becomes a reality. “The whole idea of cryonics is an extension of emergency medicine. When you say the person is dead, give them to us, we’ll stop things from getting worse, we’ll stop him from deteriorating, because it’s pretty obvious that the future will have more advanced technology, and they will not consider that person to be dead.”

Multiple domestic robots

No vision of the future would be complete without robots. Hatalska interviews Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot Corporation. “I see a future where multiple robots work together throughout the home,” he says. “One robot will vacuum your floors, another robot will wash them. More robots will take care of other household tasks. Tying this all together is a robot that would serve as a central point of communication with other robots throughout a ‘smart’ home.”

There will even be a robot to make you drink when you come home at night. But Angle doesn’t expect robots to take over completely. “While Hollywood movies are entertaining, they are not realistic,” he says. “We are focused on building practical robots that do specific tasks and are within reach of consumers worldwide. By staying focused on this, we are able to manufacture robots that do their job and do their job well.”

Read the rest of the report here.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.