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Thread: Science in 10, 20 and 50 years?

  1. #1
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    Science in 10, 20 and 50 years?

    What do you think will be the major breakthroughs and active areas of research in science in 10, 20 and 50 years? I'm talking about fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, etc.

    I'll be interested to know the ideas of some of the experts in these specific fields.

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    Computer science--desktop supercomputers in 10 years, AI indistinguishable from the typical automaton-human phone service rep in 20, real AI in 50.

    Medicine--50 years: boosterspice! (perhaps made of nanobots)

    Mathematics: in 50 years, Riemann Hypothesis proved, P=NP question settled.

    Economics: 50 years: the first computer model that's as accurate as, say, predicting the weather. President puts in various numbers like tax rates, money into X industry, etc., and out comes the effect on GDP, tax revenues, health of various industries, inflation rate, etc.

    54 years: an even better program where the president says what he wants to do first, and the computer finds a way to "prove" that will make all the economic numbers better.

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    I can not predict when but math, physics, and computers will come together to make a discovery so fantastic that we will realize that comparatively speaking we know nothing and that we have everything yet to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    Computer science--desktop supercomputers in 10 years, AI indistinguishable from the typical automaton-human phone service rep in 20, real AI in 50.

    Medicine--50 years: boosterspice! (perhaps made of nanobots)

    Mathematics: in 50 years, Riemann Hypothesis proved, P=NP question settled.

    Economics: 50 years: the first computer model that's as accurate as, say, predicting the weather. President puts in various numbers like tax rates, money into X industry, etc., and out comes the effect on GDP, tax revenues, health of various industries, inflation rate, etc.

    54 years: an even better program where the president says what he wants to do first, and the computer finds a way to "prove" that will make all the economic numbers better.
    Desktop supercomputers in 10 years ? I can recall in graduate school wishing for a desktop computer with the power of the IBM 370 mainframe. I did not expect to see that, but I think I am using one at the moment that is a bit better. For the purpose of this prediction, what is your working definition of a supercomputer ? Today's supercomputer is tomorrow's cell phone chip.

    P=NP in 50 years ? I think I would bet that you are right and it will be settled as either true, false or not decidable.

    Riemann hypothesis in 50 years ? Maybe. Maybe not. It will take a real breakthrough in perspective to crack that particular nut. It is the only Hilbert Problem that survived to become a Millenium Problem. It could fall tomorrow, or it could remain open for a long, long time.

    "If I were to awaken after having slept for a thousand years, my first question would be: Has the Riemann hypothesis been proven?" -- David Hilbert

    Here are my predictions: 1) In 50 years, or even 100 years, we will still not have an ultimate "Theory of Everything", but we will have a completely new understanding of elementary particles including a very different view of quantum field theory, a better understanding of the relationship between quantum theory and gravity and many new but more precisely formulated questions regarding what we now call "dark matter" and "dark energy". 2) We will perhaps have a mathematically clear idea of the process of "renormalization". 3) Mathematicians and physicists will still be friends, though they will still not understand one another -- but the confusion will exist on a higher plane.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    Computer science--desktop supercomputers in 10 years
    Hmmm... I do not see why anyone would try to make a desktop supercomputer, it isn't likely to be possible...

    Do you know why supercomputers are so large? Well, it is basicaly that with a larger size you get room for more goodies, more processors, more memory, more room for cooling and so on. Getting all that into a desktop, a machine made to be small enough to use on a desk, would be impossible.

    However, it is quite possible that we will have personal machines with tens or perhaps hundreds of processing cores that could fit the desktop form by that time, but that would be common technology, and so not a supercomputer.

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    My prediction is that science will fall victim to the Fermi Paradox and eliminate itself, along with most or all of the rest of the human species.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warren Platts View Post
    My prediction is that science will fall victim to the Fermi Paradox and eliminate itself, along with most or all of the rest of the human species.
    How could anything fall victim to the Fermi Paradox ? It has no apparent physical consequences.

    I have a related prediction. When and if science wipes out humanity, philosophers will still not have reached their first hard conclusion. But they will have a new question -- "What was that ?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrAI View Post
    Hmmm... I do not see why anyone would try to make a desktop supercomputer, it isn't likely to be possible...
    "Supercomputer" is a moving target. The computer I'm typing on now easily exceeds the specs of supercomputers I used to read and dream about using. I expect this will continue for some time: there will likely be future desktop machines that would qualify as supercomputers today.

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    10-20 years out: quantum computing, super efficient green technologies, nano-technology everywhere, massive geoengineering projects.

    50+ years: who knows. Based on how far things have come the last 50 years, its hard to say about the next 50. I think that this future time would be mostly unrecognizable to us. But some guesses: cold fusion, space elevator, dare I say fledgling interstellar travel?, extreme longevity, the blurring between biology and technology.

    Or worst case scenario a rubble pile.

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    i thought that we were suposed have true AI by 2030 (or as that a bunch of honkey spread by the internet)

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    Quote Originally Posted by some dumb kid View Post
    i thought that we were suposed have true AI by 2030 (or as that a bunch of honkey spread by the internet)
    Define "true AI." I don't think there's there is much doubt that there will be significant advances in AI by 2030, but we can only guess in what way or how much AI will advance.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    What do you think will be the major breakthroughs and active areas of research in science in 10, 20 and 50 years? I'm talking about fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, etc.

    I'll be interested to know the ideas of some of the experts in these specific fields.

    In 50 years
    Physics/Chemistry - Intelligent and self-repairing materials
    Physics - Fusion power based power supply + artificial photosynthesis
    Mathematics - Multidimensional theory
    Medicine - Genetic treatments instead of drugs. Replacement organs factories.
    Computer Science- Actually the trend is to simplify human interfaces. Keyboards and mices will vanish. Storage in 3D crystal nano-materials. Self update computers. The computer concept will be different, not a central dedicated box but integrated systems in almost everything we'll be using, at least for the common citizen.
    Society - Technologies will create two major groups in the society, the literate and the Ileterate. The later ones having no knowledge on technological or economical conditions to survive in a high cost life standard will be treated like slaves by the first ones. Surely this will create conflicts and wars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toothdust View Post
    50+ years: who knows. Based on how far things have come the last 50 years, its hard to say about the next 50. I think that this future time would be mostly unrecognizable to us. But some guesses: cold fusion, space elevator, dare I say fledgling interstellar travel?, extreme longevity, the blurring between biology and technology.
    .
    You're being to optimistic. 50 years ago we had IBM mainframes, Mercury program was underway, H-bomb had been created. There were already plane travel, jets were already around. Was this unrecognizable? I don't think so

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    The counterparts to current fuel-burning machines will still burn fuel, but a substantial fraction of that fuel (I presume not quite all of it) will have been produced in recent times by engineered microbes living on our sewage, instead of pumped out of the ground.

    The same will go for plastics, including the replacement of wood lumber with some kind of vat-grown polymer with similar, identical, or better physical traits. (Wood as we know it is already organic, but we would escape from the current need to cut trees down and cause soil erosion and such for it.)

    Current nuclear waste will be in use as next-generation fuel in fission plants which get multiple times as much energy from it and produce waste with nearly no radioactivity left in it. (And fusion researchers will still be saying they're just a decade or two from getting it working! )

    We'll be able to check a small blood or amniotic sample for most or all known genetic diseases/defects, and fix them or prevent their being passed on, so there will be no such things in the technologically advanced countries within a generation after that.

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    "true AI" as in an AI thats passes the turing test

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    Quote Originally Posted by toothdust View Post
    Or worst case scenario a rubble pile.
    Ok, in 50 years:
    Physics: Rediscover kinematics (spear throwing)
    Chemistry: Rediscover Fire
    Mathematics: Re-invent Zero
    Medicine: Rediscover the village Medicine Man
    Computer Science: Re-invent a primitive abacus


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    Talking

    Conducting plastics stronger than steel that harvest solar power.
    Cities covered in those plastics as domes.
    Cancer cured, largely through AIDS research.
    PNA changing lifeforms as we know them.
    WARP drive, but not superluminal.
    SuperEarths receive their first colonies.
    Star wars...a real battleground in space.
    Plants that mature in 30 days.
    Squid steaks from giant squid.
    A new ocean begins in Libya's rift.
    The Great Lakes empty out the Mississippi River to N"orleans.
    A biosphere subterranean on Mars. Another in Europa's ocean. A third on Enceladus.
    Chimps that tell jokes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    Desktop supercomputers in 10 years ? I can recall in graduate school wishing for a desktop computer with the power of the IBM 370 mainframe. I did not expect to see that, but I think I am using one at the moment that is a bit better. For the purpose of this prediction, what is your working definition of a supercomputer ? Today's supercomputer is tomorrow's cell phone chip.

    I'm loosely defining a supercomputer as one with a lot of processors (say, on the order of 100 or more), and whose software leverages the parallelism (i.e. it's not merely the operating system putting each new process on a new processor).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrAI View Post
    Hmmm... I do not see why anyone would try to make a desktop supercomputer, it isn't likely to be possible...

    Nvidia is already trying (CUDA)--I don't think they have anywhere close to 100 processors yet, but I can see it in 10 years.

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    I think I can add, within 50 years there will probably be a coherent and consistent mathematical theory of "path integrals" that do to Feynman's computational technique what Weierstrass's Epsilon-Delta arguments did for Newton's infinitesimals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    Nvidia is already trying (CUDA)--I don't think they have anywhere close to 100 processors yet, but I can see it in 10 years.
    Actually, they have more than 100 processors - their highest end current card has 240 extremely simple cores, and ATI's latest has 800 even simpler cores. Admittedly, these cores are unable to do nearly as much as the cores in a current CPU, but they still exist in huge numbers (allowing the ATI card a peak output that is over 1 Tflops, and the Nvidia card somewhere around 900 Gflops).

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    From the non expert

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    What do you think will be the major breakthroughs and active areas of research in science in 10, 20 and 50 years? I'm talking about fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, etc.

    I'll be interested to know the ideas of some of the experts in these specific fields.
    Some additional questions: Did some "experts" about 50 years ago try to answer similar questions? Did their answer "match" reality 2008? (if not)Is there any reason they will do better now? Is it perhaps logically impossible to make statements of some possible events in the future (example: truly new ideas. If we discuss any "idea of the future" today, it will never more be a truly new idea?).
    What if the new will be the end of the scientific pioneering age(if it has not ended allready)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    "Supercomputer" is a moving target. The computer I'm typing on now easily exceeds the specs of supercomputers I used to read and dream about using. I expect this will continue for some time: there will likely be future desktop machines that would qualify as supercomputers today.
    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    Nvidia is already trying (CUDA)--I don't think they have anywhere close to 100 processors yet, but I can see it in 10 years.
    The definition of what is called a supercomputer is relative to the normal state of computing at that time, not what was concidered such ten years ago. Supercomputers are the most poweful machines at the time. A desktop, due to its limited size, limitation in power(energy) available and heat disipation can never compete with a machine where the design goal is processing power, and the available space, power, cooling and so on is much larger. It doesn't matter how many processing cores you put in a desktop, there will always be organisations and corporations that have employed that or even the previous technology to fill some big rooms somewere to make a much more powerful machine.

    Anyway, as for my predictions...

    In 10 years I expect desktops to be much more uncommon though, most people will use portables of some kind, even today the trend is towards mobile computing. We would probably see more solid state storage being used, you might get 400 GB+ SSDs cheap.

    I would expect that PDA-mobile phone hybrids would become more practical, perhaps through the use of flexible screens. We may see more flexible electronics used, so that wrist watch/bracelet style devices would be common. Small memory cards that could store over a 150GB will be common.

    Nano-tech electronics is probably common by that time, too.

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    I guess I'm not thinking big (or, do I mean small?) enough. In 50 years:

    the personal computer will be in goggles (or even smaller, like glasses or contacts)--with resolution rivaling today's 30in monitors, 3D, can turn it off and use them as ordinary glasses/sunglasses, or even do both at the same time (a heads-up display as you shop, for example).

    Of course, kids will use them to tune out (with attached earphones of some kind...hmm, maybe bone conduction to eliminate the need for earphones? or earphones that don't touch the ears but have a "narrow beam" of sound aimed at the ears, if that's possible).

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    I wonder how often in the above situation, people in the same room will talk to each other on the "gogglephone"--analogous to sending e-mail to the guy whose desk is next to yours (or like I have done, get on the Netflix website to see what movies I have at home rather than walk over to the TV and look at the disks).

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdvance View Post
    I think I can add, within 50 years there will probably be a coherent and consistent mathematical theory of "path integrals" that do to Feynman's computational technique what Weierstrass's Epsilon-Delta arguments did for Newton's infinitesimals.
    Good. That will probably also take care of my prediction that perhaps we will have a mathematical understanding of what "renormalization" is.

    That will make it nearly 80 years since I heard rumors that I.M. Singer at MIT had a handle on renormaization. But I have heard nothing since that rumor, thirty years ago. It is a tough problem.
    Last edited by DrRocket; 2008-Nov-26 at 04:06 AM. Reason: clarify which Singer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vallkynn View Post
    You're being to optimistic. 50 years ago we had IBM mainframes, Mercury program was underway, H-bomb had been created. There were already plane travel, jets were already around. Was this unrecognizable? I don't think so
    Maybe a little optimistic. But, advancement is accelerating. I am imagining an as yet unforseen breakthrough in some fundamental concept of science that could change the world over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrAI View Post
    The definition of what is called a supercomputer is relative to the normal state of computing at that time, not what was concidered such ten years ago.
    Yes, that is why I pointed out, in the text you quoted, that "supercomputer" is a moving target, and my present day desktop computer exceeds the specs of past supercomputers. Maybe it doesn't mean as much to you, but I do find it pretty amazing that my little computer is more powerful than multimillion dollar supercomputers I read about as they first came online.

    I also find it amusing that my little home computer has more disk storage than did a huge data center I visited in '89. (The tour guide was very proud to point out the more than 600 dishwasher sized one gigabyte drive units that were lined up in a rather large room.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by toothdust View Post
    Maybe a little optimistic. But, advancement is accelerating. I am imagining an as yet unforseen breakthrough in some fundamental concept of science that could change the world over.
    Nope, I think that advancement is breaking. From 1945 to 1970, 25 years we had the atomic bomb, the fusion bomb, space exploration with satellites and landing on the moon. Since 1970 to now, 38 years, we had computer miniaturization, but the basics are the same. The space shuttle, now will nbe replaced by an Apollo type craft.

    In reality, no new concept was discovered/created, in the last 40 years we have been only optimizing the fundamental concepts created until the 70's. Nothing really new was created. Nanotubes, nanomachines? They are and will be for a long time in a research phase. No new physics breakthrough with real impact was even found, not even in a research state. We're kind of stuck to fundamental concepts discovered in last 100 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Radiation_Specialist View Post
    What do you think will be the major breakthroughs and active areas of research in science in 10, 20 and 50 years? I'm talking about fields such as physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, etc.

    I'll be interested to know the ideas of some of the experts in these specific fields.
    I'm not an expert in these fields, but I have some guesses. However, I suspect the advances in these fields will be contingent on the advances in the field in which I am an expert: politics. Without getting into politics, and assuming that we manage our resources properly, here are my predictions:

    Physics
    +10: We'll just start collating data from the LHC and will have a glimmer of ideas on fusion design from that research.
    +20: We'll think of a way to directly detect neutrinos for use in communications. We'll have achieved limited positive EROEI with Fusion power.
    +50: We'll have a quantum theory of gravity but still won't know if we can or cannot create artificial gravity or anti-gravity or gravity magnification. We will have sustainable fusion power.

    Chemistry
    +10: We'll have managed to make CNT rope but no mono-molecular ribbons. We'll have managed to increase the EROEI on some new chemical and nuclear fuel sources as well as solar.
    +20: We'll start having nanobot micro-assembly systems.
    +50: We'll have energy storage batteries that use nuclear isomers.

    Biology
    +10: We'll be working on genetically modified plants that we can efficiently turn into biofuel.
    +20: We'll have an acknowledged human clone, alive and well.
    +50: We'll have real genetic engineering, the ability and discipline of creating a species from scratch, instead of just modification.

    Medicine
    +10: We'll start seeing trials of virus-delivered genetic cures
    +20: We'll be halfway to medical human immortality and have a demonstrably stable near-term method for suspended animation.
    +50: We'll have achieved medical immortality and have various near-superhuman cynernetic implants for those who desire it. Long-term suspended animation will be a reality.

    Computers
    +10: We'll have cheaper notebook computers that run faster with less power and no fan that interact with lots of embedded computers and can respond to us with an AI agent, but we'll still use mice and keyboards for real work.
    +20: We'll have multi-dimensional and quantum processors (mathematical dimensions, not the sci-fi physical planes of existence type, like subspace), but still use mice and keyboards for real work.
    +50: We'll be able to scan a human brain's processes and memory and copy it to a computer processor natively (without an OS) in such a way that the computer personality is indistinguishable from the real person and can pass various intelligence and ID tests, but we will still not have a manufactured AI that is convincingly sentient and stable in its own right. The copied personality will still need a real or virtual mouse and keyboard to do real or virtual work, since it can't manifest mind-over-matter control of computer equipment due to not knowing how to interface with instruction level code.

    Astronomy and Space Exploration
    +10: We'll still be working on sending people back to the Moon and to Mars.
    +20: We'll have sent people to the moon and be starting the first Moon base. We'll have a surface rover on or en route to Ceres, Europa, and Mercury and a balloon rover to Venus. We'll be planning a probe to penetrate the Sun, possible part of a solar sail propelled probe designed to exit the solar system.
    +50: We'll have sent people to Mars and be starting the first Mars base. We'll be planning the first interstellar mission and have a floating colony on Venus and a mobile base on Mercury
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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