Forget about Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and all the talk about a metaverse. The real future will be a world that is convenient and scary and fantastical — at least according to futurologists. As this year ends, here’s a glimpse at what life might be like … one day.
Your pockets will be empty
Facial recognition is already common for phones, but “In 30 years it’s quite possible that you will not use a key or even a credit card. You’ll use your face or iris to make purchases and open locks. Recognition will be that good,” said Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence will Transform Everything.”
“The scary thing, though, will be if someone hacks your biometric data. Right now you can call the bank to change your pin or cancel a credit card. But you can’t cancel your biometrics.”
But the solution to that might be as simple as swapping out your eyes and implanting them with bionic peepers that provide updated and impenetrable information to open your house door or buy a bagel at the local deli. According to Future Timeline, by the late 2040s, lab made retinas will not only be as good as biological eyes but will also come souped up with add-ons such as built-in cameras, zooming capabilities and special night-vision adapters.
Meanwhile, digital currency will be more than just money. Coins and other crypto-related items, according to will come implanted with inflexible contracts.
“One example could be an NFT,” Ford told The Post, referring to the digital artworks that are suddenly all the buzz. “You buy one and it may have a contract built in that will bring revenue to the artist when you resell it. Funds [in the form or bitcoin or some other crypto] will automatically be transferred to him or her.”
Here’s what your kid should study in college
“The projection is that we will need 3 million more Artificial Intelligence engineers by 2030,” Thomas Frey, founder and executive director of DaVinci Institute, a futuristic think tank in Colorado, told The Post. “We’ll need people to be drone command-center operators who will fly surveillance drones” — which, Frey believes, will play a role in stopping crime by providing eyes everywhere, responding to gunshots (picked up from sensitive receivers all around cities) and following criminals until police on the ground can cuff them.
“There will be people hired to sort through real time data to, say, figure out which playgrounds have the fewest mosquitos at a given time,” Frey added.
Ford points out that data will rank among the most valuable commodities and people who are adept at accruing it will do well in the work force. Careers in crime-fighting will have a high-tech bent as well: “Artificial Intelligence [experts] will be the most important defenders attacks by black-hat hackers … and predictive policing will become more common. [Law enforcers] will look at data and make predictions about where crimes will occur before they happen.”
Then there will be the kinds of jobs that seem incomprehensible right now: “Asteroid mining will take place. We have an asteroid belt in our solar system and rocket pilots will find asteroids that have certain rare earth minerals,” Ford predicts. “They will be mined, get brought back to planet and be sold for boatloads of money.”
Enjoy a cheeseburger made by a robot
Food will be different in the future. On the downside, fish will be smaller: Largely due to global warming, according to a study published by Yale University, the size will shrink by up to 30 percent in the coming decades.
On the upside, your water will be exquisite. “People will pay a lot to get perfect water,” believes Frey. “But it will be exactly what you should be drinking. It may have more potassium, vitamin C or oxygen.”
In restaurants, Frey predicted, robotic kitchens “will prepare hyper individualized menus for diners. Already people are picky about eating or not eating certain things” — like dairy or gluten — “and it will be even more so in the future. You may order a cheeseburger or chicken wing and it will be individualized for you with robots adding trace elements [such as fluoride or zinc] which will enhance your health.”
And the meat may come from somewhere other than a farm.
“We already have lab grown burgers that come from stem cells; but so far it’s just beef and chicken and fish,” said Frey, adding that it will get more specialized and exotic. “Restaurants will want wombat meat and penguin meat and bumble bee meat, all grown in labs with stem cells.”
And, in case you happen to bring an antsy baby, he added, “There will be lab-grown breast milk.”
Vacation underground — or with a woolly mammoth
In the coming decades, hyper-loops will zip humans through vacuum tunnels at 750 MPH and hyper-speed jets, according to Frey, will get passengers “from New York to Los Angeles in a couple hours.” Drone taxi cabs will transport them from the airport to a hotel.
But the hotel may not be where you think. “What would you want to do if you went to a space hotel?” asked Frey. “There probably will not be golf or swimming pools. But there may be rocket races that you can bet on. We’ll want to go to places we couldn’t go before. Maybe there will be vacations that can be taken in the center of the earth.”
That’s not all: “There will be luxurious hotels that exist under the sea and fish farms in the ocean. There will be floating cities and zoos with animals that you can’t imagine. Already, there are plans to revive the wooly mammoth. Genetic engineering will allow for something close to the sabre tooth tiger and other species that we have never seen.”
Such technology can’t come quickly enough. New Scientist predicts that the “majority of primate species may vanish in the next 25 to 50 years.”
Start planning for a “designer baby”
According to Future Timeline, by 2053, wealthy humans will be able to purchase babies of their dreams.
Through manipulations of DNA, the looks, hair color, athleticism and even intelligence of a future child will be filtered into the embryo. And no need for moms to deal with pregnancy: The lab-created kid will come to maturation in an artificial uterus.
Susan Golombok, author of “We Are Family: The Modern Transformation of Parents and Children” (Public Affairs), envisions that the wombs will be created for infertile women, including those in their 50s or older who suddenly decide that they want children.
She also predicts that they might be used by women who would rather not endure the discomfort of pregnancy. “It could be quite liberating in some ways,” Golombok told The Guardian. But, she added, the fake wombs and perfect children “could be used in a rather worrying way, almost like ‘baby farms.’”
Live long and prosper
As 2050 beckons, you better find a good book. You’re going to be here for a while. Customizable medicine, disease-curing technology and Artificial Intelligence will all contribute to serious life extension.
Futurist Ford looks forward to Artificial Intelligence figuring out how to attack malignant molecules based on shape — as was the case with medicines used to go after coronavirus.
“Plus there will be more customized drugs,” he said. “We already have lots of medications that work on hundreds of millions of people. But in the future, drugs will target a much smaller range. Suppose you have cancer and traditional drugs are not working. Scientists will be able to use genetics to create a drug that is more effective specifically for you.”
The esteemed futurologist Ray Kurzweil, currently the director of engineering at Google, believes that he is already there.
“Ray thinks he will live forever unless he gets hit by a bus or something,” said Ford. “He has reached what he calls ‘longevity escape velocity’: You live long enough so that medical innovations will cure whatever is wrong with you before that thing kills you.”
By the 2040s, for example, it is predicted that bowel cancer survival rates will routinely hit five years and those with cystic fibrosis will live to 70 (as opposed to around 45 now). “That allows you to keep living until the next thing happens. Ray takes  pills a day [to aid with life extension]. He believes that longevity escape velocity should be generally accessible within 10 years.”
Say goodbye to Hollywood
So-called “deep fakes” — video, audio and still photos created with Artificial Intelligence that mimic humans — are already here. According to Ford, “What we have now, with [videos] showing Obama and Trump saying crazy things or being used by criminals to fool accounting departments of corporations, is rudimentary.”
But, he added, they will get better: “Within 30 years maybe the heirs of deceased movie stars will continue to make movies [starring their ancestors]. And none of the characters we see in movies will be real. So what need will there be for actors? Producers will create characters by having conversations with artificial intelligence. They’ll exactly what they want and it will be created.”
But, Ford added, this technology comes with risk. When it’s so hard to discern the fake from the real, the public can be wildly manipulated. In his book, the futurist presents a future hypothetical in which a faked presidential candidate is shown making wildly inappropriate statements right before an election.
“It can be used to fabricate evidence,” Ford said. “Sitting on a jury, there’ll be no way to know it if [what’s presented] is real or fake. Imagine somebody fabricating a George Floyd-style video to cause riots in the United States.”