A day in our lives in 2029

The next ten years will see more advances in technology than the previous century.

Article updated: 2 April 2019 2:00pm Author: Michael Baxter

Investors take note: change is in the air. The next ten years will see more change than the previous century put together — understanding the forces at play is the key to investment success.

“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future,” or so Niels Bohr said, apparently.

No-one can say what the world will look like in ten-years time, but we can at least take some intelligent guesses by extrapolating trends. Add to that, a peek into some of the interesting burgeoning technologies.

On the day when newspaper headlines are full of talk about British politics being in disarray, a far more important story about a company looking to raise money broke.

Food tech

The company in question is Impossible Foods — Impossible Foods is raising money, if successful its valuation will top $1 billion. Its most famous product is the Impossible Burger, it tastes like meat but is derived from plants. Meanwhile, rival company, Beyond Meat, revs up for an IPO.

One of the biggest changes set to occur over the next ten years is the downfall of meat. And I don’t say this as an idealistic vegetarian, few people like meat more than I do. But demographic pressures combined with climate change demand it. I don’t like it. Indeed, I hate it. But this does not mean it isn’t true. But that does not mean there isn’t hope for us carnivores — a sort of hope. Foods that taste like meat created from plants is just part of the flip side.

Lab grown meat — real meat, created from stem cells, rather than living creatures may present the biggest hope.

Let’s look at some stats. To create one pound of meat from an animal requires 1,799 gallons of water, 16 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and 260 square feet of land. Lab grown meat requires 324 gallons of water, 3.52 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and 2.6 square feet of land.

The problem is cost. The cost of lab grown meat is roughly 12 times more than the cost of meat from animals.

I don’t really care about artificial burgers, I want artificial steak, or lamb, indistinguishable from the real thing. I heard that fillet steak can be grown from stem cells, but at a cost of £300,000. I know steak can be expensive, but that seems a tad out of my price range. But then that is what I mean about extrapolating trends. Let’s say cultured meat can fall in cost at a Moore’s Law trajectory. By 2029, that £300,000 steak would cost around £2,000. Still somewhat pricey. By 2039, it would cost £15.

I would say that food-tech is going to be one of the fastest growing industries in the world over the next ten years. Traditional agricultural companies will either be transformed or go bust. By 2029, our diet will be very different. By 2039, we will barely eat meat from animals at all.

But food tech is just one example.

Trajectory

Look at trajectories. Look at how renewables have fallen in cost, look at how energy storage has fallen in cost. Long before 2029, all new cars will be electric. All new cars — except the odd novelty will be autonomous, because autonomous cars will be an order of magnitude safer. It is likely that few of us will own cars, we will ride-share. Watch Nvidia, Tesla, Lyft and Uber. They won’t all succeed. But I suspect a trillion dollar plus company will emerge from this quartet.

Falling costs of renewables and energy storage will turn the energy market on its head.

Moore’s Law will have come to an end before 2029. Traditional computers will no longer be getting more powerful every 18 months. Instead we will see more powerful computing occurring on the cloud. Quantum computing may finally emerge by 2029 in a meaningful way, but only the very largest companies and governments will own one. Instead, we will access quantum computers via the cloud. We will also see photonic computers — laser based — and molecule computing. But it will be like the old days of silicon computers. A single computer will be massively expensive. The winners will be cloud providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet.

Augmented Reality

There will be many other profound changes, but I will finish with two more: real-time voice translation and augmented reality. The two technologies will converge. Long before 2029, we will have tiny wireless earphones, that will be able to translate every language known to man in real time. We will also wear augmented reality contact lenses. One of the applications will be long distance communication via holograms. We will be able to hold business meetings or maybe eat lunch with a loved one or a friend, even though we may be thousands of miles apart. We will meet hologram to hologram. I predict the rise of green screen restaurants and meeting rooms, it will be as if we are in the same room together, even though we are not.

Apple sits in pole position in the field of augmented reality.

Social unrest — MMT and UBI

There will be massive resistance to these changes. Social unrest is inevitable. We are already seeing the early signs of this, as we see a clash between tech savvy younger people and an older demographic who hate the way the world is changing.

Political extremism will either become an even bigger problem by 2029, or ways will be found to placate the populace via policies such as universal basic income (UBI) and modern monetary theory (MMT), which is currently being manifested in the form of the proposed green new deal in the US.

Technology will create haves and have nots. People who understand AI, data scientists and other specialists will thrive. The rest will have to be supported, or conflict may result.


These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employees

Michael Baxter portrait photo
Michael Baxter

Economics Commentator

Michael is an economics, investment and technology writer, known for his entertaining style. He has previously been a full-time investor, founder of a technology company which was floated on the NASDAQ, and a director of a PR company specialising in IT.

See what else we have to say