Minority Report - a glimpse of the future

Minority Report is available to buy from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on DVD and Video from the 02 December 2002. To coincide with the launch Sci-Fi Online discovers how today's futurologists think the year 2054 will compare to 2002...

By the year 2054...

Artificially intelligent machines will have begun to develop and evolve for themselves. A colony of super-intelligent micro machines sent to pave the way for the development of a Lunar or Martian leisure facility might choose, instead, to begin their own civilisation. Treated at first as a joke, the machines develop a communal language, competitive sports and rudimentary episodic soap opera. A hastily-passed Act of Parliament might limit the sentient abilities of machines in future.

Major human diseases such as cancer and AIDS will have been eradicated. However, science will uncover a plethora of alternative ailments which will become the new medical obsessions of 2054. Increased microwave, short wave and infrared technology will cause neural imbalances and brain tissue mutation leading to a massive increase in mental illness. Hospital-grown flesh eating superbugs will travel the world and prove impervious to existing medicines. Technology corporations will spend billions defending the safety of their products, whilst pharmaceutical companies will indirectly control a third of the globe's resources. By comparison, the twentieth century will be seen as a much better and healthier era.

Decades of overstimulation of the brain and body's sensory organs will lead to the shortening of the average human attention span. As the pace of life intensifies, and our ability to process information increases, humans will no longer possess the mental abilities to concentrate upon a 'lengthy' task such as reading a novel. The novel will die out, becoming as rarefied a form as poetry, whereas short form television, cinema, interactive and holographic entertainment will become ever more popular.

Human beings will have begun experimenting with splicing genes that give them abilities confined to animals, such as the sense of smell of the dog, the sonic abilities of a bat, or the regenerative powers of lizards.

Around 4.2 billion people will be living in countries that cannot meet people's daily basic needs. Clean water will become as valuable a commodity as oil in the twentieth century... nano-machines - machines built out of individual atoms, and measured in millionths of a millimetre - will be widely used as weapons. Acting in much the same way as a virus, these invisible machines are self-replicating,require no external power source, and can build billions of their own kind within days.

The United Kingdom will be, on average, 2-5 °C warmer. In general, the weather will become increasingly unpredictable, as the results of global warming and the resultant ice flow movements create freak weather systems that make El Nino look like a cool breeze.

It will be possible to live an entire lifetime without ever needing to leave the house.

Psychic powers will become increasingly common as we map out the human genome and discover more about the human brain, making advances in such areas as telepathy, telekinesis and telemetry.

The average human lifespan for males and females will have reached 100, placing a huge strain on the resources of the few countries with operating welfare systems. To combat these effects, the retirement age will have been raised to 70 for men and women, meaning that most people will have to work for more than 50 years before enjoying their leisure time. With almost half of each countryıs population now over 50, not-so-old age pensioners become the most attractive target market, representing 65% of consumer spending. The face of advertising has been changed forever. (1997, Actuarial Study No.112)

Keyboards will be as outdated as green-and-black LED monitors, as computers begin to learn and speak our language, including our individual linguistic idioms. Images and spoken language will replace text, since they are faster to process.

Global CO2 emissions from sources such as car exhausts and industry will have doubled since 2004, proving the inadequacy of the Kyoto treaties and the conservative nature of even the most scare-mongering of twentieth century predictions about the environment.

Global warming, increased rainfall due to adverse weather conditions, and the shrinking ice shelves of the Arctic will combine to cause the global sea level to increase by between eighteen and thirty-two inches worldwide. This means that Asia loses much of its ability to farm, Venice loses many of its tourists, and New York loses a few streets. The Maldives are rendered completely uninhabitable, while Bangladesh loses 17% of its land. (United States Environmental Protection Agency)

The population of the world will have reached 9 309 051 539, despite the alarming drop in the birth rate of almost every nation worldwide, caused by a variety of factors, including (1) falling fertility and sex drive among males and females; (2) increased environmental radioactivity from the recent nuclear exchanges; (3) lifestyle - particularly in the west, where only 12% of cohabiting couples are married, and only 17% are planning a family; and (4) state-enforced childlessness imposed in China and Chinese Japan in 2025. (Negative Population Growth)

The food, water and other basic needs of the increased population placing an unbelievable strain on the planetıs resources. Although wind, water and solar power are now the three most popular forms of energy, major governments pour billions into researching new sustainable resources such as cold fusion, turning twentieth century scientists into the equivalent of thirteenth century alchemists.

The Lunar Hotel (pictured) designed by Hans-Jurgen Rombaut of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture, will have been open for four years, exploiting the unique building materials available there. "Taking into account all the weird circumstances on the Moon was a tremendous challenge," Rombaut says, adding that the project is due to turn profitable by the end of the decade.

In developed countries, barcodes will be in use for all financial transactions, holding information about the individualıs credit, mortgage, savings, and all other financial details. Despite the increased security these bring, robberies become more bloodthirsty as victimsı skin is flayed, or hands hacked off, so that others can exploit their barcodes and genetic signatures.

Mobile telephones will have evolved into Palmphones, which implant subcutaneous receivers under the thumb and little finger of one hand, and a glowing LED touchpad under the skin of the palm, allowing users to literally talk to the hand.

The idea of incarceration as a form of rehabilitation has collapsed with the prison system. Those criminals deemed to be too dangerous to exist within society are held in suspended animation for indefinite periods, in the hopes that cures can be found for their turpitude.

Genetic readings at birth determine lifespan and, in many nations, education and employment levels - why spend thousands educating or training an individual if they have a defective organ which will lead to an early death?

The sharp increase in road accidents in the early part of the 21st century will have dropped equally dramatically, as artificial intelligence which limits the possibility of a car striking an object, another vehicle or a pedestrian are fitted as standard. The combination of Proximity Resistance Technology and on board navigational systems eventually eliminates the need for drivers to take control of the vehicle, and autopilots for cars enter widespread use.

Gravity shields, developed for the military, begin to enter the consumer market, creating hundreds of spectacular new sports to fill the many thousands of television and holovision channels.

Despite hopes for the paperless office, it never arrives.

The increasing population, rising sea levels and changes in world agriculture will create 150 million environmental refugees.

The most likely cause of conflict in the Middle East and on the Indian subcontinent will be water shortages, rather than religious differences.

Untreatable mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression will have increased one hundredfold since 2002 as the pace of life increases to levels which are intolerable for some, particularly the elderly.

The PreCrime organisation uses psychics or pre-cogs to predict when murders will occur. As a result, the murder rate drops from its early 21st century high - one killing every 30 minutes in the United States of America - to virtually zero.

Extended families have become increasingly rare, a knock-on effect of today's generation leaving childbearing so late. A rising number of young professionals will choose communal living: supportive "villages" for new millennium families.

Computer processors are organic and built from individual atoms, meaning that computers and communication devices can be as small as possible.

The worldıs 48 least developed countries have a combined population of 1.7 billion - as opposed to todayıs count of 589 million. (World Health Report 1996)

High temperatures and increased frequency of heat waves increases the number of heat-related deaths and the incidence of heat-related illnesses (United States Environmental Protection Agency).

The number of persons aged 60 and older now outnumbers children (0 - 14 years) having grown from 600 million in 1999 to 2 billion in the year 2050. (World Development Stats)

Death rate in the US has grown from 8.41 per thousand people in 2002 to 13.67 per thousand people in the year 2050 (National Funeral Directors Association).

The number of centenarians (people aged 100 years or older) has increased 15-fold from approximately 210, 000 in 2002 to 3.2 million people by 2050. (UN Statistics on Population Ageing)

The high street stores of the future will also look very different as TM Design's conceptual images of a 2054 Virgin store (below) shows.

With thanks to Natasha at DSA

Minority Report is out to buy now from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
(£24.99 DVD & £16.99 Video)

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