The U.S. intelligence community attempted to foretell what the future holds for the world in the next 15 to 20 years in its 140-page report titled “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.”
This is its fifth report with the last one published four years ago.
Although it is expected that serious advancements will be made in the world of technology and cooperation between nations, various conflicts are projected to transpire, especially in the Middle East and Africa.
Despite the decline in the U.S. economy and its enormous national debt, the world’s current superpower will retain its status. However, the Chinese economy will surpass the U.S. and the Asian continent will overtake both North America and Europe in global power. Other countries, though, are foreseen to become major players: Colombia, India, Nigeria and Turkey.
“The ’unipolar’ moment is over and Pax Americana – the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 – is fast winding down,” the report stated, which added that the U.S. will always be a “first among equals.”
China will remain ahead of India, but the gap will slowly dwindle by 2030 because the latter’s economic growth will increase, while China’s will start to slow.
“In 2030 India could be the rising economic powerhouse that China is seen to be today. China's current economic growth rate - eight to 10 percent - will probably be a distant memory by 2030,” the report added.
The population is expected to jump an extra billion from 7.1 billion (2012) to 8.3 billion (2030). This will add to the various strains that the world faces and lead to extreme shortages of food, water and energy.
Due to a substantial growth to the middle class by much of the world, including the developing areas, by as much as two billion, the urban population will soar by an additional 10 percent. An increase in income will lead to an enormous demand of food, water and energy, which will cause severe shortages of supplies.
By 2030, food demand will increase more than two-thirds, global water requirements will hit 6,900 billion cubic meters and tremendous failures in electrical grids and computer networks will take place.
All of this will add fuel to the fire and lead to major conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
In order to solve this problem, both the private and public sectors are urged to coalesce and work together to collaborate on technological developments and create “a big energy or water project the world is really geared up for, because otherwise it turns into a bad scenarios.”
“Those nations with some of the strongest fundamentals -- GDP, population size, etc. -- will not be able to punch their weight unless they learn to operate in networks and coalitions in a multipolar world,” the report noted.
Does the future world look like a sci-fi novel? Perhaps. But the authors of the report suggest superhumans, 3-D printed organs and neuro-enhancements are all in the realms of possibility by the year 2030.
Theoretical physicists, such as Michio Kaku, have discussed about the potential of humans transforming into cyborgs. Scientists could soon develop retinal eye implants that could incite night vision, enhanced memory recall or the speed of thought in the brain could take place through neuro-enhancements and artificial limbs that could turn humans into superhumans with improved speed and strength.
Augmented reality is also seen as a common occurrence in the next several years as “avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator.”
“By 2030, manufacturers may be able to combine some electrical components (such as electrical circuits, antennae, batteries, and memory) with structural components in one build, but integration with printed electronics manufacturing equipment will be necessary,” the NIC wrote in the report. “Though printing of arteries or simple organs may be possible by 2030, bioprinting of complex organs will require significant technological breakthroughs.”