— How will we travel?
AC: I see travel becoming more meaningful and longer-term. Right now, the entire world seems identical with the same chain stores and that isn’t very fulfilling. We will be traveling for memory, discovery and preservation, and staying in places for longer, maybe spending six months in a small Japanese village to learn centuries-old crafts.
EC: I could see automated travel becoming big. It’s one of those things that looks weird until it becomes ubiquitous. See it this way: An airplane ride is 90% automated. So if we’ve normalized that, then we can normalize travel in robot cars.
KA: There will be a desire for less energy-intensive transport. For air travel, I’m thinking about this scenario where in 2042 the last leisure air flight will have landed and from then on it’s just freight.
DE: By launching passenger-filled
rockets straight up into the air and then having them fall as the Earth rotates. In this way, we will be able to reach distant destinations much more quickly.
AO: When we travel, we’ll stay in places for longer, and have fewer quick jaunts. This is also tied to the understanding that we will have to become accustomed to finding more comfort and excitement in our nearer surroundings.
— What familiar thing will seem like a distant memory?
AC: Plastic. The idea of throwing stuff away after you use it will be so laughable. Like, you’re on a plane and you throw away five items every time you eat? Ridiculous. Also, people who don’t know how to cook. Are you kidding? The idea of living in a small container and having everything sent to you will seem backward and wrong.
EC: Patience. I worked with high schoolers born into social media and they just live in that high-velocity world. And it’s not like they’re social media junkies, it’s just the world they live in.
KA: The thing that comes to mind is the pencil. I still use a heap of pencils for work. And it’s just one of those things that seem so enduring but will disappear.
DE: Judgments—good or bad—based on skin pigment.
AO: Routine business travel. People will be much more discerning about when they actually need to travel long distances or get on a plane for work. We’ve seen too much of what’s possible remotely when it comes to the practicalities of work.2
— What challenges will we be facing?
AC: We will still have to fix and learn how to live alongside nature.
EC: Obviously, climate change and the mass extinction that comes along with it. It’s real, it’s happening and nobody in any government has yet made a considerable effort to do anything about it. Humans should be coming together to fight global warming, but I don’t see that happening.
KA: Social inequities. And if we’re serious about shifting gender or racial inequity, people who now hold the current power will be giving up things, and that’s hard.
DE: With AI’s takeover of most jobs, the challenge will be how billions of humans will fill their time.
AO: Figuring out how to make sense of the world we see around us, especially as things like shared values and understandings feel like they are slipping away. We’ll need a lot of support and collective sense-making to understand what “good” looks like and how to act in a period of mass transitions.
— Who will be powerful?
AC: The people who share the most. Anything. Whether it’s ancient rituals or a better process for farming. And nature… nature will be powerful.
EC: Putin. Look at the US—we have the greatest military in the world, but almost no power. The power is in the hands of people who control the money, who have the thought power.
KA: Change comes from the outsiders challenging those who hold power. Today power is held by wealthy, white, Western men. But I see young women shaking the cage. And it’ll be through collapse—sorry, but that’s how systems change. Look at Russia, Hong Kong. Things will break. People will break things that are unfair.
DE: The programmers.
AO: I think storytellers will be powerful. As we feel inundated with all the noise and friction and uncertainty around us, those who can tell a story to make sense of the world, to bring us comfort and belonging will