My vision of the future:
Exponential modelling of the entire human past indicates that time and space within our species is shrinking and will continue to shrink, and will be driven by another shift in our mode of living, this century (Hanson, 2008).
Mode of living for our genus:
Hunting and gathering: 2 million years ago - 10,000 years ago
Agriculture: 10,000 years ago - 250 years ago
Industrial: 250 years ago - present
Although there is important overlap and diffusion of these modes, the emergent mode always dominates our species existence. For more: http://www.theadvancedapes.com/theratchet/2012/12/19/economi...
The consequence of these transitions for the future is that the next emergent mode should happen this century and should diffuse almost instantaneously. This next mode is likely to be caused/driven by non-biological intelligence.
On a meta-system level what appears to be happening to our species is analogous to the transition from single-celled life to multi-celled life (Heylighen, 2007). Single celled life began in a very simple form with very simply internal structure. Over time as they began interacting more and more (and depending more and more) on other cells. As a consequence they needed to adapt more complex internal structures to improve communication, specialize function, and combat invaders (viruses). Over time single-cells interactions became denser and more interconnected, leading to the development of cells that fused and replicated together - creating multii-cellular structures. Our species throughout history has followed an analogous path. From the development of complex civilizations our internal structures for dealing with communication, function, and invaders has continued to improve. In the future our species should continue to merge, continue to reduce space-time within our species to the point that it is negligible. We will create a global brain based on future enhanced artificial brains and an improved future internet system (and/or cloud system) (Heylighen, 2008). Within this system information will not only be transmitted and downloaded instantaneously, but also understood by all beings instantly as well (Kurzweil, 2012).
The next step (start of the 22nd century) will likely be how quickly we can explode into the Universe. If the speed of light remains a barrier than this explosion may be slow (although there are still other ways to get around the speed of light barrier). If the speed of light proves to be easily breakable or we devise some way to get around the barrier very easily, then this spread into the Universe will be very, very quick.
In the long-term future I think there are an endless sea of possibilities (e.g., Goertzel, 2007). We could spread throughout the Universe, infusing our intelligence into anything we come across. We could discover other Universes, or create our own Universes. What the global brain becomes I don't know yet. What the future mode changes bring I don't know yet. Will we be a part of this? Most likely a continuation of what you are now will be a part of this.
In the mean time you should expect life overall for our entire species to get better in measurable standard of living terms. This means increased material goods, affordability of housing, access to health care and education, political and religious freedom, as well as decreased class disparity, poverty rate, infant mortality, and hours of work required to purchase necessities. Also, expect life expectancy to continue doubling exponentially (plan your life accordingly) (i.e., life expectancy in the developed world is between 70-80 FOR PEOPLE BORN IN THE 1930s! Life expectancy for people born in the 1980s-2000s will likely be 160 which means we will be ageing slower than technology progresses, meaning our life span will essentially be indefinite.). Many aspects of these trends have already become obvious to many different prominent thinkers today (e.g., Ridley 2010, Pinker, 2011; Kurzweil, 2012).
Let me be clear. This does not mean that bad things won't happen in the future. This does not mean war will not exist, violence won't happen, people won't die, there won't be new and challenging obstacles, there won't be poverty, hunger, etc. You could also still die. Just not likely from ageing or age-related complications. What I mean is that all of these things follow knowable and predictable trends on the species level. These are the trends.
The average person in Britian in 1800 had to work 6 hours for 1 hour of candle light. The average person in Britain today has to work half a second for 1 hour of electric light (Ridley, 2010).
I could give a number of similar examples.
Those are some of my thoughts.
Here are my References:
Goertzel, B. 2007. Human-level artificial general intelligence and the possibility of a technological singularity: A reaction to Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near, and McDermott’s critique of Kurzweil. Artificial Intelligence, 171: 1161-1173.
Hanson, R. 2008. Economics of the singularity. IEEE Spectrum, 37-42.
Heylighen, F. 2007. The global superorganism: An evolutionary-cybernetic model of the emerging network society. Social Evolution & History, 6: 57-117.
Heylighen, F. 2008. Chapter 13 Accelerating socio-technological evolution: From ephemeralization and stigmergy to the Global Brain. In Modelski, G., Devezas, T. & Thompson, W.R. Globalization As Evolutionary Process. New York: Routledge.
Kurzweil, R. 2012. How To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. New York: Penguin Group.
Pinker, 2011. The Better Angels of Our Nature. New York: Penguin Books.
Ridley, 2010. The Rational Optimist. New York: Harper.