Dusk til Dawn
Human brain simulations are now possible
By now, the exponential growth in computing power – combined with the use of nanobots – has made it possible to form accurate simulations of every part of the human brain.
Between 2009 and 2029, there is a millionfold increase in computational power, along with vastly improved scanning resolution and bandwidth. By the end of the 2020s, the entire human brain can be modelled and simulated on a supercomputer in real time.
Much like the Human Genome Project of the 1990s, there were many in the scientific community who doubted the brain could be indexed and catalogued so quickly. However – like their predecessors – they failed to account for the law of accelerating returns and its massive snowball effect on the gathering of knowledge.
This period effectively marks the true beginnings of transhumanism. In the following decades, enormous strides will be made in understanding the complex relationships between individual neurones. With computational power continuing to balloon exponentially, robust brain/computer linkages will be formed, allowing the first direct merging of human consciousness with AI. Uploading of the human mind becomes a possibility.
Automation of supermarkets and retail environments
By the end of this decade, many supermarkets and retail environments are beginning to go cashless. Nanotechnology and automated systems have made it possible for customers to do their shopping with little or no physical interaction with a checkout.
Items are simply “scanned” as they pass through the door. The customer is identified either by the chip in their card, or with a prepayment transponder which can be obtained from a vending machine outside the store. Transactions are then generated instantly and wirelessly over the Internet.
This system greatly saves time, improves security, and reduces costs for the retailer by eliminating the need for checkout staff.
Personalised adverts, similar in style to those seen in the film Minority Report, are becoming widespread by the end of this decade. Microsensors embedded in posters and other outdoor media are capable of identifying people by the chips in their mobile phone, credit card and other personal effects. These adverts are then customised depending on the personal habits, interests and lifestyle of the person in question.
Pairs of ultrasonic beams – targeted to intersect at specific points – deliver a localised sound message that only a single person can hear. This means that even in crowded situations, the adverts can be made personal and unique.
Civil liberties campaigners decry the use of such technology, especially given the rise of anxiety, paranoia and other mental illness resulting from such marketing tactics; but the demands of business win through.
Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM)
This is a joint NASA/ESA mission involving the exploration of Saturn and its moons. The craft is launched in 2020, and goes through a total of four gravity assists (Earth-Venus-Earth-Earth), before finally reaching Saturn in 2029.
Detailed, close-range imaging is conducted of both Titan and Enceladus – including a flyby into Titan’s lower atmosphere with a hot air balloon, just a few miles above the surface. This takes place over the equator and lasts for six months, returning a vast amount of data. Equipped with ultra-high resolution cameras, the probe reveals in stunning detail the landscapes of this strange alien world.
On its second Titan flyby, a surface lander is released by the orbiter. This is targeted over Kraken Mare, a northern polar sea of icy hydrocarbons. The probe descends by parachute, like the Huygens probe of 2005. A few hours later, it hits the liquid surface – becoming the first ever floating exploration of an extraterrestrial sea.
The battery-operated craft’s principal function is to sample and analyze organics on the surface for a period of nine hours, including six hours of atmospheric descent and three or more hours on the surface. Both probes’ data are relayed to the Titan orbiter.