There are a few worries about self-driving cars,” says Ray Hammond, “because if someone is killed, who’s liable? Even so, it’s definitely going to happen and in 25 years, on many major roads in developed cities, the cars will be self-driving.”
Dr Ian Pearson concurs: “All the big manufacturers are working on this – you can expect the first on the roads in 10 years. They could be powered by inductive pick-ups from under the road surface, a bit like Scalextric. Once we start to see this technology – in cities, initially – it will take off very rapidly.”
That’s more than can be said for advances in air travel: neither futurist sees any dramatic developments there in the next few decades, although growing affluence in China, India and other emerging countries will, says Ian, lead to record tourist numbers at the world’s most popular hotspots. “Eventually, they’ll simply have to put limits on visitor numbers,” he says, stating that a major travel trend in the coming decades will be virtual visits, which will be the only way many people ever get to see certain parts of the world.
With the planet looking so overcrowded, some people – including Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society – think that interstellar travel will ease the load. Ray’s not convinced – he thinks the human body just isn’t cut out for space travel. But he doesn’t think that will matter: by the end of this century, he says, human evolution as we know it will be coming to an end as our intelligence is transferred to machines. This “successor species”, as Ray calls it, will be free of biological limitations and thus perfectly suited to the rigours of travel to the edge of space. “This is merely the beginning of humanity as we know it,” says Ray. “These machines will be our descendents.” www.rayhammond.com www.futurizon.com