It is a fail-safe seed storage facility, built to stand the test of time — and the challenge of natural or man-made disasters. The Seed Vault represents the world’s largest collection of crop diversity.
With such rapid expansion of capability, it may seem difficult to tell what the next 60 years will bring, much less the next century. But we never do anything in space without first imagining what we could do, so in that spirit, here is an attempt to predict—and nudge us into—the future.
Many of their conclusions were uncontroversial: water would still be wet, sugar would still be sweet, and ethnic and religious tensions would continue to drive conflict in nations where governance is poor.
But other predictions have fallen flat – such as the notion we’d all be eating cloned beef burgers, or that North and South Korea would be unified.
That’s because, although Anchorage is experiencing unusually balmy winters right now, the city is positioned to actually benefit from climate change. “Alaska is going to be the next Florida by the end of the century,” Camilo Mora, a University of Hawaii geographer told The New York Times last year. A study he published in Nature backed that idea up by suggesting that Anchorage won’t face extreme temperatures until 2071.
No, “Air Force One” is not actually a plane, but rather the callsign assigned to the plane the President of the United States is currently on. But the two planes that don the moniker most frequently are ancient, and while replacements are on the way, they won’t arrive for a while.
According to The New York Times, the Department of Defense is currently trying to button up a contract for the next iteration of Air Force One mainstays. The current pair—first flown in 1987—are modified Boeing 747-200Bs, a model that was initially introduced way back in 1971 but hasn’t been in production since 1991. Replacement parts are no longer manufactured, leaving the Air Force with the trouble of having them custom made.
Creating news for the current and future media landscape means considering the time scales of our reporting in much more innovative ways. Information should accumulate upon itself; documents should have ways of reacting to new reporting or information; and we should consider the consumption behavior of our users as one that takes place at all cadences, not simply as a daily update.
This will be especially true in space, which is a hostile place for biological intelligence. The Earth’s biosphere, in which organic life has symbiotically evolved, is not a constraint for advanced AI. Indeed it is far from optimal—interplanetary and interstellar space will be the preferred arena where robotic fabricators will have the grandest scope for construction, and where non-biological “brains” may develop insights as far beyond our imaginings as string theory is for a mouse.