How will the future of life pan out a thousand years to one hundred quintillion years from now?
In a rather bold gesture, BBC created the Timeline of the Far Future, an infographic charting what our world will look like 100 quintillion years from now. Future Studies is a dynamic, interdisciplinary field that brings together forecasters from diverse areas to shape a greater understanding of the future of the human race. These calculated extrapolations and predictions are made at various scales and work together to help us contextualize the role of human life within the grander cosmological ecosystem.
The infographic below starts at the year 3000. It predicts events like the disappearance of Niagra Falls, erosion of Mount Rushmore, the fusion of all continents, the extinction of present-day words in just 1,000 years “due to rapid evolution of languages.” Take a closer look and you will find that humans will become extinct in a billion years when the Sun’s luminosity increases leading the evaporation of the ocean. At the 2.8 billion mark, we have “the end of life” as surface temperatures rise to 147 Celsius (that’s 296 Fahrenheit)
When scientists approach studies of the future, they articulate their inquiry within two macro contexts:
- How the universe started, its evolutionary path and the nature of space and time
- How theories of matter and forces shape our world, this includes organic, artificial, and perhaps even digital matter
While framing the future this way may lead to a sense of impending doom, others are looking for new possibilities of how human life can outlast organic matter. For example, take into consideration philosopher Slavoj Žižek‘s idea of abstract materialism and the call for humans to “become more artificial.”
Another point of view to consider is that of Jason Silva posits in his video Mortality. The young philosopher calls attention to the potential for biotechnology to change the rules of life, “death would no longer be necessary and we could create a world without loss.” Is such a world possible? Can life be eternalized?