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Sir Richard Feachem

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Gene Wade

Chris Anderson

Life in 2023

Ten local innovators speculate about what will come to pass—and cease to exist—within the next 10 years.

Chris Anderson
Founder of DIY Drones, CEO of 3D Robotics, former editor-in-chief of Wired

“Robots have been taking over human jobs for years—I’m sure that when elevator doors first closed without a human operator, people found it odd, but now we don’t even notice. The same thing will happen soon with driverless cars. As for when robots will be truly intelligent? We don’t even know what human intelligence is. Google does many things better than we do—finding patterns, making connections—and a desktop calculator can do math better than you or I, but is that really intelligence?”

 

Sir Richard Feachem
Global health expert at UCSF, founding executive director of the Global Fund

“I can’t exactly say 10, but in 12 years, over a third of the 102 countries that currently have malaria will be malaria-free. As for the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it will spiral downward significantly. We’ve made two discoveries recently: that putting an HIV-positive individual on antiretroviral medication as soon as possible is better for his longterm health, and that someone on treatment is 96 percent less likely to transmit the disease to a sexual partner. This knowledge, along with behavior changes, condoms, more aggressive testing, and male circumcision, will drastically reduce the number of new transmissions.”

 

Tiffany Shlain
Flmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards

“Everyone on the planet will be online who wants to be online. But you’ll see more and more of these people setting boundaries regarding when it’s beneficial to be online and when it’s not. I think people are going to realize that anything in excess is not good for the mind or the soul. What won’t change is our need to authentically connect as humans. While we will have new ways of connecting digitally, nothing compares to real world interactions.”

 

Gene Wade
Chief executive officer of UniversityNow, TED presenter

“Almost 50 percent of jobs will require post–secondary education. The good news is that there will be more affordable colleges, and graduation will be based on performance rather than on a certain time span. There will still be private schools—Harvard will always be Harvard—but we’ll see the market expand. The United States needs to shake the idea that intelligence is inborn and not taught. India and China understand that it’s a matter of practice and persistence. If we keep lowering our standards, especially in K–12, they will pull way ahead of us.” 

 

Robert H. Lustig
Pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF, Author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

“In 10 years, we will see a national movement to marginalize junk food eaters in the same way that we did cigarette smokers. It was cool to smoke back in the ’60s, but now smokers are basically pariahs, and I see the same thing happening with soda drinkers. Sugar is a leading cause of diabetes, and the concept that there’s something in your food that’s killing you will strike a chord. Sugar is toxic, and the government must deal with it. We wouldn’t have a healthcare crisis if we solved the chronic metabolic diseases crisis.”

 

David Morrison
Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute, astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center

“If all goes according to plan, in 2020 we’ll be looking for microbes living under the surface of Mars. If we do find life in those underground aquifers, we’ll analyze it and discover one of two things: either that these microbes are made up of DNA and RNA and are therefore distantly related to us, or that they’re made up of something entirely different, which would mean that we had found a completely alien life-form for the first time—Martians, but small ones, not the walking, talking aliens of our imagination. One day we might find intelligent creatures, but they may have a different chemistry and not look like us at all.”