Will Humanity Be Better Off in 2118?

Let’s imagine a world that isn’t rushing headlong into the apocalypse

IIt’s easy to believe that the human race won’t be around for long, when you consider the state of the world today. But it’s often been the role of the artist to bring us hope. That’s why we’ve asked several illustrators this month to envision what humans might look like in 100 years as part of our monthly magazine, Future Human. You can check out the first and second entry here.

This week’s installment imagines technology as a positive force rather than one that will destroy us. Maybe we’ll pour all of our workforces into a global cleanup crew. Or maybe we’ll use augmented reality to build empathy and conserve resources. There are endless possibilities.

Which fork in the road will you take?

Maria Chimishkyan

Based in New York

In the future, gender, physical makeup, body structure, facial structure, and skin tone are all customizable, because we’ll always be wearing augmented reality simulators. This has revolutionized our impact on the planet, making everything more sustainable and limitless.

Fashion has switched to 100% augmented reality clothing, designed by animators with interactive and animated outfit components. Clothing is no longer tangible and is instead projected by the simulators. Quality is now determined by the number of polygons each person is capable of wearing — the more the better, despite requiring greater technological support. Lower quality bootleg outfits can be spotted by their low polygon counts and material errors — the mark of an unskilled craftsman.

Beyond the simulation, in the real world, we focus simply on bodily health — maintaining a minimal initial shell of clothing appropriate for the seasons, with a thin invisible protective layer that guards us against the elements and increasingly volatile world climate. We leave true expression and play for the simulation.

We have collectively transcended the wastefulness of physical production and created simple systems for resolving all basic human health needs — our primary efforts are now focused on threading together a creative collective utopia and exploring the outer reaches of space to move more freely within the universe.

Our hobbies involve designing our own outfits, appearances, and spaces (or purchasing their virtual selves from others) and experiencing fully immersive virtual gaming experiences with a total transcendence of our physical bodies, leading to greater total empathy and understanding of each other’s true selves.

Jay Bendt

Based in Minnesota

In one hundred years, we as a species will have grown in ways that allow us to make changes to our bodies via science, which is both a thrilling and terrifying prospect. Nature won’t change us much, but with the help of our scientific community, we will help our bodies last longer and endure more. Who knows, we might just give ourselves two sets of reproductive organs, the ability to self-regulate our own body temperatures to better live within any climate, or gills, or wings! I wouldn’t mind a pair of wings. But really, anything’s possible with the aid of human creativity, and we have that in spades.

I feel like it’s in the best interests of all humanity to put our efforts towards figuring out how to preserve what we have and make the best of what our planet has to offer without further destruction. We’ll use science and problem solving to learn how to make materials — from clothing to housing — that are more environmentally friendly and leave a smaller footprint, to clean up our oceans, and to better recycle our junk for energy given that the conventional, more traditional sources of energy employed today are finite. While I have no doubt a small amount of our population will be busy trying to figure out how to permanently get us off this rock and somewhere else, at the rate of consumption and pollution we’re going right now, I would think the majority of the planet might just be on clean-up duty in one way or another for a living. I certainly hope they are.

We’ll also use science for better vision, stronger knees, less brittle bones, augmented hearing, quick replacement of major organs via less invasive procedures, regeneration of the ones we do have, and eradication of the biggest ailments we suffer from. Most exciting are the advancements for those who most need them, like seamless prosthetics or aids that aren’t as cumbersome as the options we have right now. Perhaps we’ll fully correct vision or even reverse blindness one day. As long as we consider the good that can be done with technology, our possibilities are endless.

I am biased, since I’m an artist, but I think our hobbies are still in the realm of what we humans have been doing for thousands of years: creating, telling stories, making art, coming up with the fantastical, and sharing it with our communities. And maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be able to book a ticket to the moon and back, just to get to see our little blue orb as it looks to astronauts, or to have underwater cities we could go to for a break when the beach is just not enough.

I sincerely hope future fashion gets more wildly, more outrageously colorful than it is today, given that we’ll be able to make colors in a lab without having to go stripping our planet for, say, lapis lazuli. I also hope that there’s a push for longevity with our clothing and fashion. Right now, our hot-trend culture works by discarding clothing as quickly as it comes about, and there are more fashion seasons than there are true seasons a year, which means we’re burning through a lot of material very quickly, most of which ends up in landfills. With the help of technology, we would find a way to make our materials more durable and our consumption of fashion less like a revolving door. That to me would be the ideal compromise between helping us ensure a future while also allowing for individual self-expression.

Toni Beer

Based in Germany

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the family could look like years from now. The first baby with three genetic parents was already born in the UK. But in future we even could go further… What about the two egg baby? How will society change and what kind of possibilities will gay couples have? Will this type of technology help to normalize alternative families?

Brand Design @ Medium

Sign up for Pattern Matching

By OneZero

A newsletter that puts the week's most compelling tech stories in context, by OneZero senior writer Will Oremus. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store