What will our children’s world look like?

In March 2017, alumni received an electronic survey asking a series of questions about what the year 2050 will look like. Through the survey, alumni made predictions about the future of health, money, food, homes and more. Some answers were surprising, others were inspiring and others were just plain fun. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of how UMKC alumni see the world changing over the next 33 years.

SURVEY RESPONDENTS

More than 800 alumni responded to the survey. Here’s how that number breaks down by age and school.
 

  
 

TOP PREDICTIONS

When asked which events were most likely to occur by 2050, alumni’s top predictions were:

  1. People will live longer than they do today. (Alumni rank this as 69% likely)
  2. Most people’s packages will be delivered by drone. (Alumni rank this as 58% likely)
  3. People will be healthier than they are today. (Alumni rank this as 57% likely)

MOST POPULAR WISHES

When asked which breakthrough they would personally like to see by 2050, alumni’s top answers were:

  1. A cure for cancer (30% of alumni ranked this as their number-one wish for the future)
  2. Genetic testing to predict disease/lifespan (21% of alumni ranked this as their number-one wish for the future)
  3. A solution for global clean water (13% of alumni ranked this as their number-one wish for the future)

LEAST LIKELY BREAKTHROUGHS

What’s not in the cards? Most alumni think it’s unlikely that:

  1. People will have bigger families than they do today.
  2. Technology will allow us to sleep fewer hours.
  3. Humans will have colonized another planet.

INTERESTING TRENDS

When the answers were broken down by specific age groups and schools, some responses that stood out.

  • Most everyone agrees people will live longer in the future, but respondents age 80 and above are the most optimistic.
  • While the majority of respondents think people will be healthier in 2050, health science graduates aren’t so sure. Of all the schools, alumni from the schools of nursing, pharmacy and medicine had the lowest rankings for that question.
  • When asked if most surgeries will be performed by computer, answers varied greatly between School of Medicine graduates and School of Computing and Engineering graduates. The medicine alumni gave it the lowest likelihood of any school, while the SCE alumni gave it the highest likelihood.
  • When asked whether computer-generated art will be more popular than human-generated art, Conservatory of Music and Dance graduates – perhaps not surprisingly – gave the most negative reviews of any school.

NOTEWORTHY QUOTES

From the hilarious to the insightful, here are a few of the most memorable comments from alumni predicting the future.

On the future of homes:

  • “Germ resistant surfaces! Roofs with plantings. Homes could be grouped in pods, with common areas for cooking and laundry facilities, and private areas to help be more energy efficient.”
  • “We may be living underground in some areas.”
  • “Heliports for self-flying cars and drones. Robot assistants. Television panels integrated into walls.  Digital panel art work that changes based on your mood or preferences.”
  • “Affordable robot house cleaners.”

On the future of technology:

  • “Science will put the world of our dreams within our grasp, but I am concerned that the benefits that are promised may only be for an elite minority.”
  • “Global translators embedded in our brain along with other chips at birth.”
  • “I’d like to see more public transportation. A high-speed train system in the United States would be a dream come true. Imagine being able to take a train to Chicago from Kansas City in two hours. Or to California in less than 12 hours. This is possible.”
  • “Any type of breakthrough that would allow humans to travel to other star systems quickly would be my dream breakthrough.”

On the future of leisure:

  • “Everything will be digital.  Physical game boards will be antiques.”
  • “More play toys, more risky sports to stimulate our mind since everything else will be done for us.  More accidents and injuries.”
  • “Hours will be spent wearing lenses that will fully immerse one into exotic experiences that ordinary people would never be able to afford.”
  • “I want my Star Trek holograms!”

Have a prediction you didn’t get to share?

Let us know! Send an email to perspectives@umkc.edu.

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