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If we had today's technology 2,000 years ago, what would technology be like today? © Dan Bright

If we had today's technology 2,000 years ago, what would technology be like today?

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A clean living, utopic world where harm to the environment would be minimised and disease removed by technology. Blissful.

Asked by: Freddie Senior, Sunningdale School


Two-thousand years ago, the human population was about 300 million – 4 per cent of today’s. With 2019 satellite imaging and computer modelling, you’d hope our ancestors would have been able to see that fossil fuels and rising human populations would destroy our climate and cause mass extinctions of life on Earth. So today we would probably have completely clean tech: all of our vehicles would be electric, and all power sources renewable. We would live in places designed to harm our planet the least: enclosed cities built among mountains, deserts or under oceans.

Computers would likely play an even bigger role in our lives, with invisible data processing integrated into every artefact, from clothing to walls.

Our technology would help us to stay healthy, removing almost all disease by artificially boosting our immune system, while brain-computer interfaces would enable us to communicate with our devices through thought alone.

Meanwhile, intercity transport would take place via underground, vacuum-tube trains, travelling at 8,000km/h.

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Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.


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