‘Hey Bill Nye, What Technology Can We Expect to Have 50 Years From Now?’

Television Host and Science Educator

Bill Nye is always hesitant to make predictions about the future, but especially now, when America is at such a fork in the road. What happens in the next four years will affect the technology we fund and develop – will we pioneer clean energy systems, or stay bedded down with coal? Will we prioritize oil profits over electric cars? Will the promised tax cuts narrow the wealth gap, or widen it? All these decisions will affect the way life 50 years from now looks. A lot hangs in the balance of the next U.S election in 2020; will Americans re-elect Trump, someone like Trump, or will there be a liberal reactionary choice? There are more questions about the future right now than answers, but Bill Nye is confident that if young people get involved in politics, science and show up to vote, that life in 2060 and 2070 can be one of greater equality and technology like we’ve never seen. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Sailmen: Hey Bill. My name is Sailmen. I'm an industrial engineering student at the University of Miami. I was wondering if you could describe how you think the world is going to look technologically and socially in say 50 or 60 years? I'm pretty sure people 50 years ago didn't really imagine us having drones or taking pictures or videos or stuff like that. So can you give us an idea of what you think the world is going to be like in 50 years? Thank you.

Bill Nye: Sailmen, first of all I have no idea. Second, I'll give you some thoughts. I very much hope we're at a turning point, we're at a crossroads, we're at a fork in the road. I very much hope in the next 50 years virtually all of our electricity, let's just start with 80 percent of our electricity, is made renewably from wind and solar, some geothermal, some tidal energy and we run the whole place renewalably. That would be fantastic. This next thing isn't that hard to predict. There will be very few human-driven cars. Most automobiles in 50 years will be automatic, will be driverless. In the same way you get on a train at the airport and you go from one terminal to another, you trust that train to do that, it stays on the track. It just isn't that far from now to have cars that drive themselves, especially in big cities. I'm very hopeful that the cars will almost entirely be electric. There will be very few fuel-powered cars in 50 years. That's a tough prediction.

What I think in a more grim or on the way to a apocalyptic vision – the division between the rich people and the poor people has a very good chance of getting bigger and bigger. There will be fewer and fewer people controlling more and more wealth. I can easily see that happening. But if people like you vote and participate then maybe that won't happen and we can actually make the world more fair.

The U.S. just went through an extraordinary election, like nothing I've ever seen. And not that it's all about what I've seen but no one anticipated such a remarkable outcome. Analyses were done, or polls were taken, to show that if everybody your age, only your age voted – these would be millennials and generation X people – if only you had voted the election would have overwhelmingly gone the other way. So I'm pretty sure the conservatives who are clinging to the old ways of making energy, the old ways of distributing energy I'm pretty sure those people realize that they're going to age out, that their political influence will fade quickly. And this last election is almost certainly their last gasp and so it's going to be a near run thing.

Either in the next decade or 15 years the U.S. becomes the world leader in renewable technologies or the U.S. just continues to divide the rich and the poor and global climate change gets stronger and stronger the ocean gets bigger and bigger as it gets warmer and the quality of life for a lot of people goes down. We’ll see.

But man you've given me a lot to think about. I want you to change the world. Go get them Sailmen. Let's go.