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Expert futurists forecast how rapid technological changes might shape our world by 2040. A team of cyber security researchers led by academics from Lancaster University used the well-known Delphi method for forecasting and interviewed 12 experts about the future of technologies.

The experts were asked how particular technologies may develop and change our world over the next 15 years, what risks they might pose, and how to address the challenges that may arise. The forecasts were published in the paper “Interlinked Computing in 2040: Safety, Truth, Ownership and Accountability.”

The lead researcher of the study is Dr. Charles Weir, Lecturer at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications. He said: “Technology advances have brought, and will continue to bring, great benefits. We also know there are risks around some of these technologies, including AI, and where their development may go—everyone’s been discussing them—but the possible magnitude of some of the risks forecast by some of the experts was staggering. But by forecasting what potential risks lie just beyond the horizon we can take steps to avoid major problems.”

According to Techxplore, most of the experts forecasted exponential growth in AI over the next 15 years, with many expressing concerns about cutting corners in the development of safe AI, possibly driven by nation-states seeking competitive advantage.

Most of the experts were also concerned that technological advances will ease the spread of misinformation, which in turn has the potential to make it harder for people to tell the difference between truth and fiction—with ramifications for democracies.

Other technologies were forecast to not have as big of an impact by 2040, including quantum computing which experts see as having impacts over a much longer timeframe, and Blockchain which was dismissed by most of the experts as being a source of major change.

These are the experts’ forecasts for the year 2040, as provided by Techxplore:

  • Competition between nation-states and big tech companies will lead to corners being cut in the development of safe AI.
  • Quantum computing will have a limited impact.
  • There will be ownership of public web assets. These will be identified and traded through digital tokens.
  • It will be harder to distinguish truth from fiction because widely accessible AI can massively generate doubtful content.
  • There will be less ability to distinguish accidents from criminal incidents due to the decentralized nature and complexity of systems.

The study also included some suggested solutions for some of the concerns raised, including governments introducing AI purchasing safety principles, new laws to regulate AI safety, and having universities introduce courses combining technical skills and legislation.