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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: Life by the time of totality 2044


We got to view a very special cosmic event on Monday. According to National Eclipse, the next total solar eclipse won’t happen in the United States until 2044. This got me thinking about how much can happen in 20 years. What will we have discovered, what problems will we face, and what will we solve? It would have been hard to guess 20 years ago how the world would look today. I mean, I wasn’t even born 20 years ago. So, as we wait for the next eclipse, let's look forward to the next 20. 

In the past few years alone, we’ve seen a rise in artificial intelligence, experienced a global pandemic and witnessed an increase in natural disasters due to climate change. In fact, 2023 was the warmest year on record since records began. 

It’s safe to say the climate will still be on people’s minds in the future, but will anything be done about it? The U.S. aims to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but will this promise be fulfilled?  

It would be impossible to stop climate change overnight, but we may be able to slow down the effects of it over the next twenty years if we focus on investing in solutions around the globe. By 2044, will we live in a world that is improving, focused on green energy and caring for our environment? Or will parts of our world be underwater or dealing with volatile weather that makes areas unlivable?   

AI, though around as an idea for several decades, is now emerging as part of daily life. People talk to Siri and Alexa to accomplish basic tasks, use Chat GPT to write emails and Google Maps to locate the perfect place to hang with friends. The question is, will AI continue to improve our lives, or will it be a disruptor? Will new jobs emerge, or are we looking at a bleak future with robots in charge?   

While science fiction has usually painted AI as a threat to humanity, that’s not what I think will happen in the next twenty years. By 2044, I hope we’ll understand how to work with AI to make life better for everyone. BuiltIn says, “AI is expected to improve industries like healthcare, manufacturing and customer service, leading to higher-quality experiences for both workers and customers.” Of course, it’s how people and corporations choose to use this technology that may determine its future. 

We currently have self-driving cars, though still in the early stages. In the coming years, could we even see flying cars? Last year, a flying car prototype called the “Model A” received an airworthiness certificate from the FAA. Alef Automotive, the company creating it, believes the Model A will be the first car able to drive on roads and in the sky. They could go into production as early as next year, giving ample time for us to see them in the sky by 2044. 

A conversation that will be ever-present in the years to come is overpopulation and the related issues, including environmental damage, resource scarcity, increased conflicts, the risk of more pandemics, a decreased standard of living and a lack of food for people who can’t afford it.  

There are already parts of the world where this is a real concern, but in twenty years, many more places will likely feel its effects. According to the United Nations, the world's population is expected to increase by roughly 2 billion in then people in the next 30 years. How will we have to adapt to live in this new reality? What will it mean for future generations? 

A lot can happen in 20 years. So many integral parts of our lives didn’t exist in 2004, but now we can’t imagine life without them. We didn’t have cellphones, social media or Netflix, which seems like it has existed forever. By the time of the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 2044, the landscape of our world will look completely different. We can only predict what will happen, but I hope we solve more problems than we create. 


Jack Davis (he/him) is a freshman studying journalism. 

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