In the year 2050, what do you see for the future of Hawaii in regards to volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides?
The growth and demise of volcanoes are typically very gradual processes. Nonetheless, dramatic events can cause rapid changes, as evidenced by the recent eruption crisis at Kīlauea volcano in 2018. In the next decades, we may see a new eruption at Kīlauea volcano, or possibly at the much larger Mauna Loa volcano, which is overdue for eruption. An eruption may be locally disruptive, but will be closely monitored to minimize hazards. More dramatic changes to the volcano are possible under exceptional circumstances: Large earthquakes or eruptions might trigger submarine landslides and tsunamis that could impact a larger area, forever changing the Hawaiian Islands and its surroundings. Fortunately the probability of such an event is vanishingly small; catastrophic landslides occur in the Hawaiian Islands once every 200,000 years or more. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are more common, but fortunately, are significantly less destructive.
the alan dugland mckillop chair in english
In the year 2050, what do you see for the future of literature and poetry?
I could tell you poems in 2050 will respond radically to new technologies, social circumstances, environmental conditions. Of course, they already do that. Contrary to cliché, poems are not timeless. They do traffic in the past and sometimes imagine the future, but they are language’s original slow art. However quickly the shortest poems go by, they immerse us in the sensation of what is here, now and right before us. So, poems in 2050, like poems in 2019 or perhaps even poems in 1819 or 1619, call us to the world and ask our attention. It’s up to us to listen.
professor of architecture
In the year 2050, what do you see for the future of architecture?
Two scenarios are possible. The first is based on an expansion of the role of digital technology in the way architects create designs. Computer software, faster and more accurate, replaces intuition, hand drawing and “thinking outside the box.” As more designers begin to trust computer thinking, buildings become either fantastical or boring. The idea of a well-composed city such as Paris or a city composed of buildings with uniform mass, color and materials such as Santa Fe become rare.
The second scenario is based on the social impact of artificial intelligence and robotics which could radically create severe worldwide unemployment of 75–90 percent and a highly educated elite class of 10–25 percent who run the world. Buildings will follow the kind of development seen in the Middle East or China in 2019 with mile-high towers surrounded with public buildings and high-end housing. The contrast of these two classes creates periods of chaos and division.
professor of composition and theory in the shephered school of music
In the year 2050, what do you see for the future of music composition?
In his 2012 book “How Music Works,” David Byrne said, “As music becomes more physically ephemeral, we are assigning an increasing value to live performance.” Recent statistics back this up. The purchase of recorded music has dropped alarmingly and in direct proportion to “free” downloads, but ticket sales and the number of groups presenting concerts are increasing steadily. This market consists of “new” music and “old” music. One strong reason for the increasing interest in older music may be that newer music is primarily a corporate product, almost indistinguishable from previous music (changes mostly involve hairstyle and stage posturing). This also may be why few newly written songs are entering the canon to become “standards,” as professional musicians call them. Therefore, if one wishes to hear high-quality songs with sophisticated lyrics, one must often look to the past. There are exceptions, but by and large they are becoming few and far between.
associate professor of psychological sciences
In the year 2050, what do you see for the future of work?
The landscape of work will change significantly by 2050. People will continue to work, but many current jobs will be replaced by automation and those that are not will significantly change in terms of task demands. Workers should expect to work in teams alongside robots and to feel pressure to constantly update their skills and knowledge to keep pace. Individualized skill training will be automated and customized to a worker’s needs. As workers become nimbler, so will organizations. Creative and entrepreneurial efforts will be rewarded in the workplace of the future as organizations that can adapt rapidly will be at an advantage.
To hear more from these Rice experts, join us at Classroom Connect April 13 for a day of hands-on learning sessions, roundtable discussions and fascinating presentations. For more information, visit alumni.rice.edu/classroomconnect.