Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?

Some serious changes are expected by the end of this century, and not all of them are good!
Matthew S. Williams
Time-lapse of a road at night with colorful speed lines
What will life be like on Earth in 2100?


  • By the 22nd century, humanity will have crossed a threshold regarding climate change.
  • Populations will cease to grow and achieve equilibrium.
  • Advanced technologies will revolutionize how people live, work, travel, and even think!

The 21st century may well be the most auspicious in human history. That may sound a tad dramatic, but it is likely no exaggeration. Between the threats of climate change, pandemics, human displacement, the challenges posed by accelerating technology, the fate of humanity will be determined.

In essence, what we do between now and the end of this century will likely determine the future of life on Earth (and possibly beyond!). Because of this, predicting the future has never been more important.

In essence, we need population projections and climate data that take into account various scenarios and changes over time. That way, we can plan how we will feed, house, clothe, and employ billions of people when the systems we depend on to do this are being disrupted.

At the same time, we can formulate strategies for protecting and restoring the natural environment to reduce the stress we’re placing on it.

This is why predicting change has become an integral part of economics, policy analysis, disaster planning, and military preparedness. Unfortunately, the rapid advance of technology and the social, economic, and political impacts this will have are leading us into an increasingly hard-to-predict future.

While knowing what's over the horizon has never been easy, there are legitimate fears that the emergence of various technologies — quantum computing, AI, advanced biotech, etc. — will actually make it impossible to accurately predict future developments.

But it is important that we try. We cannot afford to walk into an uncertain future with our eyes closed or a "devil may care" attitude. So what can we realistically expect life to be like by 2100?

Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?
UN population projections

Population growth will level off

The most notable change may be in the number of people living on Earth and how many more will be coming. According to a 2022 report from the  Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the global population will reach 10.4 billion by 2100.

By 2100, Asia and Africa will account for 4.78 and 3.92 billion (respectively) and for roughly 83.5% of the global population.

At the same time, there is projected to be a significant drop in population growth rates. In other words, although there will be more people on Earth by 2100, people will be added at a slower rate.

Based on UN population projections, it is estimated that while as many as 11.2 billion people will be living by 2100, the average rate of growth globally will have fallen to 0.1%, and will then begin to decrease for the first time. 

Essentially, 2100 will be a turning point for population growth.

Economic equilibrium

The growth in population will coincide with changes in poverty levels. According to the World Bank, the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped precipitously in recent decades, from 44% in 1981 to 37% in 1990, to less than 10% in 2022. Today, most people living in extreme poverty (roughly 696 million) reside in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, economic forecasts predict that these regions will also be where this century's most impressive economic growth will occur.

According to a 2022 analysis conducted by the Universal Business School (UBS), the global economy will be valued at an estimated $2,169,665 billion (~$2.170 quadrillion), and Asia and Africa will account for the largest shares — $952,093 billion (44%) and $842,150 (39%) respectively.

Analysts expect that between economic and population growth, every populated continent on Earth will have achieved relative economic parity by the end of the 21st century.

Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?
World population growth over time.

Ironically, the narrowing disparity between nations and continents may coincide with growing inequality within nations. While extreme poverty will reach near zero and average living standards will increase worldwide, trillionaires are expected to become more common by the latter half of the 21st century. This may mean that relative poverty will actually increase.

At present, some analysts and futurists predict that asteroid mining and space tourism may be the shortest paths to trillionaire status. This may be one reason why two of the wealthiest people in the world today (Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos) are so interested in space ventures (SpaceX, Blue Origin).

However, another major venture associated with the world's wealthiest people is "Big Data.” This includes computing, software, search engines, analytics, social media, machine learning, and AI — the same industries that made Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Elison extremely wealthy.

Considered alongside economic predictions for the next century, we get a general idea of what a future trillionaire's portfolio might look like.

Where will everyone live?

Of course, all of these additional people will need to live somewhere. A very visible trend today is the way populations continue to transition from rural to urban environments. According to a 2020 report by the International Institute for Environment and Development, urban populations currently comprise 56.2% of the global population.

Meanwhile, a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2020 estimates that 9 billion people will live in major cities by 2100, or roughly 85% of the global population. The Global Economic Forum further predicts that of the top 20 most populated cities in the world, not one will be located in China, North America, or Europe. In fact, all of the 10 most-populated cities will be located in Africa and South Asia. 

The challenges of providing for between 10 and 11 billion people as resources are under increased stress will drive innovation and the development of cleaner, more sustainable alternatives. This process will be well underway by mid-century.

The need for sustainable living will speed the development of "arcologies" — city-sized buildings where green spaces and urban dwellings co-exist. The development in space of closed-loop, zero-waste facilities with bio-regenerative life support systems will also have applications here at home (more on that in Part II).

Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?
Illustration of the interior of an arcology.

These efforts will be facilitated by the development of nanotechnology and its widespread use in the latter half of the century. In addition, "smart homes" and "smart cities" will merge to create "smart countries" and even a "smart planet" (more on that in Part II). 

Adaptation and resilience

These predictions must all be considered alongside the evolving picture of climate change and whether we can keep it to a minimum. Depending on the overall rise in average global temperatures and the associated environmental impacts, there is likely to be a significant shift between 2050 and 2100. 

As we examined in a previous article, rising temperatures will place additional stress on agriculture, water supplies, and urban centers. There will also be rising death tolls and significant property damage caused by extreme heat waves, drought, and flooding. This is expected to lead to refugee crises that will displace hundreds of millions of people, largely from coastal areas and major cities around the equator.

According to the more dire scenarios, many densely populated regions may already be underwater by 2100. These include Jakarta, Dhaka, Lagos, Bangkok, New York, Miami, and Vancouver.

In 2017, an estimated 356,000 deaths worldwide were attributed to heat waves, most of which occurred in urban centers. However, scientists predict there could be as much as a 50-fold increase in heat-related deaths by 2100. This means that by the end of the century, 17.8 million people could die yearly due to heat waves.

The stress this will place on health services, emergency workers, and utilities will exacerbate the situation further, leading to full-blown humanitarian crises. Coupled with the economic losses from damage to infrastructure, the situation could lead to more failed states, civil wars, and even more humanitarian and refugee crises.  

Fortunately, the escalating situation will also foster efforts for adaptation and resilience.

Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?
Tokamok reactor cross-section

Clean energy 

As we draw closer to mid-century, further improvements in efficiency, lower costs, and the increasing need for cleaner alternatives will likely speed up adoption of clean energy.

The UN DESA estimates that, with speedier adoption, renewables could account for 65% of the energy sector by 2030 and as much as 90% by 2050. By 2060, oil and gas production could end entirely, giving new meaning to the term “fossil fuels." Naturally, this begs the question: what will we do for power and fuel? 

Before mid-century, solar power will have largely transitioned to space thanks to solar satellites. By the latter half of the 21st century, ongoing efforts to develop a Space Elevator may even have been realized (you guessed it, more on that in Part II).

The drastic reduction in the cost of sending payloads to space will mean mega-constellations of satellites collecting energy 24/7/365 and beaming it directly to receiving stations on Earth.

By 2100, humanity may have surpassed "peak solar" and adopted even more promising methods - such as fusion power. Advancements made during the early 21st century are already hinting that the "fusion era" could be on the near horizon. This includes breakthroughs in magnetic confinement (aka. tokamak) reactors, but also fusion reactions powered by lasers and pellets of deuterium and tritium, and Lattice Confinement Fusion (LCF) that relies on depleted uranium or thorium fuel.

At its current rate of progress, every developed nation in the world is likely to be totally carbon neutral by the 2060s.

By 2100, a combination of large-scale tokamak and laser fusion reactors will likely meet the energy demands of most nations, while miniature tokamaks and LCF reactors will be used to power major population centers, large communities, and even large buildings (like arcologies).

How we will work

As we explored in a previous article, accelerating technological change will significantly impact how people work. While it is difficult to predict how the changing nature of production, communications, finance will affect people professionally, a few developments are considered highly probable. 

In particular, there is the time-honored trend of new technologies leading to the emergence of new jobs while others become obsolete. And given the potential impact of climate change, the need to house and feed more people with fewer resources, the growth of AI and quantum computing, and other emerging technologies, some interesting trends are expected. For example, by 2100:

  • Most people will be self-employed or freelance

  • Economies will be decentralized and distributed

  • All transactions will be digital

  • Money may not exist at all

  • All labor and services will be automated

  • AI will be integrated at every level of production

  • 100% efficiency will be possible

Predictions for what the world will be like in 2100?
The Forestias

As for the new types of professions that will be available, the possibilities are fascinating. Some major themes include ecological engineering, commercial space, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, biomachinery, simulated reality, and robotics.

Based on these emerging trends, the most popular jobs by 2100 could include the following:

Ecological Engineer: As the effects of Climate Change become more pronounced, the need for professionals who can develop and implement innovative strategies for restoring biospheres and reducing human impact on the natural environment.

Climate Specialist: As the global climate continues to change, there will be a need for people who can monitor these changes and advise communities and regions on the necessary course of action.

Augmentation Specialist: As augmentation technologies become increasingly common (and affordable), specialists that can advise consumers and help them find the right augments will be needed.

Neuropractitioner: Developing brain implants that can address everything from brain injuries to physiological impairments will lead to a new type of physician known as the "Neuropractitioner.” These specialists will be responsible for installing implants, adjusting patients' neuroprosthetics, and installing upgrades and "patches" as needed.

Space Doctors, Lawyers, and Guides: By 2100, space tourism will be all the rage, and not just for society’s millionaires and billionaires (or trillionaires). Thanks to space planes, hypersonic aerospace vehicles, and the creation of a Space Elevator, access to space will increase dramatically.

The need for people acquainted with space travel who understand the physical and psychological strain will also increase dramatically. Similarly, experts trained and certified in dealing with medical procedures and legal matters in space will also be needed!

Space Traffic Controller: Regular spaceflights to and from orbit already threaten to create serious issues for air traffic control (AFC) authorities. While much of this will be handled by AI, human analysts will be needed to ensure oversight and prevent any "bugs" in the system.

What's more, traffic in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is expected to grow exponentially due to commercialization, and keeping the lanes running and watching out for space debris will require the help of space traffic controllers (SFCs).

AI/Robot Personalizer: While AI and household robots will be ubiquitous by the end of the century, there will be a need for people who can fine-tune their applications and make them more user-friendly.

AI Manager: Even as AI becomes "more human," there will always need to be people tasked with overseeing the development, implementation, and use of AI to ensure that it conforms to ethical standards and legal guidelines.

Virtual Space Designer: Advances in AI, quantum computing, and virtual environments by 2100 will create the job of Virtual Space Designer. These professionals will be tasked with developing simulated realities that are virtually indistinguishable from real life. These will be necessary not just for entertainment, but education, travel, and living in space.

Gene Programmer: Thanks to advances in biotechnology and biomedicine, genetic diseases have been all but eradicated worldwide. But this advanced medicine may expand beyond corrective and preventative procedures into cosmetics.

By 2100, medical professionals are likely to be needed to conduct genetic procedures that allow for "designer babies" and gene therapy that extends lives (Part II), enhances or diminishes physical features, and allows for new abilities such as night vision, heightened senses, photosynthetic skin, etc.


Predicting the future is always difficult. This is especially true when looking at the distant future. With every decision we make today, our future takes shape and differs from earlier predictions.

However, given where we are now, some projections and generalizations can be reasonably made. Thees tell us that we will struggle with climate change and technological change, though not necessarily in equal measure.

While mounting ecological and humanitarian crises will take their toll, the severity of the situation will foster innovative solutions, largely driven by accelerating technological advancement. In the 2050s, it is likely that the future of humanity and the planet will hang in the balance.

If we make it to 2100, however, things may have finally turned around and recovery begun. But exactly what shape this will take is still up in the air.

Stay tuned for Part II of this examination of life, the planet, and the world by 2100, where we will address more predictions about the future of medicine, human and robotic enhancement, transportation, and warfare.

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