It’s the job of the U.S. military and defense establishment to predict and understand the world of the immediate and long-term future. In a video series produced by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that was re-surfaced in a World Economic Forum post, the experts looked 30 years down the road, to the year 2045. There is a lot for the insurance industry to ponder in these predictions, which include the following:

Computing everywhere. For starters, computing capabilities will be everywhere – in everything we touch, surrounding us everywhere we go.

New composite, smart and strong materials. The composition of our surroundings will change, reconstructed at the atomic level. “In 30 years, I imagine a world in which we don’t recognize the materials in the thigs that surround us,” says Stefanie Tomkins, a geologist and director of DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. “Whether it’s the buildings were living in, the cars that were driving, if were driving cars the aircraft, all of those things will be made up right now that historically we thought were impossible.”

Thought-controlled computing. The predictions include the possibility that devices or applications will be capable of being launched by human thoughts. "Think about controlling different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain,” according to Dr. Justin Sanchez, a neuroscientist and director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office. DARPA is already working on what Sanchez calls “neurotechnologies” that can accomplish this.

For computers not controlled by thoughts, there will be other means of access – such as voice. We’re already seeing rudimentary stirrings of voice-activated computing, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa/Echo. "We're going to find that we have a very different relationship with the machines around us," says Pam Melroy, an aerospace engineer and a former astronaut who is now a deputy director at DARPA's Tactical Technologies Office. "I think that we will begin to see a time when we're able to simply just talk or even press a button" to interact with a machine to get things done more intelligently, instead of using keyboards or rudimentary voice-recognition systems.”

Artificial intelligence in the driver’s – and pilot’s – seat. Self-driving 18-wheeler trucks are already on our highways. In 30 years, self-driving cars and trucks will be the rule – and perhaps the young people of that era will find it hard to believe that we actually had to drive ourselves at one time. We have drones now, and soon, artificial intelligence will be capable of piloting aircraft.

Don’t expect the human pilot on the flight deck to go away anytime soon, however. These are factors that will definitely shape the types of coverage and products insurance carriers will be providing. Of course, it’s almost impossible to imagine what the insurance industry will look like that that time from a structural point of view. We’re already seeing forces such as digital technologies, big data and insurtech challenging the status quo. It’s a safe bet to assume that the insurance company of 2045 will be leaner, smarter, and much more capable of providing highly targeted products and services when and where customers need them.

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