Okay, so now that we know energy is, like, super-important — and let me emphasize if it’s not already apparent — I am NOT talking about the kind of hippie energy that makes us, like, hold hands and love nature. I hate hippies. No, this is the energy that allows us to exist, and can be measured and predicted via science. This is how it will come into play in the future:
As stated previously, scientists (the kind that get money for making money) are working on making useful and marketable solar energy solutions for all manner of electrical and other needs. This work will continue.
At the same time, scientists (the kind that get money for doing bona fide research) are working on manipulating both matter and electromagnetic radiation in ways that you may find surprising. For instance, scientists claim to have slowed or even stopped light. They purport to have ‘transported’ the building blocks of matter over great distances and reassembled them in a new location. These are just two examples of the crazy sort of stuff that’s happening right now. And no, you shouldn’t be worried about particle accelerators accidentally creating black holes — it could happen, but some smart people assert that it wouldn’t delete us from existence. Besides, another smart guy says that a paradox exists wherein matter in blacks holes is detroyed, but its accompanying information remains. So you wouldn’t be all lost.
Look at me getting sidetracked again. Here’s how it’s going down. From a Star Trek perspective, the two useful technologies would be the matter transporter and the matter replicator. I assume that if one were to become practical, the other would quickly follow. These have implications far beyond particle beam weapons, and easily pave the way to ‘holodecks.’
The other assumption is that Star Trek put artifical constraints on these technologies for plot purposes. Why couldn’t a human be replicated? If Scotty can be stored in a “pattern buffer” for many years, why can’t we make an army of Scottys? Also, in getting back to the thing about energy — if matter and energy become interchangeable with such precision, then on Earth the scarcity would not be energy (we get that from a big yellow ball @see: Energy), but rather matter. The first person to harness one type of matter, turn it into “building blocks,” then put it together into something else, like an alchemist, would have control over all the matter on the planet, and therefore be the “ruler of the world.” This probably won’t happen. Thank you social contract!
Okay, so I didn’t necessarily predict anything, but rather gave incoherent ramblings about tv shows, but it will all come together in the end. Stick with me, and I’ll give you a practical vision of the future (and it’s almost utopian!).