Skip to content

By Jon Farrow on

London 2050

Looking ahead is important, so this month we’re asking ourselves: what will the world be like in 2050?

The world around us is moving and changing more rapidly now than ever before. With all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s difficult to stop, take a moment and look up to see where we’re heading. Looking ahead is important, so this month we’re asking ourselves: what will the world be like in 2050?

Predicting the future is always a messy business. Who would have thought in the 1980s that by 2016 we’d be able to fit our entire music collections in our pockets, print 3D objects at home, or that cars would be able to drive themselves? That said, we’re still waiting for Moon bases, flying cars and properly hovering skateboards.

No matter what the future brings, one thing is pretty certain: we’ll still need to eat. That doesn’t mean that what we eat, how we prepare it or how we produce it will stay the same. Far from it! Nearly everything in our food system will change, and I for one welcome the future of food.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, meaning farms will need to provide more food, but will have less space to grow it. At the moment, farmers generally treat whole fields as if they were one organism. But plants vary slightly in their needs because of the soil, weather and random variation. Imagine if farmers could give exactly the food and water needed to each individual plant. This is called precision farming, and it will become more important in the coming decades.

Even now there are prototypes that demonstrate how fields might be planted by swarms of autonomous robots. We’re bringing one of these robots into the Antenna gallery, where you can see it from 8 April. Prospero is a bio-inspired robotic crab that shows what the future of farming might look like.

While diets will almost certainly contain less meat in 2050, that doesn’t mean all our food will come from fields. One of the things I’m most excited to see during our London 2050 Lates evening on 30 March and themed weekend on 2-3 April is the Ministry of Nutrition. This futuristic government agency has travelled through time from 2050 with some tasty delicacies to show us what we might be eating (I’ve heard rumours of jellyfish and crickets).

The Lates event will be full of all sorts of exciting food activities, from a talk about The Future of Food by Jozef Youssef, to a Market of the (Near) Future where you can check out products available now that are ahead of their time. We’ve even put ourselves in a future mind-set to reinterpret the ground floor of the Museum from the perspective of a curator in 2050. The result is our London 2050 Trail, which will be active on the night of Lates as well as the following weekend.

Taking a moment to reflect on the future has been really interesting (and a lot of fun!), so we hope that you’ll come and join us in London 2050.