The tables will turn, thankfully, and the PC will be harnessed for personal comfort; high tech will deliver soft-touch comfort. And nowhere will this be more obvious than on the home front.
Talk to Generation Next (our term for post-boomers), and you'll hear that they want to trade in "quality time" for "quality of life." Fifty years from now, the swap will have been completed.
Many of today's pressing issues will recede, and pleasure will be back: Smoking and drinking won't have a downside; the specter of AIDS and other serious diseases will be eradicated; computer-chip brain implants will boost our IQs and better our golf game; and our current president-the third female and first Hispanic to hold the job-will be rescuing the environment.
Virtual reality allows us to escape into new experiences, frontiers and dimensions as yet unknown-the only danger being its deeply addictive nature, possibly making it the heroin of the 21st century.
In the midst of these tremendous changes, Generation Next-ers will gravitate towards introspection and seek mind/body balance to enhance their well-being. Circa 2045, their homes-and their children's homes-will spell out the message in bricks and mortar. The home becomes a stress-relief center, a place to meditate, contemplate, get centered and commune with their families.
A state-of-the-art control panel will fine-tune oxygen levels and fragrances in the air to stimulate creativity or tranquility, depending on the residents' natural circadian rhythms.
Lighting will be carefully calibrated to ward off depression, possibly rendering the word Prozac extinct. Hero nutrients, whether boron or phytochemicals, will be time-released into the water supply to be sipped or splashed in during the day.
Nature-possibly the most miraculous healer of all-will be brought in-house, in the form of an atrium. Feel like a stroll through a South American rainforest or arid Arizona cliffs? It's yours, thanks to a high-tech blend of gardening, climate control and virtual reality.
After all, the home has to be this nurturing and comforting because we're going to be spending so much time there as telecommuting obliterates the conventional office. Without watercooler conversations, what happens to human contact? Expect to see the decline of the suburbs, as what we call Clanned Communities crop up.
We predict that this will represent the next evolution of co-housing, taken to the next, more private level: individual households that interact around local government, shared issues and interests.
Another way we'll get connected in the next century: through our product choices. In an era where anything, perfectly tailored to personal needs, can be sourced online in a second flat, mass brands will have to take a giant step to compete. They will have to tell a story, stand for causes and concepts beyond today's product-plus marketing.
Your favorite sneaker brand will have created a company that takes you on a wilderness vacation; engineered-nutrition drinks (like MET-Rx) will be dispensed from street-corner spigots to fuel you through the day; and America's favorite aspirin will head to the White House to lobby for health reform. The big picture? A more comfortable, in-control life for consumers; a heady, highly intellectual challenge for marketers.
Ms. Popcorn is chairwoman of BrainReserve, New York.