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Post oil: Glimpses of life after fossil fuel

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How Neo got his juice: Take our sci-fi energy quiz

There's no doubt that the world will look different – and not just a little bit different, suggests Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia.

"After oil, we'll be in the virtual age," he says. Machines will take many more of our jobs. The ones we keep, we'll do by telecommuting. We'll still teleshop, but we'll probably buy less. "Physical universities will be a wasteland" by 2040, he predicts, as most degrees will be earned online. We'll even visit the doctor – and the Bahamas – virtually. "You [will] smell and feel the breeze, the sand, [and] the sun. You can do this at any time you want, anywhere you want, with anyone you want. Be anyone you want, and do anything you want," he says. "Machines are creating the world.... We're living virtually. This is the world 30 years out."

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