Lying in a hospital bed linked up to various gadgets there isn’t a whole lot to do but listen.

Listening to the rattle of trolleys, the hushed voices of visitors, nurses carrying out hand overs, domestics chirping, and of course bored patients who, like Venus fly traps, pounce on any form of company that passes.

Such was I last week. One conversation I overheard was between an elderly woman and a young doctor. The old woman seemed a feisty type well insulated with a lifetime of coping mechanisms.

The conversation appeared to be a simple form of dementia test and it went something like this:

Doctor: “Do you know what year this is?”

Patient: “Yes”

Doctor: “Do you know who the Queen is?”

Patient: “ Yes”

Doctor: “Do you know when the Second World War started?”

Patient: “A long time ago.”

Doctor: “ What did you have for breakfast? “

Patient: “ Very little, it’s not that nice here.”

Doctor: “ Do you know where we are?

Patient: “ So should you.”

The conversation ran on but from my eavesdropping the doctor concluded by saying: “You are not so bad for an eighty-nine-year-old”. To which the elderly woman replied, “yes, I am not bad.” It raised one of the few smiles of my stay.

In the room across from me another patient had a TV and on the repeat news bulletins, I heard the obnoxious Michael Gove say that the British government was going to phase out diesel cars by 2040. My scrambled and semi delirious brain cells struggled to work out my age by then. At first I thought it seemed too far away to worry about and then I remembered 23 years back, when we first met Nokia phones, playstations, the UK lottery and the advent of Tony Blair. So will we really all be driving electric cars in 2040 or more to the point will they be driving themselves? It’s a puzzling thought.

On release from hospital I was still consumed by the prospect of these world changes and looked up a few predictions by academics, scientists and futurists. To be honest it’s scary.

Whilst they predict more advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and our reliance on it and they talk about the ability to clone more human body parts through stem cell research and increased production through mass automation, they are also forecasting oil will be at record high prices of over $160 a barrel, huge food security issues in places like Europe and over 30 countries will experience serious water shortages. In this new age nuclear is the future and there will be a scramble to find the minerals needed to power the batteries for all this clean energy storage.

In the UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation predicts that while people will live longer, they may not be as healthy and over six million people will live in poverty. The big killers in the US by then will be various forms of dementia.

As resources grow more limited there will be invariably more conflicts. Climate change could actually propel Russia into an even greater power by releasing much of its land mass from ice.

Of course there’s the exciting stuff too like the possibility of human colonies on Mars, the finding of alternative intelligent alien life forms elsewhere in the universe and homes that can read our moods.

There’s even a section that talks about reducing the costs of prisons by altering a prisoner’s mind to make a day seem like a 100 year sentence. These futurists admit we are likely to live longer and if not healthier then at least we will have AI assistance to help us but it’s unlikely they will cure Alzheimer’s or even the common cold.

Throughout all of this I felt uneasy about the future. There is a distinct lack of talk about the human dimension. Already many of our young people have blurred lines between reality and digital. Many social interactions are not physical but actually through social media programs like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

It made me think about the meaningfulness of the interactions at the hospital. The sparring between the elderly woman and the young doctor; the patients itching to tell the cleaners a yarn; the tender touch of a partner’s hand; the comforting smile of a nurse or the cheery auxiliary cajoling you to eat.

A future which doesn’t factor in humanity isn’t a future at all.