The Industrial Revolution (IR) is over and done with. Considering that only half a billion people are presently enjoying the full benefits of the IR then we can reasonably surmise that the world population — now expected to rise to about 11 billion before tailing off — will have to sink to about the same number of half a billion people world-wide in order to share the same standard of living.
As it is, the present world-wide recession — foxing economists everywhere as to how to end it and to stimulate growth — will continue at about the same level of economic activity as now. The fact that China — which has already reverse-engineered the West’s financial system and knows it, if anything, better than we do — is now grinding to a halt is a good indication that world trade must be somewhere near stabilisation point.
Unless our brains change — that is, become dulled due to some unknown toxin — then scientific discovery will continue, as also innovation, if not so much to extend the list of consumer goods but to make our production systems and our infrastructure vastly more efficient than they are now. This would also mean that we would be making smaller claims on the earth’s resources and that we will have a chance of having a rich and fascinating natural environment around us.