The sexperts tend to agree with him — that 100 years in the future, we'll feed our lust using virtual technology, digital stimulation, robots with artificial intelligence and "fake" girlfriends and boyfriends.

"We've always been into objects," says Linda Weiner, a sex therapist in St. Louis. "But the objects will change. I think the most intense need is to invent something that will create desire in our stressed-out lives."

Weiner sees a future where St. Louis tech companies build sex robots that re-create human touch and bonding, haptic machines will allow us to have and watch live sex with partners who are vast distances away, and even artificial orgasms that can be injected directly into the brain. Weiner thinks we'll eventually be able to morph our bodies, so anyone can experience sex as a different gender. Because the technologies will still be novel and taboo, "it will be extremely erotic," Weiner says.

Engineer Shawn Leight.
Theo Welling
Engineer Shawn Leight.
Great Rivers Greenway's executive director, Susan Trautman.
Theo Welling
Great Rivers Greenway's executive director, Susan Trautman.

Is St. Louis ready to invent the sex robot? "We invented ice cream and racquetball," Weiner says. "We've got some Internet geniuses from St. Louis."

But what if you don't want futuristic sex? What if you're into good old-fashioned petting with another flesh-and-blood human? Matt Homann, the St. Louis inventor of Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend, the startup that produces online evidence of a fictional relationship, had a surprisingly quaint thought on the subject of future sex.

"Two more generations from now, we'll certainly have the capacity to livestream our every moment," he says. "The digital tools are there for them to experience sex directly wired into their brains, but there are going to be people, the 2114 hipsters, who prefer the analog and unplug."
—Lindsay Toler

The Future of Beer
Great German brewers built the city's identity over the last two centuries, and there's no reason to believe the next 100 years will be any different. But will the 4 Hands and Schlaflys of today become the Anheuser-Busches of tomorrow?

"There have been so many craft beers launched in the last few years, and I don't see how most of them will survive," says Bill Finnie, who headed a number of sweeping beer-industry studies during his three-decade career with A-B.

Now an adjunct professor at the Olin Business School at Washington University, Finnie points out that in the late '50s and '60s, numerous successful regional breweries — like Falstaff in St. Louis — failed. They couldn't complete with the low-priced beers from massive consolidated breweries like Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Miller, Schlitz and others.

"Craft beer is an amazing transformation, and I think there's another fifteen years for it to run," he says. "I'd say 80 to 90 percent of the craft beers launched over the past five or six years will not be around five or six years from now."

Schlafly cofounder Dan Kopman, however, is looking far beyond five or six years. By 2114, he predicts, high-efficiency brewing methods will reduce the time and water needed to produce a barrel of beer.

"Water is becoming scarce in some parts of the world," Kopman writes in an e-mail. "Essentially, all of the effort around the world to conserve fresh water and the use of desalination will impact brewers."

But other advances will allow St. Louis brewers to push the definition of beer itself.

"Who is to say that beer should be made from only barley and wheat, hops and specific yeast strains?" he suggests.

The future definition of "beer" could become more of a subjective descriptor; we could be brewing with cane and beet sugar, honey, fruit juices, spices, new yeast strains and other enzymes — all will result in uniquely different flavors we don't even have words for yet, according to Kopman.

"We are seeing brewers use other spices/flavorings in beer more and more," he writes. "In addition, brewers will use nontraditional yeast strains and other forms of bacteria to ferment sugar liquids. This will result in different flavors, and traditional definitions for beer will be stretched."

For Finnie, though, the most stunning development in the future of beer won't come in a bottle — it'll be in our brains. Alzheimer's research, he says, may eventually lead scientists to solve all kinds of disorders that originate in the brain — even addiction.

"I am optimistic that, in the future, you can have the socialization and good aspects of alcohol without the tragic aspects of alcohol abuse," he says. "I'm an optimist. I think the world is going to be pretty darn good."
Danny Wicentowski

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