The coward's way out of Nadia's challenge: assuming nano arrives about a decade before 2050, all predictions we can currently come up with are ridiculously (what an understatement) off.
However, <propeller beanie mode> if coevolution had had time to do quite a few iterations, by 2050 I would assume that the bulk of activity would happen in free space: LEO, GEO and way beyond (the belt, Kuiper/Oort). Planetary surfaces would probably be either deserted (unlikely) or have the exotic look of nano equivalents to high-performance ecologies (coral reef, tropical rainforest, hydrothermal vent), or the stark look of industrial mining areas. (Or no look at all, because -- haha -- there are no planetary surfaces left -- but this probably requires new physics to occur). </propeller beanie mode>
On a less silly note: Vinge's hyperactive mold is probably a pretty accurate description of a nano swarm organism/device. However, (on no rational basis whatsoever) I think the nano ecology will have (fractalish) structures on all scales, from micro (um/mm) to mega (km/Mm and beyond if a swarm in active orbits). Will all stellar cultures/ecologies converge on the same (then degenerate) state/look? (No need to travel elsewhere because we're (or something very like us) is already everywhere, or will soon be). Or will the end state oscillate madly due to coevolutionary nonlinearities (aliens'R'us (the day after tomorrow))? Which also kinda negates any need for travel: just sit still, and the world(s) will pass by your window, eventually.
Of any mainstream artist I think
would be my current favourite (but perhaps somewhat less dark) if we're to consider any visuals.
I'd be thankful for any pointers to other artistic visions other than H.R. Giger's, though. There should be lots of them.
> In a message dated 9/23/1999 4:01:08 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> email@example.com writes:
> << there ever really is a Vingean or Gibsonian "cyberspace", so that the
> computing world has a more native feel (I think it's a silly concept),
> I'm sure it'll come out as a savannah - it's what we're evolved to deal
> with, after all.
> -- >>
> Savannah Georgia?