Looking Back on the 21st Century

“These days, excess energy is very expensive, but for most people it just doesn’t matter. Most communities are locally self-sufficient. Everyone grows food using permaculture principles. Agricultural monoculture became deeply unfashionable during the great GM disease outbreaks of the 2030s. During the chaos, we were smart enough to keep the Internet going. Giving up broadcast television meant wireless broadband really took off. That, combined with holographic conferencing, meant that people finally could really live anywhere they liked while working somewhere else. With no need to travel for meetings, commuting vanished like a bad dream. Of course, the need for real human contact didn’t. most towns, villages, and districts have communal working areas, paid for out of local taxes in local currencies, which let you work together with your friends and neighbors these mix/meet spaces are incredibly creative.”

Perhaps this is how the people of the year 02100 will look back at the developments of the 21st century. Or maybe it’ll look more like this:

“It is five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve at the end of the last day of the twenty-first century. In Dar es Salam, one of the wealthiest cities in the United States of Southern Africa (USSA), revelers from across the region have traveled on the Trans-Africa high-speed train network to witness the arrival of the new century at a massive fireworks display and international gathering in East Africa’s “harbor of peace.” Wearing a variety of light, thermo-regulated fabrics in bright, fashionable colors, party-goers and families mill around in droves at the city’s popular waterfront overlooking the Indian ocean, its warm waters an ancient conduit of intercontinental trade.”

These scenarios appear in The Futurist’s series on Exploring the year 2100. The magazine recently invited members of the World Future Society to imagine what human life might look like in 02100, and the result is a diverse collection of essays that offer colorful glimpses of possible futures. The collection also features an article by futurist and Long Now Board member Paul Saffo, who predicts that we’ll live longer, more curious, and more spiritual lives:

“In 2020, science’s relentless explanatory logic had believers on the run, but in the decades that followed, it became clear that an ever stranger, more capacious universe had ample room for the divine, the spiritual, the mystical, and the mysterious.”

To read more about these and other glimpses of the future, pay a visit to the World Future Society’s corner of the web!

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