This week's Five to Five Thousand Challenge is from Drew Wagar, author of Elite Reclamation and the Shadeward Saga. Discover what he believes the future holds below...
The next 5 years (2021)
This period is probably the hardest as it is most likely to be wrong, or at least, proved as inaccurate by progress!
On the technology front, 3D Printing is one to watch in the next few years, it has the potential to revolutionise the provision and transport of items, in the same way that email displaced the letter. 4G (and better) mobile network access will become the norm for all devices, relegating ‘wired’ connections to history for most users. 2 Terabyte SD Cards will appear in this time frame. Storage will soon cease to be an issue for most users.
Entertainment will continue to shift away from traditional broadcast media and print to reality augmented and deeply personalised content. I suspect there will be interesting developments as VR and augmented reality leaves the realms of ‘geekdom’ and moves into the mainstream.
I fear the divide between the haves and have-nots will continue to widen, with continued social unrest. For those without means, the future looks bleaker. Pension provision will continue to erode with massive numbers wakening to the realisation that they will never be able to stop working. Debt will continue to force reductions in public spending, against an outcry regarding social welfare. Unfortunately, the traditional ‘left’ will continue to field unworkable and outdated solutions to these problems and leave unfettered capitalism as the unopposed solution.
We will spectacularly fail to get to grips with the burgeoning climate crisis, due to political lobbying, ignorance and the impact of religion world-wide. The 2020s will open with territorial conflicts over oil, water and food supply, enflamed by religious disputes continuing or even worse than the 2010s.
The next 50 years (2066)
Being optimistic I’m going to give us commercially available fusion power in this time period. This effectively ends the ‘Oil years’ and makes a range of technology obsolete. Prior to this though, ‘history’ is punctuated by wars both big and small over the diminishing resources of the old carbon economy and the disastrous impacts of climate change.
Personalised electronics, coupled with emerging genetics and nanotechnology continues to expand with the youngest generation having no qualms about integrating electronics to augment their minds and bodies. The first signs of ‘pure humans’ and ‘augmented humans’ becoming separate societies begins to appear.
AI becomes a recognisable ‘thing’ in this time period, with many jobs replaced by artificial intelligence, particularly in transport, health care and brokerage. There are significant amounts of the planet that are run without any human intervention at all.
The concept of ‘owning’ a car will seem very old-fashioned along with 9-5 working hours. This will be part of a changing zeitgeist world-wide as the ‘baby boomer’ generation and their thinking finally dies away. Constant ‘debt’ crisis force a change whereby rampant consumerism is replaced by a more pragmatic ‘value for money’ consideration. Credit, loans and debt become dirty words possibly due to a catastrophic financial crash and resultant restructuring.
There remains the strong possibility of a major world conflict in this time period. India and China capitalise on this and become the dominant economic entities, overtaking the United States by mid-century.
Environmental problems grow worse before getting better, with the melting of arctic sea ice and the widespread collapse of the Antarctic ice-shelves. Coastal flooding causes major upheaval. No sea ice at the north pole becomes the norm. Major displacement of some established coastal areas.
However there are signs for optimism as the end of the carbon economy favours different nations and those who have invested in alternative energy sources and modern infrastructure.
The next 500 years (2516)
Humanity is now wrestling with an ‘excess energy’ problem whereby energy production is so cheap and commonplace that excessive heat generation is a major global problem again. Climate engineering is a massive undertaking whereby the levels of greenhouse gases are being reduced to cater for the massive amounts of heat that global energy use is generating.
Small parts of Earth are now ‘off-limits’, marked as enclosures for what came to be known as ‘pure humans’ prior to the event known by historians as the ‘Schism’; in this, humanity separated into distinct cultural sects, characterised by their desire to use, or not, selective nano/bio/electronic technology to augment themselves.
The vast majority opted for the enhancements – there was a brief war, which was a forgone conclusion. All illness, mental and physical, deformities were banished as a result. Sex and other dimorphisms ceased to exist. Humans now are partly cybernetic and have abilities that would have been regarded as ‘superpowers’ to humans 500 years before – able to fly, withstand harm and survive extreme acceleration. ‘Purehumans’, without these enhancements, are allowed in the enclosures and left undisturbed to continue their existence. Most consider them fascinating ‘zoo animals’ with hugely limited lifespans and intelligence.
Mars and Venus have been terraformed for the convenience of migration from Earth. They will have been seeded with water from the Kuiper belt and perhaps with minor orbit alterations, courtesy of managed asteroids, to make them even more inhabitable.
Mining operations across the solarsystem will have transformed many moons and some planets, though the gas giants will look largely similar to 21st century eyes.
The next 5,000 years (7516)
Perhaps the most difficult, but certainly the most astonishing changes from the view point of the 21st century.
A major breakthrough in harnessing vacuum energy and a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the universe that eluded 21st century scientists in their entirety now provides the means for humanity to visit other solar systems.
Unlike the imagined crewed spacecraft of thousands of years ago, these ships are merely specialised augmented humans, with humanity’s intelligence, biology crafted into the ship itself. They require no crew, as they are the crew. Humanity explores the stars directly, not by means of primitive physical containers. Much of the galaxy has been mapped.
On Earth, the planet is unrecognisable. Gone is any indication of a transport system, or even major cities. Humanity’s technology is now so advanced that individuals have no need of ‘devices’ whether they are transports, housing, communications or sustenance. Thus the planet now looks utterly unspoilt, returned to an ‘Eden’ of legend. Every individual is utterly self-sufficient in all things.
Culture now revolves around the purest type of entertainment, the exchange of thought, dreams, stories and discovery. Freed from the need to fight to survive, humanity achieves unparalleled greatness.
About Drew Wagar
Drew is a British science fiction and fantasy author. He lives in Kent with his wife, two sons, a dog and a cat. His favourite colour is dark green. Everything else is subject to change without notice.
Drew has written many books, you can find out about them on his website: www.drewwagar.com
A world of eternal day and everlasting night, burning deserts and frozen wastes. A people exiled, seeking the truth about their past, long lost in vague, yet disturbing, myth and legend. Technology lost, then found again.
A realm of priestesses with remarkable powers and implacable purpose, who worship a powerful god; a star that blazes unchanging in the skies above. A star which is poised to unleash devastation upon them all.
Two Children are smuggled out of Scallia to save them from the feared witches of Drayden, but the ‘rescue’ doesn’t go well. Cast adrift with no memories of each other or their real family, both girls grow to adolescence friendless and destitute. All that stands between the sisters and brutal early deaths are the talents they barely know they possess... and can’t control.
Click here to buy Shadeward: Emanation from Amazon