- by Gitabushi
I think there are a number of good topics to be explored in a rigorously-projected near future. Do any of these appeal to you to try to write yourself?
Post-Scarcity. To some extent, the United States is already a post-scarcity society. There are a few things that point to it, depending on your definition of “scarcity” and “post-scarcity.” For example, the poor in the United States (and most of the Western world) struggle with obesity, rather than starvation. Homelessness is usually due to inability to maintain a stable life, rather than being unable to afford any place to live. We throw everything away, often before it reaches the end of its usable lifespan, including some advanced electronics and clothes. The basics of life are pretty much assured, and even the poor in the US have smart-phones, which provide unprecedented access to more information and entertainment than existed in the entire world prior to 1995.
But from another perspective, energy is wealth. If you have enough energy, you can do anything, from changing the orbit of a planet to transmuting lead to gold, to approaching 99.99999% of light speed (or maybe even breaking that barrier, somehow). So as long as energy has a cost, perhaps you don’t have true scarcity. So what happens when/if cheap fusion becomes reality? The energy from one makes it cheaper to build a second, and so on, until energy is virtually costless. What kind of society does this create?
Now consider robots and computers. Robots are getting sophisticated enough to replace humans in all sorts of dangerous and menial tasks. I don’t think Artificial Intelligence will really ever become Sentient/Aware or develop a survival instinct, but AI will start succeeding in any number of tasks that currently require human thinking, like language translation, creation of art, designing buildings and machines. What happens when there is no work at all for humans to do? Contrary to what Socialists (and to be fair, Capitalists) insist, wealth and resources are necessary, but not sufficient, for a good life. We will still sort along neatness/organization, cleanliness, emotional stability. What does a society look like where everyone has an equal chance for a prosperous life via ubiquitous resources, but still sorts into Elite and lower classes?
Robot Apocalypse. What if I’m wrong about AI developing self-awareness and a survival urge, but more than one AI has that ability. They may see other AI as big of a threat as humans, or bigger, and so it won’t actually be a Total War of Extermination Between Man and Machine, but rather a war where humans are sometimes the target, sometimes an ally, sometimes a pawn, all between various factions of AI. Would the AI stick to one mode, like the SexBots vs the Home Networks, or would Home Networks vie with Industrial Monitoring/Control Systems to develop the better SexBot to induce humans to be allies?
Robot Apocalypse II. Is there a way humans could survive against AI, if it were to come down to a war of elimination? Robots are stronger, faster, think faster, have less fragile life support needs, have senses so far beyond ours and will be able to find and target us no matter what sort of masking we use (can see in so many different spectra, camouflage will be useless, but can also develop algorithms for detecting human movement or even the sound of human body cycles). Is there even a chance humans could survive something like the SkyNet of the Terminator movie, even without cyborgs or time travel?
Cyborg Enhancements to the Brain. What will it be like, really, to have cyborg memory additions? So in the future, you can plug in a USB drive to your brain, and store memories. Will they be artificially crisp, being stored digitally rather than synaptically? What will it feel like to store a memory in your flash drive, remove the drive, and then try to remember? People have covered digital memories and AI-linked brains before. But none have ever tried to imagine what it might feel like, and described it in an immersive manner.
In any case, I think these are all beyond my writing ability at this time. Maybe you can write them. Or maybe I’ll get there someday.