humans are becoming more non-biological than biological
the average citizen has access to a wide array of biotechnology implants
and personal medical devices. These include fully artificial organs
that never fail, bionic eyes and ears providing Superman-like senses,
nanoscale brain interfaces which greatly augment the wearer's intelligence,
synthetic blood and bodily fluids which can filter deadly toxins and
provide hours' worth of oxygen in a single breath.
the more adventurous citizens are undergoing voluntary amputations to
gain prosthetic arms and legs which boost strength and agility by orders
of magnitude. There is even a form of artificial skin based on nanotech (which can be used to give the appearance of natural skin when applied
to metallic limbs).
upgrades have become available in a series of gradual, incremental steps
over preceding decades – such that today, they are pretty much taken
for granted. They are
now being utilised by a wide sector of society, with even those in developing
countries having access to at least some of the available upgrades due
to exponential trends in price performance.
If a fully
upgraded person of the 2080s were to travel back in time a century
and be integrated into the population, they would be superior in
every way imaginable. They could run faster than the greatest athletes
of the time, leaping and bounding tremendous distances; they could
survive multiple gunshot wounds; they could cope with some of the most
hostile environments on Earth without too much trouble. Intellectually,
they would put the likes of Albert Einstein and William Shakespeare
to shame – thanks to the hyperfast AI merged directly with their
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of a transatlantic tunnel is underway
from advanced automation and robots – and controlled by AI – this is among the largest, most ambitious engineering projects ever
undertaken. With hyperfast Maglev up to 4,000mph, passengers using the
tunnel can be delivered from Europe to America in under an hour.
nanotubes, along with powerful geo-sensing devices, have been paramount
in the structure's design – these can self-adjust in the event of undersea
earthquakes, for example. Also noteworthy is that the train cars operate
in a complete vacuum. This eliminates air friction, allowing hypersonic
speeds to be reached. The cost
of this project is in the region of $88-175bn.*
bears face extinction
2000 and 2050, polar bear numbers dropped by 70 percent, due to the
shrinking of ice sheets caused by global warming. By 2080, they have
disappeared from Greenland entirely - and from the northern Canadian
coast - leaving only dwindling numbers in the interior Arctic archipelago.*
few which remain, ice breaking up earlier in the year means they are
forced ashore before they have time to build up sufficient fat stores.
Others are forced to swim huge distances, which exhausts them, leading
to drowning. The effects of global warming have led to thinner, stressed
bears, decreased reproduction, and lower juvenile survival rates.
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in five lizard species are extinct
mass extinction is beginning to claim many exotic and well-known lizards.
One in five species are now extinct as a result of global warming. Lizards
are forced to spend more and more time resting and regulating their
body temperature, which leaves them unable to spend sufficient time
foraging for food.*
heatwaves plague Europe; traditional agriculture is decimated
greater than that seen in 2003 have become annual occurrences
by this time.*
peak of summer, temperatures in major cities such as London and Paris
reach over 40°C. In some of the more southerly parts of the continent,
temperatures of over 50°C are reported. Thousands are dying of heat
fires rage in many places* while prolonged,
ongoing droughts are causing many rivers to run permanently dry. Spain,
Italy and the Balkans are turning into desert nations, with climates
similar to North Africa.
effectively marks the end of traditional agriculture for many EU countries,
and sees the establishment of whole new farming systems based on carefully
controlled indoor environments. In the short term, this causes tremendous
social and economic disruption, but in the longer term is conducive
to the betterment of humanity.
USA cedes territory to Mexico
over two centuries, the United States effectively controlled the entire
North American continent. Its dominance throughout this time was unquestioned.
the late 21st century, however, its territorial integrity was being
challenged once again. By the early 2080s, four of its fifty states
had been ceded to Mexico.*
to this astonishing development?
would agree it began in the 2030s. America's shrinking labour supply
during this time led to the introduction of laws encouraging a massive
influx of immigrants. These came from all over the world - but a substantial
portion came from Mexico due to its geographical proximity and strong
cultural ties. Although many different ethnic groups would arrive, the
Mexicans would behave differently. It was this, combined with Mexico's
growing economic strength, that would lead to a slow but gradual shift
in the balance of North American power.*
immigrant groups from around the world became culturally integrated
with the USA. They fragmented and settled around the country, without
overwhelming any region or state.
from Mexico behaved differently, however. Many became integrated with
the USA - but unlike the other groups, they would always be in close
proximity to their homelands. With most settling in California, Arizona,
Texas and New Mexico, they were never more than a short journey from
the border. This fostered a growing intermingling of cultures in the
the social and economic links of the Mexican immigrants began to predominate,
to such an extent that they almost represented an extension of their homeland into the United States. These lands had once been
Mexican anyway - before the territory was taken by the US in the 19th
century - so they already held many characteristics of Mexican society
and culture. As the decades rolled by, with more and more immigrants
pouring into the country, this influence shifted ever northward. By
the middle of the century, states that had been 25% Mexican were now
over 50% Mexican, while states which had been 50% Mexican were now almost
entirely occupied by Mexicans.*
change was now an added factor, driving large numbers from the southern
parts of Mexico to head north, where food and water was more readily
of immigration solved the labour supply issue, and contributed to a
period of economic boom in the USA.
same time, however, a number of radical new technologies were in development:
technologies that would lead to a socio-political crisis in later years.
Chief amongst these was the growth of robotics. A range of highly versatile
machines had already been in military use since the 2030s. These began
spreading to consumer markets. By the 2060s, they were becoming sufficiently
powerful, intelligent and numerous to make vast numbers of civilian
reduced the need for immigration. Millions of workers were now permanently
displaced, without the skills to move into robotics support or maintenance.
Their previous roles were now being handled by machines that were not
only cheaper, but also faster and more productive than any human. Manufacturing,
mining, building and construction trades, mechanical work, maintenance
and a host of other roles were being dominated by robots.
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began to soar, exacerbated by advances in longevity which meant that
workers were now remaining active longer than ever before. This combination
of increased labour pool and redundant workers meant that immigration
into America had become a problem rather than a solution.
government began limiting its intake of immigrants and addressing the
economic imbalance. This would prove disastrous for the poor and working
class, however: especially those in the borderlands.
2070s, Mexico was emerging as a major regional power. It now had a balanced
and mature economy ranked eighth in the world, along with a stable population,
a relatively high standard of living, and growing military power. Mexican
nationalism had already been on the rise. Combined with the turmoil
now unfolding in the southwestern USA (including the forced repatriation
of many immigrants), this began spilling into outright anti-Americanism.
continued to grow. A critical mass had been reached, with most of the
immigrants regarding themselves as a separate entity within the USA
- linked to and part of Mexico itself, but under foreign domination.
An annexation movement began to arise. Army troops on both sides began
to mobilise and patrol the border. American citizens viewed the radicalisation
of the south with increasing fear.
political battles ensued between Washington and Mexico City. Both sides
made it clear that neither desired war. It also became clear that the
Mexican president - in effect - was negotiating on behalf of American
citizens of Mexican origin within the United States. The recognition
of a distinct nation living within the USA appeared inevitable, with
no chance of a return to the status quo.
early 2080s, following years of negotiations, the matter was finally
settled. The country of Mexico had been expanded to include California,
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas: effectively reclaiming its 19th century
territorial status of Mexico and the USA, 2082.
to Moore's Law, $1000 of computing power is now equivalent to a
billion Earth's worth of human brains.* Laptop-sized
computers of today can perform the equivalent of all human thought over
the last ten thousand years in less than ten microseconds. Technology
is progressing so fast that – in order for people to comprehend it – neural upgrades have become necessary on a regular basis.
Credit: Ray Kurzweil
are entering law enforcement
autonomous, mobile robots with human-like features and expressions are
being deployed in many cities now.* These androids are highly intelligent - able to operate in almost any
environment and dealing with a range of duties. In addition to their
powerful sensory and communication abilities, they have access to bank
accounts, tax, travel, shopping and criminal records, allowing them
to instantly identify people on the street.
of these machines is freeing-up a tremendous amount of time for human
officers. They are
also being used in crowd control and riot situations. With its inhuman
strength and speed, a single android is highly intimidating and can
easily take on dozens of people if necessary. Special controls are featured
in their programming, however, to prevent the use of excessive force.
Five-year survival rates for brain tumours are reaching 100%
Because of their invasive and infiltrative nature in the limited space of the intracranial cavity, brain tumours were once considered a death sentence. Detection usually occurred in advanced stages when the presence of the tumor had caused unexplained symptoms. Glioblastoma multiforme – the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans – had a median survival period of only 12 months from diagnosis, even with aggressive radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgical excision.
In the 21st century, however, detection and treatment methods improved greatly with nano-robotics, gene therapy and technologies able to scan, analyse and run emulations of complete brains in astonishing detail. Alongside this was the gradual emergence of "transhumans", who began utilising permanent implants in their brains and bodies, alerting them to the first signs of danger. Towards the end of this century, five-year survival rates for brain cancer are approaching 100% in many countries, the US being among the first.**
now, the vast majority of countries have adopted a single, global currency.
The USA is among the last developed nations to do so. International business is now fairer, more efficient and more stable. Problems with inflation which had plagued some economies in the past are eliminated. The poor are no longer being hurt by the impacts of currency fluctuations.
the most impoverished societies are now cashless. For the typical citizen
of today, transactions take place without any need for physical coinage,
notes or cards, instead being achieved by on-person
nanotech. A large portion of the world's GDP now comes from goods and services produced
entirely online, often within highly sophisticated virtual environments. Full immersion VR is impacting on real world commerce, as more and more
people become willing to utilise the necessary bio-implants.
today invest more time and money in their virtual home than they do
in their actual, physical home. This is especially true of those living
in China, India and Japan - where cities are so dense, overcrowded and
expensive that many residents are forced to live in pod-like structures,
cubicles or shared rooms. The online world offers a welcome escape from
this stressful way of life. Indistinguishable from reality, a person's
virtual home can appear as a gigantic mansion, in exotic and beautiful
surroundings, decorated in whatever style the occupant desires, with many
luxurious items of furniture. Being entirely digital, these can be bought
for a fraction of the cost of their real world counterparts.
teleportation is achieved
experiments in quantum entanglement - made possible by AI and picotechnology - have yielded major breakthroughs. It is now possible to teleport macro-scale
objects from one location to another. The objects being tested are still
very small (e.g. grains of sand), but are nevertheless visible to the
naked eye, and retain their original structure following the procedure.*
exploration of the Jovian system
sail technology, nuclear pulse propulsion and other forms of rapid space
travel have seen major advances in recent decades.* Together with greatly reduced launch costs and improved access to low-Earth
orbit, this is making it financially and technically feasible to conduct
manned exploration of Jupiter.
one expedition to the gas giant has been attempted by now. This is a
privately funded venture, with only a small number of crew onboard,
and succeeds in rendezvousing with a moon of Jupiter* in addition to orbitting the planet itself.
JHU-APL, Southwest Research Institute