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An illustrated speculative timeline of future technology and social change

How advances in technology
may reshape humanity

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Image of an air-cushion riding sports car of the future.Image of a biotech-based flying saucer-shaped floating home of the future.Image of the ultimate high tech, super-powered, physical body of the future.Image of a flying recreational vehicle from the 22nd century.

Image of a lifting body airliner from the mid-21st century.Image of an air-cushion riding recreational vehicle from the mid-21st century.

a - j r m o o n e y h a m . c o m - o r i g i n a l
Digital hourglass

This signposts document consists of two separate but closely related works: this timeline and perspectives on the future.

The timeline offers a general outline of our possible future history, and is somewhat conservative and circumscribed in what it offers the reader. The timeline is meant to be the 'harder' (or more factual/credible) of the two works, in terms of science and predictions. But this also means the timeline must be more generalized, more risk-averse-- and also peter out entirely as we venture into the deep, deep future, where everything must ultimately give way to outrageous guesswork (partly due to technology advancing to levels indistinguishable from magic, as a famous quote by scientist and author Arthur C. Clarke suggests).

Perspectives takes up where the timeline leaves off, offering up a heftier dose of speculation about what the future may bring than is suitable in the timeline. Perspectives helps illustrate some of the possibilities implied by the timeline, as well as how certain select personalities of various periods might perceive (and exploit or respond to) their circumstances. Perspectives also includes facts and speculation about mankind's past. Virtually all credible historians and archaeologists agree that there's many puzzles and mysteries regarding our past that have yet to be resolved.

CLICK HERE to travel into the PAST via perspectives

Both the timeline and perspectives take an optimistic view of humanity's possible future. Therefore, they largely ignore or heavily discount the many threats to humanity's survival and prosperity which currently exist, and appear to be mounting almost by the day. Not the least of the risks sidestepped here stem from the latest findings of SETI and related astronomical research. For it appears most (perhaps even all) technological civilizations in our galaxy destroy themselves not long after they reach our current stage of development (and well before they could ever experience a Vinge technological singularity). The references supporting this conclusion may be found in my separate study The rise and fall of star faring civilizations. For my current best recommendations as to how we might avoid a similar fate, please see Civilization's best defenses against war, terrorism, technological stagnation, and economic ruin. For a somewhat philosophical perspective, please see The war for our destiny.

2001 AD-2049 AD: Human civilization is rocked by technological upheaval and growing uncertainties...

2009 AD-2017 AD: The net reshapes the world; 'perfect' organ replacements for the wealthy; contagious insanity; the introduction of 'second skins'; and the rise of the vigilantes

The internet permeates our lives and begins radically reshaping our institutions, even as breakthroughs in other fields promise fundamental changes in living standards and all future human endeavor; personal computing gets still more powerful even as costs drop further; net users in the developed nations are becoming increasingly isolated in terms of typical historical human interaction; the first crude 'second skin' applications arrive; some forms of insanity and other surprising afflictions prove to be literally contagious; the danger of mass effect biochemical weapons use peaks for most developed states; the wealthy enjoy 'perfect' organ replacements; there are significant increases in the numbers of people taking to the sea to live and work; vigilante organizations rise in prominence and influence.

2018 AD-2025 AD: Consumer robotics and personal virtual realities go mainstream

Personal virtual realities are taking marketshare from TV, radio, films, and other media; near paperless offices, wireless appliances becoming the norm; consumer robotics go mainstream; do-it-yourself medical care becoming ever more practical and effective for many ailments; adequate hardware to support human level intelligence at consumer level prices becomes available (but suitable software remains elusive).

The true source of this page is

2026 AD-2049 AD: Accelerated environmental decline, increased religious conflict, and a wholesale plunge into VR by citizens in the developed nations (to escape mounting stresses)

The emergence of the 'Bounty Economy'; rampant identity theft and other cybercrimes lead to the first and most important privacy vs. security issues being resolved; substantial religion-related conflict erupts; budgetary priorities undergo fierce turf fights in the developed nations, with education and other consumer services usually winning; the human senses are technologically expanded in wondrous new ways; the final elements fall into place to allow software-based human level intelligence to become widely available; 98% of all cancers become curable; mini-subs and STOL/VTOL warplanes (both unmanned) are the cutting edge of warfare; tactical nuclear, biological, and space-based weapons use in conflicts not uncommon; traditional aircraft carriers now obsolete; troops enjoy numerous micromachine-based aids and supplements; environmental decline due to pollution, accidents, terrorism, war, and excessive harvests becomes alarmingly obvious now, but business continues to actively lobby governments for minimal regulatory remedies.

Beyond 2049 AD

Beautiful woman scientist and seductress of the future in an orange jump suit.

Once upon a time there was a science fiction story. A story so ambitious in scope it required substantial research just to define its boundaries: the ultimate limits of technology, and human potential.

This timeline is the result of that research project.

The Chance of a Realtime is the story. Now available for Amazon Kindles and Kindle apps:

Cover art for the ebook A Shock to the System, volume one of The Chance of a Realtime.

Cover art for the ebook Meeting of the Minds, volume two of The Chance of a Realtime.

Cover art for the ebook The Madness of Dreamers, volume three of The Chance of a Realtime.

To see the larger context from which the story springs, you can examine this illustrated index.

Beautiful high tech white sorceress of the future.

For breaking news about our possible futures, I recommend these blogs:

| Inhabitat | FuturePundit | World changing ideas and innovation | Next Big Future |

ATTENTION science fiction writers: One of the reasons I created the signposts document in the first place was to help nurture the creation of 'hard' science fiction across-the-board. Nothing so ruins a science fiction novel for many readers as a glaring implausibility, either in terms of technology or a reasonable historical order to events. Even small errors of this sort tend to get magnified with the passage of time-- as can be witnessed today in much science fiction written five, ten, and twenty years ago. Plus, the 'harder' or more grounded in real science and history your fiction is, the more truly educational it will be for both yourself and your readers, thus possibly offering us all much more than momentary entertainment, in the form of knowledge and ideas which might aid us all in our own lives and pursuits. So I encourage writers to use this chronology as a springboard from which to launch their own speculative fiction, with perhaps inclusion of a note acknowledging me and my web site where appropriate. Any caveats? Yes. Please respect my own fictional efforts by avoiding more than passing references to my Perspectives characters (J. Staute, Kerri, Cluke, the Pearsalls, etc., etc.). And if such references to my characters are included in your work, please do not make any significant changes to the course of those events or actions specifically ascribed to them here (unless of course your story explicitly describes an alternate or parallel universe or dimension(s), distinct and separate from that portrayed on my site). If you feel strongly that a particular event in the signposts document requires correction or improvement of some sort, please email me about it. Second caveat? The signposts document may be updated or expanded as warranted by breaking news and ideas and thus is always subject to significant change without warning (though I always strive to maintain as much consistency and feasibility as possible throughout). -- J.R.M.

Copyright © 1993-2012 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.