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The Signposts Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change
2050 AD-2081 AD

World population is leveling off and getting older; software complexity is being overcome via directed evolution techniques, even as growing social complexity now makes consensus and across-the-board change tougher to manage; the power of flight is becoming available to everyone

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2040s-2050s milestone: True 'automobility' finally becomes available to all

Author's Note: This lengthy section has been moved to allow greater expansion in text and graphics. Please click here to view the 2040s-2050s automobility section.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2040s-2050s milestone: By now, what remains of the world's rainforests have either been nationalized or commercialized/privatized...

...by a cooperative of environmental organizations/investors and biotech companies, or these in combination with local governments, devoted both to exploiting the wealth of genetic information found there as well as preserving these most rich pockets of life on Earth.

These developments are also serving to advance the living standards of the regions involved (small portions of central africa, south and central america, and southeast asia).

Though mostly hopes for incremental advances in medical and agricultural technologies drive these investments from the financial side, they also benefit somewhat unexpectedly from global crises involving shortages of commodities like rubber and other items, due to various techno-political and biological problems of the period.

The ongoing mass extinctions of the present might be mitigated somewhat by focusing available resources into preserving those remaining regions which boast the greatest global proportion of diversity in lifeforms, or biodiversity "hotspots". At present 25 such locations occupying just 1.4% of the planet's dry land surface overall houses nearly half of the world's higher plant forms and about a third of land vertebrate species. 38% of these areas already were protected at least somewhat by early 2000. The most important spots at this time may include the Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Madagascar, the Caribbean, and the forests of Brazil. It is estimated that much of the protective measures required could be accomplished for around $500 million annually over the next five years.

It appears that it would require a minimum of five million years for new species to replace those that could go extinct in these hotspots, if they go unprotected.

-- Islands of hope to challenge extinction By Alex Kirby, BBC News | SCI/TECH, 23 February, 2000, http://www.bbc.co.uk

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2050 milestone: Mid-sized and smaller local news organizations (such as newspaper publishers) have undergone a revolution in many regions of USAmerica and other developed nations

Lower profits, the net, and micropayment systems have mostly killed the mid-range of the newspaper business in all but the biggest markets (major cities) by this time. And radically changed smaller news gathering organizations.

Here's a snapshot of the status quo in USAmerica circa 2050:

Mainstream national and international news media today is under tighter control by mega-corporations than ever before (although the conglomerates have less of a stranglehold on entertainment). Virtual newscasters, supported by state-of-the-art artificial intelligences, rule the medium. True and objective whistle-blowing by such media companies is a rarity now-- but for cases where they are exposing problems with competitors to their own parent company, or some official or sector of government deemed inimical to the parent company's interests.

By 2000 in USAmerica large corporations had already bought out most of the biggest and most well known media brands. Thus, the previous checks on corporate excess by the press via investigative reporting and opinion were fast disappearing.

-- Slashdot | Features | Seattle Postscript by JonKatz, December 17, 1999, http://slashdot.org/

Such monolithic media empires also tend to treat smaller domestic markets with the same disdain once reserved only for impoverished foreign countries (i.e., ignore them).

Society itself is still adapting to the wrenching economic changes of past decades, with a continuing migration of some people into centralized arcologies/mall cities, and others into the perpetual mobility of large vehicles (50 years before labeled 'recreational vehicles') serving as their primary homes.

Substantial job opportunities exist at both ends: lots of people today work from home, both fixed or mobile, via the internet. Daily commutes by car to distant workplaces still exists, but has been on the decline for a long time now; typically long commutes are the realm of either very high or very low paid employees today. An adverse outdoor environment due to pollution and other matters strongly discourages daily commutes and frequent long distance journeys-- as well as outdoors recreation. Those who live in truly mobile homes today usually do so out of economic necessity rather than desire, and usually remain parked for months or years at a time in enormous structures specially built to house and service such communities. Tourism has fell through the floor for most areas, with the small seasonal spikes now becoming precious indeed to local brick and mortar establishments.

The net is ubiquitous. Some citizens possess implanted net links and mind enhancements. Net connected displays are everywhere; in many older buildings windows have been replaced by large net displays, sometimes two-sided on ground floors so street passers by are also assaulted by the advertising.

There is much social and political turmoil. All over the world the threat of nations breaking up essentially into hundreds or thousands of more or less independent city-states looms ever larger on the political landscape. USAmerica is no exception, regardless of ongoing attempts by politicians to stop it.

Despite the self-serving and heavy-handed filtering performed by mainstream media to make all news serve a parent company's best interests (as well as cater to the AI-determined psychological buttons of consumers), and the personal filtering citizens themselves use to strain the information/propaganda deluge, the population in general is better informed and more skeptical of corporate and government provided info than many late 20th century pundits would have expected. One reason is that everyone today is forced to be more entrepreneurial and opportunistic than in the past. The enormous rate of change in the present and past decades has also taught the population to stay on their toes. Plus, the decimation of many social institutions in past decades is forcing people to create new ones to replace them. Truth and accurate factual information are just as important as money to such work.

However, it is also true that today a significant portion of people spend much time in environments so sheltered/filtered or heavily modified that they are often seriously out of touch with reality. Those most prone to this phenomena include the very young undergoing intensive full immersion V.R. (virtual reality) accelerated learning, the retired/elderly, and mentally ill or injured, and a large portion of the wealthy. Some middle-class and upper-middle class citizens who possess 'great jobs' for the time may also become isolated this way due to the highly processed nature of their work-- as real life problems are translated into fantasy dilemmas by A.I.s (artificial intelligences) to allow employees to work in the manner and environment most desirable and productive for them. The A.I.s then transform worked out solutions to apply them to the real world. The system isn't perfect but seems to work at least a bit better in many cases than more traditional methods.

For those folks excessively isolated from reality, an important source of truth and more diversified news tends to be their close family and friends, and co-workers and teachers. There are also considerable followings for a few thousand socio-metric stars at all levels (local, national, and international), who become trusted by many to integrate lots of diverse news and information elements into their daily lives and future plans. You might call these stars 'gurus'. These gurus are the only serious competition the A.I.-supported virtual personalities of the mega-corporate media face today (but even some of the gurus themselves are virtual too-- this can at times be difficult for consumers to detect or verify).

The increasing disconnect between mainstream media and many local communities is combining with a similar schism between local communities and centralized government agencies to pave the way for political revolution. The tidal wave of the net already brought about an economic revolution in decades past; now society and its politics need to catch up. Obtaining consensus on anything beyond the most specific and narrowly limited issue today is increasingly problem-prone. One consequence is vastly increased activism on a grass roots level-- which at times leads to vigilantism. Fortunately, the more extreme actions taken are usually aimed at the faraway governments and mega-corporations rather than local establishments.

Increasingly frequent technological and social upheaval is the emerging order of the day now. The ongoing pace of technological and economic change makes this virtually inevitable. Fortunately this instability helps reduce the effectiveness of the mega-corporate control of mainstream media to manipulate the public-- at least on occasion.

As much of the upheaval first shows itself in the small local markets that the mega corporate media ignores, in this way are the mega-corporations blindsided time and time again by changes in the marketplace and public opinion.

The economics of the net and other technologies hollowed out many local communities in many ways. Global competition moved many low skilled manufacturing jobs to the other side of the world. Low skilled service sector jobs are increasingly taken by robots or other automation. Big changes in travel, work, and delivery have decimated the restaurant and hotel industries, as well as retail stores-- even the giant discount stores which covered USAmerica like a carpet 50 years before have been forced to retreat from many regions.

Certain types of factories today tend to be smaller than decades past, and nearer to both their customer base and local labor pool than before-- such as major metropolitan centers-- and prefer to house employees in arcologies either integrated into the factory itself or else located in close proximity to same.

E-villages and various other advanced types of communities are under design and construction in USAmerica in 2001. Local businesses, schools, and utilities are all collaborating in the creation of some of these communities.

-- Keeping Up With the E-Joneses by Andy Patrizio, Feb. 9, 2001, Wired Digital Inc.

Let us examine how rural areas in USAmerica have coped with these trends:

In many cases local banks and newspapers partnered to become important internet service providers for their area. This next generation news and financial organization has also become the predominant searchable clearinghouse/yellow pages/classified ads source for local services (there are few goods coming from local sources-- mostly second-hand vehicles and appliances).

With volume physical retail sales practically disappearing locally, and the net allowing nearby towns to strongly compete in offerings across the board, low volume-high margin items like new and used cars and real estate and construction projects became much more important to local economies. Closer, more cooperative arrangements between such local enterprises and local news/financial institutions became commonplace.

The combination of all these arrangements streamlined local commerce by allowing one-stop interactive searches of virtually the entire inventory of homes, autos, and other durable goods in the vicinity, as well as convenient loan and payment procedures to procure them. More transparency regarding quality and problems with these items also came about, resulting in higher consumer satisfaction and fairer pricing overall. The added shopping convenience also helped keep more transactions and profits in the local economy, rather than exporting them externally.

With the jobs situation in so much flux the revamped local news organizations have become de facto talent agents representing their local citizenry, as well as the region (in terms of tourism and economic development), in a never-ending attempt to draw more income and enterprises to the vicinity-- or else uncover telecommuting opportunities which might enrich the community without the need to export people or other resources.

The worst appears to be over in the local news sector now-- at least for a while. The pace of change has slowed here, taking its sharp knives to other industries instead now.

Local news organizations now provide a wealth of 'free' services and products to their constituents. Anyone who wants it gets free internet service (so long as the org may track their net surfing). This in effect makes the news org the main shopfront for the entire region. Local banking may also be done free with the service (assuming certain minimum requirements are met).

But to access other, more valuable offerings from the org, consumers must become paying subscribers. Subscription brings:

Enhanced employment and self-employment opportunities. The org promotes you online and constantly searches for jobs you may like, informing you whenever it finds one. It also provides local facilities whereby you may help create news or educational content for the org, and which may be sold into other markets as well, with you getting a cut of any proceeds garnered. Many citizens earn enough through this venue to never have to pay out of their pocket for their org subscription. A few even make a good living from this alone.

The org's local content production studios have become integrated with private library and research facilities in many places; so another benefit is often access to deep research resources, which includes archives of local information not generally available elsewhere. This feature helps local news orgs stand on the frontline of consumer/employee activism against mega-corporations-- and many orgs possess their own custom A.I.s to aid with such endeavors, too.

E-villages and various other advanced types of communities are under design and construction in USAmerica in 2001. Local businesses, schools, and utilities are all collaborating in the creation of some of these communities.

-- Keeping Up With the E-Joneses by Andy Patrizio, Feb. 9, 2001, Wired Digital Inc.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Elements like the above make some local news orgs important nodes in the emerging virtual states. END NOTE.

Special, limited offers from local vendors not available to non-subscribers.

Limited but free advertising rights in the org's publications, and discounts on other advertising options.

Live 24 hour online help to solve local personal problems and track down possible solutions or desired information off the net (some restrictions apply).

A wealth of online educational and training opportunities, free and otherwise (often exploiting locally made content and pushing local employment opportunities along the way).

Privacy and identity protections and net filtering services not commonly available through more 'generic' net providers.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Readers may notice that this element and others help put many local news orgs on the front line in privacy and identity theft issues, among others. END NOTE.

Some orgs may make available to subscribers searchable databases of 'ratings' or 'reviews' of past and ongoing relationships with many named local citizens (this typically in large cities and not small towns), as well as conviction and accident logs, and public life histories of known accomplishments by such folks.

Some orgs will act as intermediaries for anonymous online encounters and discussions which can only lead to real life meetings if both participants notify the news organization first (note that this can help prevent inappropriate meetings between two people, such as when only one is a minor; other ISP-related measures here may include automated deletion of personal info like true names and physical addresses from anonymous chats, and more).

As local ISPs, these orgs are in unique positions to help 'shield' locals from privacy invasion by outsiders, mega-corporations, and unauthorized snooping of government agencies-- and sell single uses of personal info to outsiders only with the permission of subscribers, as well as sharing the profits with them. Email is routinely encrypted, etc., etc. The orgs also are better able to filter content for adults and children due to being closer and knowing more about every subscriber than many other entities could.


Most modern local news organizations possess relatively few permanent employees. Instead, they depend heavily upon input from subscribers and free-lancers.

Professional journalists today are typically free-lancers or the heads of their own small, highly mobile teams. In a wired world where people in general are cutting back on travel, journalists must often increase their own.

Many new reporters today get their start as live feed/experience journalists/enabled public witnesses. That is, they wear special clothing or bear implants which may automatically transmit everything they see and hear and smell and touch to news consumers-- many of which possess virtual reality gear to fully exploit such rich content. Those lesser equipped consumers can still get plain video and audio and realtime text transcripts of any language heard or expressed by the witness. Typically live feeds include little or no extraneous commentary or analysis by the reporter. Such public witnesses are somewhat redundant with the ubiquity of TEA (Total Event Archival) monitors present in most public locations and many private ones of the developed nations. But still a mobile witness such as this often gathers information and images not captured by the TEA system. Being a live feed witness of course can be dangerous at times. But it can also be highly profitable, with large bonuses or royalties of indefinite spans usually being awarded to witnesses who happen to be present at events of unanticipated historic significance.

One good way to picture the role of local news orgs today is to think of them and their subscribers as a mixture of labor union, community, and often wholly employee-owned corporation.

-- What's Next? , MEDIA STUDIES JOURNAL Volume 13, Number 2, Spring/Summer 1999, Robert Giles, Editor in Chief, found or or about 12-2-99, The Freedom Forum; http://www.mediastudies.org may be a relevant URL

Author Diane Coyle describes a local organized bartering system for increasing local economic power and opportunity which sounds much like what I discuss above. Coyle describes these systems as effectively alternative currencies, which seems an intriguing concept. Coyle also expresses the notion that future governments will need to do more to help their citizens with risk, change, and uncertainty, as well as the prospect that in the future much political power may have to shift from federal and state levels to more localized vicinities.

The book New Rules for a New Economy observes the possible need for a new type of labor union to help strengthen workers' positions in the globally expanding marketplace.

-- The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Business Week: October 19, 1998 Books; TAKING THE MEASURE OF THE `NEW ECONOMY' BY MICHAEL J. MANDEL

NEW RULES FOR THE NEW ECONOMY 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World By Kevin Kelly Viking

THE WEIGHTLESS WORLD Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy By Diane Coyle MIT

NEW RULES FOR A NEW ECONOMY Employment and Opportunity in Postindustrial America By Stephen Herzenberg, John Alic, & Howard Wial Cornell

-- Business 2.0: December 1999: The Next 1000 Years: STOP THE PRESSES! Moderated by James Ryan, http://www.business2.com/

E-villages and various other advanced types of communities are under design and construction in USAmerica in 2001. Local businesses, schools, and utilities are all collaborating in the creation of some of these communities.

-- Keeping Up With the E-Joneses by Andy Patrizio, Feb. 9, 2001, Wired Digital Inc.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2050 milestone: Directed evolution designs are combining with other breakthoughs to take human life and endeavor to a whole new plateau of possibilities

In the late 20th century it went by many names, such as evolutionary computation, genetic algorithms, evolution strategy, evolutionary programming, and directed evolution, among others. By 2050 the practice has become embedded across the board in all aspects of significant design and development work, rapidly accelerating the pace of innovation overall. Other breakthroughs-- such as in artificial intelligence, materials, and power supplies-- are also playing a strong role. The world is now reaching a whole new level of technological sophistocation and capabilities which would be breath-taking to observers from the late 20th century. By far the largest effects to date however are in the areas of automation of daily life and routines, and the much improved working, educational, and training conditions for many around the world.

Efficiency and productivity measures by geopolitical entities have had to be revamped several times over past decades to better keep up with the results of the new leap forward in technological capabilities. Indeed, at least one scandal of sorts develops wherein certain parties conspire to distort such estimates to prevent or lessen feared political and socio-economic consequences due to the numbers looking too good.

Some dare to suggest that future productivity measures may have to be valued along a scale similar to that used to describe earthquake strength and similar phenomena. But of course, by 2050 the actual progress made doesn't quite yet require such a drastic adjustment to measuring methods.

Directed evolution and other innovations have made true cost inflation in most items and services to be reduced by a full magnitude compared to the reality of the late 20th century. Indeed, the management of long term deflation in many sectors has become much more of a focus for governments and business over past decades, than inflation. The losers in the deflation trend scream for new laws and subsidies to slow or shore up their reversing fortunes, while the winners claim undue government prejudice in the new regulations regarding them, and unfair subsidization of their major competitors.

However, there now exists such a thing as intense 'spot' inflations and deflations which still cause considerable turmoil in financial markets, above and beyond the long term tendencies. These often as not are spawned by media-driven spot shortages in certain fad-type items, wherein a sizeable portion of the entire planet suddenly decides a particular item is a must-have for some reason. Also somewhat frequently the unexpected appearance of a category-killing new product or service devastates some company or industry, or even a national government-- at least in the short term-- resulting in inflation/deflation problems in terms of currency or some niche of the markets. For many years various geo-political entities attempt to prevent or reduce such effects, often only to see their efforts do greater long term harm than what might have transpired otherwise.

-- USNews: Putting evolution to work on the assembly line ["http://www.usnews.com:80/usnews/issue/980727/27evol.htm"] BY CHARLES W. PETIT; Science 7/27/98

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2050s: By now the fantasy of people 'speaking from beyond the grave' may literally have come true...

...at least where memories are concerned. The recall of murder victims might now be plumbed to build criminal cases against their killers. Though this notion seemed quite fantastic back in 2000, it was never-the-less expected to become fact by 2020 by some. It didn't, because of the fact that no two human minds encode or access memories in exactly the same way-- much as cancer variants can be unique in many ways to each sufferer, so too may be memory and recall. This made for slow progress in the field for decades.

Though it has finally became feasible and sufficiently economical to do where desired, it still plays a surprisingly small role in criminal cases, due to the fact it simply is seldom needed. Other technologies have also advanced, thereby lessening the relative value of eye witness accounts from murder or accident victims themselves. Then there is the fallibility of memories to deal with as well. Even living witnesses are not always reliable in their observations or memories; the memories of the dead share many of the same drawbacks.

From experiments it appears relatively easy for false memories to take root in the human mind. The powers of anticipation, suggestion, and passion may all be readily utilized to power the mechanism of false memories implantation.

-- MALLEABLE MEMORIES, From Science Frontiers #111, MAY-JUN 1997 by William R. Corliss, citing Anonymous; "Psychologists Plant 'Illusions of Memory'," Baltimore Sun, February 16, 1997

Long term human memory storage and recall relating to experiences involving fear are unstable, subject to significant alteration every time they are accessed. This actual chemical change in the storage of long term memories every time they are accessed may be what opens the door to modification of such memories by way of suggestion and other means. Entirely false memories could be created via such a mechanism.

-- NYU neuroscientists find long-term memories are surprisingly unstable and impermanent, 16 AUGUST 2000, EurekAlert!, Contact: josh plaut josh.plaut@nyu.edu 212-998-6797 New York University. A related research report is scheduled to appear as "Fear memories require protein synthesis in the amygdala for reconsolidation after retrieval" in the August 17th issue of Nature.

False memories can be easier to recall and seem more certain to people than true memories-- at least where the false memories seem to provide easier or more direct access to the perceived core concept or theme of a given event than actual memories do-- the mind will tend to choose the 'easier path' to the gist of the matter.

Common interrogation techniques used by police in USAmerica circa the late 20th century tend to create and strengthen false memories regarding witnessed events as well as increase general inaccuracies overall in real memories, since they do not take into account the natural human response to such techniques. Widespread psychotherapy techniques of the time sport similar flaws.

Detailed memories fade more rapidly than gist memories over time.

-- Tests Show False Memories More Potent Than Real Ones ["http://unisci.com/stories/19984/1102981.htm"], 2-Nov-1998, http://unisci.com

Research has shown that every person tends to have a different perspective on events and thus a differently formed memory of the same event than others. Most people seem to also modify their memories of events over and over again, perhaps mostly without realizing it, but sometimes consciously as well-- at least where opportunity and perhaps encouragement of same is provided them. Personal expectations or desires also seem to play a prominent role in the reshaping of memories over time.

Making a conscious effort to remember something seems more prone to modifying a given memory than recalling it more spontaneously.

Distortions of memory sometimes occur similarly as to how human myths and legends are thought to have often come about-- the memory of some actual event or intriguing idea becomes exaggerated or expanded upon in some way during recall, and this expansion may happen again and again, whenever the memory is called forth once more.

A phenomena known as 'hindsight bias' may also skew the recall of original events by modifying the remembered certainty or uncertainty regarding certain events, ideas, or details in the past, based on what a witness has learned since regarding that same item.

A related element indicates that-- where a person possesses little information themselves regarding the subject-- they will come to believe any statement they hear repeated often enough about it, if no disagreement or other information conflicting with the statement is also witnessed.

The more often a memory of the past is replayed, the easier it is to change that memory-- perhaps to something else entirely.

In experiments approximately 20% of test subjects developed false childhood memories due to suggestions from scientists, friends, or family members. Some people may be more susceptible to such things than others, for a variety of reasons, including better visualization skills, a desire to conform to the suggestions of others, and/or simply better memory capture of all such ideas they encounter around them.

Some experts argue that while it is easy to create false memories of events a given person will deem plausible in the context of their personal life history, both conscious and unconscious, it may be more difficult to create false memories of events which don't fit that historical context quite as well-- such as false memories of childhood sexual abuse where none actually took place. That is not to say it is impossible-- merely that it would take more effort. This may be related to the idea that a hypnotized person cannot be successfully ordered to do something too far afield of their own conscious convictions and goals-- such as an act of murder might be for most people.

-- Remembrance of Things False By BRUCE BOWER , Science News Online, August 24, 1996, Science News Online, Science Service, Inc.

Memories of shocking or very surprising events were once considered to be handled in special ways by the human brain that made them more long-lasting, detailed, and accurate over the long term than other memories. Recent research indicates this is not true.

In research covering the quality of recall over roughly three years following the events to be remembered, memory errors and distortions were the worst some 32 months after a witnessed event. Paradoxically, people were much more confident of their recall accuracy after 32 months (when their accuracy was at its worst) than earlier, at 15 months, when their accuracy was truly better.

The sole way researchers could find any predictive clue as to which memories would retain the most accuracy after an event was to measure a witness's emotional response at the time of initial memory capture. The stronger the original emotional response, the better recall accuracy tended to be later on.

-- 'Flashbulb memory' theory fades in light of new findings ["http://www.exn.ca/html/templates/htmlpage.cfm?ID=20000229-53"] by Emma Reid, February 29, 2000, Discovery Channel Canada

Studies into 'flashbulb' memory events show that the accuracy of recall degrades significantly between one and three years after the event. At 15 months only 50% of accounts remained very accurate, while 11% suffered large distortions. The very accurate number declined after almost three years total had passed to less than 33%, and the recollections containing substantial distortions rose to 40+%.

-- Memories of news events change over time By Penny Stern, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 3 2000, SOURCE: Psychological Science 2000;11:39-45

For healthy adults of middle-age (the study here involved only males), the level of accuracy of recalled details from adolescent experiences appears to be entirely random. Curiously, only two subject areas rose above random chance in accuracy of retrieved memories-- sexual relationships and the income of fathers.

Keep in mind that subjects suffering from mental illness, drug abuse, or other form of mental impairment either as a teenager or adult would likely suffer from an even poorer accuracy rate in subsequent recall.

-- Memories Cheat, U.S. Study Finds, Reuters/Yahoo!, June 1 2000

The amount of readily available temporary working memory in humans seems to peak around age 45 and then begin a steady decline. Our working memory is similar to the RAM of computers-- or memory in which calculations and other operations actually take place, as opposed to purely storage memory. As our working memory declines, it can take longer for us to process the same amount of information, and more difficult to solve bigger or more complex problems (since we can retain a smaller portion of the relevant data at a time). This also means we can only transfer smaller ideas from working memory to permanent memory, past age 45 or so. In other words, the door to permanent memory storage becomes smaller after age 45, allowing ever smaller information bodies through at a time. We might still grapple with large ideas after 45, but it's harder, more time-consuming, and we'll lose more details and make more mistakes in regards to the task and later recall of same.

-- University Science It's Not Memory That Fails, But Storage Capacity, 16-Jul-1999, Article: "What Develops in Working Memory? A Life Span Perspective," H. Lee Swanson, Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, Developmental Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 4. The American Psychological Association (APA); Contact: H. Lee Swanson; UniSci Science and Research News, http://unisci.com

Actual human learning and memory storage of an event or idea only seems to take place when people actively focus their attention on same. Indirect attention seems insufficient to initiate processing.

-- Brain won't remember if attention wanders, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 29, 1999, SOURCE: Science 1999;286:2504-2507

The center of focus and attention given by a witness to a given event tends to determine the reliability of later recall related to same. Perceptions of stress during the observations may tighten this focus more than is the usual case. Elements of an event which fall outside a witness's relatively narrow focus will be more inaccurate than those that don't. Different human witnesses will tend to have different centers of focus, and thus varying rates of accuracy concerning particular elements. Thus, the more witnesses to an event, the more likely there will be an accurate and detailed accounting for the facts somewhere in the descriptions. But determining exactly which details are true and which are not will remain a challenge for later logic and analysis.

-- Memory Study Casts Doubt on Lawyers' Ploy By E. J. Mundell, Yahoo!/Reuters Health, June 8 2000

Stress can impair memory in situations like combat, giving testimony in court cases, and during job interviews or school exams. This would seem to indicate that recounting a personal experience to a group of strangers would include by necessity certain inaccuracies or errors due to the accompanying stress involved-- at least for people of normal intelligence and attitudes, and in good mental health.

-- Stress can impair memory, Reuters Health/Yahoo!, March 20 2000, SOURCE: Nature Neuroscience 2000;3:313-314

Very few childhood memories seem to make it to later conscious adult recall-- though it seems lasting impressions may be made on the subconscious, never-the-less. Yes, children permanently learn and remember vast amounts of intellectual information, such as language and facts-- but they largely lose memories of most events and circumstances of their childhood along the way.

The quality of development of the brain's prefrontal cortex seems to explain this difference in memory retention between children and adults. The prefrontal cortex in children is simply too immature to capture and recall most life events as well as adults.

-- Childhood Memories Lost in the Haze By Penny Stern, Reuters Health/Yahoo!, April 25, 2000

The probability that a given middle-aged adult can accurately recall a particular event from childhood is not very high.

-- Accuracy of adult memories of childhood is no greater than chance, EurekAlert!, 1 JUNE 2000, US Contact: Elizabeth Crown e-crown@northwestern.edu 312-503-8928 Northwestern University

Suggestions by psychotherapists may lead to false memories in their patients. One survey indicated up to 25% of new psychologists may be likely to treat their patients in such a way as to encourage the formation of false memories.

-- Remembering Dangerously ["http://www.csicop.org/si/9503/memory.html"] by Elizabeth Loftus, Skeptical Inquirer magazine : March/April 1995

So instead of being a major tool for investigating and persecuting murder cases or other unusual circumstances of death, drawing upon the memories of the deceased is becoming more popularly used in other ways.

Circa 2000 some experts believed by 2020 or so technology would allow the reliable and accurate reading of dead people's memories, for gathering evidence in murder cases, among other things.

-- Science works to tap the minds of the dead ["http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/000901/4072806.html"] by Zev Singer, The Ottawa Citizen, found on or about 9-8-2000

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2050 milestone: Over 50% of the world's energy needs today may be met by renewable sources such as solar, wind, and others

Observers from the 20th century might be surprised to learn that in many cases less developed nations are leading the way in adoption of renewable energy sources now, compared to the developed nations. Why? Infrastructure inertia, political corruption and government subsidies, to name a few reasons. The less developed nations had less investment in non-renewable sources to lose in the transition, plus did not often enjoy the same subsidies of non-renewables as were embedded in the systems of the more developed states by the dawn of the 21st century. Political corruption too plays a part in the delay seen in the developed nations. Japan (or the states derived therefrom) and a few other developed countries provide the exception to the rule, partly because they possessed little non-renewable resources of their own to exploit.

The bulk of the developed states which have dragged their feet on renewables are now paying the price in lowered global competitiveness, higher national inflation and unemployment, and a slowing in the rise of living standards compared to many other locales. This includes USAmerica and various European countries.

-- Answer to energy woes is blowin' in the wind by BRAD KNICKERBOCKER, Nando Media/The Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2001

Many significant sources of renewable energy are intermittant, such as wind and sunlight. Devising a suitable storage capacity for such sources could make them more reliable and cost-effective in general.

One possibility for this may be Regenesys technology, by Innogy in the UK. Regenesys utilizes regenerative fuel cells to transform electricity into chemical energy, which may then be tapped as desired.

-- Giant battery marks dawn of cheap power By Jonathan Thompson, 28 January 2001, Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2050 milestone: Global population levels off at somewhere between 8 and 15 billion; Children are possibly becoming scarce, while middle-aged and older people are becoming more common; Technology extends our senses (and memory capacities) still further...

...by virtue of greatly increased capacities for realtime computer analysis of sensory input, and more options as to how that sensor information is managed and acted upon.

We are also getting totally new tactile sense enhancements as well (via special glove-like devices of so little bulk wearers quickly forget they are wearing them), adding new dimensions to our on-person powers of detection and security.

Where previously our high tech sense of smell could protect us from many but not all toxic threats in our environment, these new gloves and computerized support pretty much complete such a repertoire, enabling us to detect nearly every potential toxic/infectious substance we come into near proximity to before it can do us substantial injury (it's true a few items may act so rapidly or irreparably as to defeat even this level of awareness-- but other technologies elsewhere in society are designed to deal with those).

The combination of computerized super senses of vision, smell, and touch enable us to perform fairly comprehensive chemical analysis of many substances, as well as readily recognize documented biological agents of various sorts, in realtime (or nearly so). Vision powers now include a form of spectroscopic analysis to complement the other data gathering means.

Our gloves also provide us with exotic new forms of "taste" and "sight", in that we may 'scan' textures, markings, images, and chemical compositions into computer memory by running our gloves over their physical forms, and then manipulate the readouts in various fashions as it suits us. We can dip a finger into a jar of acid and 'taste' it tech-wise without the danger of physically putting a sample on our tongue. We can also check the safety of drinks in the same manner.

These glove scans also provide us with memory aids, as their scans may be kept in memory indefinitely, or transferred to other convenient storage.

Of course, these gloves require maintenance/replacement proportional to their use in daily activities, and notify the user as to the appropriate measures and frequency.

Our gloves may also measure the relative pressure sensitivity (hardness) and smoothness of surfaces/materials as well-- which allows us to weigh items on the spot and also receive alerts of dangerous strains when lifting, etc., as well as more accurately judge the torque we apply to various machine parts with hand tools and the like.

These gloves aid many workers in such things as inspecting airframes for flaws and fatigue.

Please note that although the gloves described above will become commonplace among average citizens, some of the technologies supporting them will be providing still greater wonders to those beset by birth defects or injuries or disease, by providing advanced bionic limbs, skin, and other synthetic organs.

-- "Simple Polymer Moves With Electricity", 6-25-98, Penn State

-- "Some, Like Russian Dolls, Fit Inside Each Other: Self-Assembled Nanospheres May Be Helpful Against Disease Or Terrorism, Or As Fillers And Coatings" ScienceDaily ["http://www.sciencedaily.com/"], 3/19/99, Source: Sandia National Laboratories

-- "When Is A Liquid Not A Liquid?", Contact: Bill Burton b-burton@nwu.edu, 847-491-3115, Northwestern University, 14 MARCH 1999

At this time our new on-person technologies are also becoming capable of digitally generating new scents, which enables us to further extend and amplify our powers of recall for many circumstances (aromas are important to certain human memory functions).

This change from wholly passive sensing to both passive and active sensory enhancement includes hearing and vision as well, as we gain on-person sonar capabilities which may be visually translated to offer 3D images of our environment-- i.e., our night vision is further improved, and we also gain some ability to see 'around corners' and 'through' obtacles of low to moderate mass (such as volumes of water or foliage). Yes, we attain senses similar in some ways to bats and dolphins here.

The emerging effective 'X-ray' vision the new technologies are enabling now alarm many with certain of their implications-- such as making much clothing useless for purposes of concealing nakedness-- the new vision systems readily allow users to see right through traditional body coverings, to the delight of most males and the chagrin of most females. The situation is somewhat resolved after a few years where most everyone endures 'exposure' to certain users of the technology at one time or another, but the fixes are often complex, expensive, and controversial in themselves for a variety of reasons. Sophistocated sound cancellation body nets help much against sonar scans-- with EM cancellation working similarly against later radar imaging. Using pattern recognition sensitivity allows some imaging censorship via software (but also reduces effectiveness/reliability in other ways which can negatively affect personal safety and security, even as it increases the cost of the technology for consumers-- a highly undesirable combination for many). Cost, safety, security, and other issues all collide with social and practical considerations regarding these technologies in new laws and regulations. New materials in clothing also come into use for defensive purposes. Usage of virtual 'proxies' gets an enormous boost from this issue, as proxy images may contain nothing but surface images if desired-- i.e., there's no nakedness there to protect. But the battle to hide one's nakedness from others remains a significant hassle for many years-- thereby contributing much to the increasing isolation/'cocooning' of the population in the developed nations, as well as to more intensive 'body-sculpting' and a somewhat more relaxed perspective to actual nudity in general, among the generation that grows up during this era. I.e., close friends and family become far more comfortable with nudity among themselves, than was true for many generations that preceded them. This shift in attitudes also serves to blunt the stigma of public nudity in general over following decades, as well as lower its perceived attractiveness overall-- for when something becomes much more common, it loses some of its value and desirability as a result. Increased nudity in private and public thus becomes a much more casual phenomena for much of the population during this time (which, in combination with other factors, is bringing about significant changes in human sexuality and relationships overall, as well)...

Even more powerful sensing means are already available to military, intelligence, and law enforcement personnel, such as active radar in place of, or in combination with sonar, and expanded wavelengths of vision including radiation far outside natural human vision bands. Realtime computer analysis of active radar probes provide something akin to "X-ray" vision for users-- i.e., allowing them to actually see through or inside or behind the vast majority of objects in their environment.

As these technologies gain more 'active' means, they may also be used as weapons. Active sonar can be used (underwater) to stun/incapacitate/deafen large animals (like people), microwave radition can 'cook' them, directed lasers and ultra-violet radiation may blind them.

4-12-99 Newz&Viewz: Effective X-ray vision via acoustic imaging

Acoustic-based X-ray style imaging exists here and now, in development work at Sonoscan.

-- "3D Sight From Sonic Imaging", MATERIALS WORLD, 31 MARCH 1999, Contact: Andrew McLaughlin Andrew_Mclaughlin@materials.org.uk 44-0-171-451-7395 Institute of Materials

Sooner or later we're all going to enjoy effective 'x-ray' vision embedded in our eyes or other on-person vision gear.

The technologies for this already existed as far back as 1998; it's just that it required a few decades for them to decline in cost and size (and increase in convenience of use) sufficiently to become a part of daily routine for the majority of folks.

In 1998 it was discovered the original Sony Handycam with NightShot could be configured to not only see in the dark but see through clothes as well, since it could record in the infrared.

-- 1. Sony Handycam with NightShot; CNET.com - Technology terrors! 10 products that will scare you to death, http://www.cnet.com/, found on or about 10-26-1998

(Sony later took measures to reduce this capability in the product, according to other news media)

kaya-optics ["http://www.kaya-optics.com/"] showed off what some circa 1999 off-the-shelf video cams and accessories could do in regards to seeing through things like clothing (["http://www.kaya-optics.com/experiments.html"] was the specific page link last time I checked).

In 1999 Time Domain Corp ["http://www.time-domain.com/applications.html"] boasted products which used radar to see through walls.

But you don't really need radar or a video cam to get effective 'x-ray' vision (see through solid objects); you can also do it acoustically under some circumstances (like a bat or submarine's sonar).

-- "Turning the Body Inside Out" by Kristen Philipkoski, 12.May.99.PDT/30.Apr.99.PDT, Wired Digital Inc.

By 2050 global human population has reached somewhere between eight and fifteen billion, and may be peaking or plateauing there.

-- 3.4 Human Population History and Future; Geography 210: Introduction to Environmental Issues, Created by Dr. Michael Pidwirny, Department of Geography, Okanagan University College, 12/20/99, Human Population History and Future (http://www.geog.ouc.bc.ca/conted/onlinecourses/geog_210/contents/210~3~3~4.html)

The Population Reference Bureau estimates world population in 2050 will be 9 billion. The less developed nations of Asia, Latin America, and Africa make up 80% of world population, circa 2000.

- World Population Will Grow for Next 50 Years By Joene Hendry, Yahoo!/Reuters Health, June 8 2000

Around 50% of the world's human population may live within cities by 2050. Many of these metropolitan areas will be immense mega-cities dwarfing the largest cities known in the 20th century.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

Another source estimates up to 80% of humanity possibly living in cities by 2050-- with many of those cities likely being in earthquake prone areas.

-- Earthquakes measured in human, economic terms By Margot Higgins, February 2, 2001, Environmental News Network

World population may peak and then start a decline of indeterminate length, during our lifetimes. After 2050 world population could conceivably shrink by 25% with each subsequent generation.

In 1995 the populations of less developed nations outnumbered those in developed states by four to one. In the scenario described above that ratio would become seven to one by 2050.

Circa 1900 and before the world population's median age stood at roughly 20. In 1995 it reached 25. In the scenario above, by 2050 it would be 42+. We're talking a world with far fewer children and far more middle-aged and elderly than human civilization has ever seen before.

In such conditions social security and welfare income redistribution systems would have to be completely revamped, or go bankrupt.

The perspective of individuals might also be changed significantly when many or most find themselves possessing no biological relatives younger than themselves. The term "family" for these people will come to mean a group including no biological peers in age.

-- Congressional Briefing 23Feb98, World Population Implosion? Nicholas Eberstadt, Population Research Institute

People forced by circumstances not to have children as young adults end up just as happy as those that did, usually making up the difference by being more socially active in their later years than parents with grown children.

Thus, it would appear that there are few long term impediments to more and more people favoring career or other matters over having children of their own.

-- Childless Adults Just As Content As Parents By AliciaMarie Belchak, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

1997-2050s sub trends and detours: Growing complexity and difficulties in building consensus...

...further splinter many nation-states and other traditional organizations and institutions over this time, with quite a few regions collapsing into utter anarchy and staying that way for years, similarly to Bosnia of the late 20th century. Fortunately, some anarchic regions are a bit more civilized-- along the lines of the troubled Russian Republic circa 1995-1996-- and a few even flourish for a while, resembling 1995 Hong Kong for a period. Chronic underemployment (overqualified workers stuck in frustrating low pay jobs) in places like Russia, USAmerica, and other otherwise stable states contribute to this trend, breeding more intense activism on the part of citizens that at times deteriorates into terrorism, but at its best creates new industries and jobs via entrepreneurial activity, and brings about badly needed political reforms.

Gambling has seized the hearts and minds of many citizens over this period, with overall world gambling not lacking much to become THE biggest global industry. Government rigorously regulates the industry in most cases to insure gaming is done properly-- but can do little to help gaming addicts who simply don't care that the odds against them are enormous in most activities of this kind.

-- "Report: Global Net gambling to explode" By Reuters Special to CNET News.com July 16, 1999, URL: http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,39317,00.html

-- "Online Gambling: A Good Bet?" by Reuters July 16, 1999, PC World Online, PC World Communications

-- "Wildly popular online gambling faces tough new legislation" by STEVEN OBERBECK, Salt Lake Tribune. Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service. Nando.net, 5-31-98

Among the obstacles to any geopolitical faction successfully enforcing a strict ban against online gambling is the fact that via the net a user living where gambling is prohibited can easily access the site of enterprises operating in other nations where the practice is legal. Sovereignty of nations in that case may act as a shield for some gambling activities. For a nation like the USA, tackling the problem at the other end-- arresting and persecuting individual gamblers themselves-- would not only add more woes to an already overburdened law enforcement and judicial system, but would likely prove ineffective unless accompanied by truly severe punishments-- and the US Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment for any crime. Entrapping or chasing down individual gamblers would also likely be seen as extreme by many voters, resulting in those politicians supporting it soon thrown out of office (in USAmerica anyway). Government agreements with ISPs and major credit card companies could make some headway against the practice-- at least until gamblers begin using advanced encryption for their bets, satellite-based ISPs in other nations become widely accessible, and/or gambling establishments and/or various online communities develop new credit and currency systems beyond the control of the governments/credit card companies seeking to order people's behavior in this manner. Indeed, strongly pursuing a rigorous legal course against online gambling will likely only accelerate various net developments which will eventually weaken all geopolitical governments and many legacy corporations as well. In the nearer term an online gambling prohibition will at the very least contribute to a growth in organized crime in that field, much as the USA's historical prohibition against alcohol spawned the original and most famous organized crime network.

In light of all the elements involved, it would appear most practical for individual nations to legalize gambling but perhaps closely regulate it-- being careful not to levy so heavy an overhead or tax burden on the business as to open a window of opportunity for organized crime to come in anyway.

-- Gambling prohibition a long shot? ["http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2468521,00.html"] By Margaret Kane, ZDNN March 17, 2000

High stakes gambling is the worst now, resulting in consequences for losers which would be considered horrific by 20th century USAmerican observers. Losers at times become what are essentially legal 'slaves' to winners, and more. The gaming involved can also be extremely physical and dangerous, such as skiing down cliff faces and the like. The trend of popular high stakes gambling only gets stronger as time passes, since higher living standards for all help cushion consequences even when one loses everything, and ever improving technology makes severe injuries suffered in physical contests much less painful and much easier to repair. Global gambling becomes a juggernaut that eventually serves to define the human race as a whole, and reshape social mores in its own image.

It turns out the science of pure economics in combination with humanity's perpetual lust for gaming may be used to predict as much about our futures as almost any other guiding principles.

During this period we also see the first major reforms to address the increasing problem of life extension postponing indefinitely the traditional generational turnover in positions of power in government and business. Very very few of the aging but undying elite exhibit the competence required to maintain their positions at advanced ages, but without reforms it's nearly impossible to remove them. The competence of which I speak is not necessarily related to intellectual capacity, but more to a lack of contemporary perspectives on issues of the day that affect the agencies at their command. For example, in an era of much increased scrutiny of pollutants, an executive who matured in less regulated times might lead his company to ruin.

Micromachines too have great impact over this period. Industrial machinery, medicine, and military/aerospace technologies get a tremendous boost from an infusion of micromachines. Relatively old electronics manufacturing technologies (photo-lithography for example), combined with modern CAD-CAM capacities and improvements in materials sciences, result in things like advanced treatment and repair of damage from heart attacks and strokes, effective cures for certain types of cancer, new sensing options for the blind and deaf, much improved artificial limbs and hands, limited self-repair in flight for combat aircraft, versatile new mining and drilling equipment and robots, exotic rescue and recovery means for disasters and accidents, and much more reliable and fuel efficient automobiles, by 2030.

Nuclear power for micromachines

Tiny micromachines so far have been limited in capacities due to a scarcity of suitable power sources available for their scale. Now it appears they may be equipped with miniscule nuclear powered batteries. These batteries would contain amounts of radioactive material so small they would pose negligible risk to people, and in any case would be insulated from contact due to their microscopic shielding encasements. Unlike conventional nuclear reactors, no fission or fusion is involved here-- only the natural decay of the material which causes geiger counters to register its presence.

The material's energy would be harnessed by way of heat or electrically charged particles created by the decay.

Such power sources could allow micromachines to rapidly become integrated into our technology across the board.

-- "Harnessing Nuclear Energy On A Truly Tiny Scale" University Science, 30-Jun-1999, UniSci Science and Research News http://unisci.com

Image of a future large capacity wide body or lifting body type commercial passenger plane
Aerospatiale and Airbus Industrie 1996 concept for airliner with capacity for up to 1100 passengers over as much as 8000 miles.

By 2050 there's a significant amount of exotic 'seed' components and materials manufacturing being done in Earth orbit for Earth-side production of super computers, advanced drugs, and for various other military, medical, and government purposes. A fleet of one to two dozen space planes or more service the orbiting factories.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2000-2050s sub trends and detours: The two separate economies of planet Earth from 2000 to 2050

The global economy has diverged even more over past decades between haves and have-nots than most anticipated prior to 2000-- but largely this has occurred in high end tangibles such as real estate and traditional static homes, and in some high demand service sectors too, such as state-of-the-art medical technologies, and personal free time. Information access technologies on the other hand have plunged in effective costs (at least for basic services and 70-80% of the bandwidth most folks might want). These disparities and their consequences have produced many surprises for economists and others struggling to analyze current circumstances or predict future trends. They have also blindsided many governments and corporations as well, often triggering cascades of old business failures and fresh new startups, and unexpected deficits and surpluses in trade and budget accounts of nations. Equity markets have often been so volatile in this environment that trading was frequently suspended, and certain companies forced to go private again rather than remain public (and this trend towards opting out of the equity markets rather than in also results in lots more small and mid-size companies than mega-companies being created and prospering throughout the period of turmoil). The new economy seems to encourage millions of small to mid-size businesses and almost unlimited self-employment, but only hundreds of truly monolithic corporations. With each passing year it becomes much less likely that a given new business will ever grow to monstrous proportions as in the past-- but those companies which had already achieved such status early on tend to keep it into perpetuity by regularly taking over smaller, more dynamic firms in order to re-invigorate themselves with regards to certain new or emerging markets.

-- Brave New World by JACK FISCHER, Mercury Center. Found on the web on or about April 17, 1999

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

Real prices (inflation adjusted) for manufactured products have dropped 40% since around 1963, while costs related to health care and formal education have risen substantially.

-- Beyond the speed bump By Wes George, February 14, 2001, MacWEEK, Mac Publishing LLC.

-- Baltimore Tech Company Going Private (TechNews.com) ["http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63053-2003Apr30.html"]

The internet has spread much more equitably for everyone than many predicted for this time. Sure, net access cost remained a significant obstacle through 2010-2020 for many worldwide-- but once past that, such users enjoyed a multitude of typically free information and services the likes of which only the wealthiest might have possessed just a decade or so before.

One lesson from this period is: Don't underestimate the impact on people's daily lives that net access alone can have-- for it theoretically allows them to highly optimize their personal choices in everything from shopping to medical care to education to investments, and more-- thereby multiplying their effective spending power in many matters up to several times what it would be otherwise. The net can help people recover from mistakes faster and easier too. Young people are in the vanguard of this group, perhaps serving as the locomotive to pull everyone else along (Unfortunately, the bulk of the young capable of this leadership live in the poorer regions of the globe which offer the least access to the technologies required: and so this particular 'locomotive' of socio-economic progress is badly constrained all along). Of course, the preceding lays out the generally accepted theory of the time-- in practice the beneficial effect (for consumers) tends to be concentrated in only certain niches of the market-- and these niches change over time, typically led by the appearance of one or more highly popular web sites or organizations focused on the niche. So although the general commoditizing effect of the net still exists and evolves as many economists expected, it's far gentler overall than many businesses feared, and far less rewarding than many consumers, small businesses, and self-employed folks had previously dreamed it might be.

Online retailers may actually enjoy less competition and higher prices under some circumstances than early net prognosticators expected. This may be especially true regarding wares which require personal and physical examination by consumers prior to purchase, such as clothing. In these cases retailers which have already established a successful relationship with a customer will have an edge over those who haven't. In other words, brand loyalty can well serve an online retailer, even going so far as allowing them to charge higher prices online than they do from physical storefronts (thereby helping defray the extra costs of shipping, handling, and returns).

Thus, initial good physical store experiences can help solidify strong subsequent online sales and profits for the same establishments-- especially in terms of items which are inconvenient to purchase online.

This would seem to give an edge to establishments maintaining both a 'brick and mortar' shopping location as well as a web site-- at least in certain product areas. But the quality of their personal service is critical.

Note that some implications of the study cited here are these effects might be true for items such as shoes, meat and fresh produce, and used cars too. Thereby affecting online retailers in other areas beyond clothing.

-- Harvard e-commerce study shows retailers may face less price competition online ["http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/ifo-hes040600.html"], EurekAlert! 6 APRIL 2000 Contact: Barry List barry.list@informs.org 410-691-7852 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

No, the last 50 years has proven that many small and mid-size businesses (in regards to overt adverse treatment by the net) are much like deer in the woods: usually safe unless and until a specific high profile hunter begins tracking them exclusively (thereby attracting the attention of other hunters too), or they blunder onto a highway and get struck by an auto. Today many businesses fear 'flash blames' online as deer might fear the hunter, and try to avoid attracting or generating such flash gangs where possible.

Company brands and reputations are increasingly vulnerable on the net to very public complaints from dissatisfied customers, charges from disgruntled employees, protests and boycotts organized by activists, and plain old pranksters.

-- Firms dread creation of gripers' portal ["http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cth701.htm"] By Greg Farrell, USA TODAY, 04/07/00

This has led to a surprising amount of self-policing in various industries, with many good sized businesses maintaining their own consumer alert and affairs sites focused on themselves and their competitors-- to pre-empt the demand or need for third party versions of these which might lead to a ruinous flame blame event, and expand into even more media outlets as a by-product (Note that larger companies tend to go the other way-- because they can. Rather than concentrate on exposing and correcting their own ills before someone else forces the issue, they tend to buy out or litigate annoying or threatening flame blame sites where they can. Of course, this tactic is increasingly difficult and expensive today).

The net's effect also serves to greatly further the 'commoditization' of many standardized technologies, such as autos, computers, furniture, and household appliances, as well as much of the global service economy, in a self-reinforcing spiral of development which tends to push quality up and costs down in those sectors.

But in areas of near insatiable demand and still emerging technologies such as health/lifespan improvements and related medical technologies, the world increasingly is split into camps possessing widely differing levels of access to same. Advanced entertainment mediums and traditional fixed housing/real estate too fall into this category.

-- "The Rich-Poor Gap Grows" by John Allen Paulos, Special to ABCNEWS.com Aug. 1, 1999, ABC News Internet Ventures, http://www.abcnews.go.com/

Average expected lifespans in the majority of developed nations rise to substantially above that in less progressive states, within only a generation or two-- with the difference heavily emphasized in the news and entertainment media across-the-board. Astonishing new cosmetic treatments which beautify these emerging immortals too only deepen the angst felt by the have nots in these matters.

Imagine yourself suffering 20th century ills and treatments and an expected lifespan of only 85 or so, while on TV every night you can see those %$!@ Japanese and European Union citizens with their 21st century medical technologies frolicking on a Bay Watch-like beach in 20-something pop star bodies-- and many among them are already well past your own expected drop-dead-age (85) themselves.

-- "'WE ARE NOW STARTING THE CENTURY OF BIOLOGY' By John Carey in Washington, Special Report -- The 21st Century Economy -- The Innovative Edge, Business Week: 8-31-98, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

How do world politics and economics change when 5% of the world is gaining virtual immortality and super model looks while everyone else is lucky to get a dash of 21st century tech incorporated into their mostly 20th century medical treatments? Add to this the stunning new high end entertainment and housing options the pseudo-immortals also enjoy that most other world citizens don't, and you get the makings of a rich versus poor debate that makes previous developments in this vein look trivial by comparison. Also note that the same people enjoying an extended lifespan already tend to enjoy far more free time on a daily basis than anyone else. A wildly unfair fact, from the viewpoint of many.

The Achille's Heel of technology is software; until a fundamental breakthrough in resolving the fragility and unreliability of software comes about, software itself may well be the ultimate limiting factor upon all our other technologies.

Nanotechnology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, brain-to-computer interfaces, and more, will all be stymied from achieving their most advanced and economical forms until the software problem is cracked.

Another implication of the ongoing crisis in quality in software is the way it may exacerbate the already widening gap between rich and poor. One scenario goes like this:

The wealthy may consistently get the best quality software and related services, which combined with advances in genetic engineering and ever greater processing power could render them effectively immortal (we're likely talking heavy cyborgs here).

The middle-class would get a lower quality of software and services, which might extend their lives somewhat (light cyborgs), while the poor remain pretty much stuck with the same level of mortality as ever (basically the same bags of meat as 20th century humans).

A Moore's Law or similar principle functioning into perpetuity could result in an unimaginable gulf of quality of life between the rich and everyone else. Such differences could become readily apparent as early as 2020-2030.

Of course, being that biological beings such as ourselves of 2000 AD are little more than complex machines, running complex software, which both exhibit plenty of programming flaws from developing cancer to taking up addictive and destructive habits, and more-- and nature has had billions of years to fine tune our codes-- buggy software may be a universal and unavoidable stage in the development of any complex organism. It may even be that truly perfect software is an impossibility in this universe-- especially if Godel's Incompleteness theorem is considered, which proves that (in one interpretation), no software can ever be designed to successfully contend with every possible contingency, because some contingencies remain perpetually hidden until their moment of physical actualization.

-- Salon.com Technology | Artificial stupidity ["http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/10/04/lanier/index.html?CP=SAL&DN=110"] By Damien Cave Oct. 04, 2000, and other sources

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

The obvious excesses of the wealthy-- both in life and death (with death becoming more of an accidental than inevitable event for them) -- only helps fan the flames of potential class warfare.

Lavish burial tombs, large and small, reminiscent of the excesses of Egyptian pharoahs of past millennia, are becoming increasingly common accessories of the rich.

-- Rich Spending Fortunes on Tombs ["http://washingtonpost.com/cgi-bin/gx.cgi/AppLogic+FTContentServer?pagename=article&articleid=A54651-2000Jul6&node=nation/latestap"] By Mary Foster, Associated Press, July 6, 2000

So how did these trends change the world between 2000 and 2060?

The developed nations were forced to better accommodate their own poorer citizens in regards to these matters. New initiatives in health insurance and education, as well as low cost or even free basic housing (with some important caveats) were added to the list of 'rights' that average citizens could expect.

Basic personal housing in several of the developed states (sans the new advanced entertainment and medical frills) was made much more accessible to the poor during this time than it was circa 1998 in USAmerica. Basic food costs also became more heavily subsidized for many. [sources include...."Plant Institute, UK Company To Test Potato Vaccine", Reuters/Yahoo! News, July 8 1999 and Vaccine-Containing Tomato May Prevent Respiratory Virus, Reuters/Yahoo! Health Headlines, August 4 2000] Medical, emergency, and law enforcement costs related to malnutrition, infectious disease, marginal mental illnesses, and drug addiction were reduced dramatically by these new measures. These lowered costs, combined with breakthroughs in the efficiency of providing these goods and services to the poor, resulted in the overall tab being negligible to tax payers (or even helping to reduce taxes and other living expenses overall).

According to the Bread for the World Institute, the USA could cut the hunger rate among its own poor (31 million) by half over five years, by enacting a $1 raise in the hourly minimum wage and adding $5 billion to its public food programs. Roughly 18 million Americans currently receive an average of $74 a month in foodstamps.

-- Age-Old Foe Hunger Can Be Halved Soon--Report, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, February 10, 2000

Reducing hunger in a nation (and thereby increasing the overall health of its population) turned out to benefit economic health as well-- sometimes in surprising ways.

Persistent hunger makes for children doing more poorly in school, more weak and ill newborns, and adults without the strength to make the extra effort needed to escape from poverty.

-- UN Reports No Progress in Reducing World Hunger ["http://www.ngnews.com/news/2000/10/10162000/worldfood_3146.asp"] By Hillary Mayell October 16, 2000; related URL: http://www.fao.org/focus/e/sofi00/sofi001-e.htm

The average adult human being can be sustained in good health with food costing less than $2.00 per day (with careful shopping and avoidance of convenience and snack foods). It costs about 25 cents more per day to sustain a man than a woman.

-- Total daily nutrients cost less than $2 a day By Charnicia E. Huggins, Yahoo!/Reuters Health Headlines April 18 2000

Actually, since the diet above would probably reduce the total calories and salt consumed compared to an average American's diet of the time, it would likely leave a person in excellent health rather than merely good.

-- Anti-ageing pill moves closer, BBC news, 24 May, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk

It may be that just as economic growth allows health improvements in a given population, the opposite may also be true: that health improvements themselves can lead to economic growth.

Improvements in health increase productivity and energy on the part of a population, as well as reduce down time. Health improvements boost life expectancy, which may bring with it a greater demand for education-- since the longer the lifespan the more useful an education can be. More education leads to more productivity and higher incomes. Longer lifespans also make for increased investment, since people must plan for retirement. This expanding investment pool itself allows for more economic growth in a nation-- as well as further improvements in health...

-- Healthy nations more likely to become wealthy, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 17 2000

Note that many of the elements listed above also contributed much to a particular state's national security, lessening still more expenses related to law enforcement, defense, anti-terrorism, and other matters.

The developed nations pushed telecommuting initiatives for both employment and education in a big way to further increase opportunities for the poor and overall economic efficiency.

There was an increasing clamor for the advanced nations to do more to help the developing nations during this period. However, foreign aid overall did not increase by much due to the developed nations themselves placing the higher priority on providing added subsidies to their own poor, as well as expanded services for all their citizens. However, the developed nations did help poorer states in ways that also benefited the advanced nations themselves-- such as reducing environmental problems like air and water pollution, as well as other potentially global problems like minimizing the spread of infectious diseases, and increasing food production and basic power generation regionally.

International aid from rich to poor nations overall fell by some $7 billion between 1996 and 1997. Humanitarian emergency assistance also fell 40% during the same period.

Such aid is declining even as the need is rising-- there were three times more natural major disasters worldwide during the nineties than the sixties. Part of the tragedy comes from population pressures forcing more and more people to live on marginal lands which are often more subject to disasters of various sorts than other regions.

Increasingly, the selection of who does and does not receive aid is dependent on major news media coverage of events in the developed nations. This often results in some victims/refugees receiving more help than required, while others receive none at all.

-- What about the disasters that CNN misses? By PETER FORD, Nando Media/Christian Science Monitor Service, August 26, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

As more developed nations also accepted the fact that helping eradicate hunger and poverty in developing nations would expand world markets and thus the prosperity of the developed nations themselves as well, more work went into increasing the cost-effectiveness of aid to developing states.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some conspicuous areas where the developed nations were often laggards in helping the less developed over this time were in local high tech industry development and ground-based toxic cleanups which tended to be highly local hazards of little threat across oceans (even where the waste products often originated within the advanced nations' own industries). END NOTE.

Defense and intelligence spending in many developed nations suffered significant cuts as one consequence of these measures and other coinciding developments of the time. Virtually all social and economic infrastructures were revamped and re-organized in the advanced states over this period, with the income tax systems completely overhauled and most (if not all) 'corporate welfare' perks killed or reduced as well (a great many corporate entities are growing to alarming sizes and influence around the world now, making it increasingly difficult for governments to regulate them or enforce various human rights and safety rules in regards to their behavior).

Yes, the 'military-industrial complex' took quite a hit here.

Aerospace technology research and development became increasingly the forte of private commercial concerns rather than government funded agencies-- which spelled bad news for any substantial commercialization of space beyond Earth orbit for some years to come.

Poorer nations faced several choices as to how they tackled the growing inequity with richer nations-- including:

(A) Overhauling their politico-economic systems to accelerate their own progress and opportunities.

(B) Keeping the status quo (this option tended to be preferred by theocratic and/or authoritarian states).

(C) Trying to band together in international forums to pressure the richer nations for more aid or trade concessions.

(D) Use of military force or threat of same to bully neighboring weaker states into virtual enslavement or annexation for economic gain (perhaps utilizing 'ethnic cleansing' massacres to take land while killing the inhabitants).

(E) Use of military force/terrorism or threat of same to encourage richer nations to provide increased aid to poorer ones rather than increasing their own defense and intelligence investments in response.

(F) Devoting what meager resources they could to improving and enhancing their own internet and e-commerce infrastructures to better their competitiveness with developed nations and thereby 'earn' their way out of poverty.

There were several success stories of various degrees stemming from use of the (F) option during this period. However, the greatest successes came from a combination of (A), (C), and (F) options by developing countries. (B), (D), and (E) states however suffered mightily for their aggression and threats towards others, and inaction on internal reforms.

Significant ways some special interests attempted to exploit this growing divide:

(A) Various religious groups saw the divide as an opportunity to recruit more members among the poor, by playing up the differences and offering religion as a way to help minimize them through prayer, etc.

(B) Various environmental factions saw similar opportunities as the religious groups.

(C) Various terrorist organizations were encouraged to use the divide as a point of argument for and support of their efforts against the rich for 'exploiting the poor' (in something of a rehash/update of communism).

Other consequences of various trends of this time include:

The age of highly paid human models/super models for displaying fashions etc., has been over for quite some time now. Too many 'regular' folks now possess the same highly symmetrical looks of what was once an elite niche of humanity, by way of body sculpting, cosmetic surgery, on-person holograms, software proxies, and genetic engineering. Wholly computer-generated models now serve as hangers on which to display new clothing lines, and may be seen in every other corner of clothing stores or on the web just as easily as at major shows.

The high paid human fashion models/super models were the first to disappear from the high profile video/web commercial scene. Celebrities stemming from more substantial accomplishment or notoriety combined with computer generated models to replace the previous personnel on magazine covers and in video and web advertising for a time. However, in only a matter of a decade or two those celebrities too found themselves 'out in the cold', so far as these modeling opportunities were concerned, with only 'super-stars' of film, music, gaming, and/or politics eventually being in demand for such roles (but even some of the super-stars themselves were increasingly of wholly computer generated origin).

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2058 milestone: By this time several major geopolitical nations have computer automated their internal bureaucracies (reduced their real human employee presence) by at least 40% overall relative to peak employment

However, they remain far behind the new virtual states in technological advancement, and their 40% reduction has primarily enabled them only to slow the growth of total government spending since 2000.

Note that this increasing automation of government bureaucracies not only helps to reduce the relative cost and size of government over time but makes it practical to implement and maintain far more complex laws and regulations than would otherwise be the case-- something that is essential for the 21st century and beyond.

-- Boom or gloom for the new century? Pick a pundit ["http://www.lanka.net/lakehouse/2000/01/08/fea02.html"] Features, January 8 2000, Lake House and Lanka Internet Services Ltd

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2000-2060s sub trends and detours: The rise of Mall Cities and Aquaculture, and rapid development of many third world countries

Average living standards rise slowly (at times agonizingly slowly) world-wide overall (with the exception of many still developing nations, wherein standards rise dramatically-- Africa undergoes an astonishing improvement over this time, perhaps because it was the furthest behind). Many necessities and luxuries decline more or less steadily in cost over this period-- though it is increasingly costly for anyone to stay on the cutting edge of technology and fashion, with the trendiest, most popular items being enormously expensive and 'bug-ridden' in the first months/several years after their initial appearance, but falling precipitously after that in cost and increasing markedly in quality (in most cases). Many world celebrities meet untimely deaths due simply to having access to the most wonderful technological toys before anyone else-- and before those toys are completely safe to use. World turmoil also dots the decades with temporary but painful disruptions reminiscent of the 70's oil shock experienced by USAmerica in the 20th century. These times are enormously stressful for almost everyone who must work for a living, which spawns quite a bit of 'soak the rich' sentiment in many nations, but especially developed states, where living standards are rising so much more slowly than in developing countries that they are perceived as stagnant, and stresses are at an all-time high.

Predictions by Frances Cairncross, senior editor of the Economist magazine:

Cairncross predicts the declining costs of long distance telecommunications (and increasing accessibility to the internet) will allow the economic rate of growth and living standards worldwide to rise more and faster than it would otherwise. Something the article cited below seems to fail to point out is the flipside of all this connectivity: i.e, huge assets may more rapidly change hands in the new environment too, making for sometimes chaotic transitions to wholly new global economies virtually overnight. Not all substantial asset transfers of this period will be considered legitimate by the powers-that-be, either. Other effects of this connectivity may be perceived as detrimental (with human or machine judgement errors more rapidly propagating globally than they ever could before), and wholly unanticipated 'balancing' effects being performed by markets somewhat beyond the control of human beings to 'increase overall world efficiency' by diverting economic growth/assets from developed nations to underdeveloped areas-- wherever such investment is seen as significantly more potentially profitable than alternatives. Such actions may cause stagnation in already developed nations for years, as the market propels developing nations up the ladder instead.

Other predictions/speculations from Cairncross (according to the article cited below):

* a paradoxical simultaneous decline and rise in government powers over the individual. On the one hand, global commercial sales of books and other products and service reduce the censorship power and economic and legal control of individual governments over citizens. Yet at the same time it will become easier for governments to spy on citizens and locate them as it wishes. The ultimate socio-economic consequences of this paradox are unclear...This paradox makes for greater risks of political miscalculation and greater opportunities for entrepreneurs, as well as increased probability of a roller coaster ride regarding employment, education, law enforcement, and other matters for average citizens in the 21st century.

* less risk of substantial military conflicts in the future, as better communications leads to greater global democracy, and democracies don't war with one another as much as other types of nations do.The risk of major military conflicts may be lowered for much of the 21st century, but it still exists, and other conflicts like trade wars and small scale (but very intense) military actions may actually see an increase in likelihood in the absence of more overtly violent and protracted struggles.

Cairncross has published a book on these subjects: "The Death of Distance".

-- "An economist ponders the impact of technology" by JENNIFER FILES, The Dallas Morning News/Mercury Center, 7-8-98

AUTHOR'S NOTE: 20th century observers might find the plight of average citizens in the developed nations during this time difficult to grasp. The crux of the matter lies in the new amazing life extension and cosmetic modifications options available to citizens in the developed nations today, as well as real estate, high end housing, and other highly desired tangible goods. These items are utterly beyond the reach of most people in developing nations during this time. But they are very expensive even for otherwise well off middle class citizens in the advanced nations. Thus, it's a strain for most USAmerican citizens for example to subscribe to regular immortality treatments of various sorts. Or cosmetically transform themselves into something resembling a movie star or celebrity athlete. Or purchase a modern home with all the best new entertainment and security bells and whistles. The bottomline is that many developed nations' citizens feel deprived here because they cannot afford the obviously much superior spices of life (and other important benefits) the wealthier of the time can. END NOTE.

-- Brave New World by JACK FISCHER, Mercury Center. Found on the web on or about April 17, 1999

Ironically, some of the very best circumstances in which to live during this time (if you're in a typical income bracket) are, for example, to be a USAmerican citizen working abroad in a developing state like Mexico or Vietnam or certain states in Africa, in upper management, enjoying a first world income in a third world country, and being housed in a state of the art corporate Arcology or Mall city.

Lots of diverse elements converged to bring this about (employer and employees, work and home, combined into single immense structures, here called "Mall Cities"). Increasing economies of scale in housing made it far cheaper for many to live in one large space rather than a multitude of smaller ones. Scandalous and corrupt manipulation of prices in single family housing and real estate plots in states like the USA of past decades continued on unabated through the early 21st century, forcing people to try other options. Commuting significant distances via car was less viable and desirable each passing day for many citizens, companies, and governments, due to its gross inefficiency and risk, stress, pollution generation, costs of maintenance to roads and autos, and more.

Increasing global environmental deterioration during the early 21st century also forced housing in general to become virtually hermetically sealed and protected in other ways from life and health threatening factors such as bioweapons, industrial accidents and pollution, nuclear accidents, warfare, and terrorism, and plain old infectious diseases. Defending against such contingencies became more cost-effective in large single dwellings than multitudes of smaller ones for a time-- especially where many smaller abodes were very old and costly to obtain/retrofit, relative to the return on the investment.

Mobility of workers was also enhanced when business and housing was combined in this manner, increasing economic productivity overall and reducing worker stress while increasing opportunities for employer and employee alike. Consider these two aspects alone: employers were virtually guaranteed access to their employees on a moment's notice if need be, while employees were able to convert the hour or more per day otherwise spent commuting into free time instead to spend with their family or for recreation. END NOTE.

-- "When the Mall's Just a Keystroke Away, Should Retailers Worry?" by JOEL KOTKIN, Los Angeles Times, 5-3-98

Predictions from the World Future Society and University of Cincinnati

-- "Web Sites Sneak a Peek at the Future Prognosticators foresee smarter buildings, high-tech lifestyles." by Reuters, Reuters Limited /PC World 1-7-99

-- "THE RETURN OF CORPORATE LOYALTY, '90s STYLE With labor tight, employers are starting to do more to keep workers" by Aaron Bernstein in Washington, Business Week: June 22, 1998 The Workplace: CORPORATIONS

Roughly half of all people on Earth will live in cities by 2050. At least a handful of immense mega-cities will exist in certain regions around the globe by 2050.

Corporations will be forced by competition for workers to offer ever more benefits relative to family life or lifestyles.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

E-villages and various other advanced types of communities are under design and construction in USAmerica in 2001. Local businesses, schools, and utilities are all collaborating in the creation of some of these communities.

-- Keeping Up With the E-Joneses by Andy Patrizio, Feb. 9, 2001, Wired Digital Inc.

-- Eco-friendly living made easy ["http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/features/news.cfm?uNewsID=12226"] By Emma Duncan; 7, Apr 2004; panda.org

"This ground-breaking, energy-efficient eco-village comprises some 80 homes and enough office and work space for 200 people..."

-- Building the future ["http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/features/news.cfm?uNewsId=2623&uLangId=1"] By Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud and Pooran Desai; 24, Jul 2002; panda.org

The automobile industry is replaced as the major driver of employment by general electronics, which is itself replaced by computer software and e-commerce, which is next replaced by research and development and marketing and promotion specialties of various sorts. The older employers usually don't disappear, they just become less important to the total picture; this means unemployment rates tend to dwindle ever lower, except for brief periods of forced downturns spurred by interest rates, political crises, or other elements.

In places like USAmerica, the middle-class was defined in the 1950s-1970s by well paid blue collar workers. This changed to well paid white collar workers in the 1980s through 2000. After 2000 the middle-class begins to become defined more by entrepreneurs and the self-employed rather than employees-- especially since vast improvements in education, training, and support appliances and networks make scientific, engineering, and manufacturing skills far less scarce than before. Other factors leading to lower real income for many blue-collar/white collar employees are the shift in compensation from cash to profit-sharing, housing, medical care, transportation, and more via corporate-sponsered Mall cities and/or increased telecommuting. In other words, compensation becomes more performance and service oriented than straight cash-for-time oriented over this period. This new tack allows corporations to continually build their own real assets over time (increasing their credit ratings with financiers and government agencies), while only 'leasing' their assets out to employees or customers, and thereby reducing real and permanent outlays, increasing long term profit margins, gaining greater control over resources in general, and more flexibility for unexpected contingencies. They pursue the opposite course in human capital, preferring to 'lease' rather than own, and leave training and education to individuals themselves, and/or other institutions-- all of which also allows organizations to shift much accountability and possible liabilities onto employees as well, instead of shouldering them themselves.

Maximum profit for minimum risk, estimated to the nano-cent by the best A.I.s money can buy.

Aquaculture (and other sea/undersea enterprise) booms, agriculture is revitalized. Both fields flourish due to many new opportunities and beneficial new technologies.

Biodegradeable plastics may be grown in genetically modified crop form. Plastic made from petroleum costs $1 per kg. A previous discovery of plastic-producing bacteria could make a flawed (brittle) plastic for $3-$5 a kg. The new GM crop method produces better quality plastic, at possibly lower cost than the bacteria model.

-- Scientists unveil plastic plants ["http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_459000/459126.stm"] BBC News | Sci/Tech, September 28, 1999

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

The raw resources necessary to make certain plastics and synthetic fabrics and carpeting can be garnered from corn rather than crude oil.

-- The Bread Basket Goes Plastic, Wired Digital Inc./Environment News Service, 12.Jan.2000, ens.lycos.com/ens/jan2000/2000L-01-11-01.html

Many USAmerican farmers believe growing industrial hemp could markedly increase their ability to survive in the marketplace. The only problem is the plant's perceived guilt-by-association to its close relative marijuana, which makes many lawmakers refuse to consider hemp for legal cultivation-- despite the fact the hemp cannot be used in any practical way to get high, as marijuana can.

Hemp offers a wealth of renewable resource advantages which could help it replace petroleum in some uses, as well as increase materials competition in other fields, thereby cutting prices for consumers in regards to many products.

Biodegradable hemp can be utilized to produce auto bodywork in ways similar to fiberglass, but stronger. Carpets, clothing, computer boards, even construction materials can be made of hemp. Many major developed countries had already legalized hemp for such purposes as of 2001.

-- Farmers look forward to hemp legalization By CRAIG SAVOYE, February 13, 2001, Nando Media/Nando Times/Christian Science Monitor, http://www.nandotimes.com

Small undersea resorts, aquaculture developments, and mining towns are under construction in many locales by 2030. Virtually all developed nations with coastlines are now exploiting these fields-- with the results being many, many heated conflicts between various states about territorialities-- Japan in particular is somewhat constrained in this regard, which serves to nudge it more into space development instead.

Japan's success in space development spurs other developed nations to play catchup around 2040 and beyond.

The latest find consists of an immense gold deposit in the core of a collapsed undersea volcano 250 miles south of Tokyo Japan, and 4000+ feet deep. Even better, there may be eight other similar sites nearby.

-- "Huge Gold Deposit Found Under Sea Off Japan" By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, Reuters/Yahoo, 2-11-99

-- "Seafloor Study Produces A Copper Bonanza", University of California, 1 APRIL 1998

Frozen methane deposits on the ocean bottoms and elsewhere offer a potential energy source greater than twice as large as all other fossil fuels put together. The potential natural gas from this icy source could amount to 80,000 times more than the entire known global reserves of natural gas circa 2000.

-- House backs study of massive - yet dangerous - energy supply By JIM ABRAMS, Nando Media/Associated Press, April 3, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

Other possibly relevant links include: Triton 650 Luxury Submersible ["http://www.ussubs.com/Manned_folder/manned.triton.html"], The Discovery 1000 Luxury Submarine ["http://www.ussubs.com/Luxury_folder/lux.discov.html"], and SeaView 10 acrylic tourist submarine ["http://www.ussubs.com/CurrProj_folder/current.proj.graphic.html"].

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2005-2060s sub trends and detours: The sins of excess make a roaring comeback

Many health activists of the late 20th/early 21st centuries would be aghast to see what following decades do to their accomplishments. Later advances in many fields have allowed many of humanity's old sins to come back into fashion again, this time with far fewer of the negative consequences of earlier centuries.

Tobacco, alcohol, fast food, gambling, casual sex-- all of these historical 'sins' and others have seen most or all their deleterious effects of past history ameloriated now-- at least for those partakers who prefer their pleasures to be low or no risk in nature. For example, the effects of excessive alcohol intake may be effectively countered in minutes with a particular drug.

-- R.J. Reynolds phasing in tobacco with less of possible carcinogen, Nando Media/Associated Press, December 3, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

-- Anti-cocaine vaccine produces antibodies and is shown to be safe in Phase 1 study conducted by Yale researcher ["http://www.eurekalert.org/releases/yale-acv030700.html"] 7 MARCH 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Karen Peart karen.peart@yale.edu 203-432-1326 Yale University

(Unfortunately, there remains as always a substantial fraction of the population who desire high risk in their endeavors, and so some still seek out the original and dangerous unprotected forms of these items; fortunately the times tend to limit the exposure of even these risk takers to such ills, thereby keeping most dire consequences at bay)

Many people are also ever more willing to risk physical injury from extreme sports and other physical recreations as well. Why? It seems due to many factors: the increasing stress on average consumers in the 21st century; rising living standards among an increasingly time-starved populace making base survival less of a priority and intense personal experiences more sought-after; and improving medical technologies which reduce the time spent suffering and healing, as well as cut the risk of permanent or long term consequences.

-- Amusement park injuries rise 87 percent over 5 years, agency reports By MELISSA B. ROBINSON, September 20, 1999, Nando Media/Associated Press, http://www.nandotimes.com

It may be that any technology which gives the user an added sense of safety also leads to that user taking greater risks in response-- such as seat-belted drivers pushing their cars faster.

A by product of such responses could be a greater injury and death rate among those not so protected, who happen to be present when the greater risk taking individuals do get involved in accidents. I.e., cyclists, pedestrians, and unbelted passengers, in the case of automobile drivers.

Such risk compensation may have profound implications for future human behavior, as risk reduction technologies advance.

-- Do condoms and seat belts promote risk-taking? By Alan Mozes, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, January 28, 2000

News suggesting that AIDS is being rendered less lethal and sickening due to new treatments seems to be causing some people to up their potential AIDS exposure via greater sexual risk-taking.

-- Risky Behavior Follows News of Strong AIDS Drugs By Maggie Fox, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, January 30 2000

Sports and exercise related injuries among the baby boom generation are on the rise.

-- More injuries among active boomers By IRA DREYFUSS, Associated Press, Nando Media/APonline, April 16, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

Improved relaxant drugs of all sorts will become available around 2006.

-- Less Addictive Tranquilizers Not Far Off - Study By Patricia Reaney, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, October 20 1999

People are also increasingly turning to drug aids to control and modify the behavior of their children-- sometimes in lieu of the 'quality time' they've have to spend with their kids themselves to bring about such changes.

Between 1991 and 1995 the USA steadily increased its rate of medication (via antidepressants and stimulants) of preschool age children. At least some of the increase seems due to medical and other costs pressuring care providers into using the drugs as 'quick-fixes' for a wide variety of problems. Some experts are concerned at the potential long term effects on brain development in these children.

-- Study Says More U.S. Kids Given Psychotropic Drugs Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, February 23, 2000

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2058 milestone: Single PC-like devices of this time may possess raw processing power equivalent to the entire human population of the USA circa 2000

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please keep in mind that PCs as known circa 2000 no longer exist, except perhaps in the works of certain historians, hobbyists, children, and others who prefer for one reason or another to fiddle with obsolete technologies. However, as PCs were the primary computing element familiar to everyone around 2000, prognosticators of the time tended to use the PC as a benchmark or representation of the whole technology and industry in their discussions. Thus, it is difficult to avoid the PC concept when dealing with citations or perspectives from that time-- or presenting visions of the future to an audience living in the very early 21st century. END NOTE.

Some experts expect single new PCs to process information as fast as roughly 300 million human minds working in concert, by 2048 (This much raw power will enable even deficient software to often output results not much different from what thousands of individual human minds could produce, regarding many matters).

-- ABCNEWS.com: Man and Machine Blur in Next Millennium By John Lang, Scripps Howard News Service, October 27 1999

Larger devices, of course, are more powerful still. And the software driving the devices has improved to the point that they are sufficiently reliable and smart so that they may often make better decisions instantly than a given individual or even relatively large organization of individuals may, allowed months to do their consideration-- at least regarding certain subject matters.

For this reason many individuals and organizations today (and for quite some time already past) simply allow A.I.s to make many of their decisions, no questions asked. This trend has entered both the private and public sectors, with many businesses and government agencies routinely being guided (or even led) by artificial intelligence regarding many issues.

Though the A.I.s remain only consultants regarding many long term projects or decisions directly affecting the life and liberty of large masses of human beings, they are gradually being given ever more responsibility across-the-board in human affairs. Partly this is justified by the quality of the work. But largely people simply would rather someone (or something) else do all their hardest thinking for them-- as well as take the blame if something goes wrong.

(Of course, many nations still hold human executives and managers legally accountable for any mistakes made by their A.I.s, but still much responsibility gets passed along to the A.I.s anyway)

Ergo, today many A.I.s already enjoy de facto free rein in many areas of their operations. The flip side of this is that most A.I.s are programmed to compete against one another for the benefit of their owners/masters. And typically most A.I. competitors in a given arena of conflict will be pretty closely matched in capacities, with the main differences being slight variances in each one's owner's individual goals or preferences, or the database of info relevant to the contest each A.I. has generated or compiled.

The ensuing struggle tends to pit closely matched opponents against one another, ending in a rough balance overall, where of any given pair each will win roughly 50% of the time. Thus, in the vast majority of the cases the A.I.s are in fact doing exactly what their human owners wish them to do, and doing it well.

The consequences of all this include the enormous rise in global productivity and living standards of certain regions (or among certain virtual organizations) over a large part of the 21st century.

Of course, the titanic virtual struggles being waged in cyberspace by all these A.I.s also means a never-ending escalation in A.I. quantity and quality on all sides-- for anyone who falls behind even slightly in the A.I. race suffers not merely a slight decline of a few percentage points in overall wins (from 50% to 47% let's say), but more like catastrophic plunges from 50% to somewhere between 1% and 10%. This severe punishment for possessing lagging technologies has big implications for society in general-- especially low and middle income citizens. Many people try to 'hot rod' their own custom A.I.s with experimental algorithms, while others lobby government for increased consumer A.I. subsidies or greater restraints on corporate or government A.I. development. But overall the A.I. race serves to widen the gap between rich and poor into a vast gulf as would horrify many late 20th century observers. In many ways the mid-21st century in socio-economic terms shares much with the 17th through 19th centuries, with a relatively tiny elite enjoying the bulk of the wealth, and most everyone else relegated to the lower classes.

-- ABCNEWS.com: Man and Machine Blur in Next Millennium By John Lang, Scripps Howard News Service, October 27 1999

Yes, the global middle-class has suffered a substantial shrinkage over past decades, leaving many people today puzzled at how they can seem to be so far behind or below the elite, compared to the much smaller socio-economic differential which existed between their parents and the elite of their generation.

Other items of note regarding this time include the exploding accessibility to realtime, universal speech recognition and translation across-the-board, with performance similar to that seen in late 20th century Star Trek TV episodes relating to onboard starship computers. Though bank ATMs are rare now, a 2058 version of an ATM could interact with the user as well as or better than the very best and brightest human bank teller of 2000 could have.

The immense power and convenience of relatively low to moderate cost artificial intelligences these days-- plus the compact size of the required hardware and the option to simply access such hardware remotely over a relatively 'dumb' wireless network connection implant-- has moved most people to accept cybernetic implants of some sort into their bodies. Indeed, most children today routinely receive implants not long after birth-- sometimes before.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2060 milestone: Over 50% of the world's energy generation may now be done on a highly individualized and local level; High tech telepathy is emerging

Most all the technology capabilities once residing in common handheld cell phones/PCs/NCs/TVs/set tops circa 2012-2015-- and much more-- is often semi-permanently embedded in one's physical person now (although many folks still prefer NON-embedded technologies for many purposes, opting to 'wear' them instead). Powered by environmental field energization, micromachines, super batteries, and/or natural biological processes, they provide users with virtual telepathy and omniscience of a sort-- a heady convergence of earlier voice, video, email, and net technologies, plus realtime computer analysis to detect deception or emotional states of others, based on items like contextual cues based on facial expressions, body language, or speech of the time (as well as other inputs).

-- "Telling the truth? Truster ["http://www.truster.com/"] system can find you out" By Matthew Nelson InfoWorld Electric, 7-31-98

Though the new high tech telepathy is far from infallible or complete, still for many it now creates an anxiety about 'mental nakedness' similar to that generated for 'physical nakedness' by the 'X-ray vision' effect brought on by earlier technologies. Again, the demand for personal proxy-ware is strengthened, and the physical isolation of the individual increased, in many cases.

This new convergence and accessibility of technologies endures a wealth of teething pains. For example, it takes a couple decades to devise truly adequate two-way filters against the high noise of transient thoughts and decisions by many users which escape into the shared medium often only half-formed or incongruous in topic. Several significant stock market crashes are blamed on "infectious fractional memes" loosed due to these drawbacks. Many high profile corporate and government snafus are also blamed on the new convergence. Too, a few million citizens worldwide who suffer nervous breakdowns claim them to have been caused by the new interfaces.

On the other hand, the new convergence also gets credit for some of the more fascinating and astonishing developments in virtual reality and communities online during this time.

-- "IBM Interns Invent Telepathy Over the Internet" by OMAR L. GALLAGA (a writer for the for the Austin American-Statesman) , Hot Topics, Cox News Service, http://www.coxnews.com/COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE, http://computernewsdaily.com, found on or about 7-14-99

By 2010 it might not be unusual for individual households and small businesses to be not only generating their own power, but sometimes producing surplus power to sell to others. By 2050 over 50% of world energy needs might be met this way. Hydrogen-based fuel cells, solar power, and microturbines may provide the foundation for this. This seachange in power production might make for net reductions in global pollution even as it also cuts energy costs for many. Overall reliability of the global power grid may be enhanced too.

-- People power by Fred Pearce, From New Scientist magazine, 18 November 2000

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2060s subtrends and detours: State-of-the-art war technologies

Author's Note: This lengthy section has been moved to allow greater expansion in text and graphics. Please click here to view the war technologies of the 2060s section.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2060s/ 2070s milestones in on person gear/ lifestyles

The average 'elite' or 'high-middle-class' citizen of the most highly developed states has at minimum a 60% chance of enjoying these items:

(1) a home (very luxurious by 20th century standards, except possibly for physical size) within a massive Arcology or Mall City

(2) simple robot pets and aids, cleaning appliances (i.e., self-cleaning carpets), and toys (toy soldiers now may be micromachines, and capable of actually fighting one another physically for the owner's amusement); robotic imps and elves are available to perform drudge tasks for their owners, such as cleaning and maintenance jobs

(3) an increasingly sophistocated 'second skin' virtually always worn underneath other clothing, and even when otherwise nude, that is automatically removed and re-applied during showering or bathing, and will not rub off due to clothing friction. The 'second skin' insulates against excessive heat or cold and lower magnitudes of electrical shock, allows perspiration/etc. to pass out but doesn't allow any fluids except those used for 2-skin removal to enter. The outermost surface of the 2-skin secretes molecules of decontamination gel at pressure points (i.e., when you touch anything decontamination substances automatically meet any germs or bacteria or even biochemical weapons materials which may be there, and begins neutralizing them). The innermost layer is laced with monoclonal antibodies to prevent infecting agents from entering the body. It also contains other compounds required for skin maintenance, many customized specifically for the individual wearer. This 'second skin' coating is a self-organizing affair; the necessary ingredients are automatically added to bath or shower fluids, and the various layers automatically form on the bather's body in the correct order. Optional security measures for 2-skin removal include a signature molecule unique to the wearer-- i.e., if the wearer 'locked' his 2-skin at application, standard removal agents will not work on it unless and until the proper signature molecule is provided aromatically in the vicinity. Of course, the 2-skin will also begin to deteriorate steadily after a couple weeks and flake off of its own accord if not renewed. High end 2-skins are now electronically controllable to a certain extent; during application selective areas may be opaqued or rendered translucent, and tinted with various colors. These changes may all be reverted back to transparency via the proper aromatic molecule signal-- but the non-transparency affected at application and a single reversion back to the default transparency afterwards are the only changes of these kinds available during the lifespan of one 2-skin application ( a renewal would be necessary to allow another cycle of changes). Porosity is also now settable at both application and once during wear, to better adapt to harsh conditions. I.e., if you plan to be scuba diving in cold water that day, you might make the 2-skin porosity air-tight at application, and then later that day when done swimming 'relax' the porosity to its normal setting, via your unique aromatic signature code. The air-tight setting is also useful in urban environments where you wish to 'dial up' your on-person security regarding possible contamination or infection of various sorts. 2-skin savvy showers always remove any contaminants from and kill infectious agents on the surface of the 2-skin before the 2-skin removal process begins (note that the widespread use of 2-skin is also spurring many citizens to permanently remove virtually all their body hair, in a trend started by women more than a century before (shaving legs, underarms, etc.); now both sexes are often electing to permanently remove body hair, partly for cosmetic reasons, and partly because the 2-skin makes the hair redundant for its original purposes). Note that 2-skin typically does not interfere with the normal symbiotic microbes and larger lifeforms living on the surface skin of wearers, but rather enhances them, for purposes such as more efficient dead skin removal and processing.

A wave of cheap and easily mass produced medicines based on monoclonal antibodies (MABs) is coming which will specifically target the body's main avenues of interaction with infectious agents from the physical world-- mucosal surfaces, like the mouth, nose, and vagina. The entire gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts could be protected with these substances. The strategy is to kill off pathogens before they can get past these interfaces into the main body itself and begin reproducing.

MABs could be produced, distributed, and applied far more easily and cheaply than vaccines, yet do the same jobs, and often faster.

Sexually transmitted diseases, tooth decay, stomach viruses, colds, and many more afflictions might all be preventable with MABs.

Monoclonal antibodies are also being referred to by some as "plantibodies", as they might be produced in standard agricultural settings for under $1.00 per gram.

-- Antibody Revolution Targets STDs, Stomach Viruses, Common Cold, 29 DECEMBER 1998, Contact: Gary Dorsey gdd@jhu.edu 410-516-7906 Johns Hopkins University

Research into the light modifying properties of butterfly wings which create color imagery by clever manipulation of light via microscopic tiling arrangements rather than true differences in pigmentation. It's hoped exploiting this natural phenomenon could lead to skins for military craft which don't allow infrared light to betray their positions to enemies, as well as improved stealth technologies for aircraft. Enhanced anti-counterfeit measures for currency/credit cards would be another application.

Note that an active implementation of this technology would allow the adjustable transparency and tinting of the second skin described above too.

-- "Butterflies Point the Way to Better Tanks" By Nellie Andreeva EDITED BY OTIS PORT, Business Week: March 29, 1999 Developments to Watch, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

-- "$2.5 Million Initiative To Develop Chameleon-Like Nanoshells", Source: Rice University (http://www.rice.edu), 4/19/99, http://riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/reno/Newsrel/1999/19990414_nanoshell.s html, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990419095117.htm, ScienceDaily Magazine

-- Molecular-scale chips by CHARLES PILLER, Nando Media/Los Angeles Times Syndicate, December 4, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

Modern quantum computers of 2030 may use liquid rather than chips to process information, and be a billion times faster than a Pentium III PC.

-- "Future computers will be a billion times faster than a Pentium III PC"By Kevin Maney / USA TODAY, July 15, 1999

Intelligent liquid gels may be the wave of the future, based on things like Belousov-Zhabotinsky reactions

-- Chemical brothers by Duncan Graham-Rowe, From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 25 September 1999

Molecular computers of a rotaxane crystalline architecture could put the power of a hundred workstations into elements of sand grain size, capable of being woven into daily clothing.

-- A New Computer Age Dawns, Wired Digital Inc., Reuters, 16.Jul.99

-- "Crystal Computer Chip Uses Chemistry For Speed"By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, Reuters Limited/["http://dailynews.yahoo.com/"] News Technology Headlines, July 15 1999

(4) an "aVizor", which essentially is a fully integrated on-person computer and micromachine supplemented body suit, capable of acting as a light duty space suit for short periods of time (to protect against accidents, bad weather, and toxic hazards), as well as enhance and extend many natural capacities and skills of the wearer, mentally, physically, and sensory-wise. In other words, the wearer enjoys more stamina, speed, and a bit more strength than they could without it-- as well as superb eyesight and hearing. Built-in A.I. automatically balances body chemistry as required for the situation, as well as guides or tutors the wearer in activities as needed. The wearer is connected to the global nets at all times, and can access a vast wealth of data as desired. In a pinch the aVizor body suit can be partially powered by new biogeneration technologies: that is, natural physical processes can generate electricity for the suit.

-- "Typing makes laptops run for longer" by Jonathan Beard, New York New Scientist issue 24th July 1999, UK Contact: Claire Bowles claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk 44-171-331-2751 US Contact: New Scientist Washington office newscidc@idt.net 202-452-1178

This same faction of the population has many members engaging in illegal or 'gray area' activities as well, in order to garner new and highly prized capabilities from the new online states which are vying for control with old style governments for citizenry and resources. Though the old style institutions have substantial resources in cyberspace, the true virtual states are almost always several steps ahead of them, and thereby able to seduce the citizenry almost at will, with new and enticing offers and opportunities unencumbered with the limitations of laws and regulations from more primitive eras.

And just how are they tempting us so? Refer below to ONE element of the game...

One major way the budding virtual states wrest allegiance of citizenry away from old style governments over decades is a system whereby citizens in good standing with the virtual states enjoy automatic copyrights and patents (within the boundaries and internal transactions of the virtual state) on their personal, original experiences and ideas, as well as a supporting infrastructure which does all the work for a person in offering access to those items to others-- for a fee.

The fee is set by expert software, dependent on market supply and demand and the estimated value of your material. I.e., star ship warp drive engine designs bring lots more than autobiographies.

(The sizes of fees may also be affected by the quality of an individual's own expert negotiating software: the wealthy tend to enjoy negotiating bots much superior to those of common citizens (but the worst circumstance is to possess no such bot at all))

Anyway, all transactions are handled for a citizen transparently, and for 95+% of stuff most folks come up with, the royalties received per access are just a few cents or less. For example, someone visiting an author's automatically generated web page of an interactive comic book, computer spawned from an idea the author mentioned to their machine the night before, might be debited two cents, and the author credited two cents. There's many complexities underlying all this of course, such as a cut of proceeds to finance the system itself, but this is the general idea.

Almost everyone involved is able to make the equivalent of at least a few extra dollars from this system, and many are able to replace their regular jobs entirely with it. A small number of folks actually become millionaires or better virtually overnight via the operation. Average consumers in the system get considerably larger rewards than average producers, due to the huge increase in competition and choice the system brings about, compared to its realtime, bureaucratically red-taped, geo-physical and frequently hugely unjust and expensive 'establishment' competition.

This and other creative uses of online connections stymie every effort by old style governments and corporations to stop it; whenever they encroach too much on the virtual trade, within a year or two voters in democracies replace the culprits with new politicians to remove the barriers again, or else 'vote with their wallet' to put offending corporations out of business (or at least force the companies to scale back their legal or financial assaults).

Old style governments fight tooth and nail against the rise of the new virtual states, but in the end accomplish little more than delay their coming in certain ways, and inflict greater hardship on their own citizens with their tactics.

The reluctance of those in power to embrace the new order is a major reason developed nations like USAmerica collapse in the years to come.

And yes, the old style nations of the world do implement their own online transactions and intellectual property systems; however those systems are far too accomodating to the status quo, compared to those of the virtual states; hence, a common citizen enjoys much greater opportunities with virtual states than the old style geo-politicals.

ADDITIONAL LEGAL NOTE: Though for many years virtual state copyrights and patents and similar mechanisms have no legal standing among traditional, geo-political based international law, increasingly this becomes a moot issue, as the economies of virtual states outstrip old state economies in wealth and innovation. In the end, the new virtual state copyrights and patents are reconciled with those of the old states-- with the virtual items often taking precedence over the validity of claims made via the older system.

As might be expected, this results in a further enormous loss in power and wealth for many institutions and entities previously important to the old geo-political establishment, thereby accelerating and expanding the scope of the changes happening in society and the world economy.


Could the merchant republics of the past, which often filled power vacuums in history, arise again in cyberspace to usurp much of the power of governments and corporations over markets and personal freedoms? And if so, will those geopolitical institutions be forced to radically change to survive?

The scope of individual empowerment and freedom offered by such republics in cyberspace could be heady indeed, compared to what exists elsewhere at the time.

Geography and geo-politics may play ever smaller roles in future world society.

New market forces unleashed by the internet and other new technologies may lead the way to this new world. Confusion and chaos will afflict many during the transition.

As geo-politics become less important, standing armies meant to protect a certain piece of ground may also begin to lose their relevance.

The more such republics (or virtual states) which appear, the more difficult it will be for traditional geopolitical forces to successfully defend against them.

-- a book review by JonKatz of Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition To the Information Age ["http://slashdot.org/features/00/08/29/1620220.shtml"] by James Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg, September 07, 2000

But what about the lives of citizens who are NOT participating in the illegal virtual state activity (at least not significantly)? Well...

The average person in the 2060s is charged a lot more often, and also for things that were free in previous years and decades-- like even for the air he/she breathes, for example. Just one of the reasons for such things is (allegedly) to better enforce environmental quality worldwide by imposing true economic accountability/charges for things like biosphere support. For example, in 1998 clean breathable air was often economically regarded as worthless in most countries, because no one was charged for it. Ergo, the air was polluted at horrendous rates in many locales. Charging for clean air however, radically changes the economics and how governments may deal with pollutors....at least, that's the theory. In practice, in geopoliticals like USAmerica, monies from things like the 'air' tax are usually squandered on matters far removed from their stated purpose....

But the geopoliticals get away with this for quite a while because of the 'official' justification for the tax, AND the fact that most or all miscellaneous charges like this one are sufficiently small as to make each individual tax/charge fairly negligible from a consumer perspective. Technological advances are bringing down the cost of many consumer goods in this fashion as well.

I.e., instead of that fiction novel in 2060 costing you the equivalent of $5-$10 like it did in 1998, in 2060 it costs you only the equivalent of 10 to 50 cents-- or even less.

How can this be? You have your own electronic pad that displays the book for you, and wirelessly downloads it from somewhere when you decide you want it. Oodles of middle-men and overhead, etc., are cut out of the loop, there's no trees cut down, no hard copy books to manufacture, package, store, ship, stock, and retail.

Of course, there's also differing levels of access to the full range of products/experiences related to the book, for which you'll be charged differing amounts. Some readers will want an audio version read to them. Some will want only a summarized version rather than the complete story. Some will want the rights to quote large sections in presentations or speeches, or base their own novelistic efforts on a character in the book. Some will want a 3D realtime movie-type version of the book, while another might want an interactive gaming edition. Another may prefer the story in graphic comic book form. Still others may want versions where violence, sex, and obscene language have been edited out.

You only pay for the form of the work you personally want.

One last thing on this future 'perfect' economy where you're charged for the very air you breathe (but at a very cheap rate):

The flip side is you'll also enjoy growing opportunities to earn money from almost anything you do-- even the fun stuff. The virtual states lead the way in this innovation of course, but at least some of the geopoliticals grudgingly acquiese to allow subsets of the virtual state opportunities to exist aboveground-- although the geopolitical versions are typically much more intrusive and inconvenient than the virtuals-- as well as less profitable. Some folks go so far in this market as to elect to allow others to experience their most private/intimate moments via the medium-- for a fee. But less intrusive opportunities also abound. Such as selling copies of your own expertise in certain areas, like plumbing or whatever-- near the end of the 21st century, biotech is actually starting to allow a combination of electro-magnetic stimulation and bio-chemical injections that effectively transfer memory and knowledge from one person to another, and allow non-destructive duplication of such items as well.

Jerry Pournelle, in the July 1997 issue of BYTE, discussed the "Millicent" technology from Digital Equipment, which supported transactions as small as fractions of a cent online; similar solutions are also being developed by other companies at that time; Businessweek (date stamp 9-11-97) also ran a piece about possible new ways that governments could improve financial justice for their citizens and the world]


RNA extracted from rats knowledgeable of a certain activity, then injected into rats lacking such knowledge, seemed to transfer related behavior between the animals.

-- LEARNING BY INJECTION From Science Frontiers #25, JAN-FEB 1983 by William R. Corliss, citing Brett B. Oden, et al; "Interanimal Transfer of Learned Behavior through Injection of Brain RNA," Psychological Record, 32:281, 1982

The downside to all this? The 21st century is the most stressful one in recorded human history, as civilization grapples with many new technologies, opportunities, and dangers for which it all too often is not ready.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2070s milestones in personal lifestyles; individual isolation increases

The widely available and highly sophisticated virtual reality environments which have become an important part of life in the developed nations over past decades have changed lifestyles substantially for many.

Individuals have tended to start out their social lives in a general shared reality among one or several different communities, then gradually reduced that number to only one association, and finally, split off entirely into their own increasingly unique world: a highly personal reality, involving little or no direct interaction with other biological beings.

The "force of ego" and "spirit of play" are major factors here.

The original shared communities many belong to are in large part the virtual states spoken of throughout this timeline. They are initially drawn to the virtual states partly because the virtuals are much more experimental than their geopolitical competitors-- as well as more tolerant and celebratory of individuality in many ways.

The constant threat of the geopoliticals to not only the virtual states but to individual realities as well helps to maintain connections of various sorts between the virtual communities and personal realities, usually even in the most extreme cases where individuals have become highly isolated from others in most every other way. After all, you never know when you might need aid against a geopolitical intrusion. Plus, the best aspects of the virtual Vinge Singularity which seems to be developing now in regards to society and economics (not hardware technology) can usually be found only in community settings rather than closed personal realities.

A social singularity may be much more likely in the near term than a technological singularity...

...since it wouldn't require nearly the same amount of change in the physical world to take place as a tech singularity would. Anything too dependent on the physical world is necessarily slowed or delayed by things like entropy and other physical laws. On the other hand, ideas, practices, policies, techniques, and the like are far less constricted by the laws of physics.

-- The Socio-technological Singularity ["http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/SINGULAR.html"] PRINCIPIA CYBERNETICA WEB Author: F. Heylighen, Jan 15, 1997 Parent Node(s): The Future of Evolution

The 'lifetime' social schedule for many citizens of the developed nations today is as follows:

A sizeable fraction of their lives is spent in isolation of various sorts-- this fraction fluctuates for many people over time. Young people are typically most interactive with others up through the high school and college years. After that they usually become increasingly more isolated as they succeed in building their own more complete personal worlds. Retired people are typically almost entirely closed off from the rest of the world, rarely straying from the comfort of their own personal realities-- though any perceived threat to their comfortable cocoons from outside is often met with surprisingly strong resistance and politico-economic activism. The elderly also often show a greater capacity to unite and cooperate towards a single goal than younger generations, due to their typically comparatively deeper socialization experiences of youth. This cooperative edge often makes it more difficult than expected for younger factions to succeed at changing certain governmental policies over the objections of older citizenry.

Exceptions to the above typical social history include certain socio-metric stars; people who serve as 'hub' personalities or leaders for others. This category includes mentors and teachers, among others.

The wealthy of course enjoy more options for such isolation and custom realities than others, and much earlier too.

Many elements above were inspired at least in part by notes of a televised interview/conference involving Virgina Postrel and regarding her book "The Future and its Enemies" in late 1998/early 1999

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2073 milestone: It's verified by now that "invisible man" suits are among the most advanced equipment in military high tech...

...and possibly have been for some time now.

These suits do a remarkably quality job of making their wearers undetectable to observers under many conditions. Neither radar nor sonar may detect ground-based wearers at ranges greater than a few hundred yards. Suits possessing optional thermal imaging protection too cannot be detected via body/hardware heat by typical military scanners in ranges greater than 60 yards. Natural human vision of average acuity (and alerted to watch for the unusual) may detect wearers within a hundred yards in an open, level field (no natural cover), and full daylight-- if the wearer moves while in the observer's field of sight. Where environmental conditions are less than perfect, the invisibility suits work even better (though there remain certain problems in regards to heavy rainfall).

Such invisibility was available to certain military aircraft and land vehicles as long ago as 15-20 years before (and even earlier, in far smaller numbers)-- but now certain individual personnel enjoy the capacity too.

The invisibility suits are still costly, and usually suffer power failure in under 24 hours if access to suitable recharging facilities is denied them. Therefore they are NOT standard issue for regular soldiers, but rather only supplied as needed for special forces and intelligence missions.

Sources include research into the light modifying properties of butterfly wings which create color imagery by clever manipulation of light via microscopic tiling arrangements rather than true differences in pigmentation. It's hoped exploiting this natural phenomenon could lead to skins for military craft which don't allow infrared light to betray their positions to enemies, as well as improved stealth technologies for aircraft. Enhanced anti-counterfeit measures for currency/credit cards would be another application.

-- "Butterflies Point the Way to Better Tanks" By Nellie Andreeva EDITED BY OTIS PORT, Business Week: March 29, 1999 Developments to Watch, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

-- "$2.5 Million Initiative To Develop Chameleon-Like Nanoshells", Source: Rice University (http://www.rice.edu), 4/19/99, http://riceinfo.rice.edu/projects/reno/Newsrel/1999/19990414_nanoshell.s html, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990419095117.htm, ScienceDaily Magazine

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2075 milestone: Micro-hands enter the consumer market

These are basically more advanced versions of the high tech gloves available in previous years. The difference now is that the gloves are going beyond passive sensing capabilities for the user, and into active manipulation of objects of a scale mostly inaccessible to human beings otherwise.

The major additions to the gloves are two-fold in top-of-the-line heavy duty models: firstly, one or more fingertips on the gloves may now create on demand special tool tips with which to address many types of fasteners, gripping and cutting needs, etc., that might be encountered in daily life. Yes, we're talking Swiss Army Knife utilities built into your finger tips-- only these are motorized, and the user can feel them in use just as if they were living extensions of their biological appendages. The glove fingers themselves are reinforced to prevent injurious reaction to torques applied by the tips, and consumer gloves exert fairly small torques anyway (compared to say, a construction worker's glove). The possible narrower-than-fingers yet secure gripping extension possibilities alone would have been greatly savored by many late 20th century users installing items like computer RAM cards in cramped quarters inside their Mac/PC boxes.

But the Swiss Army Knife aspect is merely a new modern convenience; the real star of the show in the new gloves is their micro-hands technology available in the palms of the hand worn appliances.

Micro-hands (to the unaided human eye) are micromachine shops shaped much like those thick flattened egg-shape plastic change purses with access slits often found in USAmerican souvenier shops during the 20th century.

Micro-hand enclosures of course are much smaller than the coin purses mentioned above-- on the order of one inch or so in length, and roughly the same in depth (when open, similar to the pinched open condition of the souvenier coin purse model)

Inside the enclosure are the working micro-hand implements. Numbers can range from a single micro-hand in the cheapest units, to two or three in higher end models.

The user may cup his gloved hand either palm up or palm down to use his micro-hand(s) (a confirmation command for opening is also required, to prevent accidental damage to the unit). Palm down is typical to work with tiny objects which are fixed in place, palm up for objects you can move and place into the enclosure yourself. In less typical cases microhands may even be mounted on fingertips like the cruder, larger tools described before-- but that is more suited to thieves and crackers or manufacturing line workers than casual consumers. And such exposed microhands devices are much more vulnerable to damage as well.

When closed, the microhand housing robustly protects its delicate contents from harm. When open, the container may shape its lips to conform to any object too large to fit entirely inside, in order to minimize risks of damage to both the work object and the microhands themselves, as well as to minimize the worktime required.

The microhand enclosure has its own specialized interior sensors for observation of the microhands at work, which may display images wirelessly to a user's usual imaging interface. If palm up, the user can also use other available independent visual apparatus to observe and direct the work. Due to the tiny nature of the tasks usually being performed, any device which can be inserted whole into the microhand enclosure usually requires little or no special care by the user in restricting their grosser hand movements during the operation. If the microhand enclosure is being applied to a larger or fixed object however, extra precautions against unplanned movements must be applied to prevent damage to the microhands or the target device, similar to measures taken prior to brain surgery circa 1998-2000. One option is to detach the microhand enclosure from the glove and attach it to the worksite, rather than maintaining connected status. Wireless communications are possible between glove and enclosure, although effective ranges are typically no greater than average living quarters distances. Several alternatives are usually available for powering disconnected microhand units.

Though to early 21st century and older readers such microhands devices may seem extravagant in the extreme-- perhaps even useless-- this is far from the case circa 2075. The reason? Massive miniaturization of many components continues unabated during the 21st century, rendering accessibility to a great many items practically impossible for purposes of repair, maintenance, or even reconfigurations, without a set of micro-manipulation tools such as these.

-- Hello, tech designers: This stuff is too small ["http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2003-03-03-tiny-tech_x.htm"]; USA Today

One big driver of this miniaturization is the huge demand for ever more onperson electronics and micromachines, sometimes embedded in clothing or the body itself, as well as the profusion of micromachine-based toys and other personal appliances on the market now. Hard economics and rapid model changes also act to reduce the convenience involved in modifying the configurations of such devices after purchase (helping reduce the effective lifespan of the devices in terms of consumer tastes, so that consumers will tend to replace them more frequently rather than modify existing units).

For a circa 1990-1998 illustration of what 2075 microhands are useful for, you need look no further than the Star Trek series The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, wherever crew members are forced to reconfigure small devices such as their communications badges and TriCorders with fingernails and possibly microtools apparently stored for just that purpose in the badges/other appliances themselves. The need or want for such micro-manipulation in daily life will mount steadily throughout the 21st century.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2075 milestone: Major historical world religions are melting under the weight of broad and deep education of global populations, and the consequences of their own often heavy hand in politics, economics, and technology-- while advanced technology/intelligence/extraterrestrial-related worship is soaring among some quarters.

By this date basic religious tenets of miracles, an afterlife, and historical concepts of a Supreme Being have been pretty much debunked and/or trivialized by scientific discoveries and advances (the previous thorough destruction of Jerusalem and other sites previously deemed holy and sacrosanct also greatly weakened worldwide beliefs).

The world's major religions were already suffering mightily for the misery they brought about in previous decades and centuries (information also brought into sharper focus around this time by a very popular scholarly work on the subject), as well as from the much improved techniques in education and training that are draining the world of the ignorance, poverty, fear, and hate on which so many archaic human institutions thrived in the past.

Advances in artificial intelligence, resulting in widespread entities often indistinguishable from human in intellectual interaction (passing the "Turing test" with flying colors), are also adversely impacting traditional religions, by seemingly removing humanity ever further from the center of the universe, in a manner first begun by notables such as Galileo and Darwin centuries before. The more ways mankind can be analyzed, simulated, recreated, modified, and improved upon, the less special, less unique, and less naturally improbable the species seems to be. And the less need there seems for a deity to father (or explain) humanity's existence, as well. For many people of the late 21st century, many traditional religious notions seem increasingly obsolete, outmoded, and impractical, in light of their own personal daily reality.

Then there is the wholesale introversion taking place within the populations of the developed nations. The need and desire for physical interaction with others is declining markedly with the help of new technologies and demands of satisfactory safety and security and modern time constraints. Thus, families and friends are becoming much closer-knit and the relationships lasting longer, than during many previous decades. The extended family is back with a vengence. The astonishing resources available online also enhance and expand this phenomenon in many ways. Thus, the need or want for companionship or guidance from external sources (such as religious institutions) shrinks tremendously.

-- Brave New World JACK FISCHER, Mercury News staff writer. Mercury Center. Found on the web on or about April 17, 1999

Lastly, large advances in medicine are repairing instances of genetically based retardation and hormonal imbalances which render sufferers vulnerable to easy manipulation, and expanded lifespan and life quality related technologies are greatly diminishing the fear of death and arbitrary punishments in some mythical after-life, even as rapidly rising personal capabilities (due to technology) make things once considered God-like much more mundane and reproducible by anyone, if only suitably equipped. What miracles still elude our grasp appear to require only another few decades to achieve.

-- "Technology is the newest religion, scientist says" by JANE LAMPMAN of the Christian Science Monitor, Nando.net, 7-9-98

However, just because major ancient religions are fading away does not mean all such problems and related matters are completely solved. The Old Religions (or some of them anyway) did have some good points about them, such as encouraging people to get along and be tolerant and hospitable and generous to others, as well as to care for family and friends. With historical religions fading fast other supporting structures must be created to replace them in maintaining a certain civility and economy of expectations in human behavior. The ever expanding surveillance and constant monitoring by government and business, as well as you and your own next door neighbors' observation of one another, helps somewhat in this task. Much streamlined and easier communications helps reduce misunderstandings. Rising living standards for most everyone lessen envy and strife. The massive decentralization going on in many government and corporate agencies makes it more difficult for single individuals to push personal and/or egotistical agendas to the point of sparking large conflicts, as happened so often in the past with leaders such as Adolf Hitler and others.

There also remains a substantial number of citizens still vulnerable to some form of cultist manipulation, though the times and circumstances make such enterprises so difficult now that the largest rarely reach a membership numbering more than a thousand, and it requires much more than simply one charismatic figure to hold more than a few dozen cultists together (the top leadership of the most successful cults now resemble three to ten member musical groups of the 20th century, who not only give wild and breathtaking concert-like performances, but also produce intimate VR scenarios exclusively for their followers, and sometimes star in big budget mass entertainment features as well, that make them recognizable to non-cult members too (and faciliate recruitment)).

Such cult leaders typically maintain strong telecommunications links to their members 24 hours a day, in one way or another, which helps strengthen their hold on followers. It's difficult for governments to regulate these links, as they are very similar to routine links maintained by many corporate and government agencies and even military organizations of the day.

Most people are not susceptible to such cults, but many of those that are may still be safe, as the cults increasingly target wealthier recruits rather than poorer ones, in order to maintain their rich lifestyles. People with few financial assets are usually rejected unless they possess some other quality that cult leaders believe may help in the recruitment of others, such as extraordinary physical attractiveness, or special technical talents beneficial to link maintenance, and similar items.

I said above few such organizations nowadays attract more than a thousand members....but the handful that do can become very large, splintering into specialized factions just as traditional religions did centuries before. Among the largest is the ET (extraterrestrial) group, which believes fervantly in many things not of this Earth....the most militant of the groups are devoted to being prepared to repel invasion by malevolent aliens equipped with technologies superior to our own, while the majority of other factions are more prone to welcome alien visitors than oppose them.

Other major new religious and quasi-religious groups follow themes related to advanced technology and/or higher intelligences (both organic and inorganic) in general (with some smaller splinter groups maintaining instead a more generic 'futurist' focus, with varying goals). Similar to the extra-terrestrials, the intelligence worshippers tend to be in one of two camps: one anticipating some super A.I. to appear and solve everyone's problems, and another bent on killing any super being which might arise to such overwhelming dominance over humanity. Both anticipate the approach of a Vinge Singularity (or something just this side of one) over the horizon. There's hybrids of extra-terrestrial/intelligence worshippers too, which expect whatever extra-terrestrials do show up to be decidedly inorganic (A.I.) in nature...

...this new class of pseudo-religions is based not on miracles or divine visions, but on money and theoretical scientific possibilities (no matter how unlikely), as well as presumed cover-ups and conspiracies on the part of old style governments in some instances. If a reputable scientist somewhere can be found to admit something has the smallest chance of being true (and enough folks are willing to buy souveniers/accessories to that end), it's apt to become the basis of a new worldwide market-- or religion-- or both. Similar things can happen based on the opinions of a small group of widely acclaimed celebrities with no scientific credentials at all, too (as happens in one case due to comments from a popular actress who happens to possess a physicist for a parent).

As can be imagined, this presents an unending opportunity for unscrupulous entrepreneurs and con men-- and well-known scientists and engineers, too. Various technological niches and theories get their own cults, and are nourished to no small extent by ever improving virtual reality technologies and other elements, easily capable of 'proving' to many people that anything can be true...the newly emerging virtual states have also been encouraging certain aspects of this phenomena over decades, as cynicism and mistrust towards the physical states only strengthens the virtuals-- while also fueling them income-wise.

A further complicating factor to all the above about religions and cults in the late 21st through early 22nd centuries is the appearance of contagious mind-altering viruses coming into use by an alarmingly high number of governments, corporations, and other organizations, designed to affect matters regarding politics, religion, morals, and business. The myriad of competing infections here for a time generate brief periods of utter chaos in isolated spots around the globe, before everyone realizes what's happening and a huge uproar about the scandal (as well as new technical aids by which consumers may resist the new menace) brings it under control pretty much before the new practice manages to put a permanent imprint on humanity. A few high profile elections and stock market results are overturned as a result, and a few organizations outright banned in some areas (as they are found to have been using viruses as tools of recruitment), but the 'Big Fish' for the most part escape unscathed here. This mind altering virus technique is but another nail in the coffin of old time geo-political states, as world citizens everywhere tire of the ancient game of power-seekers trying to usurp everyone's free will in whatever manner they can.

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

2080 milestone: Cheap personal transportation makes a leap into the air

Recent breakthroughs in automated piloting and collision avoidance, microjets, and other technologies like micro-machine control surfaces are now showing up in wonderful and safe flying machines almost anyone can afford. For a variety of reasons the technology remains limited to small one and two person craft for some years (small payloads)-- so for a time the wealthy wishing for larger craft of this nature may only envy their poorer neighbors and teenage kids this new access to the air. These early economical consumer VTOLs are reminiscent of the first 'sports cars' of the mid-20th century, in that they are usually uncomfortable and cramped, yet fun, and offer a rapid form of intermediate range transit for their owners.

As far back as 1998 development work was proceeding on cheap methane microrockets only 3 mm thick and 1.5 cm wide, offering 15 Newtons of thrust, and the micropumps to feed them

-- Pocket Rocket, November/December 1998 Prototype; Technology Review ["http://www.techreview.com/"]

Tiny rockets built like computer chips and offering only a few pounds of thrust each could revolutionize both atmospheric and space flight. Mini-magnetospheric plasma propulsion is also a promising future technology for space propulsion.

-- FLY ME TO THE STARS by Tim Beardsley; Scientific American: Technology and Business: December 1999

Image of a small, sleek circular winged civilian aircraft of the future
Above image based on patented concept of a futuristic single-engine aircraft some 20 foot in diameter (not much larger than a 1997 automobile) by Jack M. Jones of Newnan, Georgia, USA, circa 1997

To put the new aircraft into 20th century terms, they become the 'motorcycle' type vehicle of the late 21st century (only with true VTOL (Vertical-Takeoff-Or-Landing) capabilities any 20th century air force would have envied).

Though much more expensive and harder-to-pilot VTOL aircraft have been around for a long time, only now do VTOL craft start to become sufficiently numerous and easy-to-use so to have substantial effects on the world economy. Think about it: the ultra concentration/centralization of air traffic at airports may quickly be reduced via such craft, which can be parked and stored pretty much as easily as a 20th century automobile. The vast three dimensional airspace of the skies offers thousands of times more available space than the cramped two dimensional checkerboard of land-locked streets did to automobiles-- thereby making accidental collisions near impossible (note that in the past most collisions took place over or near congested airports; places these new VTOLs almost never would be taken). Automated piloting of aircraft is actually less strenuous computer-wise than driving a ground vehicle-- so it's much safer, too. Personal air travel is much faster than most personal ground travel; so ubiquitous VTOLs bring about more free time, as well as shorter travel times and delivery delays. Widespread VTOL use also opens up access to previously hard-to-get-to real estate, like wilderness or undeveloped areas lacking roads, and mountains and islands. Indeed, roads themselves are far less needed, once a substantial portion of the population and their supporting industries are traveling via VTOL. Highway construction and maintenance costs decline due to less wear. Real estate prices level off or decline, due to a greater effective supply of accessible land.

Of course, there's always a flip side. Here, ubiquitous VTOL ownership leads to substantial new security concerns for places like airports and airbases and factories-- as saboteurs/terrorists no longer even notice fences, gates, and other land-limited measures when they drop in. On the other hand, the limited payloads of these early consumer craft help minimize the threat of significant thefts perpetrated with the vehicles (but for cases of truly tiny packages regarded of high value).

Ubiquitous VTOLs also are another major blow to local physical stores and other businesses. Never mind that the global net and rapid delivery services have already decimated such enterprises in many cases-- now consumers may more easily than ever bypass local vendors with aircraft which may journey to other cities and towns far faster and more conveniently than any readily available vehicle before them.

The $30,000 gasoline powered Gen H-4 build-it-yourself kit, an open air one seat VTOL (mini-helicopter) capable of speeds up to 60 miles per hour and altitudes of 10,000 feet, was planned to go on sale in America in 2000. The craft offers up to 60 minutes of flying without refueling, and an emergency parachute. Its makers claim piloting requires only a few hours of training, and no license will be necessary to operate the craft. The manufacturer was still attempting in early 2000 to get permission from the USA government to sell the craft.

-- Japan To Sell One-Seater Copter ["http://www.discovery.com/news/briefs/20000327/tech_copter.html"], Associated Press, March 27, 2000

Signposts 2050-2081 Contents

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