|-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com|
Much of this has come about because of the ongoing shortage of workers for many decades now, and as a result of enormous productivity gains and deep automation via artificial intelligences and lesser measures, as well as accelerated technological innovation in general, of what were once vast government and corporate bureaucracies.
The chronic worker shortage, along with rising living standards and increased democratization in general worldwide have combined with the global empowerment of women to make for drastic changes in human society. For previous millennia aggressive, competitive, and territorial males largely ruled global affairs, eventually bringing the world to the brink of annihilation or global totalitarianism in the 20th and 21st centuries. Perhaps due to luck more than anything else, the top levels of the hierarchy finally realized their folly before it was too late, and the pendulum of control began to slowly swing the other way.
By the 2150s women have gained near equivalency (or better) with men in political and economic matters-- at least in the developed nations, which serve to drive worldwide change. The attendant shift in perspectives has led to drastic declines in military budgets worldwide, with the freed up resources being directed instead into medical, educational, and commercial channels. As a result the world is becoming a much better and more rational place. Of course, the ongoing seachange from geopolitical to virtual state organization of humanity is also important to the process.
The shifting balance between male and female control of the world is also changing the nature of capitalism itself.
Fighting and conflict seem to initiate chain reactions in the males of species observed by scientists, possibly leading to an endless loop of aggression and struggle. Merely witnessing such struggles increases the chances that a given male will himself become involved in fights in the future.
Perhaps worse, these male tendencies seem virtually undiminished even when some combatants are directly related to one another.
It seems that the world economy and society themselves were likely heavily shaped by these decidedly male characteristics during the Industrial Revolution, and later through the 20th and 21st centuries.
In light of the effect that witnessing violence has on encouraging still more violence among males, the huge emphasis on violence since the 1960s in the entertainment media of western nations may have been most unfortunate-- considering those same nations tended to be controlled in following generations by males raised in an environment which saturated them with same. Might the late 20th century and early 21st have turned out differently if violence in the media of the time had been more subdued?
Would the arts/sciences of economics and governance developed over past millennia have been more humane and equitable if women had had a larger say in their development?
-- Must men fight? Probably by ANNE McILROY, January 27, 2001, The Globe and Mail; Globe Interactive; Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc.
The more gargantuan governments and corporations have become the providers of 'static' or little-changing technologies and commodities while smaller and nimbler organizations have taken the lead in more 'dynamic' goods and services. At the low end of the production scale (and with the superb efficiencies and quality control now available in modern industry) so long as a company can generate a minimum 0.1% profit on an item, it will continue to produce it. Once the margin falls below that consistently for several months or more, that item is dropped and made a candidate for 'static' tech to be picked up by larger scale subsidized gov/corp production. Not all tech is picked up this way-- only tech that was substantially accepted by the free markets, and for a lengthy period, are usually picked up this way for future perpetual 'static' status.
Here's an example: A cooperative of 'big' government and 'big' corporations (with a bit of incremental help from smaller entrepreneurial outfits to fill in the gaps) manufacture the core components shared by almost all personal consumer vehicles, and other large and relatively complex appliances.
However, there's no such thing as enormous automobile manufacturing plants anymore, and only a relative few car lots.
Instead, when, say, a rural resident orders a new car, the proper components are shipped within hours to a local shop in the buyer's neighborhood, where it is assembled for the buyer (again, in a matter of hours), who then takes delivery. Assembly of the entire automobile likely required little or no physical contact from a human being. These local assembly shops dot the landscape of the mid 22nd century like restaurants do the late 20th.
For smaller, less complex items, such as powerful computer workstations, entertainment centers, major and minor household appliances, furniture, etc., the components might often bypass the neighborhood assembly shop to arrive directly at the buyer's home, where the delivery service obligingly places the shipment directly into the input gate of the home's Shopwrx.
Virtually all modern middle-class homes in mid-22nd century developed states possess a Shopwrx or similar device-- it's considered as essential as bathrooms or kitchens were to late 20th century folk.
A typical 22nd century Shopwrx is a garage-sized miniature manufacturing facility, designed and programmed to assemble the components fed to it into a finished appliance or whatever within a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the complexity and physical scale of the job. It even removes items from their packaging all on its own too.
The main limitations on Shopwrxs are usually size (though in some advanced scientific, industrial, and military applications processing power and energy supplies too may be limiting factors). Therefore, the wealthier you are, the bigger your Shopwrx is likely to be. If sufficiently large, a personal Shopwrx can do the same jobs as the commercial assembly shop of an entire neighborhood (like build full size vehicles and the like).
One other major limitation of consumer Shopwrx is that they typically may only assemble popular designs based on prefabbed components from the current 'static' tech list. If you desire to build something not on the list, or even significantly customized in a non-listed fashion, you have to go to the next level: a designer fab lab, much like what's used to produce profitable 'dynamic' tech by the fiercely competitive entrepreneurial shops of the day.
Of course, you can also merely order the custom item you want from an already established designer lab shop, without any need to buy your own lab. But both these avenues are relatively expensive. As of the mid-22nd century, buying your own designer fab lab is (for the average citizen) as large a financial commitment as purchasing an average cost home was for a typical 20th century USAmerican. And the cost of less than ten average purchases of a product from a designer lab company would just about buy an entire (medium duty) design fab lab all its own.
All the above describes the infrastructure existing in many or most rural areas at this time; Arcologies, and metropolitan and suburban areas are structured quite differently in regards to these elements. Though the principles remain similar, all four classes of human community during this period share little in the details of their individual arrangements.