The Things I Think About Sometimes

Okay, so it’s not always as inane as the tweet above. Actually, I spend a lot of time thinking about the future (see also: my StandOut! results), and not in a daydream-y, fanboy kind of way, but in a more concrete, “what are the possibilities and how can I prepare for them?” kind of way.

Economies and Nation States

These are the things that science fiction geeks think about when they realize that putting people on Mars isn’t going to happen anytime in the next four decades.1 See also: Charlie Stross. I’m pretty sure the jobless future is going to be a thing, but I’m not sure how it’s going to manifest itself. Maybe a Jetsons-ian 4-hour work week? What becomes of the economy? Will there be competing economies (traditional vs. cryptocurrency vs. reputation economy2?) inside a single nation-state? Will there even be a need for nation-states? Again, I don’t know.

I have a feeling that we’re going to see some serious Balkanization in the coming decades as various areas split off and go their own way economically and politically. Whether those are driven by ideology or culture or some combination thereof remains to be seen. But I’d stake money on this happening in Canada and the U.S. in the western hemisphere, and in parts of western Europe, as well.

Health and the Human Experience

This is area I think about frequently as I age and the abuses that I’ve piled upon my body over the past decades have begun to catch up with me. I won’t recount that list here, or in the footnotes, but let’s just say that it is both varied and extensive. Cancer seems likely to be cured in the future, on a case-by-case basis, and implants of various types don’t seem to be far off as we learn to interface the nervous system with machines. Eventually the shit we do to ourselves on the genetic level is going to catch up with science fiction, too.

Where I find this line of inquiry interesting is in contemplating the halo around health — what’s the future of exercise like (and sporting events, for that matter)? What happens to the snake-oil peddlers that try to sell distilled water as a cure-all for whatever ails you this week? How do they adapt to a future like this?

So what do I think is going to happen? Well, until we move past the genome and start looking into the proteome and epigenetics mroe deeply, I think we’re going to be hopping along in fits and starts. I don’t think we get lifespans much longer than 100 years, but I think that there’ll be a massive difference in lifespans of the 1% versus that of the 99%.

Computing

I expect a future full of dumb assumptions by poorly designed “expert” systems. This will all culminate in automated marketing systems that will try to sell me tampons after I use the wrong debit card at the store, email marketing arriving in Spanish because I used the word “pendejo” in public once, and my cat getting its own credit card.

Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to see computing grow in intelligence nearly as much as it grows in pervasiveness.

Entertainment

If it’s at all possible, I think that movies/TV are going to get more and more stupid — to the point where it’ll just be montages of explosions and people toughing out gunshot wounds that would drop a rhino. This, of course, guarantees that Michael Bay will always be employed, which is sad. Sad for us.

Books? Well, with the way anyone can publish to the Amazon store now, I expect it’s going to become more difficult to separate the worthy stuff out of a gigantic sea of bullshit. And that will suck. Seriously, Amazon? Can you set up a system where low ratings trigger a review by an Amazon editor who then decides whether or not the book stays on the store or is de-listed? That would make all our lives so much easier. If I ever again have to read a book where someone doesn’t know the difference between “pedal” and “peddle” or understand the your/you’re and there/their/they’re issues, I’m going to go start shooting down your delivery drones. (Not really.)

P.S.

Per Esquire magazine (of all places), it’s totally cool to wear cargo shorts.

Footnotes

1. Yes, yes, Elon Musk. I know.
2. Mental note: re-read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom again. Soon.