The following is written in response to my friend Rick Searle’s Far Future Project.
It is an attempt to prognosticate the future 500, 10,000, 1 million, and 1 billion years from now.
A series of medical breakthroughs make it possible to extend human life for most people to over 150 years. Most medical conditions can be treated cheaply in outpatient settings making hospitals unnecessary except for severe trauma.
At the same time, increasing automation and automation make most jobs unnecessary, including many highly technical jobs.
These two developments initially produce a major crisis across the world. Unemployment becomes an endemic problem that no amount of growth can solve while the numbers of retired grow with the extended life span. Governments in Europe and the more developed countries of the Americas careen from crisis to crisis as government revenues plummet and outflows for retirees balloon. Exports of manufactured goods from China, India, and the developing countries shrink as manufacturing moves closer to the place of consumption where it can be performed more cheaply with robots. China faced with a rebellion from its masses imposes a harsh dictatorial regime that provides access to life extending medical treatments only for the elite. The Indian economy collapses and the country breaks apart into various regional governments. Third World governments generally adopt the China approach combined with the extermination of their opposition.
The development of alternative energy sources reduces the reliance of the world on the oil-producing countries. Most Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Dubai are overthrown by radical Muslim groups which impose Muslim law and prohibit life extending medical treatments. The last technological issues with fusion power are resolved by the end of the 21st century and almost unlimited electrical power becomes available. The power production is able to be miniaturized so that large power grids become unnecessary.
The crisis of life extension and automation is largely resolved by the mid 22nd century in Western developed countries. The solution involves abolishing retirement, nationalizing the robot factories, wealth distribution, incentives to reduce population size, and redefining work. Philosophy and the arts flourish. Within a century only one in 20 families have children. Society begins to invest in humans no matter what activity they perform on the assumption that the advances and ideas of even one in a thousand people will pay for the costs of the others. China and India follow in this same course in the late 22nd century. A coalition of developed countries by the mid 22nd century negotiate similar solutions for the rest of the world with various nuances for each country. The Middle East remains staunchly Muslim but abandons its radicalism and now science and education begin to flourish once again in this area.
Dire climate change predictions of global warming do not come to pass as the world enters a period of cooling between 2016 and 2042. Scientists realize their models failed to account for natural climatic variations, subtle solar interactions, and various natural dampening effects that moderate temperature increase. As alternative energy sources gradually reduces the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, climate change becomes largely a non-issue. By the 24th century, a new climate concern arises as scientists predict the onset of a new glacial period.
The implantation of cybernetic devices into humans becomes commonplace. The devices can increase intelligence, provide virtual reality simulation, increase sensual acuity, and also allow instantaneous communication across the world. A new worldwide web develops where people’s thought can be communicated instantly throughout the world.
Exploration of the solar system discovers life on Mars and Jupiter moon. The life, although different from that on Earth, seems to have the same biochemical basis.
As a new glacial period ensues, the reduced number of humans move out of the cities to smaller self-sufficient population centers located closer to the equator. These centers subside primarily on synthetic food with traditional foods reserved for special occasions.
Other humans begin living in outer space with several enormous colonies established at the Sun-Earth Lagrangian points.
New propulsion systems enable the development of spacecraft that can accelerate to 10% of the speed of light. Several adventurers organize expeditions to nearby star systems in crafts carrying several hundred people. One of these finds an Earth-like planet with life similar to Earth’s prior to the development of mammals and establish a colony on it. The other expeditions are never heard from again.
A world-wide culture evolves with a new language that is an amalgam of English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.
Traditional religions begin to fade as new religions spring up based upon shared religious experiences that can be communicated to large numbers of people at the same time. Worship becomes a real-time sharing of experience with gurus able to transmit their own experience to others.
Lifespan increases to the point that barring accident and trauma humans are almost immortal. Increasingly, however, humans opt to end their life voluntarily as a result of new religious teachings and technologies that enable their memories to preserved in a collective memory bank. Biological reproduction is infrequent but still occurs.
Earth narrowly escapes a catastrophic collision with a large comet by changing the comet’s path.
Toward the end of this time, a growing discontent with the climate causes scientists to propose climate engineering to reverse the glacial period by deliberating releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
1 million years
Humans have established colonies on several nearby star systems and are beginning to evolve into several sub-species. Some of the colonies reject technology after they reach their destinations and live as simple farmers. Those on Earth begin to limit the use of cybernetic implants and begin to intervene directly into the human genetic code. They are able to reorganize the genetic code even after birth to achieve super intelligence and other powers. Humans in space become increasingly dependent on cybernetics and begin to resemble the Borg of Star Trek.
Contact is made with extraterrestrials using a newly discovered quantum communication method. The method permits the Earth to join a galaxy-wide culture that has been developing and thriving for nearly a million years. Intelligent life elsewhere is very different from humans but all of it is still based on DNA and proteins.
1 billion years
Human life on Earth and many of the nearby star systems is destroyed by a supernova. Only more primitive life survives on these planets; however, colonies of humans have proliferated across the galaxy and many of these escape that fate, although many of these human descendants barely look human.
Under the direction of galaxy-wide culture, a new form of consciousness – a Galactic Being – begins to evolve based on direct manipulation of the energies in the quantum void. This Galactic Being is able to control the future evolution of the Universe.