The future will be nothing like the past. The trick is, the future is now. That is one of the rules of life. We all know of somebody, a cancer patient or a diabetic in our midst who was fine, healthy, vibrant even – a routine checkup, perhaps a scratchy throat or a headache that won’t go away and BOOM, the diagnosis. Stage 4, and then they are gone. There’s something prophetic about that, things don’t move fast until they do. History slow rolls like a snowball until gravity takes over. There is no way to stop an idea whose time has come; there is no way to stop the future that has arrived.
There is no way to stop the arriving ordeal.
That’s what 2030 is about. Part of my ongoing effort to read, learn about, document and perhaps prepare for a future that will look nothing like the past. The comfortable past that was not the norm for very long – maybe 70 years – but that is several generations, enough to think it was eternal. Permanent. To be sure not for everybody. The Russians and the Congolese and the Cambodians did not partake of the Pax Americana. They were at the edges of empire, not inheritors of the bounty. It was not their Pax after all, so we shouldn’t feel too guilty.
Except that now our Pax is over. Not in a dramatic “The Vandals are sacking Rome” way, no only in the “the sewers are backed up, there is no chicken in the grocery store, my son is now learning about prejudice and pity and not math or science” way. The places at the fraying edges of empire hic sunt dracones are moving closer to the epicenter – no longer lost over the map in places with names dark and foreboding like Congo and Orinoco, closer now in names we recognize more. Chicago, Los Angeles. Tent cities; political deadlock; disappearing species.
Aging populations. Innovation and AI to try and push aside the humans – we really are a messy lot. I Robot, here we come. For the betterment of who? Robots are not sentient. Or are they? Robots cannot enjoy art, cuisine, landscape – or can they? Of course they cannot. Jobs are vanishing too; who needs them? A sharing economy – in Venezuela we call these street hawkers or more politely ‘informal economy’ – in the US they are called the “sharing economy”. That sounds nicer, doesn’t it? More socialist. More pleasant. More equitable. One car to go around, and pass the hemp.
The future will be nothing like the past. For my little boy. He doesn’t know what it was like, before the mayhem exacerbated by COVID and the coming anarchy.
He still loves life, because we don’t tell him any different. But we are the minority. Not the protected minority. Not the cherished diverse. We are the only minority allowed to be despised and reviled. The faithful. The grateful. The responsible. That is who my son will be, after the ordeal has arrived. He might weather it well – better than most for sure. But his ordeal it is; and 2030 is a book about what that ordeal might look like.