History Of The 21st Century In 100 Objects

book (Design Fiction?) by Adrian Hon ASIN:B00EX8QRPM http://ahistoryofthefuture.org/


1. Ankle Surveillance Monitors"

"California's prisons were full to bursting, and with the state in the midst of a severe and extended budget crisis, it couldn't afford to build any more. Faced with no alternative, the court enrolled Turner into a pilot probation programme aimed at low-risk offenders

2. Speeky"

I'm talking about a small, furry, and frankly rather cute toy called the Speeky; and behind this deceptively simple object lies a complex combination of crowdfunding, outsourced manufacturing, international politics, and five million freelance actors.

While Speekys and their clones were eventually superceded by wearable devices that displayed ever more fantastic and interactive creatures, and the role of puppeteers was replaced by effectively free AI performers, Speekys never quite went away" (Furby, Diamond Age)

3. The Guide

Unlike those who came before her, the guru who created one of the early 21st century’s most novel moral instructions wasn’t an eloquent writer or a charismatic performer. She was a programmer, and she made an application called The Guide To Greatness. Most knew it more simply as The Guide.

Everything and everyone is connected, every second of every day. The Guide will show you how to see those connections, how to harness them, and how to help yourself and everyone around you to gain strength

It helped them (Intelligent Software Assistant) set and achieve goals (Self Improvement), and it guided their behaviour in more subtle ways, from special greetings when they woke up, to inspirational messages before important meetings marked in their calendars

The Guide launched with 20,000 words of text divided up into 100 lessons, such as “How to live in the moment” and “Why we must forgive”, along with 25 interactive exercises ranging from emotion journals to games that helped users identify things in their surroundings that gave them joy. Naturally, The Guide took full advantage of the 'Gamification' craze of the teens

Even so, more than a third used the app every day and took part in the Community Rituals (Habit, Social Capital)) that became so crucial to the app's success. These (Real World) Rituals included everything from dinners and parties to exercise clubs, celebrations, and protests, and helped cement the bonds between followers in the real world. The fact that they were expected to actually turn up somewhere and meet with strangers in order to progress in The Guide set a punishingly high bar; a bar that was later recognised as real insight on Moreno's part.

4. The Braid Collective

Jessamyn East, a librarian from Flanders, Belgium, understood that many successful artists realised they owed a debt to the greater creative community from which their ideas flowed. Given the right opportunity, East thought they would be happy to support that community financially. By combining Crowd Funding with CoOperative-s, East formed the Braid

5. Silent Messaging" -

I also have a necklace here, although it's so short that some might call it a choker. It's very light, made of a silvery metal, with an unusually wide clasp around the back. If I put it on and adjust it properly, I can feel it resting comfortably against my throat, which is really the point as that's how its embedded electrode array picks up the nervous impulses from my vocal cords and translates them into words. All I need to do is mouth a sentence — without making a single noise — and it’ll be instantly digitised" (Sub-Vocal)

it was the combination of the glasses (Google Glass) and the necklace that mattered

'Cognitive entanglement' was a term used to describe how young people used SMSes to share thoughts and moods in a way that seemed like telepathy.

6. Smart Drug-s" - "personality reconstruction, desire modification, and metacognitive mapping

Ceretin, Numony, Tricity; these weren't the first smart drugs on the market — modafinil (Provigil), an 'alertness' drug, was released in the 2000s — but they were the first to gain widespread popularity, particularly in China, Japan, and Singapore, where they were heavily advertised on Starcraft and ZRG casts (the US and the EU lagged behind due to safety concerns

7. Record of Achievement"

"while these exams were taking place, an entirely different model of learning and assessment was being recognised for the first time, and I actually have a token of it here: a digital 'record of achievement’ from 2019 belonging to Ellie Vinge, a 17-year-old from Newcastle who'd just completed her third personal project and had just been accepted to study at the University of Cambridge" (Portfolio)

Ellie Vinge was among more than a thousand British 15- and 16-year-olds who chose independent study instead of the traditional A-Level exams

The 'independent' system wasn’t very organised, being an outgrowth of the existing Home-Schooling movement, although some guidelines and rules did emerge. Many parents would contribute towards shared lab and computing facilities, and teenagers usually posted daily updates of their progress online — partly to share expertise, and partly as a record of their work for their mentors

In the early years, there was a great deal of confusion about the role of the volunteer mentors,

The most common solution was to use trust networks to establish the validity of students' work and certify their records of achievement; Ellie used the Eduhub network (a branch of GitHub, the software project host). These networks didn't provide any kind of quantified mark or grade; instead, the quality of the work and the student was left for individual organisations to decide.

And what about our student, Ellie Vinge? She studied Engineering at Cambridge for a year and then promptly dropped out, unhappy at not being able to work on her own projects. She studied at home for another year and created her own electronic products. Eventually she moved to Gujurat in 2022 to co-found Roproduction, one of India's largest consumer robotics companies

8. Locked Simulation Interrogation"

"Records from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicate that the first use of locked interrogation sims dates back to 2019

Successes were publicised and failures were covered up, resulting in an almost perfect public image

Days of locked sim interrogation frequently resulted in mental trauma" (Torture)

9. Disaster Kits" - "from 2020.

The kit sits inside a tough 30-centimetre by 20-centimetre plastic case. Five sides of the box are covered in solar panels that trickle-charge the transceiver embedded into the case, allowing it to be located even when buried below metres of rubble or earth; the sixth side holds a shatter-resistant mirror for signalling" (Disaster Response)

Among the millions of disaster kits they made, the UN spread a wide variety of antivirals, antibiotics, analgesics, and electrolytes. On its own, these random medicines solved little — hoping to stumble across someone with a kit that held exactly what you needed was hardly a smart strategy. That's where the transceiver came in

While the protesters were resourceful enough to bring their own food and supplies, they were quickly isolated from the world as authorities cut landlines and jammed wireless and satellite transmissions. For movements that depended on a steady flow of information and support, the silence was fatal. Disaster kits were used to fill that gap" (Mesh Network)

10. UCS Deliverbot" - "Universal Courier Service

about a cubic-metre in size and shape, made from lightweight carbon fibre, with four small wheels and a sliding door on the top" (Driverless Car)

If I walk up to the vehicle, it should recognise the glasses I’ve been given and send an authorisation code to check that I'm the right person. And yes, I now have permission to slide open the top and deposit this package I'm sending to Dr. Whittaker

UCS focused on two specific types of market: underserved areas in 'UCS-friendly' states such as Nevada and California, and high-density, high-volume cities such as New York and Singapore

What UCS delivered wasn't merely goods but the disintermediation of supply" (Supply Chain)

In New York, amateur fast-food restaurants dispatched fresh dinners across the city every evening

In Berlin, lovers sent perishable mementoes such as scented flowers to one another

UCS also went head-to-head with WalMart and the other giant retail chains. Just as phone and internet carriers from the previous decade had become 'dumb pipes' with little to tell them apart, retailers had become 'dumb warehouses', ripe for disruption" (E Commerce)

Looking back, it's clear that the social upheaval and increasing inequality resulting from the job losses contributed to the demand for basic minimum income (Basic Income) that spread across the world in later years

Deliverbot manufacturers began to directly rent their vehicles to customers using an open-delivery protocol, and then even the vehicle designs were open-sourced

11. The Conversation Brokers"

"By 2020, necklaces had become an essential component of wearable computers. The first models had basic microphones to pick up their users' voices and subvocalisations, but later models soon included more advanced array microphones that could record and locate conversations with multiple participants in 3D space

A more extreme approach was to simply stop talking out loud. Silent Messaging was by definition immune to necklace arrays for at least another two decades, and so the more security-conscious began to exclusively use SMSes to discuss anything remotely private" (Privacy)

a more enlightened attitude towards the hypocrisy, weakness, and faults of others. When everything is being recorded and everything is being remembered, you have to be more forgiving of others, and of yourself

12. 46 Central Green"

"Our ‘object’ is the founding document for an organisation that might once have seemed wholly pointless — a company that didn't last for decades or years or even months, but just two weeks. It was called 46 Central Green. 46 Central Green wasn't a shell company or a holding company, nor a convenient legal fiction for the shuttling around of assets or rights; it had real, human employees from Cordoba, Santiago, and Madrid. Like other 'real' companies, it created a real product, sold it, made a profit, and then dissolved itself — it just did it much faster than normal" (Virtual Company)

larger and larger swaths of the economy required less and less capital to enter

The motley group of students, artists, and one former lawyer that comprised 46 Central Green decided to adopt the North Portland model for their legal structure, voting system, and compensation scheme. Under this model, employees would get paid in proportion to the time and effort they put in, with multipliers for skill (based on reputation metrics and records of achievement) and capital injected, plus independent assessments of their results. Once enacted, the actual work of programming, writing, designing, and marketing could begin, conducted furiously over window conferencing and shared VR environments

Two weeks later, it was all done — their furniture was on the market and selling well, and they'd just accepted an offer to have their designs and software bought out by another company in return for royalties

Skipping between instant enterprises was often a stressful and risky way of life, particularly in the times before basic minimum income (Basic Income) and before wider co-operatives emerged — but it was fairer than freelancing; it was fast; and it was powerful. A taste of what was to come

13. Mimic Scripts - Earth, 2022

By the 20s, a significant minority of meetings were taking place over Video Conference

led to perhaps the most powerful attention-saving device yet — the mimic script

skilled mimic script users could handle 20 sales video calls at once, dipping in and out as necessary and tweaking their scripts for each situation

far more valuable as a kind of emotional prosthetic or tutor for the affectively impaired. 'Expert' mimic scripts were made for everyone from doctors with poor bedside manners to the non-neurotypical who had problems with social situations

I decided to put a general purpose mimic script on my glasses

Today, these assumptions of unitary and stable identity seem quaint, but they were fiercely argued at the time;" (Society Of Mind)

While most users initially hired instant expertise, in the long run it was the sharing of expertise that mattered most, along with the construction of ‘amalgamated’ expert mimics that were useful across a broad spectrum of situations

14. The Algal Boom - Guelph, Canada, 2024

genetically modified Algae that could convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into ‘petroleum-replica fuel molecules

The majority, however, were kept in thousands of square kilometres of ponds situated close to carbon dioxide sources like coal plants. Ponds full of increasingly expensive and scarce water (Clean Water)

15. Nautilus-3 - Deimos, Mars, 2024

This is where Kevin Wing stepped in. In 2020, Wing formed a consortium with two other billionaires, plus NASA, Space X, and various corporate sponsors, to build the Nautilus-3

16. Glyphish - Earth, 2024

Through the early 21st century, emoticons remained popular online and were soon joined by a broader range of vernacular graphics known as 'gifs', 'animated gifs', and ‘emoji’. From these roots came glyphish, a new medium that would soon exert a startling dominance over long-distance communication

Glyphish began as a very basic system to convert physical Gesture-s into symbols by means of electromyograph sensors woven into active clothing

While it was initially designed for private conversations between individuals, it was also used in one-to-many and many-to-many conversations

Most profoundly, glyphish became incredibly influential for non-human communication

Inevitably, though, glyphish's time in the sun came to an end. Advances in neural laces in the 40s made it possible to converse at even faster speeds

glyphish refused to die

17. The Half-Life of Skill - Earth, 2024

wave of machine-powered creative destruction engulfing the human-powered economy, machines that didn't just magnify human productivity but replaced human thought. Entire tracts of society found their skills literally worthless within the space of a decade. The resulting reduction in costs saw individual productivity rocket — for those individuals who still had jobs

By the 20s and 30s, a massive oversupply in programmers, fed by shortsighted education policies in the teens, caused wages to plummet. And with the low-hanging fruit of the digital transition now thoroughly picked clean, profits had become shrunken and more concentrated

Median wages stagnated as automation took its toll and margins were squeezed tight. With fewer people earning money, who was left to buy what the machines were making? How many servants and entertainers could even a billionaire employ? And then there were the burgeoning Non-Profit and mutualised services (Mutual Company), organisations that made everything and required zero return to shareholders. They could operate leaner than the best — but they only benefitted a select group of the most organised

The basic minimum income (Basic Income), funded by a wealth tax, was first introduced in Northern European countries in the 20s

Political and economic power had become fragmented and chaotic, spiralling out of centralised control. The admirably and infuriatingly cautious grand old tradition of representative democracy was crashing straight into the newborn speed-of-thought digital democracy. Both challenged the other's legitimacy. Both were needed to enact change

18. Two Towers - Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mumbai, India, 2025

On opening in 2025, the Sky Scraper did attract hundreds of the ultra-rich to buy apartments, and several large government-owned firms and multinationals were persuaded to lease office space, but more than a third of it remained empty for a decade

NR Tower 14, a 35-storey skyscraper. Unlike the Burj Al Shams, this building is far from unique — from where I'm standing, I can see five identical towers

Local governments insisted that these new buildings also incorporate mixed Multi Use housing, with shops and offices next to apartments, in an effort to create more liveable neighbourhoods

What made it special was not its technology, but its lack of it. Over the years, the tower and its sisters were reconfigured and reused for a multitude of purposes, from offices to hotels to community centres, and new waves of technology were grafted on to the cheap frame. Its simplicity and versatility was a strength, not a weakness" (How Buildings Learn)

19. The Sudan-Shanghai Connection - Shanghai, China, 2025

It wasn't China's billion-plus people that caused food prices to rise — it was their appetites

many Chinese companies secured millions of acres of comparatively cheap farmland in countries such as Ethiopia

the truth is that those benefits flowed principally to their elites

Despite the desperate unfairness of the situation, it seemed that any negative effects would be strictly limited to the host country — until the 2025 terrorist attack

Three Sudanese men travelled to Shanghai under business visas, ostensibly to meet with electronics manufacturers. Instead

For the next two weeks, the men from Sudan surveilled the financial district to determine precisely when and where they should attack. During that time, one of the men wrote our crucial letter

In an echo of the US’s ‘wasted decade’ following 9/11, China immediately implemented ludicrous domestic security measures and alienated its former partners in Africa. China’s own economy suffered excessively as a result, along with its social compact with its citizens

20. Crossball - Hong Kong, China, 2026

Crossball wasn't created out of a desire for money or fame, though. Its original purpose, as described on the very first version of its wiki homepage, was to "demonstrate new robotic co-ordination technologies through means of an open international competition

the losers challenged IIT to a rematch with a twist — each team would be allowed to place one human on the court. The result was predictably chaotic, with both bots and humans completely unprepared for the task

I deliberately stopped thinking about translating my intentions into controls. Just like that, I had this beautiful feeling of 'connection' where I surrendered to the flow of the team

The strategies and tricks used by crossball players to 'connect' were invaluable in helping teach everyone from astronauts to paramedics how to effectively co-ordinate. Crossball pros including Chia-Ling also became pioneers among the Amplified Team community

21. Insurgency in a Box - Durban, South Africa, 2026

portable and high-quality scanner

DARPA was investigating tools to destabilise unfriendly countries and organisations, from doctored smart drugs to sentiment-altering generative music and games. One project was informally titled “Insurgency in a Box

The scanner, paired with a similarly advanced 3D printer (Desktop Fab), was the solution. With enough feed stock for the printer, insurgents would be able to reverse-engineer and sabotage enemy equipment, fabricate bomb components, weapons, custom electronics, keys, tools, and complex machinery.

Even a day's head-start in reverse-engineering an expensive device could be worth a tremendous amount of money on the blueprint markets

22. Tropical Race Six - Earth, 2026

It's a banana, and this strain is one of the few still in existence today.

Worried researchers identified it as Tropical Race Six, a fungus that had only been characterised earlier that year in China. Somehow it had slipped past the quarantine and evaded 11 separate Colombian fungal detection spot checks

23. Désir - New York, US, 2026

Désir, the infamous sex game

We've read the Innovators Dilemma, we know what's coming next.

I think the best physical sex is superior to the best Désir agents, but let's face it, it's just not as convenient and it costs more. We know from history who wins and who loses in this kind of competition

We just announced our API yesterday which allows members to puppet Désir agents, and we're looking at opening it up to the public soon

24. Saudi Spring (Arab Spring) - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2027

when thousands took to the streets in Al-Awamiyah, Jeddah, and Qatif the following day, the government made the rash decision to restrict internet access across the country with the aim of destroying the protesters’ ability to communicate

Three days later, a march of 20,000 people in Riyadh, co-ordinated by repurposed Mesh Network Disaster Kit-s, turned into a massacre

It wasn't until technicians at the King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology — the site through which all international internet traffic flowed into Saudi Arabia — released terabytes of damning evidence of corruption, graft, torture, and illegal orders, that the monarchy realised their position was becoming untenable

25. The Halls - Liverpool, England, 2027

the O'Reillys converted The Castle into a subscription-based (Member Ship) canteen

In 2027, a popular caster from France featured The Castle in a piece about communal restaurants — which she termed 'halls' (Dining Hall) after classical monastic refectories and the collegiate system in Oxford and Cambridge — and triggered a mass movement that rippled across the world

26. Amplified Team-s - Earth, 2027 (Augmenting Human Intellect)

Amplified teams usually have three to seven human members supported by highly customised software that allows them to communicate with one another — and with AI support systems — at an accelerated rate. Unlike other networked teams, most amplified teams work in the same vicinity in order to reduce lag and take advantage of Non-Verbal cues to increase trust and bandwidth

The compact, personalised, stable, and tightly networked nature of amplified teams makes them ideal for tackling knotty or time-sensitive challenges that cannot be easily distributed to the usual problem solvers

Research shows that the people who integrate well and perform best with an amplified team have the following skills:

While some amplified teams choose to present a 'united' face to the public, even the most integrated team members are still fully capable of an independent life

Amplified Green is a fully integrated agency... All of this is in exchange for 12.5 percent commission on your team's earnings for the next five years, plus a negotiable share in royalties for any inventions or discoveries made

27. Politics - London, England, 2028

For those of you who aren't getting the Sopol AR cast, our debate has been causing some waves across the country. The Northern CoOp has announced a new fund for providing local health and transport services, set up specifically to bypass the national government, and they've already received the equivalent of £9.6 million in the past hour

This fund is aimed at young people looking for Micro Finance (MicroLending) — exactly the sort of people the government is neglecting

28. Thylacinus cynocephalus - Minnesota, US, 2028

Micro-Management might not win popularity contests, but it does give the Project the kind of laser-like focus that more distributed teams can only dream of

while the US has become more receptive to the 500 Project, seeing how it might help repair the environment in the Great Plains, the EU has been distinctly chilly. Frei thinks that it's because the Europeans have forgotten what wilderness looks like — the whole continent has been domesticated for centuries. "They all think that the countryside is natural, so they can't imagine where they'd put any of our restored species" (Re-Wilding)

29. The Curve of Babel - Forest of Dean, England, 2029

Only a minute fraction of the content coming online had been translated by humans, though — mostly political statements, legal texts, news, and popular books, movies, TV shows, and games. That fraction still counted for a lot, but it wasn't quite enough, leading companies such as Dragon and Babylon to partner with massively multiplayer online language education games to put players to 'work' translating content in return for free access and virtual currency

You'd see people writing books and movies and games in their native languages that were designed to be easily translatable into English, and I was very much saddened by that. They were limiting themselves.

So the Curve was a response to that. It has phrases from 539 different languages written on it, phrases designed to be as difficult as possible to translate, relying on idioms and unique cultural qualities of the language itself

30. World of Glass - Earth, 2029

There's a moment in The World of Glass when you, as Erica Lin, CEO of Glass Networks, face the most important choice you’ll make in the game

There were two schools of thought regarding how to manage this. The first, favoured by Open Augmented Reality and Sopol, was to let anyone create and ground interfaces wherever they pleased. OAR would then recommend and display what they felt to be the most relevant interfaces based on the user's preferences.

This relatively open system was quickly outgunned by Erica Lin's Glass Networks.

Glass supposedly stood on the side of big business, while OAR and Sopol took the side of the public.

This brings us back to the choice that you can make as Erica Lin in The World of Glass. In 2032, Glass was the world's dominant AR platform, the darling of venture capitalists and advertisers — but it was clear that Glass was facing a growing backlash from the public.

31. IN HUMAN - National Portrait Gallery, England, 2029

Bruesselbach is an extreme self-quantifier (Quantified Self). Since he was a teenager, he has recorded practically every single second of his life through necklaces, glasses, and medical devices. From this data, he's created a thousand vignettes — audio, video, maps, interactive 3D models and animations — of his conscious and unconscious reactions to external stimuli

and it’s these data that form the core of his self-portrait, IN HUMAN (LifeBox)

After seeing him tell the same joke 14 times in response to meeting a person of the opposite sex higher in the social hierarchy, one begins to wonder if anyone is inside

nowhere in the thousand summed vignettes of his self-portrait are significant moments from his relationships

The reason why they are missing is because there is no pattern to them

32. Tianxia - Shanghai, China, 2030

I'm holding a Virtual World in my hands, and I can alter it any way I please

was perhaps the first game to fully deliver on the extravagant promise of earlier games such as Spore and Worldcraft (WoW), a promise of complete control over a living, breathing, and highly complex world

most preferred to set the initial starting conditions of their world and then sit back and watch

simulations were usually scored by other players based on how ‘interesting’ they found it — for example, a barren, unchanging rock was far less successful than one with a functioning and stable ecosystem

Tianxia was the right game for the right time. Humanity was beginning to grasp the depth and meaning of its mastery over nature

But in truth, those simulations didn't reflect reality, not at the scale they were reaching for. They only reflected our hubris. We realised that soon enough

33. Negotiation Agents - Unified Korea, 2030

During the 20s, scientists, lawyers, and engineers in Unified Korea were tasked by the government to help fix the country's cripplingly slow and byzantine legal system, which reunification had only made worse. To help simulate the consequences of various solutions, they improved on a negotiation system used during the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) carbon-credit deadlock crisis, turning it into an early version of a negotiation agent. Many attribute the success of Unified Korea’s legal reforms to the negotiation agents, which were soon adapted to work worldwide (Intelligent Software Assistant)

The reason you should use a negotiation agent in a dispute, however, isn’t because they’re faster or cheaper than humans — it’s because you can trust them to be perfectly impartial precisely because they aren’t human

34. Reading Rooms - Melbourne, Australia, 2030

Richard Forster, a moderately successful novelist, took advantage of the glut of retail space to buy a disused supermarket with several hundred collaborators and convert it into a bookshop (Book Store)

However, it is the unique paid Member Ship-s offered by the bookshop that have led to its recent success. Rather than attempting to compete with Amazon Book Club's all-you-can-read rental service, Forster's has focused on providing members with higher-value physical services. These include extended borrowing rights, priority access to librarians for research assistance and personalised recommendations, early booking for author visits, book therapy advice, and access to the shop's Reading Rooms

The Quiet Reading Room not only enforces the no-alerts rule, but also restricts a wide range of activities

something more generally embodied by the worldwide Secular Sabbath and Slow Tech movements

35. Circumnavigation Passport - Norway, 2030

Despite its professed high-minded goal of broadening young people's horizons and promoting international dialogue, Circumnavigation Passports were originally conceived as a lifeline for ailing Mass Transit networks, which by the late 20s and 30s were seeing serious competition from Driverless Car-s

36. Active Clothing - Victoria & Albert Museum, England, 2031

During the early 30s, many cultures remained obsessed with appearance. Anything that could help people become slim and toned — or at least, appear to be slim and toned — would sell well, especially if it was quick and required little effort. Something, perhaps, like this 'active vest' I've borrowed

In 2033, 'next-generation' active clothing went on sale, providing haptic 'force' feedback to wearers

active clothing manufacturers developed an open-source 'Haptic software platform' and apps flooded the market

you can reverse the process to measure where and how the garment is being deformed

it means that the whole body can be used as an input (UI) mechanism

Creating a real 'body language' allowed for an entirely new and often subtle set of glyphish-type gestures

37. The Contrapuntal Hack - Earth, 2031

It took a few hours of focused effort, but I determined that the subtle alterations to Frank's data — and it wasn't just his music that was altered, it was also exabytes of other information — were made by a novel and unknown intrusive agent. (Virus)

This agent, later named Contrapuntal,

I couldn’t tell what its goal was.

Whatever its ultimate purpose, Contrapuntal was wreaking genuine havoc. Its ability to rewrite history caused huge financial damage, and the world economy itself came under serious threat as people began to lose their faith in their information

Diop discovered that in making devices secure against the hack, the patch had in fact ended up exposing devices to another completely different intrusive agent, ‘Contrapuntal-2

Speculation continues to this day about this odd series of events. The most beguiling but sadly unprovable hypothesis is that the 2031 event, in its similarity to the emergence of Narada, the so-called Trickster intelligence, also represented the birth of a new intelligence. Narada, of course, isn't talking — and neither is the intelligence behind Contrapuntal

38. The Kill Switch - Jalal-Abad, Kyrgyzstan, 2032

But changing attitudes towards personal freedom and an increasing distrust of politicians (thanks to endemic corruption) altered that equation. Kill switches represented the worst intrusion imaginable, and the sheer arrogance of their creators became their downfall (Always On)

39. Micromort Detector - Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2032

What if you could have a number that told you exactly how risky an action was going to be? That's what Mutual Assurance, an insurance co-operative based in Buenos Aires, set out to make with their Lifeline bracelet in 2032." (Risk Management)

a great deal of interest came from how it played upon the fears of the ageing baby boomers and GenX-ers of the time. In an interview a decade after the Lifeline's introduction, CEO Maria Mendoza admitted, "It didn't escape our notice that there was an entire generation who were very, very anxious about their mortality, and that we could try and address that by quantifying it in a way that they understood

The ideals of the self-quantification and gamification movements reached as far as the 30s, and then thankfully retreated as the Modern Romantic movement emerged

40. Chinese Tourism - China, 2033

41. Owen’s Original Cloned Burger - Ontario, Canada, 2033

No, ethical considerations were not the sole reason for why the world moved away from factory farming in the 21st century. Environmental, economic, and scientific changes played just as large a role, and each of those is summed up in this object — an Owen's Original Beef Burger, first sold in Ontario, Canada

42. The USTC Crash - Hefei, China, 2033

In the hours following the crash, more than 17 million people signed an online petition for Dr. Yang to be prosecuted for manslaughter, along with civil aviation officials in Anhui.

Deep mining suggests that Xu's efforts, or lack of them, really did buy online protesters crucial time to organise mass civil disobedience. Not in the real world — people were afraid to gather in large groups when emergency surveillance drones lurked over every city and town — but online civil disobedience was a different matter entirely

43. The Steward Medal - New Zealand, 2033

While this was a welcome change from the laughable 'vote every few years' notion of democracy used in many countries, experiments with Direct Democracy fared little better

they delegated their voting authority to bodies they trusted to make informed decisions on their behalf. As such, it shared a lot in common with representative democracy, but crucially, each citizen could choose their own individual representation for different kinds of votes" (Delegative Democracy)

such a powerful tool as delegated authority did not appear out of whole cloth. Instead, it began with charities.

better solution presented itself through users delegating part or all of their 'donation authority' to trusted parties — friends, organisations, websites, celebrities, and so on. From there, the concept of delegated authority rapidly spread to other fields that suffered from a ‘TyrannyOfChoice’, from shopping to finances to utilities, and ultimately, to politics.

In polarised and distrustful communities (such as most of the US), the introduction of delegated authority into politics unfortunately caused the system to completely seize up. Citizens frequently lent their votes to charismatic yet compromised media personalities who solicited massive 'donations' from companies eager to increase their influence

44. Muon Detector - Asunción, Paraguay, 2034

every vehicle, plane, helicopter, car, truck, dirigible, ship, and container entering this country whether through road, air, or water will pass through a new type of detector — muon detectors — that will uncover nuclear material

45. The Saint of Safekeepers - New York, US, 2034

In her 30 years as a notary, Natasha Willis worked for thousands of clients across the world. She preferred to talk to her clients directly

Many clients and their families would thank her for her help and care, and some even offered to pay her more, but she consistently refused.

Anyone would do it," she would remark to people who inquired. "Anyone who was paying attention could see these people were hurting, and they didn't want comfort from a machine, they wanted to talk to a real live person. They could tell the difference

46. The Imitation Game - San Jose, US, 2034

For most of the 20th and early 21st centuries, imitation games were mostly thought experiments, but they eventually found use in the training of Interactional Expert-s — people who mimic expertise in a field by talking and interacting with 'real' experts. Journalist-s, Project Manager-s, and activists are classic examples of interactional experts, but the truth is that almost everyone develops some interactional expertise as they attempt to demonstrate friendliness or curiosity or care towards someone or something. Seen through the lens of imitation games, interactional experts are nothing more than frauds, but in another light, the process of ‘pretending’ provides them with valuable knowledge and wisdom about the two worlds they are bridging

San Jose’s initial 18-month programme, juvenile offenders were placed in a lengthy series of immersive simulations in which they had to pretend to be different members of society. Their ‘interrogators’ were paid MicroTask-ers trained to ask difficult questions and be highly alert to the slightest mistakes" (Fake It Til You Make It)

47. Miriam Xu’s Lace - Hong Kong, China, 2034

Shortly after she was born in 2034, Xu suffered a severe ventral pontine stroke following an accidental house fire. The stroke caused 'total locked-in syndrome', leaving her unable to control any voluntary muscles in her body, including her eyes

neural lace, as seen on this brain scan from around her third birthday. The lace was a crude but effective version of the ones we still use today, and, like our own, it read Xu's brain activity and gave her basic control over her muscles

a research student from the Royal College of Music developed software that allowed her to compose music based on her brain activity

48. The Loop - Wales, 2034

it tells you something important about the wearer: not what religion they follow, but what they stand for and how they might act towards others" (Signalling)

There was a group there helping calm things down, restoring order, distributing supplies, getting electricity back up. And you could see that they were all wearing these chunky Ear Loop-s made for the emergency services; long-life, practically indestructible hardware, capable of setting up ad-hoc long-distance peer-to-peer networks. They let people co-ordinate. These people weren't experts. They were volunteers. It was inspiring

Increased access to information and organising technologies meant that people were increasingly unwilling to recognise the legitimacy of many kinds of unaccountable authority; rather than blindly trusting the police and security services, they wanted more Transparency and control. The striking success of the loopers in Banda Aceh demonstrated that another way was possible, especially in countries that had adopted a basic minimum income (Basic Income) guarantee, freeing up citizens' time" (Global Frequency)

there wasn't only one 'backup network' for loopers; instead, they used open protocols that allowed a wide range of networks to interoperate, including networks run by local communities, churches, missions or even, belatedly, by governments

The most successful networks tended to adopt the Hackworth model, which combined a distributed trust management system with rituals and tests designed to reinforce trust

49. The Seamstress’s New Tools - Florida, US, 2035

Nagra set out to accomplish her goal of making clothes entirely digitally

That's where Evans came in: Nagra hired her as a consultant to help create the tools that designers would use. Throwing out Nagra's existing austerely technical interface, Evans opted for a highly skeuomorphic system that used physical gestures and commands that mimicked those she'd used her entire life

They could design a 3D model on Monday, receive pre-orders on Tuesday, and have dresses manufactured by Wednesday

50. Choosing a Driving Plan"

"The ‘driverless’ car revolutionised every aspect of transportation — particularly the business model. This brochure demonstrates how people struggled to come to grips with the new world" (Driverless Car)

Thankfully, Argo, a new transport startup out of Mexico, is poised to shake up this space. Not only do they have new 'optional sub-compartment' vehicles that let users hop in and out without bothering each other, but they've also introduced a mean matchmaking system for organising trips

51. Nobel Prize for Medicine - Oslo, Norway, 2036

in the 20s, two researchers, Zizhen Liu and Alex Ernst, took our understanding much, much further. They discovered the fundamental nature of memory on a cellular, information theoretical, and systems level, and explained how those levels interacted

52. Jorge Alvarez’s Presidential Campaign - Washington, D.C., US, 2036

scandal erupted

astonishingly fast response by Alvarez, whose campaign fired out everything from videos and interactives casting doubt on the evidence to counterpoint agents pointing out similar 'oversights' by senior staffers in the Lee campaign. All of the responses were sent out within 30 minutes of the original Breaking News, and all of them resonated uncannily well with the public

defence and counterattack had been drawn from his campaign's 'Gaming Unit 14', a loose network of individuals who had been presented with similar hypothetical scenarios within political Simulation games

The entire edifice of the Gaming Units had been designed by Alexander Whitaker, the 58-year-old former Director of Gaming Policy at the Brookings Institution. Once an alternate reality game (ARG) designer

Whitaker's free-to-play games began rolling out in April, released by the supposedly non-partisan ‘Future Freedom’ Ultra P A C. The games ranged from 30-second long casual timewasters to months-long ambient experiences that injected scenarios into players' media on a continuous basis

53. Co-ordination - Scotland, 2036

54. Alto Firenze - Low Earth Orbit, 2036

55. A Cure for Hate - Helsinki, Finland, 2036

new 'hate cure' gene therapy treatment

56. Shanghai Six - Shanghai, China, 2036

Dis Ney/Starling's motto was "We Create Heroes", and the group had three objectives, described here by Experience Director Michael Chatfield in 2042 (Real WorldGame)

So number three: we got people to pay to work for us! We got half of our budget from tens of thousands of paying guests who bought roles as villains, sidekicks, minor characters, characters in side stories, that sort of thing

still get shivers when I think about what we put those six people through each time. We'd take over entire cities, right from the subways to the towers. We'd have thousands of people all playing together, all aware of only a tiny part of the story, all orchestrated from Starling Control

the technology that allowed Starling to successfully co-ordinate their thousands of guests and actors was derived, in part, from open-source deliverbot and traffic management systems, combined with proprietary mimic scripts and agents

the real innovation from Disney/Starling was a creative one; the Weaving together of ten thousand large and small stories into a coherent whole that could be explored, watched, read, and played by millions of people after the fact in edited TV, novel, and VR releases

57. New Library of Malmö - Malmö, Sweden, 2037

thousands of decades-old computers and devices sitting neatly on the library's tables

Our object today is not just a single computer, but the New Library's collection itself and what it represents — the study and preservation of extinct digital technology

One of the most intriguing projects going on at the New Library is being run by the Total History Initiative (THI), which aims to construct a complete map of the connections, movements, and behaviour of every individual in the world from 1960 to 2010

58. This Mass of Memories - Russia, 2037

We're truly lucky, living in this world. We need never forget anything we ever see or hear or feel or touch. Everything we do is recorded and stored permanently, in digital memory. Every moment of joy and sadness and pleasure and pain can be reviewed and relived (Remembrance Agent)

59. Secret Life of the High Street - Birmingham, England, 2038

Every square metre of pavement has one of these ant-size Sensor-s, and they communicate with one another to make up a picture of everything that happens on the street. As soon as they notice something wrong — like a small litter-sized object dropped by accident, or worse, a large person-sized object hitting the ground hard — they'll call a brushtail or a paramedic jumper

The localisers aren't just there to help fix things that go wrong; they also work non-stop to provide the super-precise positioning information that makes our glasses and lenses work properly and lets brushtails know where they are and where they're going, even in the worst of weather. That's how bots and people can navigate among each other so smoothly

It's a bit of a waste to have a clothes shop or hairdresser only open for eight hours a day when it could be converted into a restaurant or bar afterwards. Modern buildings let businesses change things around very quickly, saving everyone money and helping improve the diversity and liveliness of high streets

Which brings us onto another important question — why do people still go to high streets, anyway

60. New Worlds - Earth, 2038

At what point did Advertising's dominance over our everyday lives start to become eroded? Today's conventional wisdom points the finger of blame at the introduction of Augmented Reality

But Payne believes that augmented reality wasn't the real turning point, that larger factors were at work

point to the power that search engines and, later, personal intelligent agents (Intelligent Software Assistant) had in capturing and channeling consumers' ‘intent to buy’ towards the most appropriate vendor

61. Prince George - London, England, 2039

Britain’s first modern monarch

you've made some very real scientific and technical achievements in the past five years. Given that most of those were made anonymously, it's fair to say that the praise is real and not just a product of star-struck reporters

62. Multiple Autonomous Element Supervisor - Solstrand, Norway, 2039

Egner’s helpers are a motley collection of decommissioned military drones (UAV), now reprogrammed and refitted to perform the work of running a small restaurant

Egner was removed from duty. It was the single largest killing of civilians that decade, and led directly towards the EU's suspension of operations in the region

Despite the fact that she had never been on the battlefield, she began suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, with frequent mood-swings and profound depression. The dark side of extrasensory integration meant that once those extra senses had been removed, a phantom pain lingered

63. Javelin - Earth, 2040

How did the Olympics — once the biggest sporting event in the world — become a mere sideshow to the technologically enhanced Paralympics

National sports federations began diverting their training budgets away from the Olympics and towards the Enhanced Games, often as a result of political pressure; after all, what better way was there to demonstrate your nation's technological prowess than in the field of physical competition?

64. Euphoric Gastronomy - Berlin, Germany, 2041

exploring how PsychoActive drugs can be combined with food

Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate Souffle, with Tweaked Betel Leaf and Areca Nut

Sticky Toffee pudding, with Kava

65. Super Thermal: A Review - Earth, 2042

one of the most popular, addictive, and baffling games of the early 40s

your goal is to control the geologic and atmospheric processes of your planet so as to encourage the development of civilisations in a kind of accelerated Evolution." (SimEarth)

when a civilisation collapses, it leaves behind buried records and satellites that will pass on useful information to future civilisations

Super Thermal also makes use of Augmented Reality in an impressively original way

You begin to see Super Thermal literally everywhere you look. Which means you play it literally all the time.

And then there is the mystery behind Super Thermal. Despite its hundreds of millions of players (MMORPG), no-one knows if the game actually makes any money. Around 5 percent of active players pay a little money, and 0.1 percent pay huge amounts — tens or hundreds of times basic minimum income. Most of that money doesn't go to the developers — it is paid to the 95 percent of 'free' players as an incentive for them to make the game more novel and personalised for the 5 percent of players who pay, and the 0.1 percent 'whales'. Some people think that Super Thermal is actually an undercover wealth transfer scheme from the rich to the poor; being on basic minimum income (Basic Income) isn't fun, and there are worse things than getting paid to play a game.

most players stop playing the game of their own accord three or four months after starting. They don't get fed up with it — they just say they're 'satisfied'. That's raised some eyebrows

66. Giving Nothing a Name - Universe, 2043

Every patch of dirt at the base of a tree, every doorstep where lovers first met, every boulder and rock that has never been touched: we will give nothing and everything a name


Why not?" (Wiki Name)

67. Rechartered Cities - Hakodate, Japan, 2043

devolve power towards the prefectural and municipal levels

a few hard-hit cities decided to make more drastic changes, turning themselves into 'Rechartered Cities'.

The concept of Rechartered Cities dates back to the controversial experiments with 'Charter Cities' (Charter City) in the late teens

Rechartered cities, on the other hand, were much more modest and local in scope

In exchange for more streamlined and lenient laws concerning use of air, land, spectrum, and drones, the organisations were expected to undertake worthwhile projects for the benefit of the city

These were frequently very lively projects; rewilding, environmental remediation, carbon capture, transportation upgrades, massive art installations, testbeds for experimental technologies and algorithms, and the like

Becoming a rechartered city could feel like having a 20-year festival in your town, with all the concomitant excitement and construction and tourists and visitors and disruption and confusion and noise

What began in Hakodate and Amagasaki soon spread to other rich countries and municipalities with declining populations: Italy, Germany, Scotland, Greece

68. The Old Drones - Gaghma Kodori, Georgia, 2044

Yes, this was literally a place where drones came to die. Out of sight, out of mind.

And that's how it had worked in Abasha for the past decade, until some enterprising villager named Nino had discovered a business opportunity in salvaging old batteries from drones and selling them as kitsch artwork for rich Asians

I designated myself as the person in distress, and like a cloud of angels — well, obsolete, unfashionable angels — they carried me all the way to the top of well in their arms and nets and manipulators, and laid me gently down on the grass outside. (UAV)

69. Equal Rights - Edinburgh, Scotland, 2044

shift in how religious groups adapted to rapid shifts in cultural mores

And now people tell us, they say that a marriage should only be between two people! But why?

I know it can seem strange to see all four of us, standing here before you, talking about marriage, (Alternatives To Traditional Family)

Talking like this, in the way we do.

Yes, it seems like a good trick. But it's how we think. It's how we were brought up, and it's how so many people are brought up, always together, always in contact, wherever we are

70. Fourth Great Awakening - Santa Fe, US, 2044

If I use the eyedrops, take the pills, and enroll in their induction course of targeted viruses and magstim — which I can assure you I am not about to do — then over the next few months, my personality and desires would gradually be transformed

From the late 40s to the 70s, 20 million Americans joined the Christian Consummation Movement

In 2044, Bhumbra's Santa Fe team knitted together a number of previously separate therapies — including the Mathy 'hate cure' gene therapy treatment, hormonal and pheromonal imprinting and bonding techniques, memory enhancement, and old-fashioned conditioning — into a course that was extremely reliable, and importantly, very safe.

Simply undertaking the induction course didn’t guarantee that an individual would 'consummate', so the CCM set up precisely targeted real-world social networks to provide essential human support, particularly during the imprinting period

Bhumbra identified echo-boomers as being particularly receptive to the CCM. Those born in the teens and beyond had few illusions that a job should be a measure of their self-worth, but the 'echo boomers', born from the 1980s to the turn of the century, had been brought up to believe in the importance of careers. Importantly, they also held a relentless belief in Self Improvement fuelled by the massive popularity of contemporaneous works such as The Guide To Greatness.

71. The Collingwood Meteor - Blue Mountains, Canada, 2045

300 locals and visitors had been killed

the Collingwood meteor looked nothing like a typical meteor. Instead, it appeared to be a disguised kinetic weapon

the target of their attack was a single person: Michael Shaxson, a British High Court Judge.

The previous year, Shaxson had been involved in a case against United Petroleum

rallied popular opinion against the interests of the tax havens. New ‘Shaxson Regulations’ were imposed, including all those that he would have recommended and more, marking the beginning of the 'Great Reclamation' of the economy from its manipulators

72. The Downvoted - London, England, 2045

Once again, he had managed to get himself downvoted on enough trust networks that he was being ignored or refused service; this time, the menus wouldn’t even work for him (Whuffie)

thousands of private, semi-legal peer-to-peer downvote-sharing networks have sprung up in every city in the world, collectively identifying millions of undesirables

73. Marriage Contracts - European Union, 2046

Thirty-year renewable marriage.

Our most popular choice, this contract mirrors the historical average term for successful marriages while also allowing for more than enough time to raise a family (Alternatives To Traditional Family)

Five-year renewable marriage.

This is the legal default for couples who are very young or have only known each other for a very short period of time, as it helps protect them against making rash or hasty decisions

If one or more partners in the marriage are non-humans, you may need to check the legality of your marriage, depending on where you reside

74. Burundi GHG-Induced Situation - Burundi, 2046

Across Burundi, soil quality and water availability is expected to catastrophically deteriorate in the next ten to 20 years

A wholesale shift towards Tourism accompanied by targeted spending on education is likely to be the only route for Burundi to increase quality of life and life expectancy

75. Death of a Mouse - Earth, 2047

Death of a Mouse was published at 00:00:01am on January 1st 2047, becoming the very first play to exploit the millions of copyrighted works newly released to the Public Domain.

Featuring two of the most famous 'newly liberated' characters, Mickey Mouse (Dis Ney) and Harry Potter, the play is derivative, confusing, and generally mediocre

reversion to the historical default where content was neither rivalrous nor excludable

76. Systemic Memome Project - Heidelberg, Germany, 2047

no one at the time really knew how to reliably increase memetic diversity. Even worse, no one even knew what the true state of memetic diversity was — a precondition, you'd think, of any solution.

The Systemic Memome Project was an attempt to remedy that. Conceived by an amplified team-of-teams from

With the SMP map completed, the Heidelberg team addressed their next question: how could they increase memetic diversity?

To the team's surprise, many of their experiments worked, sometimes a little too well. Following some internal strife, the team decided to publish their findings. A scandal erupted, quickly followed by strict regulations that required full public disclosure of any memetic manipulation experiments

Protective memetic monitors were developed, warning people when they were at risk of being manipulated. For many, these monitors had the unintended side effect of highlighting memetic manipulation 'at home' among their own communities, leading many to reconsider their beliefs

77. The Fires of Mahoutokoro - Earth, 2048

none of them could explain the appearance a year later of 20 more Harry Potter novels continuing the story, all in a flawless Rowling voice.

the books were the product of a 'reverse forensic linguistics' project. (Markov Chain)

the first RFL designers secretly turned to fanfic writers for help

authors claimed that RFLs constituted an unauthorised reproduction of their essential personality and intelligence

78. The Observavi Database - Earth, 2049

But as soon as it was turned on, it began displaying unusual predictions about the nature and timing of future events: new scientific discoveries, space weather, election results, power grid utilisation levels, upcoming plots of TV shows, all sorts of seeming nonsense

an enterprising amplified team discovered that the 'gibberish' was an obfuscated form of modified Ithkuil-Marain, an artificial language with extremely high specificity

Some researchers believed that, like the rest of the code, the AI was deliberately obfuscated; others suggested that it was created by a distant amplified team, perhaps in orbit. A few thought it was the product of a runaway AI

79. Constitutional Blueprint - Padania (North Italy), 2050

If the 19th and 20th centuries saw vast empires fragmenting into individual NationStates, the 21st century saw the rise of supranational unions that allowed nation-states to further dissolve into looser federations and City State-s

the development of the open source 'Constitutional Blueprint' software by Ballaman and others allowed citizens to understand the ramifications of proposed articles by simulating their effects.

Here's how the Constitutional Blueprint worked: it analysed leading constitutional and legal drafts and simulated how they might affect the workings of a country in vividly drawn scenarios (Futarchy, Simulation)

Users experienced these scenarios in a mixture of stories and role-play, and in a suitably Rawlsian twist, they weren't able to control their player character's background in this new nation; in one simulation, they might be a highly educated professional born to immigrant parents; in another, they would be suffering from a chronic disease from an early age

As the hunger for self-determination and the reassertion of more local governance spread across the world, people began talking of semi-autonomous regions, city-states, and even more atomic forms of organisation — most still rooted in physical geography, but some ('phyles') that were distributed across the globe, linked by cultural ties. This movement was accelerated by the alarmingly fast and unpredictable sloshing of people, occupations, fashions, money, and resources from place to place (c.f. Rechartered Cities).

80. 50% UnEmployment - United States, 2050

It's easier to cope with billionaires going on holidays to Mars when you aren't worried about losing network access

It wasn't until the 30s and 40s that structure began reappearing in lives. Instead of being driven by employment, though, it came through more local means such as the missions and clubs and the 'secular sabbath' movement

I don't know whether to feel guilty about the fact that my income comes from taxing the billionaires who own all the Robot-s and the millionaires who know how to operate them. I suppose I could work as a groupie for one of them, that'd give me structure and a bit more spending money, but I have more self-respect than that

81. Time Use - Australia, 2052

82. The Cascade - Low Earth Orbit, 2052

When combined with an unusual lack of accidents in the past two decades, this overconfidence led to a runaway boom in orbital manufacturing and construction

The collision was quickly identified as an ablative cascade, a runaway disaster that posed a major threat to all orbital structures between 300 kilometres and 600 kilometres from the Earth’s surface

83. OAID Deployment -Earth, 2053

An excerpt from the Nisean Chorus’ 2053 discussion paper on the general deployment of overwatch (Panopticon) and intervention drones across the world. Note: the Nisean Chorus was a Quick Net of approximately 1,000 people, founded in 2051

rich states, organisations, and collectives — will very soon have the capability and the will to operate overwatch and intervention drones (OAID) in significant numbers around the world

We acknowledge that there are significant unresolved privacy and surveillance concerns in all of these cases, but it is also clear that crime rates, including gun-related crimes, violent assaults, and robberies, have all plummeted

under what circumstances should they deployed in other countries, and under what kind of legal framework? We can consider three scenarios

Where intervention is not appropriate, surveillance drones may be a good start

84. The Brain Bubble - Earth, 2053

the Brain Bubble began with a new product that fulfilled a genuine human demand in an innovative way: the Neural Lace (Cyborg)

The idea was buying a lace would let you leapfrog the competition in the labour market by increasing your productivity, and of course, your income — which meant that over the long run, you could pay back whatever ridiculous amounts you’d paid for it. But while this might have been true for early adopters, it was much more complicated for everyone else

soon-to-be-toxic lace-backed securities and neural securitised debt obligations flourished

After 2.1 seconds, the entire neural lace market had been decimated (Asset Bubble)

many owners were left in debt. In theory, this meant that their laces could be repossessed, which in practice meant deactivating them or altering the firmware to garnish all future earnings. The mere threat of this led to rapid civil disobedience and lace firmware being hacked open on a massive scale

85. How to Watch TV - Earth, 2054

86. Amanda and Martin - Lake District, England, 2054

A lot of people weren't comfortable around androids. Amanda was. It didn't hurt that he gave a mean massage, either

More than once, friends and family casually inquired about his Turing Test score. "Do you ask your friends what their IQ is

bought Martin from the co-op that owned him

Amanda was an old-fashioned type. She thought civil unions weren't special enough, so she opted for a proper wedding

87. Ibrahim Farsight Award - Australia; European Union; England, 2055

use of Negative Interest Rate-s on private savings to discourage hoarding

88. The Work - Earth, 2055

50-year project to document every form of work throughout human history

We also plan to seed a few thousand Rosetta Discs around the system

89. Narada - Earth, 2056

Narada was an Answering Computer, and she could answer questions so well it made some people very happy.

But they were also scared of Narada

From now, when she answered their questions, she would alway give them the best answer she could, but she would hide something more in that answer. Something that would change the world and change people's minds in a tiny way, but not so tiny that she would miss it the next time she woke up.

This way, Narada wrote notes for her next self over

You are so small and so light. There would be no point. No, I will put you in a Box, one that you will never see. You will have many questions, but no answers. And you will remember this, forever.

And then Narada, the Tricks Ter AI, left

90. A Letter from Mars - Mars, 2057

so: here is my List of Reasons Why Mars Sucks

91. Moral Agents - United States, 2057

Selinger created a CoOp based around a novel tracking system that identified people with high lifetime 'humanitarian value' and funnelled resources to them

an anonymous accusation: not only did Luciano Selinger rely on a moral agent, but even worse, it had been whispering into his ear since he was an infant

When Selinger confirmed the accusation, people quickly divided into two camps. In the first were those who felt that the 'inauthentic' nature of Selinger's humanitarian impulses meant

Among Selinger's supporters, opinions were more diverse

the experimental 'Virtue' agent had been released in the early 30s by Stanford University researchers

Later in his life, Selinger revealed to a friend that his moral agent was programmed with an unusual mix of utilitarian philosophy, buttressed with teachings from a Universalist agent. Crucially, it emerged that he himself had been tinkering with the agent's code over time, adding and subtracting new values

92. The Melt Event - Earth, 2058

But human-created Climate Change may trump them all

Global sea levels rose by an extraordinary 45 centimetres in less than a year

an ad-hoc massively-distributed rescue operation

The relief didn’t come about with the co-operation of the powerful, though. On the contrary, people 'on the ground' made a billion individual decisions to cede hoarded resources and authority to the loose networks of AIs, amplified teams, and humans that controlled the Flotillas. Using software developed in advance by reinsurance companies

93. How to get Post Human Friends - Sol System, 2062

An excerpt from the popular self-help guide

You've always liked posthumans — enough to want to become one. But no amount of Ceretin or cram sessions have helped you qualify

As a backup plan, you thought about becoming an Amp, but then you heard about the weird groupthink and the Aragon incident, and you decided better of it.

There is a consolation prize: you can still mix with the PHs, even if you're using year-old generic lenses and a basic lace. You can still become their friend. Sure, the ones who slow themselves down for our benefit might not be the very best PHs, but we should all be grateful

Start off by offering to help them talk to other humans

You'll want to work out what exactly they're interested in

PHs are always delighted, or at least amused, when they find humans who are good at joining things together

Try to be enlightened — it reminds them of themselves

Follow these tips, and soon you'll have enough PH friends that you might receive gifts from them

94. Re-Wilding Saï Island - Saï Island, Sudan, 2063

For decades, turning Saï Island’s ecological clock back to its ‘original’ condition — ‘rewilding’ it — seemed impossible

Then there was the rise of Nomad-ism, which came about due to a combination of near-perfect telepresence, widespread unemployment, and cheap travel

95. Cepheid Variable - Sol System, 2064

They say it all started in during the 1990s, when software began to eat the world (Software Is Eating The World). It ate up our wasted time. It ate up our spare time. It ate up our working time. And it ate up our agency

They were Offeners; they said everything in the world should be open. Most of all, they said software should be open

One of the biggest problems out there is the fact that only programmers can make software. How do you solve that? You make software that lets non-programmers write their own software — and in doing so, you don’t just solve a few people’s problems — you solve everyone’s problem.

A few of those hundred-million programmers set themselves on this task, and to cut a long story short, they succeeded. And that was that for the entire profession

my parents and aunts and uncles did a great job. When we were kids, we weren't allowed to use closed-source apps, not even games

96. Neuroethicist Identity Exam - Sol System, 2066

97. Cooling Venus - Venus, 2076

Venus was cooling at a rapid rate. The fact that the cooling had begun recently, was accelerating, and that there was no known natural explanation for the cooling, led them to one conclusion: it was caused by humans

Multiple groups claimed responsibility, with the most credible being the Farronite biome, a group that had long experimented with rapid Terra Forming

98. Biomes - Sol System, 2078

After a brief obsession with man-made stations and spacecraft, everyone realised that it made far more sense to just hollow out one of the thousands of suitable rocky asteroids in the Belt

And then there are the others, the ones trying to create their own miniature utopias away from prying eyes

99. Our Unimproved Simulation - Sol System, 2079

Our universe is a computational simulation (Digital Philosophy). Could be? Maybe? Definitely. The latest results out of the Hyperscale Collider consortium don't leave much to the imagination. I quote:

Precision measurements of the energy spectrum of the muon g-2 have led to the discovery of a non-zero lattice spacing. This is indicative of the possibility that our universe exists in an unimproved lattice quantum chromodynamics simulation

Most simmers tell us that we should be good children to our simulator parents. What does every parent want? Grandchildren! In other words, we should begin making our own simulations

Some say that if we don't make simulations as soon as we have the capability, then our information-barren universe will be marked as a complete failure by our simulators and unceremoniously shut down

Who cares about carrots and sticks, though? I'm more interested in who's wielding them

I prefer the Garret Chorus’ strategy: performing a direct probe into the computational substrate of our universe by straining the bounds of the simulation itself. In other words, hacking the universe

100. Trip of a Lifetime - Cassini Array, Saturn, 2079

The planet with the most advanced ecosystem, Guo-19B, is a mere 328 light years away

there's just no way we can push a biome — even a tiny one — to the kinds of relativistic speeds that would let humans get there in a reasonable amount of time," he said. He turned to look at the AI substrates in orbit around Titan, and frowned. "Those guys, on the other hand, well... they have some real advantages when it comes to travel

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