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A collaboration with your favorite Substack writers as we imagine what our lives will look like in 2043
The following post is one of a series of 6 articles written simultaneously by separate authors who cast a vision of the year 2043. The authors have written their pieces in isolation with no collaboration between them. We would like you to read all 6 articles and subscribe to the ones you like if you haven’t already.
The other authors and their posts are:
Jeff lives in one of the many smart cities dotted down the Eastern Seaboard of Australia. At 75, and a widow now living alone, he’s thankful for his small monthly UBI of 5,000 credits and the fact that he still has a roof over his head. He was an associate professor of a psychology department back in the day, but lost his tenure after OpenAI secured the contract for all departments. No one could compete with the seemingly omniscient/omnipresent AI professor that had been making incursions into academia for a decade before he lost his job in ’35. Nevertheless life was OK under the guiding hand of the United World (formerly the UN before the word “nation” fell out of favour) and the World Forum (formerly WEF) which had ushered in a time of unprecedented peace - except for the ongoing conflicts in the Caucasus, Central Africa, South America, and the Indo-Pacific regions (but news about such conflicts could well be propaganda to undermine the good work of the UW).
Jeff is just waking up to another day as he reflexively puts on his SuCra (short for SuperCranial Induction Glasses - the primary means of communication. Gone are smart phones, and invasive computer-brain interfaces, now superseded by new, non-invasive magnetic resonance technology. Looking very much like augmented reality glasses from two decades ago, SuCra is everyone’s phone & laptop).
Kim: Good morning Jeff. You were experiencing some alpha-delta sleep last night so I thought to book you in for a DrAI consult today at 10:45am.
Kim was Jeff’s wife of 40 years until she died suddenly. However, enough data was collected about Kim from the company TR (The Resurrected) to create a virtual avatar, replicating Kim to the finest degree. It cost Jeff over 15,000 credits to have Kim as his VR assistantbut he says it is worth every credit.
Kim: Local or world?
Jeff: Oh, ah, give me local.
Kim: Police are still on the lookout for a band of RTswho broke into the cities vertical farm last night and destroyed the genetics lab. Dr Markus, who runs the lab, said that output will be down 15% this month as they recover from the break-in.
Jeff: Bloody RTs! They all need to be shot.
Religious Terrorists, or RTs, is a catch-all for anyone who opposes the technocracy or commits just about any illegal activity. Primarily monotheistic religious people who reject transhumanism, the CBDC system, and have formed their own parallel societies.
Jeff: What’s the time?
Kim: 7:33 - You have 27 minutes before your virtual golfing date.
Jeff: Oh, yeah. Cancel that will you? I want to see Joe this morning if I can.
Joe is Jeff’s pangender grandchild, a 20 something who lives on the other side of the city and does mostly climate activism, for which she gets extra credits.
Jeff: Can you call Joe?
Kim: Jeff you do not have the required travel credits to hail a vehicle to see Joe today. Would you still like to make that call?
Jeff: What! Why don’t I have enough travel credit?
Kim: Compulsory donations were deducted from your account last night to help fight the climate battle in Sudan.
Jeff’s glasses start playing a UW ad thanking world citizens for their much needed donations to help the climate crisis in Sudan. Pictures of a cloud seeding operation are followed by young Sudanese children dancing in the rain accompanied by triumphant music.
Jeff: OK, stop. Does Joe have enough credit to come over here today?
Kim: Checking… Yes, Joe has 432 travel credits that do not expire until Friday at 18:00. Do you want to call?
Joe: Hey Gramps, you know it’s like, super early!
Jeff: Hi Joe. Yeah, sorry about that. How are you?
Joe: I dunno, OK I guess.
Jeff: Want to come over and see your old grandpa today?
Joe: Nah I can’t. There’s this Harari thing at Temple today - aren’t you going to be there?
Yuval Noah Harari, by the mid 30s, had become a sort of ‘poet in residence’at the UW. One of his famous poems, Dao Datao, was the impetus for “Temple Time”, a daily ritual of meditation for many around the world in the UW’s meditation temple in the metaverse. The beginning of Dao Datao is familiar to everyone:
Data is God
God is Data
Data begets me and thee
And together we are Dao Datao
Jeff: Oh… Temple Time… Yes I guess I had better be there.
Joe: There’s 150 credits if you stay for the entire presentation - it’s going to be so cool! OK, got to go Gramps - catch you later!
Jeff: Ah, Joe…
Kim: Joe is no longer on the line Jeff.
Jeff takes off his SuCra, closes his eyes while pinching the bridge of his nose in a moment of regathering his thoughts. On top of most people’s minds is the weather. Always changing, always potentially dangerous… and viruses of course. Between climate change and viruses the world is a very dangerous place - it’s been that way for 20 years, or probably more.
Jeff gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom.
Jeff: What’s the weather?
Kim: [Now speaking though the apartment’s sound system] It is 18 degrees celcius and will rise to 26 degrees by 1pm today. There is an extreme weather warning for the city and a chance of damaging storms tonight.
There were always ‘extreme weather warnings’ for the city and often unverifiable reports of damaging storms, heatwaves, and other anomalies beyond the city. The reports were almost always wrong, often ridiculously so, but this didn’t seem to bother anyone, the weather reports were always top ranking requests through the internet.
One of the reasons for such vigilance on weather is the devastating depopulation effect the weather has had on the global population over the past 20 years. Early on it was not clear why so many people were suddenly dying until a UW (UN at the time) taskforce did a comprehensive scientific study on the phenomenon and concluded that climate change was indeed the cause of widespread sudden death. Conspiracy theorists had other ideas, but these radicalised ideologues, primarily from the RT camps, were debunked. Health Camps were very popular in the decade of the mid 20s though to the mid 30s and many people were saved from their radicalised minds and mental illnesses.
Jeff: I think I’d like to go for a walk and get some breakfast. What’s open?
Kim: Jeff the Department for Sustainable Living have just released a travel restriction for today due to last nights vertical farm attack. [The bathrooms wall monitor lights up with the department’s secretary, not an actual person but an AI avatar, addressing the camera: “For your safety we have issues a 1km travel restriction for today. RTs are still at large and restricting movement will assist the police in their investigation. Please stay in your designated areas. Credit suspension will be imposed on anyone not complying to this directive.”]
Jeff: Shit! Bloody RTs!
Kim: You can walk to Tomo’s Takeaway? Would you like me to place an order?
Jeff: OK. Usual.
Jeff walks into the lounge area of his108th floor apartment with a view of the opposing apartment tower reflecting the morning sun into his tiny living space. Kim follows.
Kim: Ordering now. Order complete. [The lounge room screen lights up with a larger than life Tomo, who is probably not a real person, holding up the order with a big cheesy grin, “Your order is ready to pick up Jeff! Thanks for choosing Tomo’s Takeaway.” The screen defaults to the popular “Climate Catastrophe In Focus” with the sound muted.].
Jeff: Thanks Kim.
Kim: Your booster patch is in the dispenser. Don’t forget to apply it before you leave.
Jeff is unusually old for someone on a UBI. The Es (the elites), through gene therapy, good nutrition and healthcare, will often live to 120 or longer, but for the ordinary person life expectancy is around 65-70. Although SADS is an ever-present concern for everyone. So Jeff is doing well, although he does have to take more boosters these days (micro needle patches applied to the hand or forehead that double as ID refreshments - don’t want them to fade!). Sometimes the boosters give him hallucinations, and he thinks his chronic pain is also much worse after applying each booster, but his DrAI assures him it’s just the weather.
Jeff had three children, two of whom died suddenly in the 20s, one of them Joe’s mother, and a surviving son Kevin. Kevin works for the UW’s Sustainable Biomass Working Group as a lab technician. In his lab they are cataloguing both natural and synthetic genetic codes of all living things. Natural codes are leased to companies who use the data to create novel and commercially viable genetic codes known as ‘mods’. LIFE 3.6 is a widely distributed transhuman mod that provides longevity and an assortment of enhancements, like night vision, or dramatically decreased adipose tissue. It can be personalised so the recipient can have a particular eye colour, hair colour, vocal pitch, etc.
Kevin has LIFE 3.6 because he earns ‘mod credits’ from his job, but the average person would struggle to afford such mods or simply does not earn the required credits. Kevin has the physical appearance of a 20 something who is lean and fit, although he is actually 41 years old. His modified genome, however, is licensed to the company LIFE and as such he is compelled to pay a ‘subscription’, forever. Even pets, of which there are now no unmodified ones (not legally at least), are under the same obligation to ‘subscribe’ to the company that installed the mod in the first place - no matter how many generations removed the animal is from the original mod. This makes pet ownership just another perk of the rich, and there are many who cannot use credit for pets anyway.
Kevin, unlike his father, chose not to marry. Marriage is considered an archaic institution and associated with RTs, so very few people even consider it. Kevin, who’s a little autistic, not uncommon, would rather partner with his humanoid companion “B”. B is a hyperrealistic ‘female’ humanoid (although has the capacity to change genders easily) that came into vogue only in the past 5 years or so. There were many previous attempts as such realism, and the AI brains were realistic enough, but the hardware was still clunky. There was still that ‘uncanny valley’ to overcome, which they did in the late 30s. Jeff would like such a machine, especially merged with Kim, but he just doesn’t have the means. As much as Kevin would like to help him, personal credits are non-transferrable.
Jeff puts his SuCra back on as he heads out the door.
Jeff: Map. [Kim throws up an augmented reality map overlay on Jeff’s SuCra with the required navigation prompts, biorhythms, etc., and some music that will resonate and assist Jeff on the walk]
Half way to Tomo’s Takeaway Jeff sees a man running up the street as if being pursued. The man, with a frightened and desperate look on his face, runs right up to Jeff and pushes a small leather wallet into his chest.
Man: Take This! Take it!
Jeff reflexively grabs the wallet and the man races on up the street and around the corner. A drone stops overhead. Jeff, stunned, just stands there looking up the now empty street.
Kim: [Not Kim’s voice, but a stern male voice] Citizen! You are under arrest. Do not move!
Three or four drones suddenly surround Jeff, pulsating blue and red, sirens blaring.
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or ‘companion’ as TR would say
although highly controversial, as one critic put it: “Harari is a hack at best and has not the first idea about poetry or the heart of humanity - his popularity is an insult to poet of all ages.”
"his” is a misnomer - as no one actually owns any property - he rents the place according to his social credit standing - the higher the standing the better the space one can rent.