dominates the planet now. Almost every aspect of world affairs is controlled
by superintelligent entities formed of billions of inorganic minds working
in unison. These "Artilects" work at speeds and scales that
would be incomprehensible to observers from the 21st century. Global
issues that persisted for years in the past can now be resolved on timescales
measured in hours, minutes or even less.
which used to be known as the Internet has evolved into something quite
profound: for many people it has replaced physical reality entirely.
Reverse engineering of the brain, combined with advanced nanotechnology,
allows human minds to be fully detached and immersed within digital
environments. These virtual worlds offer a kind of immortality now.
the environmental catastrophe which has ravaged Earth, the awesome resources
available online mean that war, conflict, poverty and disease are gradually
being consigned to history. The knowledge and education that is free
to everyone has fostered a culture of trust and cooperation, while technological
breakthroughs are continuing to raise living standards. Only a few backwater,
insular nations remain unaffected – perhaps due to dictatorial governments,
religious institutions, geographical isolation or other factors. Even
these parochial places will soon be joining the rest of humanity.
virtual reality dominates today's culture, physical reality still holds
great interest for many. In one of the largest projects ever undertaken,
the natural world is restored to its pre-industrial state, with vast
areas of forest and grassland replanted, many extinct species brought
back to life, countless fish reintroduced to the oceans, and purification
of the Earth's atmosphere and water. Strict limits on the gathering
of resources are enforced, with the aim of never again returning to
the nightmare of the 21st century.
industry goes through another transformation. Venus and Mars both have
terraforming programmes underway; the latter is now home to many large
cities. The Moon, too, has millions of permanent inhabitants. Asteroid
mining is a booming industry, with numerous operations underway. There
are dozens of scientific stations on the moons of the gas giants. The
Kuiper Belt is fully probed and catalogued, as is the Oort Cloud. Beyond
the Oort Cloud, a huge network of telescopes is constructed. Throughout
this period, numerous Earth-like planets are observed throughout the
galaxy, though even the nearest of these worlds is dozens of light years
away. However, anti-matter propulsion is allowing the first manned exploration
of neighbouring stars, with the Alpha Centauri system and others gaining
their first permanent colonies.
the secrets of the Universe itself – and the origin of matter – are
close to being finally solved by the world's top scientists and AI programs...