By the way, you heard it here first— this is the first part of many. That's why the story feels a bit stilted and incomplete at times, toying with concepts and going nowhere with them. There are many, many, many aspects of the world of 2029 I wish to write about, and I simply couldn't fit them all into one singular post, one which was already pushing 2,000 words. I chose to start here just to get my head in the future, and also because I'm a sucker for futuristic realist concepts of a normal, homely life in the future.
Part 1: Introduction. This is where we meet Oliver, Samantha, Ben, and Miranda while they're in the midst of their daily lives. We see them interacting with various virtual assistants and even their house robot. They're all at different places in life: Oliver is a successful manager, Samantha is a popular blogger, and Ben is thrilled to be in school. The outlier is Miranda, who Oliver and Samantha feel will never live a life like their own because of the dizzying rate of change taking place in the world, to the point they debate whether or not to even put her in school.
Part 2: The workplace. Oliver is a general manager of a line of restaurants— except he is also among the only humans actually working in the company. His competition is a worker cooperative restaurant, one that practices Vyrdism, and his taxes also go towards funding a basic income, so he barely sees anyone homeless on the streets. Still, the atmosphere is tense because some are outraged that there are so few jobs. It's not necessarily because they don't like UBI or Vyrdism, but because many spent so much of their time getting educated for jobs that are no longer there, and thus took on debt that it seems like they'll never pay off and UBI isn't going to do much about it.
Oliver barely worries about it because he played the system right. His STEM educated friends are nervous about the accelerated development of AI and what it means for their job outlook in the future. Oliver, who eschewed the STEM field to go into business, doesn't have to worry about that because he owns the same automation that's putting people out of work. His father always taught him about the value of hard work and the American Dream, after all. Still... his father never dealt with times like these... he was a hard man who had little sympathy for the poor and weak because he had followed a mindset that you get what you give. What would he think about these strange days...?
Part 3: The Internet. Samantha is a well-established writer and technosocial blogger. Always the nerdy technophile, she has always had her pulse on the latest trends in science and technology. It fills her with pleasure to interact with artificial intelligences as part of her daily life (maybe she's someone from the FutureTimeline forums!), and she uses AI to further her career. In fact, she barely writes much these days. She uses an AI named Chui to write much of her content, and she earns a pretty penny off of it every month. Chui also helps create virtual spaces that expand the definition of what even is a blog. It's like she has a whole team of content creators working for her. And yet she's still conflicted about Vyrdism and what to do with those unemployed by the rapid development of AI. These are fun times, but they still feel troubled. It's safe to say she has more than enough to write about— well, her AI has more than enough to write about.
Part 4: School. Ben is a student at a local elementary school, and his daily experiences are nothing short of extraordinary. Samantha envies him especially, all because his average day usually involves holograms, virtual reality, and robots. Even with something like math, VR and AR have lead to a sort of euphoria among the youth. They can actually understand all these concepts that teachers of years prior failed to teach to people like Oliver and Samantha. And who wouldn't want to casually chat with Leonardo da Vinci or George Washington after lunch? School has become video game-like, and the youth of today love it. It makes them want to go to school, especially the poorer kids who normally don't get to see these sorts of things. The teachers have since taken a backseat role, more or less guiders than teachers. Some can tell that they're only there because it's a tradition to have teachers in a school. Others wonder why their own childhoods weren't so awesome.
Part 5: At home. Miranda's a young child who's still learning about the basics of life. With everyone else preoccupied, she gets to be raised by synthetic beings who have been all but forced to learn how to be human. The house itself housesits Miranda, and her native childly curiosity is the perfect fodder for an information-heavy world. Anything she wants to learn, she can learn, and even experience. Within reason. Her and Ben's toys and games are extremely advanced, and there is no end of fun to be had. It's much easier for her to learn with all this technology, but Oliver and Samantha have some misgivings. Miranda's so young, it's almost a shame that she won't get to experience many of the things they experienced growing up. One of those things may very well be school itself. They're aware that they're living in what their younger selves would call 'The Future'. They never thought it would be like this, though. Everyone said there would be flying cars, robot butlers, space colonies, and holograms. Indeed, we have flying cars (manned drones, at least), they have their own domestic robot, there is indeed a manned colony on the moon, and holograms are everywhere. But who knew robots and AI would be taking people's jobs at such a frenetic rate? It calls into question Miranda's own future.
Why do kids go to school? For the most part, to learn skills that they can use in the real world. But Miranda was born too late to need any of those skills, because AI is fast becoming more capable than she could ever be. Whatever trade the future Miranda could learn, AI would learn and master far faster. So what's the point in enrolling her in school? To be social? VR's pretty good at replicating the real thing. To learn about our history and basic concepts? They can do that at home. It all seems like Miranda's generation is something different, and she is just so blissfully unaware in her toddler eyes.
Part 6: The News. My take on what sort of sociopolitical happenings will be going on in 2029. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Part 7: The Bleeding Edge. Samantha's the nerd here, so she's the one who's going to be checking out the bleeding edge of technology. The world of 2029 is sci-fi to us, but what do people in 2029 think is sci-fi and futuristic?
Part 8: The Poor. Several miles away from the Jones lives an interracial Millennial couple named Eric and LaQuisha Morris. Low income, low education, a man from the sticks and a woman from the ghetto who found true love in each other. They're always in a tight end because jobs are scarce. LaQuisha's the only one with a high school diploma, and she dropped out of college in the first year after immediately figuring it wasn't for her. They went to the same school as Oliver and Samantha, the same school Ben is in now. Remember what I said about those regretting their childhoods not being so awesome? It becomes a bit more tragic here. LaQuisha graduated high school around the same time Oliver started middle school, so she never got to experience the modern school curriculum. She never got to know what the future had in store for her and her husband, as a working class family. It all seemed to have come out of nowhere. One day she was dealing with the harsh realities of the poor life, messaging on Facebook and Instagram, being herself, and the next she had to worry about if freaking robots had taken over her potential new job as well as how to interact with artificial intelligences for jobs she did manage to get. Same with Eric. They live paycheck to paycheck, but at least they have another paycheck to use— that of a basic income.
They hear one of their coworkers complain about being on the government dole, saying that he'd rather own the machines himself and that's the only way to get ahead in this frightening new life. But how on earth could they do that when they can barely afford to keep the lights on at the end of the month...?
Part 9: The Weather. A category 3 hurricane slams into the East Coast— in December. It's the latest in a long chain of freakish weather events that seems to have been wrought by climate change. It's not like we haven't begun doing our part— we're more Green than not nowadays— but it came too little, too late to stave off the harsh effects of global warming. Luckily, we have the technology to persevere through these trying times.
Still... when there are heatwaves in winter and nothing but record setting summers every new year, some begin to formulate extreme ideas to deal with extreme times. Ecoterrorists have heard that volcanoes release sulfur dioxide, which acts as a cooling agent and counter to the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. They worship the year 1815, the Year Without a Summer. And they see a chance to change things before they spiral out of control. All it takes is a few tons of explosives set at the right angle on a VEI 7 supervolcano...
Part 10: The World of 2039. It's 10 years later, and the world has completely changed since '29. Miranda's a teenager, and already has a "boy"friend— a cute little robot she had been infatuated with for months. Ben was depressed by having all his potential career paths taken about AI, but he managed to get his synapses rerouted and doesn't feel so bad about it anymore. Oliver is home much more often. Samantha is still blogging. Eric and LaQuisha's fortunes have turned ever since they joined a technate— a fully automated cooperative. The economy's been up due to all this automated trading. But nowadays one can really only be a Vyrdist and take ownership in a bundle of robots if they want to get anywhere in life.
Life feels so much more sci-fi than it did 10 years ago. Daily life has begun to change.
There are telepaths everywhere, and artificial intelligences... well, synthetic intelligences are so prevalent and powerful that we're beginning to forget they're not people. Not all of us. Especially in the highly religious rural areas of the world, like the US south and Saudi Arabia, there is considerable backlash to what the world's become. There are nostalgics and Romantics popping out of the woodwork everywhere, all longing for an earlier, simpler time. And all AI wants to know is, "Aren't I a person too?"
That's the plan as of right now.