Ever since shifting gears to Strongest Under Heaven and its spinoffs, Mother Meki/Babylon Today has finally— finally— calmed down and entered a very low-burn state that borders on the obsolete. That old obsession of this story about an ex-empress getting ruined by revolution has lost my interest. However, Babylon Today still occupies my thoughts, but in a much different form. Indeed, Meki persists, but now her story has almost totally shed its Marxist-Leninist/communist roots in lieu of finally purifying itself into the ideals of technism & Vyrdism. While she remains ostensibly a prole-loving radical, the post-Singularity world around her has finally won out.
As a result, Babylon Today has all but become this personal technist treatise of mine examining and deconstructing my own desires for the future through the eyes of some genetically-engineered Aryan woman. I've come to care less and less about making parallels to France '79 or Russia '17 and more about making parallels to the rise of civilization, except as if civilization is arising unto itself over the course of a few years. And one of the central themes of the story as it exists in my head now is that of coexisting epochs, something which fascinated me enough to get onto the main timeline's blog itself.
Quite by accident, this became my utopia. Or "eutopia," since I don't believe in utopias enough. So why not use it?
Bear in mind, this is still based on a fictional future, so I wouldn't put an extraordinary amount of stock in the minutia.
Perhaps I should start with the classic progression.
When a person born in 2000 was a child, they may have gone fishing with their fathers and played outside with their friends and go to school dreaming of growing up to be doctors or lawyers or engineers, with the most digital technology in their lives being a video game console and cellphone and maybe MP3 player. By the time they were a young adult, they could persist entirely online— they make money through online marketplaces, order food and groceries via apps, pay their bills and taxes online, and communicate with their family and friends on social media while looking up how to enter the STEM fields or service jobs (or settling with a stay-at-home career like freelancing or publishing e-books). By the time they were middle-aged, they could feel the embrace of lifelike artificial lovers, visit exotic realms in virtual reality, control electronics with brain-computer interfaces, and create & modify their own entertainment via media synthesis all while earning substantial passive income from shares in automated cooperatives and syndicates. Now that they're entering their golden years, they can become an entirely different type of life, a Hyperpithecus cosmicus, to experience things never before experienced by humans or biological life in general.
For some, this is a wonderful evolution.
For others, this is a vulgar violation of the human spirit.
This basically sums up the world as it is: a place trapped between the old and the new. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Science fiction loves the trope of the grumpy old-timers who argue the past was better. Those old-timers won't disappear, and I certainly hope they don't. As annoying as they can be, they're nevertheless a source of incredible stories and perspectives of yesteryear, and they are the ones keeping the traditions alive.
The world will never be perfect, and in seeking change, we'll become more obsessed with keeping pockets of the past alive. Not all of them, mind you, but certainly any ones that wish to persist outside modernity. It'd be of immense importance to me to let whatever tribal & hunter-gatherer communities still persist keep doing what they're doing. There's an almost fetishistic obsession with the juxtaposition of a civilization that where some parts are traveling the stars and exploring its own post-biological abilities while another remains in a borderline paleolithic way of living.
The story starts off in 2066, so why not use that as a base year for eutopic happenings? 2066 can be the year where the Sentinelese continue persisting while artificial superintelligences manage human civilization on Earth and elsewhere.
Human biodiversity has rapidly exploded over the years. There are now multiple species of human living on Earth. This would have been impossible had it not been for a lapse into illiberalism amongst several world powers, most notably China and parts of Western Europe— an illiberalism that did not come with extreme religiosity to boot (even though other illiberal states that fused state and religious power did exist, such as Islamist Turkey and Hindu India).
As a result, there's a wide set of human species, though the only two "true" spinoff species are Neanderthals and one that was once called 'Aryans', though the species name has since been renamed to 'Eximius' following the end of hypernationalist hysteria. Neanderthals are based purely off of actual Neanderthal genomics, while the Eximius species was meant to act as a baseline for designer babies due to the difficulty of actually picking and choosing traits (genetic engineering companies instead relied on an "Aryan standard" to do a flat modification of all necessary traits to get around contradictory or harmful expressions).
Then there's the Wild Humans and Honorary Humans, which are ostensibly resurrections of our long extinct ancestors but, in fact, technically qualify as brand new creations that are simply inspired by said ancestors— DNA has completely deteriorated after 800,000 years, and the youngest of our resurrected ancestors died off a few hundred thousand years before that. Not every ancestor species has been brought back— we've limited it to Neanderthals, Habilis, Australopithecus afarensis, and Paranthropus robustus, skipping Homo erectus due to concerns about their ability to assimilate into modernity.
It's really all moot anyway, as we've resurrected them all in computers thanks to the power of simulations. Indeed, even the Eximius are obsolete thanks to artificial intelligence.
Human labor is irrelevant the world over, even in the world's backwaters. While there are still plenty of places on Earth that qualify as living in poverty, the sheer spread of technology has ended the state of affairs that we'd consider to be "extreme poverty," though at a cost— three billion people perished in the past 40 years due to the spread of disease, regional nuclear wars, and climate change. The first nuclear exchange was between India and Pakistan, and deeply affected both nations as well as Bangladesh, Nepal, the Indochinese peninsula, Sri Lanka, and China (though due to chance climatic patterns, the lattermost three avoided the worst affects). India, though vastly reduced in population, has largely recovered, as has Pakistan, but the event proved to be one of the worst humanitarian disasters in history— it pales in comparison to the Great African Dying, a perfect storm of war, famine, disease, and climate change that claimed a billion lives in ten years. However, these regions have since stabilized and even improved following the introduction of automation and artificial intelligence governance— indeed, sub-Saharan Africa has since grown tremendously into a vast and fertile region of powers that, in a world sans automation, would otherwise be capable of reckoning with the Global North.
It is unfortunate that the dying occurred, and it did not do much good for the ecology of the world anyhow— reducing the population down to what it was in 2006, which is still well over six billion humans, though growing at a rate too slow to ever again reach seven billion. Had it occurred twenty years prior, it likely would have done civilization in. However, it proved the utility of AI.
And this is where humanity lies, for better or worse: under the control of AI. We bow to AI overlords by looking up at probes and drones sending themselves off to regions of space unknown, generating entire realities for our own benefit, and conquering age-old issues of the human condition. This is because AI didn't place itself into positions of power and authority— we put it there. The first recognizable AGI was turned on in 2023, and ever since, human history has moved at a pace so fast that every year has become a blur. Yet this blur still required living day-to-day, and it took time for people to eventually realize that letting AGI run our day-to-day operations was a better way of doing things. Thus, the AI takeover occurred not with humanoid machines marching and killing everything they saw, or with appliances turning on their human masters, but rather with humans applying more and more AI applications into their daily lives and personal functions until, eventually, the average Western and Far Eastern adult was all but coddled and pampered by machines at every waking moment, living a quality of life objectively superior to the richest kings and emperors of even a century prior.
An average man, if he so chooses (and modern hedonistic Western life is too tempting to not choose for most), can be awakened gently by graceful machines upon the perfect hour, be dressed and groomed to perfection by machines further, then be fed by them (any meal he so chooses, and his thoughts will choose for him if he cannot consciously decide), until he either decides to be on his way or consume whatever media he desires (often generated for that specific situation). With machines at his beck and call, there is no need or desire he cannot have fulfilled throughout his day— not even desires once considered fantastic or kingly, such as having a harem of the finest lovers his skin could feel. This harem may be physical, composed of hyperrealistic gynoids modeled after his innermost desires... or, as the man will understand throughout his day, it is all but a simulation sent into his synapses. He's never actually awoken because he is forever locked into a state of rest and dreams.
Perhaps for whatever reason, it turned out that full-immersion virtual reality by a neural mesh was impossible, but it is possible to keep a person in a perfectly controllable lucid dream indefinitely. Or perhaps full-immersion virtual reality is possible. Either way, this man can live in his own dreamworld however long he wants, his physical body either being kept in perfect stasis or perhaps not even existing anymore entirely.
If so, such world-leavers will be packed into human server farms, their biological material repurposed into something more useful while their minds live in whatever they please. Even in 2066, when several generations have come up in a world of AGI, a minority of humans choose this option, and unless forced to choose by AGI, that's all that ever will. Even in the initial era of personal computing and miniaturized computing, saturation never reached 100% and plenty of people even of the most tech-savvy generations would forgo pure tech addiction.
Indeed, even though artificial superintelligence exists and people can readily interact with it in a near endless number of ways, it is so omnipresent that many people no longer recognize it as existing at all. It is as common and ubiquitous as electricity. And because of this, it's hard to imagine life without it, no matter how much one angsts against it.
For those who opt to have post-biological upgrades, it's fun to go without physically eating, but those left behind will gladly order food and have machines deliver it to them. For those who can place their awareness in multiple places at once, teleportation across Earth and across space already exists in a digital form. For the rest, riding in a driverless car or vactrain is the norm.
Polities that act on their own accord might seem ultra-strange to elders, but normal to youths. And with AI powering robotics, there are creatures of all shapes and sizes persisting on Earth, though it's still more beneficial to leave the fantastic to VR.
All the while, hunter-gatherers in far off jungles and plains still persist in the ways of catching food and eating berries. Those off-the-grid live as they always have, disconnected and alone with the stars and their own primal instincts. As they watch the stars, they know that there are humans out there as well. They might not have the same physical form, but we're out there. Somewhere.
This is the way of 2066: a world caught between two epochs, the way the world has been since the first industrial revolution.