Decentralized Democracy

Whenever you get into an argument with a socialist over what socialism means, they always claim that it means “worker ownership of the means of production.” Yet when the argument is over and everyone’s back where they were beforehand, the socialist will frequently claim that it’s the State— not the working class— that should possess the means of production.

I’ve noted this many times and it’s been a bit hilarious to keep seeing socialists flip back and forth over what actually qualifies as socialism. That’s not to say that all socialists behave this way— there are some who never claim it’s anything other than State ownership of the means of production, and there are others who never claim it’s anything other than worker ownership of the means of production. Those in the latter category have largely been forgotten in popular discourse because of how socialism has become to mean “any form of Big Government.”

Naturally, I’m keen on wondering what’s so great about Big Government. It’s said that the government needs to regulate industry in order to prevent abuses, and without this regulation, the working class would be a downtrodden, abused, and impoverished underclass without any rights. Yet whenever I look to nations that have the most oppressed working classes, it’s always those with authoritarian or totalitarian governments that attempt to control every facet of the economy.

Of course, is this a damning condemnation of government? Not at all. I can’t say I’d like more privatized prisons, after all. However, there is an aspect of this that I’m starting to realize may prove the socialists right— of course, it’s proving them right in a manner that works against them.

Businesses do need to minimize expenses and maximize profits. That’s just how it works. And often, that will mean that the workers get the short end of the stick. Not always, but that’s how it’ll usually happen, and when most businesses manage to lower wages for workers, they wouldn’t want anything to happen to destroy their hegemony. Just look at what happened with Henry Ford— some of his rivals called him a socialist all because he paid his workers so well.

But that’s not what I’m getting at. No, my point is that socialists are very much right when they call socialist countries “State Capitalist.” And why? Because, as they say, the State takes the role of the capitalist enterprise. Most businesses are run by the State, after all.

However, I’m going deeper than that. It’s not just that the State runs most businesses— it’s also that the State itself has become a business. In order for it to be successful, it needs to be run like a business, like a corporation. However, whenever socialists overthrow the bourgeoisie and implement the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, they see themselves as revolutionary Marxist heroes, not bourgeois businessmen. That’s one reason why socialist nations always fail— those running it fail to realize they’ve essentially turned their parent nation into one giant corporation.

Imagine if wide-eyed idealists tried running Microsoft. Rather than engaging in traditional business practices, they did everything according to some outdated pamphlet or religious document that has no bearing on modern society. Would Microsoft last long? No, it wouldn’t. It would suffer yearly deficits that got worse and worse, with the workers going unpaid and the higher ups reaping any and all money that can be made.

So it seems like you have a choice between one corporation or several corporations. Is there any way out of this matrix? To be blunt, not really. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat anything, because no matter what happens, we’re going to return to a somewhat similar set up in society. However, I do have one hypothesis.

It goes that there is a conflict between authoritarianism and democracy. Democracy is inherently more successful than authoritarianism, as all examples of authoritarianism will eventually collapse in on themselves due to the centralization of power. However, authoritarianism is a dominant gene, whereas democracy is a recessive gene.

Anyone who has ever gone through 8th grade biology class knows these terms, “dominant” and “recessive.” Dominant alleles can show themselves even if they came from only one parent and it is a minority of a person’s alleles. Recessive alleles must come from both parents, and even then they will rarely appear.

This holds true for sociopolitics and economics. You can’t have authoritarianism and democracy. That’s one reason why I feel anarcho-capitalism and Chavismo are doomed ideologies— one claims to respect sociopolitical democracy, and yet all but demands economic authoritarianism. The other claims to pursue economic democracy, but did so by abusing sociopolitical authoritarianism— and as we’re seeing in Venezuela, it’s led to disastrous results.

This is because you need both to be democracies if you want success. If one is authoritarian, soon enough both will be authoritarian. An authoritarian government will never keep its hands off the economy, and authoritarian business structures will always want to corrupt government. You need government in order to create a monopoly, and you need a business powerful enough to get government to create a monopoly in its favor. That’s why the argument over whether monopolies are the result of Big Business or Big Government is a pointless argument that’s very obviously divided along political lines— you need two to tango. If there’s a monopoly, breaking up the business with bigger government won’t solve anything. Likewise, shrinking the government wouldn’t solve anything either. You’d need to do both if you wanted to prevent it from happening again. However, as long as both are authoritarian structures, it will happen again. It’s just something we’d have to deal with time and time again.

That’s one reason why I’ve been extolling the virtues of worker cooperatives, worker self management, decentralized business models, and fully automated businesses (technates).

We probably won’t see the rise of decentralized democracy anytime soon, not unless there were an aggressive move towards it. Digital technologies can aid this movement, as we’ve seen with the likes of the DAO, but it’s still too early to see which way we’re heading.

 

Yuli’s Law

I want to coin a new term: “Yuli’s Law“. Yuli’s Law states that any attempt at discussing futurology or emerging technologies will always result in someone expressing skepticism or pessimism based on past developments and failures.

For example: most discussions about the capabilities robots in the future always fall back on the limited abilities of robots in the past. How often have you read a news story about artificial intelligence only to find in the comments someone saying something to the effect of “You still need to program every action, and that’s why AI will never happen”? Or perhaps when you try discussing technostism— when the world is fully or nearly-fully automated? What’s the standard rebuttal? “It didn’t happen with looms, spinning jennies, tractors, and computers, so it won’t happen now.”

Another example, one I’ll use to go in depth= flying cars. Flying cars have been a staple of futurist optimism for nearly a century now, and yet they’ve never materialized. We’ve had planes for over a century, and helicopters have been around for almost as long. Fuel isn’t a problem— there are a plethora of fuels to use, even if some aren’t as savory as others (i.e. nuclear-powered cars). We’ve even seen an electric plane circumnavigate the globe. So what is keeping a flying family sedan out of your driveway? You are. Not you in particular, but humans in general. We humans evolved to navigate a 2D plane— we move forwards, backwards, side to side, diagonally, and little else. We didn’t evolve to move up and down. The limits of our 3D movements involve standing up, sitting down, squatting, falling down, and the like— not flying through the heavens at lightning speed. And even then, we were never meant to traverse 2D planes at high speeds either, hence why car accidents claim the lives of over a million people each year globally.
Flying cars just aren’t going to happen beyond those novelties like the Avrocar unless you address the pilot problem. What’s an innovation in that field?

Passenger Drone
Ehang 184 cruising through Dubai. Imgur

 

Passenger drones. At CES 2016, a Chinese drone company, Ehang, unveiled the Ehang 184. It’s not the first passenger drone, but it’s arguably the most famous.

This technology is nascent, but it’s already proving itself— Ehang tested their passenger drone in Nevada during the summer of 2016, apparently with success. They may not be the first to usher in passenger drones to the masses, however, as Alphabet’s Larry Page is investing in the development of flying cars. Surely he’s well aware of the crippling limitations of flying cars (which turns them into roadable planes). After all, his company is leading the way in the field of autonomous vehicles. Adding a third dimension to the Google driverless car won’t be a problem because it will be computers that have to deal with it.

And that brings me to my next example. Some people might still say that flying cars won’t ever appear because they haven’t appeared on the market yet, but once you introduce them to passenger drones, and interesting thing happens— they begin to ponder why we didn’t create passenger drones before now.

One thing that every futurist knows (or should know) is that many of our beloved and desired technologies will only be possible with greater computing power. This hasn’t always been the case— we didn’t need computers to create airplanes or automobiles or even atomic bombs and space-faring rockets. However, once we did create these things, we hit a plateau. It’s a plateau that’s been the bane of futurists, sci-fi fans, Singularitarians, transhumanists, everyone with an interest in technology in general. All the low-hanging post-industrial technology fruits have been plucked, and in order to progress further (and to use video game terminology), we need to unlock the AI upgrade. We can still develop futuristic technologies without AI, but it will take exponentially longer timescales to do so, especially considering we aren’t funding sci-tech at anywhere near the levels some people think we are (i.e.: we’re funding fusion energy at a “Fusion Never” level, and NASA’s budget in 2016 is one of their ten lowest funded years ever).

However, even then we still won’t be able to develop some technologies such as domestic robotics and augmented reality. These two technologies are wholly dependent on algorithms that can decipher the incredible amounts of data fed to them by the world at large, and without sufficiently powerful algorithms, they will never take off like we imagined.

When I use the term “AI”, I’m not necessarily referring to artificial superintelligence (ASI) or even artificial general intelligence (AGI). I mean any algorithm, no matter how narrow. With sufficient computing power, even narrow AI becomes impressively capable.
And they need to be capable if we want the futuristic fantasies we’ve always desired.

In the early days of science fiction, we were amused by visions of robot butlers. So amused that we tried making them ourselves. However, every attempt thus far has failed. Does it stand to reason that every attempt will fail, or will there come a day when every middle class family possesses their own automaton slave?

I won’t even let you answer that question— of course that day will come.

There’s a wonderful infogif from Mother Jones that shows why we’re about to get our own domestic droids sooner than many think.

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Mother Jones – “Welcome Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us?”

For a slower version, click here.

In the 1960s, our computers had so little computing power available that you might have gotten better results with a wind-up toy. Things didn’t improve much in the ’70s, though we were doing the best we could with what we had. It was depressing, to say the least. That there were proto-Singularitarians from that era is remarkable, as I cannot imagine how awfully little hope they had.

I say this from the comfortably robotic year of 2016. I’ve talked about my late Roomba, though I don’t believe I’ve mentioned how frustrating the little bugger really was. Even a 2010 model Roomba felt like a glorified McDonalds toy. Thus, it makes sense why people high on the Jetsons and Star Wars back in vintage decades would be disillusioned by the seemingly stagnant rate of progress in robotics.

But things are changing.

Now that we’re developing computers powerful enough to run the algorithms necessary for a robot to navigate a real life space— as well as wireless networks fast and sturdy enough to drive Cloud computing— we are witnessing a robotics boom time.
How is it that ASIMO went from falling on itself trying to navigate stairs to being able to hop on one leg stably? Better algorithms that could process more information at a much quicker pace. How is it that Boston Dynamics went from the awkward PETMAN to the creepily impressive Atlas 2.0? Better algorithms that could process more information at a much quicker pace. Not forgetting more efficient robotic design, of course— design that still needs to be utilized by said algorithms.

We may have had the necessary algorithms in the ’70s and ’80s, but computers were far, far too weak to exploit them. Thus, if you brought home something that was marketed as a home robot butler for Christmas ’78, you were going to be sorely disappointed. And if you were a 6 year old who had high hopes for robot butlers, the failings of one would scar you for life. Imagine living the rest of your life, working at a decent job and starting a family, and then in 2018, you hear that Honda is selling its first home-ready ASIMOs while Google is readying a passenger drone. Chances are you wouldn’t believe them. Sure, technology’s gotten better, but there’s no way it could have gotten that much better, right…?

And yet it has.

The World of 2029: 1000-Man Algorithms

It’s late Friday, November 16th, 2029.

Samantha Jones wraps up what she was working on and goes into the kitchen for a glass of water. Nothing happened today that really shocked her, and there was little to write about.

Then again, her computer continues to type even though she’s away from the keyboard.

When she sits back down, she rolls her chair around the corner to check up on Miranda. She’s watching cartoons on their 8k TV. The TV itself is as flat as paper and sticks to the wall, making it appear as if it were magic wallpaper.

As the sun sets on the crisp autumn day, the wind blows with vigor and the sky darkens.

Beautiful, Samantha thinks. There’s nothing better than a rain-cooled night.

Immediately, those words appear on the computer screen. Along with them, a stock photo of such a cloudy, cool, and dreary evening.

Chui speaks, “You love rain, right?”

“Better believe it, honey.” Then she begins typing.

Chui saw that these inputs came from the keyboard. “Isn’t it easier to use the iMind?”

“Meh, I grew up typing. Old habits die hard.”

“I thought you loved new technology.”

“When it suits me.” She turns off the speaker and types in the next response. ‘I just don’t like playing cyborg all the time.’

‘I understand.’

“So how far along is the game?”

“79% finished.”

Samantha brings up a new window and sees a message box that displays multiple lines of code. The code generates itself and fills whole pages. On top of the box are the words ‘Sam’s Game.’

So she logs off from her blog and brings up a social media website. Her eyes glow from all the information thrown at her, and she hastes to put on her glasses.

Instantly, she sees a new world around her, one more vibrant than any she’s ever known. She’s in the website, experiencing its cybernetic wonders without any middleman.

In fact, the more she works with this, the less she uses the traditional computer and keyboard. If anything, they’re vestigial. Yes, the tower is necessary, but she wears the screen as glasses, and she uses her mind as the keyboard.

Along with her glasses and cyberkinetic headband, she also wears wireless earbuds. From here, she can listen to any of her 120,000 downloaded songs. Don’t tell anyone, but she used a YouTube-MP3 converter for almost all of it. It’s not like anyone can do anything about it anyway. The last lawsuit over pirated music was nearly a decade ago, and now the music industry doesn’t bother.

And an avatar of Chui is smiling at her. That little thing is one of the reasons why.

Chui, and on a larger scale, artificial intelligence in general, have become what the media has dubbed ‘supercapable.’

Supercapable AI as a term was first used in 2016 after a Google AI beat the world champion at Go, a game whose very function requires some form of generalized intelligence. It has come to bridge the gap between ‘narrow’ AI and ‘general’ AI. For a refresher, narrow AI refers to any programming that can complete a specific task. Computers from the 1960s, thus, relied on narrow AI.

General AI has proven to be a tougher nut to crack, as it requires an algorithm that can learn any task and operate on a human level.

Up until the late 2010s, they were seen as separate worlds. After computer intelligence’s domination of Go, however, the term ‘supercapable AI’ entered parlance to describe AI that was able of some level of generalized learning, even if it was not general intelligence in and of itself.

“Your game is almost ready,” Chui says. “95%.”

Samantha can’t keep her jaw off the desk. “That fast?”

“Yep.” Chui gives an ‘XD’ smiley. “Just putting the finishing touches on the lighting engine. All 18 levels are done, and the game’s AI is working properly.”

Supercapable AI has been the dream of nerds and dreamers— and the nightmare of wage laborers. Chui isn’t the one who built the game, but it is telling her about the progress of its construction. However, Sam isn’t the head of a game design studio— it is another AI that is building the game. Sam wrote in instructions and descriptions of what she wanted from the game and guided the AI in its early design phases, but otherwise she (or any other human) has not put in a single line of code.

That’s not to say this has killed entertainment.

One of the sites Samantha opens up next is a hub for such games to be shared and sold. There are thousands of such games, uploaded by people across the world. Human-developed games are specially marked, though algorithm-developed games dominate the site.

She checks her account. $542.99 made in the past week off game downloads. She’s among the top 500 ‘developers’, as well as one of the site’s oldest accounts.

Samantha is a technophile who keeps her finger on the pulse of the tech world. For years, she lauded the coming of decentralized game development. Indie games have grown in complexity thanks to algorithms, to the point they are indistinguishable from ‘professionally developed games.’

In fact, in the site’s newsfeed is a headline that reads ‘EA Closes Doors— Millions Cheer’. This has been the somber reality of the gaming industry ever since the algorithms first hit the market in 2018. It took a while for them to be noticed. In fact, as late as 2021, many in the games industry claimed that these “silly algorithms would never present a threat to the millions of manhours put in by the industry’s best”, since the best the algorithms seemed to do were basic stages with uncreative utilitarianism.

By 2024, this delusion had shattered when an algorithm-designed game became the biggest selling title of the year. Google and their ilk warned the game industry years prior, saying that top-of-the-line algorithms from 2020 were already capable of ‘creative design’ and that it was only a matter of time before regular consumers got their hands on them. For the industry, it’s only gone downhill since. A few algorithms can outdo a team of 500 skilled programmers and designers with a millionth of a percent of the cost, so what’s the point of having the latter outside of ‘human cred’?

“Aaaaand 100% Game’s finished, Sam.”

“Alright, cool, I’ll check it out in a sec,” she thinks.

A small preview opens in the lower right of her vision, and she sends a mental note to close it and send it to the house’s main computer.

Ben and Miranda run into the living room and sit in front of the TV. The game opens, and they get a screen full of cartoony graphics and bright colors. If one didn’t know, they’d say this were from Nintendo.

This seemingly simple layout was the intention. Samantha knows that, if she wanted to, she could’ve created a sprawling epic featuring the most realistic graphics possible.

And there’s another point of contention. Ever since the early 2020s, computer graphics have been photorealistic. Video games oft feature CG cutscenes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one can use these game algorithms to create movies and serials.

To Samantha, decoupling power away from a centralized few is the greatest thing to happen to the entertainment industry. Billions of minds hold quadrillions of ideas, but only a few thousand ever get the privilege of seeing them to light.

It just helps that she was an early adopter. She’s been a blogger for decades now, and using AI to write her content has made her life easier (and wealthier). And it’s not like her readers don’t know— she’s one of the Internet’s most outspoken technophiles, openly praising the neverending progression of artificial intelligence and robotics.

This is what makes her opposition to Vyrdism so strange. She profits off of automation and AI, yet she claims that others should rely on the State to pay them benefits and not worry about owning anything. Hence her last article, ‘Giving Vyrd the Bird.’ It’s not been one of her more popular articles, with many Vyrdists attacking it as ‘bourgeois apologism.’

“What do you think about it?” she asks Chui.

“I think it’s a fine article that raises many good points,” it responds.

The rain falls.

The World of 2016

Exponential growth is for Luddites

I dedicate this post to my Roomba, who served me well for four and a half great years. R.I.P., 2011-2016.

Okay, maybe not. But there’s a reason why I trashed my Roomba— it’s outdated. It was outdated when I bought it and it’s worlds outdated today. Every second that passes inches it closer to the Roomba Obsoletion Singularity, the point at which all Roombas are obsolete the moment they’re created.

But I don’t mind, because I didn’t need another Roomba for half of a decade. That one served me well. The same applies to a lot of technology— I recently blogged about how I have a smartphone from 2013, and how I’ll probably keep it until I buy an iPhone 8s Plus, which I’ll then keep until 2026.

It feels good to experience exponential growth. It’s hard to experience it when you’re constantly riding the curve, so making a stop at one point and picking back up some time later is a joyride that can’t be beat.

The same will still be true 13 years from now. Imagine 13 years of exponential growth from where we’re at now. There’s a reason why the World of 2029 posts are increasingly ‘out there’— the more I consider the real nature of the future, the more I realize that I’m badly underestimating the rate of change. When I went into writing The World of 2029: Part One, I was still thinking linearly.

Imagine if this year were 2003, and I was writing about the year 2016. Yeah, there are some things I’ll get wrong, wrong and terribly wrong. But there are other things I might get partially right, except that I wasn’t being creative enough.

Back in 2003, I thought about the future a lot. I oft consider that period in 2003 to be my ‘proto-futurist’ phase of youth. The years that really interested me were 2015 and 3000. Why 2015? I dunno, it just sounded so futuristic to me. What’s more, it’s cute how little difference there was between 2015 and 3000— the year 3000 AD was brighter, taller, and had flying cars, but it was recognizable. The year 2015 had a lot of robots, jetpacks, neon, and some “primitive flying cars.” Mind you, I was 9 years old, so I wasn’t totally aware of all the great changes that had occurred and could occur.

Still, it’s interesting to return to those times and try to wrap my mind around the idea of just how much had actually changed between then and 2015.

The biggest thing was access to the Future. A lot of futurist thinking is predicated upon the idea that the Future will be mostly-evenly distributed. To an extent, this is actually correct: think of smartphones and their prevalence in society. The rich might have snazzy covers and larger storage sizes, but for the most part, a millionaire’s iPhone isn’t very different from my own.

To another extent, it’s totally wrong. Were there robots, jetpacks, and primitive flying cars in 2015? Absolutely. Did everyone have them? Not at all. In fact, only a handful of people altogether had any of the above.

Things get cheaper, as smartphones have, so I’m confident the Future will arrive in the lap of the less fortunate. It’s just that, for now, we have to watch and imagine.

The amount of exponential growth between 2003 and 2015 didn’t seem to be all that great. Towards the end, there was a noticeable curve upwards in progress, but it took a while to get going. Between 2003 and 2010, not much in my daily life changed. I had an iPhone and 7th generation video game consoles, but that was just about it. Never mind the more subtle changes, such as the rise of social media and YouTube.

Compare 2010 to 2015, and I’ll definitely say there was a change. For one, I got a Roomba. I also got a more powerful computer, a much better smartphone, a brand new video game console, and I started using Siri and Cortana. Oh, and then there was this totally nothing drone I got in 2014.

I’ll always use the drone as an example of when the Future hit me and my mother in the face. The thing’s a flying robot. I got a freaking flying robot for Christmas. In 2003, that was the solely the realm of science fiction. My mother? She still can’t get over it. It looks like a flying saucer, which just drives the point home even further.

Now it’s 2016 and I’m already impressed with what I’m seeing, whether it be autonomous manned drones or heavily expanded IoT services. I’ve become used to the overwhelming amount of change because I’ve accepted and embraced it. That makes it easier to see just how much change we’re undergoing and predict how much will occur in the future. Yet I still made the linearist mistake.

So I feel I should spend time talking about where information technology will be in 13 to 14 years. I  can talk about where it’ll be in 4 years all the same. If I use an exponential growth model, things begin making sense.

So expect the World of 2029 posts to get exponentially weirder.

 

National Networked Federation of Worker Cooperatives

It’s a staple of Vyrdist philosophy— that we need a national network of worker cooperatives.

Why do we need them? Because as a Vyrdist, I believe that owning automation will be more fruitful than simply getting a check every month, ala universal basic income.

This is Vyrd’s best idea, IMO. According to him, one reason why income inequality is so dangerously high is because workers have so little power. It’s at the point that workers are relying on hope that bourgeois bureaucrats will tax themselves to pay for welfare to ease their pain.

Thanks to Conservative Leftism, the liberalist ideals embodied by the Democrats, the worker has been bamboozled into thinking reliance on bourgeois welfare is empowerment. So complete is this brainwashing, some workers who wish for expanded welfare actually oppose programs dedicated toward cooperativization.

The nuvo-left knows better. The only way to empower the workers is through empowerment. This sounds nonsensical and silly, but think about it for a second: what does “empowerment” really mean? Economically, it means owning the means of production, being business leaders, and controlling the distribution of wealth at personal enterprises.

Vyrd was smart. He realized that a decentralized market is the best way to allocate resources in a technostist society. Centralized planning has failed both socialism and capitalism. To those confused by the latter, recognize that a traditional capitalist enterprise involves workers creating wealth and a central authority distributing that wealth. It is beholden to market realities, yes, but this is the gist of any business.

Decentralized State power coupled with decentralized economic power is the best way forward. The only way to decentralize economic power is to create a national networked federation of worker cooperatives. Vyrd said that the best way to establish technostism is to create a mixed economy. Not one in the traditional sense, but an economy that features a number of worker cooperatives and traditional enterprises. He then bet on labor flight, where low-skilled and mid-skilled workers at traditional enterprises fled to the worker cooperatives for their vastly higher wages, leaving the high-skilled with the capitalists and spurring capitalists to invest heavily in automation to make up for their lost labor base. The worker cooperatives will profit from this automation along with them as the cost of automation plummets. Ownership is extended to whole communities via helotism, until eventually all enterprises— worker or capitalist owned— are automated and ownership of automation is either fully or quasi common.

A strong worker federation means an empowered working class.

Cyberkinesis

Cyberkinesis: The manipulation of digital and robotic apparatuses through one’s mind. Also known as technokinesistechnopathy, and psychotronics.

Which one is technically correct? I don’t believe it matters, though I have heard more use ‘technopathy’ to describe a superpower where one literally controls machines with their native mind while ‘cyberkinesis’ is used to describe augmentation that allows a person to do such. Thus, I tend towards ‘cyberkinesis.’

Cyberkinesis is a fun little thing; I remember a cyberkinetic toy I played with back in 2010.

 

There are also other cyberkinetic products one can purchase right now, such as Emotiv’s Insight.

So it’s not science fiction, but the applications are still rather fleeting. Fast forward a decade, when algorithms will be much more capable of deciphering our brain waves, and you’ll begin to notice that our phones have become ‘telepathy machines.’

2026 Smartphones

I remember when I first saw a smartphone. The year was 2006, and I was a relatively normal elementary school kid who had just entered 6th grade. One of my classmates was bragging about her flashy new status symbol— a BlackBerry Pearl. She was talking about how she could access this website called ‘MySpace’ and how this phone could hold about two hundred (compressed) songs.

“God Christ! Two hundred songs on a phone? Unbelievable!” I thought. At this point in my life, I was still using CD players and I owned maybe four or five CDs. This idea of having hundreds of songs at my fingertips was beyond me— let alone also being able to access the Internet in the palm of my hand.

Fast forward ten years and such a thing barely barely warrants a “meh” from me. Two hundred songs? I have over a hundred playlists, and each one averages roughly double that. But that’s a sign of the times, isn’t it? The phone I have dates from 2013, so it’s still outdated, but it’s also an order of magnitude greater than that spoiled 6th grader’s “unbelievable” phone.

But it’s still a cheap phone, all things considering. Compared to the 6th grader’s, whose parents spent a pretty penny on it, I barely gave a crap when choosing this one out. It gets things done, so I don’t care too much. However, in the future, I plan to dig into my wallet to pay for quality.

What’s my ideal smartphone?

I want something that holds 512 GB of storage and has 4 GB of RAM. The iPhone 7s Plus sounds like it’ll come very close to my ideal, so that’s why I will probably buy one. However, I might also hold out until the iPhone 8s Plus. When that happens, I’ll keep it close for roughly 7 more iPhone iterations, until about 2026.

What do I expect there to be in 2026?

Let me start by saying I expect my current ‘high end’ to be the standard. If that, of course. It would be better if there were phones that could hold upwards of 3 TB and have 32 GB of RAM.

In fact, by 2026, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if phones could hold 64 to 128 TB. What’s the use of all this space? We always ask that question.

In 2026, it’ll be common for phones to do several things

  • Holographic displays. iPhone 7 is allegedly going to achieve this this year. So holograms? A given for 2026 phones.
  • Virtual reality. Again, there are already VR-capable phones on the market (Gear VR), but if we want phones that can withstand the power of higher-end VR systems (like the Rift or Vive), we’re going to need exponentially more powerful hardware.
  • Cyberkinesis. Phones of the 2020s will be expected to have the ability to utilize texting via thinking software. I can only imagine the hardware necessary. Cyberkinesis will be highly important for several other features to work, I tell you.
  • Virtual assistants. Artificial intelligences that help you out with your every day life. This, I bet will be largely left to the Cloud, except for a few programs. The AI VAs of 2026 will seem like actual AI, rather than the glorified chat bot answering machines that are today’s VAs, and will be capable of holding whole conversations and having personalities. Think of all the basic apps you currently have, such as reminders, news, weather, calendars, etc. AI VAs will replace all of them.
  • Augmented reality. I largely doubt phones of the future will resemble the phones of today— much like the phones of today largely don’t resemble the phones of decades past. Phones will most likely transition into being terminals for augmented/hybrid reality glasses and contact lenses, rather than the multimedia machines they are today. This is actually more likely for the lenses than glasses, as some of today’s glasses (like the HoloLens) are entirely self-powered. AR glasses and lenses will benefit greatly from cyberkinesis technology.
  • 5G and 6G capabilities. 5G is set to begin around 2020, and has already been teased in several East Asian cities. The same will be true in 2026, except one generation ahead. Standard phones will be based upon the 4G network (the “slow” option), while higher end phones will casually access 5G networks, and the highest end in the most futuristic cities will play with 6G features.

These are just some of the things I expect. Mainly the bigger things, of course. 6G phones will be the shiny new toys, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they’ll be like. I strongly doubt they’ll resemble phones as we know them to be. 6G networks, however, will be mandatory for the worlds of data we’ll be sending each other.