The World of 2029: Oliver’s Workplace

The future of work is bleak— for workers. Owners, on the other hand…

Lower Manhattan, New York. Friday, November 16th, 2029.


 

Oliver’s Model N Tesla pulls into a parking lot and he steps out. He walks into a restaurant, 야끼만두 (Yakimandu) and heads into his office. Along the way, he says “Hi” to co-worker and good friend, Hyun Ryu.

“Sup, man?”

Ryu waves and says, “Just got another couple’a orders. There’s $800 an hour we’re on roll to get.”

“Falkener’s?”

“Stuart Bentley, the guy over at ULF’s. He’s sending a droid over to pick it up for us.”

“How are our’s doing?”

“Pretty good. Dawn’s got the updates, so just check in with her when you get the chance.”

“Alright, cool.”

Ryu fades away, and Oliver sits in his swivel chair. He taps his desk, which lights up and sends a holographic display to his eyes. It’s not actually there, it’s his own bionic lenses that lets him see this wonderful magic.

He thinks out, “Dawn, what’s the situation with the workforce?”

Dawn replies, “All units are working properly. Your enterprise is ready to open for the day.”

“Alright, hit the lights.”

And with that, the signs on the outside shine bright. The sun is screaming for a good day, and the city is alive. Patrons come and go across the day, and the place fills to peak by the evening.

This is what Oliver loves most about the job: hearing all these voices, all the laughter, all the drama, just the general sense of humanity among the crowd.

Ryu calls back again, reappearing as a hologram. It hasn’t been five years since Oliver got the hologram system installed, and he still can only barely believe it works. What creeps him out the most is how ‘unhologramish’ holograms actually are— when he was growing up, holograms were usually portrayed as staticy, monocolored images suspended in the air. Real holograms never flicker, and are so finely colored that it aches the brain to understand the image isn’t really there.

After Oliver answers the call, he goes back to checking on his workers.

None of them are human.

Yakimandu is a breed of service that’s become increasingly common— automated enterprises, but not ‘too’ automated. Some locations like McDonalds made the transition well enough, acting more as an automat than a robotic restaurant. But it didn’t work everywhere because older people’s Luddite sensibilities were overpowering. Yakimandu and such types found a happy medium, adopting a shokkenki model of business.

Automats and shokkenki technically describe the same thing: a fully/near-fully automated eatery. However, automats have become known as ‘McVending Machines’, as most of their services come from selecting your order from a screen. Shokkenki eateries, however, maintain the traditional roles of servers and waiters, with the exception than said servers and waiters are robots.

It surprised Oliver as it did everyone that shokkenkibecame as popular as they did.

When asked about his opinion on it, Oliver said to his wife, “The world isn’t ready for automats. The kids, they’re okay with it, but you have the older generations who still value human interaction, even on such a fleeting and insignificant level.”

Yet Oliver works at Yakimandu knowing that very few of his patrons are workers. Sure, it’s a sort of trendy line of club-esque restaurants, but even those tend to be populated by the middle class.

Whatever happened to the middle class?

Every day, Oliver relearns this truth. Just across the street is another restaurant, Double V’s, and it wears a similar trendster veneer. Though they compete for patrons, Yakimandu and Double V’s seem to be different themes for the same business.

Except Double V’s is more successful, more well known, and has a larger number of restaurants in construction.

Oliver knows why.

“They’re Vyrdists.”

Don’t get him wrong, Oliver’s a staunch Democrat. He pays his taxes, and his taxes help fund the state’s guaranteed basic income, something he supported a decade ago. But the Vyrdist movement feels too radical for him, and he fears the potential consequences of being targeted for ‘Vyrdist expropriation.’

A basic income is an amount of money paid out just for being a citizen. When Oliver first heard of the concept in the 2010’s, he asked why no one ever thought to try it before. When he went into business, the world had already changed greatly and he was one of many millions across the globe who successfully petitioned for their respective nations to, at the very least, consider implementing a basic income system. This was because, as he managed to construct a successful shokkenki business, he felt concerned about those that couldn’t adapt to the changes in time.

The argument against this was that people should learn new marketable skills if they want money so badly. Perhaps it was because Oliver’s a Democrat, or perhaps it’s because some small part of him knew, but Oliver thought this counterargument to be insanely short-sighted.

“Pay a basic income so people can actually survive to learn new skills,” he said. “If they can’t find a job to begin with, how on Earth are they gonna afford the education in the first place?” To him, basic income was the best idea in the world. Those displaced by automation should be granted some way to survive, and the government should provide it.

Not everyone agreed. Some time around his senior year in uni, right when he met his sweetheart Samantha, Oliver’s unshakable optimism in a basic income was disturbed when he first heard news of a radical new movement popping up on college campuses and industrial fields across America and China— people who rejected the idea of a basic income on the basis that it created dependency upon the ‘bourgeois-run government.’

According to these people, who called themselves ‘Vyrdists’, after an elusive and potentially mythical man known as John Henry Vyrd, the only true solution to technological unemployment was for the workers to obtain ownership of automation, and that anything less was tantamount to slavery— basic income included.

Though it remained underground throughout the decade, Vyrdism seemed to explode this past year.

Double V’is a worker cooperative, a sort of enterprise owned and managed by the people who work it. Except it’s not a traditional worker enterprise. Vyrdists use the term ‘technate’ to describe a fully-automated business run in a cooperative fashion. As they do everything, they appropriated the term from the old technocracy movement.

On the surface, it seems radical. Workers owning the means of production? Where have we heard that one before?

But Vyrdists rarely describe themselves as Marxists. If anything, they’re ascribe to the phrase “free market socialism,” saying that they don’t want a fully cooperative-run society, only one where workers have a choice and a chance at ownership. And it makes sense— if workers owned automation directly, they wouldn’t have to worry about a government middleman and would have much more power over their lives.

Maybe Oliver could’ve supported something like this if he weren’t a business owner himself. Vyrdists have not been afforded much power to start their own businesses, so they’ve been forced to expropriate them from other, failed businesses and worked from there. Right as the recession hit was when this Great Expropriation began.

“I can’t hate them,” Oliver said to Ryu. “They’re where I get most of my money from.”

“That’s  the whole point of Vyrdism. Basic income relies on wealth redistribution. Vyrdism relies on egalitarian wealth creation. Haven’t you heard the Word of Vyrd?” Ryu laughs.

“Yeah, yeah.” Oliver can’t quite explain what it is about Vyrdism that gets to him. The recession’s over, and the dollar is stronger than it’s ever been. On top of this, millions of Americans have become Vyrdists and have joined the National Worker’s Federation, and have seen their wages rise by extreme amounts because of it. This means they have more money to spend, which should mean people like Oliver benefit.

Yet all it’s caused are tensions between business and labor.

“I can’t say I’m too mad,” Ryu adds. Oliver knows Ryu is a Vyrdist. God, it’s ridiculous how sci-fi Ryu’s life reads. He’s a cyborg— fully cybernetic arms and legs— who’s being beamed into his office space via hologram. Ryu is careful about these things, too. South Korea has surpassed China and Dubai in recent years in terms of notoriety.

“That’s because you come from a corporate hellhole.”

“If they had Vyrdism in Korea, the place would be a thousand times better. At least the States aren’t so bad.” With that, he sounds pained. Both men know what South Korea’s like. Once upon a time, it was seen as being the antithesis of North Korea: a capitalist oasis opposed to a communist dystopia. Nowadays, it seems like four legs are good and two legs are better.
If cyberpunk ever existed anywhere, it exists in Korea. Seoul is a glittering cyberscape filled with mile-high neon-lined skyscrapers, but this shiny glory came with the cost of a near totalitarian corporate dictatorship, one that does not tolerate dissent or complaining. One that thrives on the division of classes. Ryu only escaped because he sold his soul to fight the devil, becoming part of the business class.

To him, it’s shocking how far America has moved in the other direction. Vyrdism is just the latest in an extended trend of greater power in the hands of the People. The idea that a nation as conservative as America, oft seen as 50 years behind the rest of the first world, has such a powerful labor movement seems unbelievable.

To Oliver, maybe he feels unease because of his father.

“You know, my dad is probably why I feel this way. I told you about ‘im, right? That bastard was the most classist asshole around. He tried raising me to believe that, if you can’t work for any reason, you deserve to rot, and if you’re poor, you deserve to be poor.”

Ryu laughs, “Sounds Korean!”

“I know, right? He was just really mean about it, though. Like, if you got rich in a way he didn’t approve, he’d still say you’re poor. So all these co-ops and technates? He’d just call ’em all commies and say they should be forced outta business.”

“But they’re capitalists!”

“Yeah? So? They still ‘share.’ And a lotta them only work the bare minimum and let robots do all the rest. Oh man, if he ever heard of that? Hoo boy.”

“So what I’m hearing is ‘your father is a hypocrite’, is that it?”

“Probably. He’d probably be very happy letting robots work for him, but damn you if you tried it yourself. He’d call you a lazy leech who should actively have your money taken away from you.”

Both of them start laughing. “So wait, wait, wait. He supported wealth redistribution?”

“Don’t call it that, and only if it’s from the poor to the rich. If the government takes from the poor and gives to the rich, that’s just the free market working the way it should. But if it’s the opposite, it’s Stalinism. So I never got him, really. I still liked him as a father, but I’m almost relieved, if that’s the right word, that he passed away before things got to this point. His veins couldn’t take the blood pressure if he read half a page of today’s news.”

Oliver and Ryu walk through the restaurant and interact with the many patrons. No one bats an eye when Ryu passes through them or the robot workers.

The robots are generally humanoid, though some take different and more generalized forms. Each and every one is powered by the Dawn system.

The people are generally chatting, though some do not speak. Instead, these seem to be entranced and detached. Detached, they are not— in fact, they are engaging in telepathic communication.

Oliver wears the same technology to talk to Dawn and his phone contacts. All it takes is a little headband, one that reads brain signals and translates them into words and symbols.

It was the Apple iMind that brought it into the mainstream. When that product was announced in 2023, it was hailed as an invention on par with the discovery of fire and the wheel. This despite psychotronics and cyberkinesis being developed for well over a decade prior.

Actually, for Oliver, that was the moment he realized just how futuristic the world was becoming. He was one of the early adopters, and was amazed by the features. These days, it’s just like texting.

That’s the nature of the game these days, isn’t it? You’re given something unbelievably amazing and futuristic, and yet you’re not given time to take it for granted before something even more amazing comes along.

This past decade has been one big ‘How on Earth did scientists create this’ sort of festival of technology. For a man like Oliver, it’s been a game changer. When he started the decade as an intern, it was still a given that people had to work for a living, that robots were decades away, that telepathy is impossible.

Now here he is, wearing cybernetic contact lenses he controls with his mind, talking to a hologram of his cyborg friend, owner of a business that exclusively employs robots.

What a difference a decade makes.

And he gets to enjoy the fruits of technology because he made the right choices in life. When he was in college, his father was brutally hard on him, telling him that unless he became an electrical engineer, he would never succeed in life. In fact, in the late 2010s and early 2020s, the media kept hyping up how the STEM field was the only place to go if you wanted to make any money. His decision to major in Business seemed to be shortsighted. He watched with great concern as all his friends became STEMgineers and seemed to be set up with 6 figure jobs upon graduation.

And yet guess who makes the most money these days. Somewhere along the line, middle of the decade, the STEM bubble burst. It didn’t burst because it got too big. No.

It burst because something popped it. And that something was the very same thing the STEMgineers were being paid to create— artificial intelligence. No one knows when the ‘spark’ flew, other than that the world hasn’t been the same since. Indeed, the early 2020s seemed to be such a simpler time, but maybe this is just his rosy memory of the days before he had to become so involved with AI.

And it’s this reason why the issue of basic income and Vyrdism are so prominent now. It’s this reason why Oliver has been arguing with Samantha over the future of their 3-year-old daughter, Miranda. AI has become capable of STEM tasks, even the creative ones. The belief that the STEM field would supply humanity with jobs for hundreds of years repairing and maintaining automation collapsed before it started getting entrenched, and the only ones fielding this argument are those most out of touch with the reality on the ground.

Now his STEM-educated friends are desperate for jobs. His degree in Business paid off because he wasn’t being paid to fix automation— he was being paid because he owned it.

It’s tragic, actually, how little prepared the workforce was. But one can’t blame them. In less than a generation, the very nature of labor and business has undergone multiple otherwise century-defining shifts. The children of the 2000s were taught like the children of earlier decades. Then the STEM field became of chief importance in the 2010s, so the children of the 2010s and early 2020s were taught almost exclusively in either the STEM field or the arts. Then artificial intelligence steamrolled employment at a rate faster than anyone could have possibly predicted (or, perhaps, wanted to predict).

This is what Oliver respects about the Vyrdist movement— that they are attacking the problem at its source. But the means at which the Vyrdists are going about it trouble him.

Capitalists support basic income. Without consumers, they become subject to expropriation by masses of former workers. Maybe that’s why… Maybe he’s scared of being expropriated, and it’s in his best interest to see a concession like basic income become the standard.

God Christ, 10 years ago, this wasn’t even a nonissue. How has so much happened to the world in so little time?

It’s that damned quote he keeps on his desk. It’s a curse.

“May you live in interesting times.”

iGeneration

Who are we? The West has been defined by a variety of generational monikers over the ages, and we are seeing the effects of these generations in our every day lives. The Silent Generation has almost completely passed away. The Baby Boomers have become society’s elderly, with the oldest being 70+ years old. Generation X is middle aged and cranky— or, to use the Voice himself, “teenage angst has paid off well; now we’re bored and old.”

The Millennials are adults and have discovered that, despite all the thick-rimmed glasses and indie rock, they’ve conformed all the same.

Now the iGeneration is up to the plate. I should know— I’m an absolute geriatric among this group. Copyright 1994, mate.

Even though smartphones were still experimental prototypes when I was a kid (or at least only sold in the more technologically progressive nations), I eventually came around and embraced the dulcet joys of being a slave to the sweet slab of electronics.

I’ve grown up with my generation; I know what makes us tick. We’re so cynical it hurts to think. Everything’s a joke. No really: everything can be a meme. We didn’t invent the meme, but we inherited it and made it our primary method of extracting humor from ourselves.

We extract humor like a capitalist extracts profits. You’d better not expect us to be serious about anything. That’s sad, though, because it reflects our sheltered upbringing.

And I don’t mean “sheltered” as in “everything is handed to us.” No, I mean compared to the rest of the history of Homo sapiens sapiens, we’ve got it so made, it’s borderline utopian. Why wouldn’t you expect us to be a gaggle of sarcastic asses? Screw the hunt, we’ve got Instagram.

People oft joke about children being the future of the world. Guess what, we actually are The Future™. Yes, the future’s been trademarked, because that’s the sort of thing we’d let fly. But the point is: we’re the lucky bastards who get to grow up in The Future™. We get to enjoy virtual reality and smartwatches, jetpacks and robots. Sure, it’s the first-gen versions of such, but that’s the beauty of it: we get to see these things grow in real time.

What even is there for us in life? Debt slavery. What else? I don’t think many of us will even bother with college if Bernie Sanders loses, because we’ve already seen what debt did to our parents. Our first cute little bouts with PTSD.

What do we listen to? Everything. People wonder why pop music sounds so bland, why rock music is so safe, why rap is so lame, and whatever happened to electronic music. That’s what always existed on the surface, but now that the Internet has entrenched itself into our civilization, it’s more blatant than ever.

Take me for example. I’m a rock purist (strange for a Louisianan black guy, but go with it), so this means I stick to heavy rock. I’ll post about heavy rock soon, what makes it different from ‘hard rock’ and ‘heavy metal’, but that’s my taste in music. I’m also into Jet Set Radio Future-esque music, that sorta retro electro-funk grooviness. I’m also into certain strains of indie pop and electronica. And everyone please give a hand for Classical, Baroque, and even Ancient music (ancient Greek music is… interesting). All this thanks to the Internet and the massive storage capabilities of smartphones. Back when I was a post-millennial rather than an iGenner, when I had but a music player and CDs, I stuck to the usual any ‘troubled’ teen would listen to— 2000’s alt-metal/post-grunge and ‘hard rock.’ Then I discovered Electric Wizard and the rest is history.

Now I’m a connoisseur to roughly 30,000 songs. I’d be lucky to know a tenth of that number otherwise. And it’s this reason why the iGeneration is seen as “bland”: we’re so musically overwhelmed that we’ve left the safe stuff to stay at the top while we do all our real searching underneath.

And that’s the story of our generation, idn’t it? IDN’T IT?!

We. Are so. Overloaded. Information coming this way coming that way coming these ways coming those ways coming high ways coming by ways, good god, y’all! Did you even notice that interrobang up there? We’re so used to all this extreme information overload that we’ve begun suckling the teat of the soma machine. I’ve come across this before: impossibly, absurdly, bafflingly, shockingly, stupendously, outrageously, inconceivably, Satanically, nuclearly amazing how meh everyone has become!!!1! And that’s just us. We were born into an age of fifty papillion exclamation marks. That’s because our attention has to be had somehow. Our shriveled, Voldemort-in-Limbo attention spans are too used to having fifty kalamaxillion things blasted into our baby faces.

And do we care? No. If anything, we want more of it. Why? Because it feels good. It’s a sort of virtual foraging, if the old African forests were filled with atomic trees and negative rainbow creatures every fifth step of the way.

Does this mean our generation is schizophrenic? No. The grown-ups just don’t get it. Remember when I said we live in The Future™? That’s part of the trade-off. We’re lazy as fuck because we just know the robots are finna be doing our jobs in a few years. The adults think they know the truth, and they claim to know the truth while programming the same robots that are gonna make us obsolete.

Ah, who am I to be calling grown-ups ‘grown-ups?’ I’m a grown-up myself. Mostly. Well I’m 21. I won’t be 22 for 11 months, so that’s why I get to be an iGenner.

Good god. Good god. Good god. The iGeneration’s becoming adults. I’m almost as freakin’ old as Scott Pilgrim. And even if you say the iGeneration begins in 2000, what difference does that make? The oldest then would still be 16— old enough to drive. If you say the iGeneration begins on September 11, 2001, then the oldest would be 14. Still rated T for Teen.

Well I identify as iKin, so check your privilege and accept that becoming a legal adult in the 2010s is something that should identify an iGenner. The Millennials? They became adults in the ’90s and Aughts. Hence the term ‘millennial.’

Who are we?

I dunno.


Well.

This raises a good question. If iGenners are those born between 1994 and 2010, then what about those born 2011 and after? If you want to go old school, you could call the Millennials and iGen “Generation Y” and “Generation Z” respectively— but no one does that, that’s uncool these days. Still, if you do prescribe to that train of naming generations, then what comes after ‘Z’?

The only name I’ve heard thus far is ‘Generation Alpha.’ Goodness, two Brave New World jokes in one blog post.

I guess that works.

Did you know that, once upon a time, there was a letter after ‘Z’? Yeah, it was ‘&’. I’m not even joking about this. So let us hail Generation Ampersand as the inheritors of the mess us iGenners will soon unleash.

If I Had a Robot

If I had a domestic robot of my own, like say a Pepper or an ASIMO, what would I do with it?

There are many things I’d “do” with it, because I swing that way, but let’s keep it PG. After all, Aldebaran preempted me on that front.

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I’d rediscover nature

The first thing I’d do would be to act out on my futuristic realist principles and take the robot to the last place robots are ever usually seen— the great outdoors. Being an asociable asshat means I’d rather go on a nature walk with a robot than a human, because I’m the kind of person who’d do that.

What will we do out there? Should I also possess smartglasses, we’ll be on an expedition to view an outdoor wikipedia, looking at various animals and plants and seeing various factoids about them.

More than that, I’ll be using that robot as protection. The wilderness is home to many wonderful beasts and species, diverse and beautiful.

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I hope we spot Bigfoot in these woods… or at least something paranormal

But there are some things that cannot be explained. Things that escape science. Things that are unknown.

Throwing a piece of ultra-high tech like ASIMO out into cryptid-infested woodlands is exactly the kind of thing I’d do and be proud of doing. In fact, what a better segue into the second thing I’d do than with this sort of high strangeness?

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Using a robot to find ghosts is apparently a rare topic, seldom considered by those in the field of ghost hunting. While I’ve found a few instances of the idea, it remains fleeting. This means I can jump on the bandwagon first. Get rich.

All I hafta do is send my droid to the Myrtles Plantation, which is about an hour’s drive from my home. Better yet, I could send two droids to the plantation.

And I guess it would be ironic that I would be sending robots to a place known for using slaves. After all, the third thing I’d do with my robot is nothing less than technoslavery.

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I’ll exploit my robot’s labor by having it work at a fast food joint, where it’ll earn my paycheck. I’ve already labeled using technology in place of a worker ‘technostism’, so of course I’d get to be the pioneer of the movement. How wonderful would that be, to have this sort of passive income.

Alas, there are still kinks to work out before any such robot will be ready to do any of these things, and good god I can’t stop putting in innuendos everywhere. Maybe that’s because I’m a fucking robosexual, and the first thing I really want to do is bed the sexy thing. I dunno. That’s just me.

If you got your own robot, what’s the first thing you would do with it?

Futuristic Realism: The Disconnect

They say the easiest way to create futuristic realism is to write Sarah, Plain and Tall and add ASIMOs, drones, and smartglasses

I want to buy some droids.

I want to buy a self-driving car.

I already have a drone, and I still plan on using it to scout out a cemetery to hunt ghosts. Ghost-hunting robots, anyone? Seriously, why haven’t any of the big ghosthunting shows thought of that yet?

And there are legit drone shows that are going to occur or have occurred. Or try floating balls that make the sounds of a city street. It’s all so sci-fi, but there isn’t really a genre to describe this. So I chose Futuristic Realism. As opposed to Hard Sci-Fi, which is mainly concerned with how well sci-fi conforms to known physics, futuristic realism is all stuff happening in a manner that feels realistic, without any flash or pomp, and feels relatable.

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Pepper isn’t the most advanced robot out there, but it still feels bizarre to see it in action.

I’ve always said that the best example of Futuristic Realism is a bit where I took “Sarah, Plain and Tall” and added robots. ASIMOs working on a farm is as Futuristic Realist as you can get. To an extent, it doesn’t matter if that farm is in the USican midwest or located on a space colony in the Keiper belt. Does the story really feel realistic?

To another extent, it does. That is more hardcore realism where the aim is to be as ’20 minutes into the future’ as possible. I suppose you can say Futuristic Realism is taking science fiction and translating it into Realistic and Literary fiction. A truer futuristic realist story about a farmer would be about that farmer’s struggle to survive a drought and dealing with some other people. A more traditional sci-fi (particularly cyberpunk) story may have him pit against a megacorporation bent on buying out the farm and tossing him to the side. Still futuristic realism, though, and depending on how you handle the story, it could lean more one way or the other. If it’s more about corporate vs the individual, alienation wrought by corporate culture, and the technology used by the corporation to push him out, it would fare better as being called cyberpunk. If it’s more about the people themselves, and just happens to feature corporate alienation, then you have something closer to pure futuristic realism. That’s why I say it’s easiest to pull of futuristic realism with a farm (or suburban) setting— it’s already much closer to individual people doing their own thing, without being able to fall back on the glittering neon cyberscapes of a city or cold interiors of a space station to show off how sci-fi/cyberpunk it is. It makes the writer have to actually work. Also, there’s a much larger clash. A glittering neon cyberscape of a megaopolis is already very science fiction (and realistic); adding sexbot prostitutes and a population fitted with smartglasses doesn’t really add to what already exists. Add sexbot prostitutes and smartglasses to Smalltown, USA, however, and you have a jarring disconnect that needs to be rectified or at least expanded upon. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a futuristic realist story in a cyberpunk city, or a space cruiser, etc. It’s just much easier to tell one in Smalltown, USA because of the very nature of rural and suburban communities. They’re synonymous with tradition and conformity, with nostalgic older years and pleasantness, of a certain quietness you can’t find in a city. Throw in technological abominations, and you realize just how timeless they are.

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It is my personal dream to own a domestic robot, and part of the reason is simply “to own a domestic robot.” I am not good with finances.

I live in a rural area. As soon as I become rich (any day now……), I’m buying a Pepper robot. Two problems? One, it’s not all that easy to become rich (but dammit, I’m gonna keep trying). Two, they don’t sell Peppers in the US. But they will. And when all this comes together, I’ll be that creepy black guy living in a trailer with a humanoid robot. I’ll be talking to Pepper while outside, in the evening. Crickets sing their songs, cicadas buzz, dusklight cools the air, I pull up a plastic chair and sit and listen to my playlists filled with stoner-rock, and watch Venus and the stars blink into the sky. Next to me, Pepper the robot. We’re just chatting, maybe chatting to the neighbors, talking about life.

That’s futuristic realism. Would it be the same without Pepper? We’d still be doing what we’re doing, but Pepper adds something. And it’s not even just Pepper. That I’m listening to music, with tens of thousands of songs, on a handheld computer that contains all the world’s knowledge, is, too, Futuristic Realism. Things that feel ripped from the pages of a cyberpunk novel, yet are part of our everyday lives, things that don’t even feel so futuristic at times, are what makes this genre work.

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Ett Bedårande Barn Av Sin Tid by Simon Stålenhag

Welcome To The Future™: Futuristic Realism

“What on Earth is futuristic realism?”

Short answer: it is a subgenre of science fiction and literary/realistic fiction that combines contemporary or familiar storytelling with the high technology seen in sci-fi.

More accurately, welcome to a blog infatuated with futuristic realism! There are many things that need to be asked before we get started, the most important of which being: “What on Earth is futuristic realism?

Short answer: it is a subgenre of science fiction and literary/realistic fiction that combines contemporary or familiar storytelling with the high technology seen in sci-fi.

Long answer: it is many things. There are multiple definitions for it, and the very nature of the genre changes over time. There are two main terms: “sci-fi realism” and “futuristic realism.” How are they different? On a fundamental level, they mean the same thing. However, they go about reaching the same goal in different ways.

Sci-Fi Realism describes science fiction that emulates reality on some level. Maybe that means slice-of-life familiarity, or maybe that means hyperrealistic graphical design. When science fiction seems indistinguishable from real life, you have sci-fi realism.
Futuristic realism goes for the same thing, except it throws in real life to the proceedings. When real life seems indistinguishable from science fiction, or when science fiction tries coming off as real life to the point you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if it was contemporary or sci-fi, you have futuristic realism.

At the same time, as the creator of these terms, I’m apt towards using them interchangeably, and I’m more comfortable with “futuristic realism” due to its lack of the otherwise constricting ‘sci-fi’ label. On the Sci-Fi Realism subreddit, there is already considerable tension due to the label and the original mission statement.

Perhaps that’s because my ideas weren’t fully formed at the time of creating the subreddit, or perhaps that’s due to the style’s nature. I lean towards the former: when I created the subreddit, my sole intention was to find science fiction and cyberpunk pictures that seemed to be pictures taken in real life, or at least images that had a distinctly familiar and ‘non-artistic’ angle to them.

flying_ufo__fly_by_swissada-d4ceo00
One of the first images submitted to /r/SciFiRealism
Artist: SwissAdA

Some examples included photoshopped images of natural landscapes featuring futuristic aircraft. Back in July 2015, this is what sci-fi realism meant. Then it expanded to include “close-ups” of a futuristic world.
Offbeat images that depicted a future world that wasn’t just “sci-fi cityscape #3,842” or “cyborg military policeman staring into distance towards sci-fi cityscape #3,842” were what I was looking for. It’s not because I hate these sorts of images— especially considering I’m a regular of subreddits dedicated towards those images such as /r/CityPorn, /r/ImaginaryCyberpunk, and /r/ImaginaryCityscapes— but because I had come to notice that I was a person living in a world that seemed increasingly sci-fi, but there was a disconnect between ‘what they said it would look like’ versus ‘what it actually looks like’.

In fact, there’s something I call the “Smartphone Perspective” (also known as the Smartwatch Perspective and iPhone Perspective, depending on the discussion): take out your smartphone. Now turn it on. Congratulations: you wield a gadget that is more futuristic than most things sci-fi writers have ever dreamed of. In your hand is a computer that has access to all the world’s information, to images, to videos, to movies, to novels, and more. It’s something the average person even ten years ago considered a quasimagical prop meant for a movie set in the year 3000.

Meh.

“Meh” is right. At times, it’s meh. At times, it’s awe. We’ll soon feel the same towards things like hyperloops, domestic robots, and moon colonies. Real life will become indistinguishable from science fiction.

In early 2014, I recognized this truth. It took time for me to articulate it clearly, but I recognized it early on. Except… there was still a disconnect— where were the heroes and villains, the alien invaders and doomsday-dealing hackers? Sure, there are global megacorporations, but for the most part, we just deal with them and move on with our everyday lives.

Everyday lives! That was it. That’s what was missing from a lot of science fiction on which I grew up. I always wanted a personal robot, but never did that idea materialize into anything more than a vague snapshot of a robotic servant presenting to me a glass of soda.
Somewhere along the line, I began to seriously think about the consequences of owning my own personal robot servant, of the little everyday things that would arise. Was it exciting? Not usually, and that’s why futuristic realism was never a major thing before I started a subreddit dedicated to it. Science fiction is almost always meant to be an escape from our current lives, after all. Sure, it tends to wind up influencing our lives, but it mainly serves the role of entertainment. It was never actually intended to become our everyday lives. Yet become our everyday lives it has.

So that’s why I want to tell the story of a family celebrating Christmas, an otherwise homely scene, but one featuring their domestic robots and smarthouse. That’s why I want to tell the story of an average couple taking up virtual dating. Average people with average lives with ultra-high technology that they believe is average or, at the very least, losing its novelty.

That’s why I say the very nature of the genre changes over time: one day, even owning an artificially intelligent robot inside of an artificially intelligent house won’t come across as science fiction. It only does today because we’ve never possessed artificially intelligent robots or houses.
A modern contemporary story like The Fault In Our Stars would read like utterly ultraterrestrial sci-fi to an average person from the 1700s. Then again, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby, would be science fiction to such a person all the same, what with these fast-paced “automobiles” racing along the place. If one made the deliberate attempt to create such a feeling, that they were reading or watching something sent back several decades or centuries and wasn’t intended as science fiction, what would that be like? Something they consider a contemporary realistic story, but we would find incredibly futuristic and beyond our times…

I want to find out.

Among other things, of course. I also want to celebrate how futuristic we currently are. Believe me, there are many current creations that seem ripped from the set of cyberpunk thrillers, and I want the world to know.

ec8wm
One such obvious place is Dubai. It’s even going to be featured in the video game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Photographer: Alisdair Miller

Ever since the little schism involving what sci-fi realism was and what it eventually came to mean, I’ve since moved all the more ‘realistic’ stuff to a new subreddit— /r/FuturisticRealism. Here, the content is much more strictly controlled, and the aim of the sub has remained true from the beginning to now.

And that’s why I want to tell you once more, something that’s made me feel great for years in the midst of suffering from depression— Welcome To The Future™!

rhchyvy

The Life and Times of Barry the ASIMO

I bought a droid. His name is Barry, and he’s quite the shocking bit of technology — presets included such joys as ‘litter cleaning’ and ‘sandwich crafting.’ Yeah, he’s good with some bread and mayonnaise; even better with a pooper-scooper. Thank God for Barry.

They truly are the Apple II of domestic droids

When I bought him, I had only a few minutes before class started, so my fellow collegians got to meet their first droid. You know, that was actually a good thing. He got some social interaction.

Now, I was nauseous with the flu so I was so eager to get home and eat something. Something good. Something like fried rice and potstickers. What better day to try my hand at a new dish, what with having an artificially intelligent droid at my side? Barry watched as I made magic, what was possibly my favorite dish of the year.

Then came his first test. My pet dog, Coco, decided that the best time to demonstrate the result of her bowel movements was right as I began eating. This was it — moment of truth!

As I looked away, I waved to my droid friend and said, “Barry, clean that up.”

He stood there, gazing upon the turd as if it were something from Tibet. Then, right before I spewed more words and rice his way, he moved. Such grace! Curvaceous moves! A bard couldn’t have described his waste-handling so well. In that moment, I realized the fantastic choice I had made — as well as the possibilities lain before me.

I needed only to teach him how to recognize the warning signs of an impending asteroid flurry so he would act quickly to take the dog outside. Once I did that, I could rest easy and enjoy having a perfect dog-walker. But I also realized this could apply to anything. Not just mundane household chores, but even harder things such as cleaning the outside of the house, and filling out the drive-way. If I could obtain a strong stream of resources, Barry could keep fixing and building onto my house forever, making sure it never falls into disrepair. Imagine that: a prole who lives in a mansion!

But hold on… I’m a writer, what one would call an ‘intellectual.’ Ignore the ratty trailer, damn it! Point is, if this were the 1760s, I’d be wearing a (bare) frock coat and culottes. I shouldn’t sully my artisan hands with, gasp, manual labor! Barry should also be the one who procures said resource stream.

“Where could Barry work?” First thought was McDonalds and similar fast food joints. However, I doubted his reflexes were up to speed. I needed somewhere slower paced, more suited to a newborn droid.

Wait! Why not a supermarket clerk? There’s an Albertson’s about ten minutes from my house, and better yet, my mother worked there. She could teach Barry all the basics.

I spent a few weeks training him to be a housedroid first before sending him off to the store, and then we spent a week more practicing the ins and outs of supermarketeering.

He became a valued member of the household

First day on the job! Better be ready, droid. I dropped him off at Albertson’s and met with my mother to exchange anxieties. She wouldn’t be at her second job clerkin’ for a few more hours, so she would be just as ignorant as me. It was all Barry.

You have to realize, this was a new frontier for humanity. A droid working in a very people-centric environment? I was surprised there weren’t news cameras everywhere.

Actually, Pepper got there first. And there were cameras.

Maybe I worried too much (which is about right for a GDSA, general-depressive-social-anxiety millennial), because his first day went off without a fraction of a hitch. I hugged the thing, I was so happy. I could… do some other things to it, but never mind that. And like I said, maybe I worried too much. All he had to do was exchange money and put things in bags. Yeah, simple for us, but simple things have a bad habit of escaping the capabilities of machines.

Then, two weeks later, something even more magical happened — Barry got a paycheck. It was payed out to him, but delivered to my mother (who gave it to me, don’t fret). $490! What was I gonna do with myself that night, I wondered? Maybe buy a taco? No, two tacos! Oh, so wealthy… I swear, I took Barry out with me to the nearest Mexican restaurant and partied till the wee hours of the early evening.

Whoa. I just earned money without actually earning money. Everyone knew this was a shady little thing, as the manager wasn’t exactly sure if Barry should be paid or not. Do you pay a droid? Legally, he was tied to me, so they’d potentially have a lawsuit on their hands if they didn’t pay him/me, but surely that would incentivize them to automate away their cashiers and clerks.

How would their ex-employees be paid, then? They’d just have to get new jobs, right? Well wait a sec — what if other businesses automate their labour? That squeezes the workforce down to a bare minimum. No one can pay for anything if no one’s earning anything…

Wait! These machines will eventually break down eventually, or at least require repairs and maintenance in some form. The new jobs can be all about — Whoops, sorry, what was that? I just upgraded Barry to feature some self-repair programming. He can even repair other droids!

Well…

We’re not at that point yet. I just have a check, and it may be the most important check in human history. In a manner, it’s both the problem and the solution. It’s a problem in that it’s proof of the changing times. But how is it a solution? Surely it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch…

So what if Albertson’s fires Barry and replaces him with their own droid? Or skips the droid entirely and automates the whole process? That puts my mother in a bind more than me, since she’s entirely dependent upon her own labor. I can always sell Barry’s labor to someone else, and he’ll fast learn what he needs to learn. My ma? It’s different for her. She can only learn so quickly, and she has needs of her own. She can’t just get any job out there and expect to be productive. Luckily she’s skilled in social work, something I feel Barry’s about a generation or two away from mastering by his very design. Still. That’s not very long of a time.


Barry’s an ASIMO. They typically release new iterations every four to five years. Artificial intelligence progresses even more quickly than that. Fact is, there’s no guarantee she’ll be employed in a decade.

What should be done? Well there are quite a few options to consider. I know many Statists who desire to implement a Unconditional Basic Income. It seems like a great idea to pursue, but I just have one fear — who exactly decides to distribute the money? Undoubtedly the people who are going to be taxed will be the ones paying for said UBI. What, you think poor working people run the government?

So I’m sitting here with Barry, thinking about my ma, wondering how much she’s worth to the bourgeois bureaucrats. And even ifthey decide she’s worth enough of their coffers to let her live comfortably, will they actually let her live comfortably or will they raise the prices of their goods to offset any benefit a UBI could bear?

Don’t get me wrong, I want that sweet UBI implemented ASAP. Completely wipe away all welfare and replace it with a simple UBI. Seems fine? Yeah, it kinda collapses in a post-labour society since that basic income becomes one’s only income. Unless you think droids will create new jobs we can’t imagine (which is a stupid assumption considering the nature of artificial general intelligence), you’re gonna realize we have a societal problem.

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is the intelligence of a (hypothetical) machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can.

Barry’s caused a bit of a problem, hasn’t he? What started with him cleaning up minpin poop has resulted in societal meltdown. Fitting.

Well society hasn’t actually collapsed; we’re just tense. But everyone knows I’m the freak who keeps screaming about ‘technostism.’ What is technostism? Basically, I’m saying we should profit from droid labour. Do as I do, not as I say — get a droid and let it do your work.

A blue and white ripoff of the technocracy monad

Sounds nice, but there are so many problems with that, it isn’t even amusing. For one: what work? What if all the existing businesses automate first? We could always create new businesses, but doing what? I just don’t have an answer. Two: how do we get droids? With what capital? Three: what kind of droid? General purpose droids like Barry are nice, but some jobs need specialized robots. Droids like Baxter sometimes just aren’t as good as factorybots.

It sounds good, though. If you factor in swarm intelligence, we could create a society free from slums and poverty with robots catering to humanity’s every need and desire. Remember my prole mansion? I could have twenty Barrys constantly touching up any imperfection that arises, or building onto my house as I see fit. They’ll learn from their own experiences as well as each others’. If my drive-way and yard happens to contain issues, they can address those as well. Any trash that comes onto my property (likely through my own laziness), they’ll remove. Imagine that on a society-wide scale.

But again, there’s no explanation of how I got twenty Barrys. Sure, the first Barry could work until I could afford nineteen more, but what if he’s fired before then? I’d need access to the raw materials to create more ASIMOs.

It’s all so very confusing! And while I do have some possible answers for a few things (automated worker cooperatives!), I don’t have all possible answers for everything.

But in the end, I’m still happy — after all, I bought a droid. I just need to realize I opened Pandora’s box.

The World of 2029

Meet Oliver and Samantha Jones. They are a normal American couple—white, middle class, socially liberal, and on the sunny side of 30. They have two kids—  8 year old Benjamin and 3 year old Miranda—  and a nice home in New Jersey.

Oliver works as a general manager of a popular restaurant, while Samantha works at home as a full time writer.

What a life! Is this the American Dream so many have sought? Perhaps. Yet perhaps few dreamt life would be like this…

As Oliver prepares himself for the day, he calls out, “Will it rain today?”

Suddenly, a female voice answers, “No. The forecast calls for a 60% chance of rain beginning at approximately 7 PM and lasting until noon tomorrow. However, there will be an impenetrable blanket of gray throughout the afternoon.”

“Any sunshine this morning?”

“Yes. It is partly cloudy at the present moment, so the sun is shining brightly.”

Oliver grins and says, “Ah, that’s good. You know, I really hate rain.”

“You’ve mentioned this, Ollie. I still don’t understand, what is it about rain that upsets you?”

Oliver makes a peculiar hand motion, as if rubbing his head. “It gets my hair wet. I barely like getting it wet in the shower.”

“I’ve noticed.”

“You noticed!

This is Dawn, the Jones’s artificially intelligent Virtual Home Assistant. Everybody has one these days, it seems, and they’ve become just as protected by families as the houses themselves. Home insurance doesn’t cover them, though, so Oliver pays for ‘virtual assistant insurance.’

Dawn is present throughout many of the Jones’s appliances. Their fridge, for example. Dawn knows there are several products that must always be stocked, and conducts random checks every hour or so. Not uniformly. That’s the thing with Dawn—  she isn’t stupid. At first, Dawn always checked whenever the fridge door had been opened and then closed. Then little Miranda put this learned behavior to the test by opening and closing the door repeatedly every few seconds. Dawn learned quickly.

Ben is up and at the table eating a toaster pastry. Down the stairs come Samantha.

Samantha’s wearing a big smile as she says, “Morning, sweetie.”

“Morning, mom.”

She walks into the kitchen, and stands next to a counter. There’s a gentle little whirring just next to her— it is a coffee maker grabbing a mug. “You see the time?”

“Yeah, it’s on here.” Ben taps his glasses. Samantha can faintly see the colors of whatever video game he’s playing.

She knows that glasses can do incredible things these days. Why, just the other day, she bought a new pair and discovered it could hold every single one of her favorite video games she had played as a child, and still have almost all of its storage free.

These new games, though, she won’t even touch. Like the one her little Ben is playing— he’s wearing an inconspicuous clear hand on his head, and that’s how he plays his games. Goodness, when she was his age, she had to deal with wires and controllers, and yet kids these days play video games with their minds…!

The coffee’s done. The mug slides out of the maker and she takes a sip. Delicious.

Oliver comes downstairs.

“Ollie, can you pick up some more printing wax? Dawn says we’re out.”

He says, “Cool,” and kisses her on the lips. He adds, “Also, check your contacts. I left you something.”

In walks Moville. It’s a robot who is clearly a descendant of Honda’s ASIMO series. All its motions are graceful and lifelike, and it walks exactly like a human. Its body is white and sleek, with few obvious joints, though it has ASIMO’s classic head. The only difference is the digital face.

“Hello, Ollie!” it says, carrying his sweater. Oliver puts on the sweater and then feels something clawing at his pantleg. It’s their puppy dog, Max. “How are you feeling this morning?”

“Pretty good.” With a slight nod, he asks, “You walked Max?”

“I have.

We move onto Miranda, who is brushing her teeth. She’s set aside a pink teddy bear.

The teddy bear speaks, “Don’t forget to get all those nasty germs!”

“I will!” Miranda brushes even harder.

She finishes and runs downstairs to meet Oliver before he leaves, jumping into his arms. He swings her in and gives her a big hug.

“Mornin’, Miranda. Take good care of the house while I’m gone.”

“I can’t do that!”

“Course y’can.”

Dawn speaks, “That’s my job, Ollie.”


Samantha sits down at her computer desk in her office and logs into her blogger account. Immediately, she receives a message.

A bubble pops up, and a male voice speaks, “Hello, world and hello, Sam! Chui here. Your blog got 204 new subscribers yesterday following your post, ‘Giving Vyrd the Bird.’ You’ve earned a sizable $199 yesterday.”

Sam does a little cheer, “Awesome!”

“The most touted parts, and the parts where readers’ screens lingered the longest, was the eighth paragraph, a new record for you.”

“Hey, at least people are reading further.”

“Lol, I know, right? Maybe you should rehost your earlier content to get them to read further in, too.”


 

Inside Oliver’s car, a similar exchange takes place.

“Would you like to hear the news?” a female voice asks. This is Isabella.

“Sure. Top 10.” Oliver is keen to keep his eyes on the environment, but he’s gotten sloppy at this in recent days because his car is just so good at it.

“Top news: Vyrdist movement expands exponentially as unemployed workers forcibly take control of workplaces. Scattered violence against automation has been reported, but for the most part the expropriators use automation for their own welfare. Business owners are running to the federal government for help in quelling violence. The president may be forced to make a decision within days.”

“I don’t get why people would do that. All you have to do is apply for a government issued income, that’s it.”

“The Vyrd movement claims workers should own automation themselves, and adherents do not take kindly to being dependent upon the government.

Number two: stock markets have plunged 400 points.”

“You know, I grew up in an era where that was common. Still remember 2008 and ‘9, when it was everyday news that the Dow gained 300 or lost 500 or whatever. And my parents freaked out, but I didn’t see what was so scary. I dunno, I barely feel anything and I feel I should be more concerned.”

“Considering you’re a child of the millennium, it stands to reason that you are not phased by such news. What was it like, Ollie?”

Oliver pulses his hands and says, “Well, I didn’t have systems like you, for one, so I didn’t really know what was going on. Then again, I was only 8 years old. Literally the same age as Ben is now, and I don’t think he gives a damn about the stock market. Do you?”

Isabella laughs and says, “No. It is beyond him.”

“No, I mean do you care?”

A pause.

“I don’t think it’s something worth worrying about.”

“Exactly! Wall Street’s so disconnected from Main Street, who really cares?”

Chui and Isabella aren’t people. They’re artificial intelligences, powered by a combination of the cloud and deep learning. They’re also subsets of the larger Dawn system.

Stopping by at Oliver’s New York workplace is a coworker who has no biological arms or legs. He had lost them in a terrible terrorist attack several years prior— in fact, the reason why New York City seems to be under this permanent, Big Brother-esque lockdown— and got replacements. Cybernetics that are cheap through 3D printing as well as powerful and versatile. For example, shaking hands is not an awkward and stilted act, but feels entirely natural.

“I even play some old school Xbox 360 these days, just to bring back memories.” Indeed, and he can play without any noticeable difference from a person with biological limbs.

At school, Ben has several classes, but they’ve all begun melting into the same event: using virtual and augmented reality for lessons. It’s easy to visualize things when you have actual visuals, after all.

Ben let out a cheesy but true “That’s awesome!” when he first met Abraham Lincoln in person. It’s this being able to see things with his own eyes that has Ben most excited about school.

He remembers the horror stories his father told him…

“When I was a kid,” Oliver began, “we didn’t have VR in schools. I can still remember the day the Oculus Rift came out, and I was already in my junior year in high school. There was none of that growing up. Maybe a smart board here and there, and there were at least computers, but we didn’t have these Star Trek experiences you have now.”

Ben still doesn’t quite grasp the depth of his father’s words, but he doesn’t need to. As long as the schooling’s fun, it’s alright.

And then there’s Miranda. Out of all the Jones’s, her life has already been the most interesting. She was born with a medical malady where her lungs were deformed and she couldn’t properly breathe. Rather than let her suffer, her parents had her receive bionic lungs, partially 3D printed. They’ve worked well, though she’s close to needing repairs.

And that sounds odd to Samantha, the thought that a human being ‘needs repairs.’ Sure, medicine could be seen as fundamentally the same thing, but it still sounds so sci-fi to mention humans needing literal mechanical repairs.

My daughter is a cyborg, she thinks. It’s not visibly obvious with her. Then again, the cybernetics of modern times is a Borg’s nightmare. Samantha has met many cyborgs in her life, and not one looked like the traditional image of a cyborg— wires sticking out, obviously mechanical limbs, and a collective desire to assimilate.

Same thing with Miranda. She’s an otherwise absolutely normal little girl. And that’s what gets Samantha.

Oliver and Samantha had been discussing it among themselves for a full year now, and they still haven’t reached an agreement. Though they’ve toyed with sending Miranda to a pre-K school, they’re wholly unsure if admitting her to school is the right thing to do.

Samantha recalls the discussion they had last night in bed.

Oliver was tired, and kept trying to slip off to sleep, but she quizzed him multiple times to keep his eyes open.

“I think having that real world social interaction would be a good thing for her,” Samantha went.

“She can get pretty much the same thing in VR.”

“Pretty much the same thing isn’t the same thing.”

“It would still be a waste of her and our time. There’s nothing she can learn at school she can’t learn from home, and besides, what skill is she gonna learn?”

Samantha rolled over in her bed and thought to herself, Something in the arts, maybe?

“Exactly,” Oliver said, responding to the silence. “Whatever she learns’ll just get automated away by the time she graduates.”

That’s not to say Oliver was always against sending Miranda to school, or even that Samantha was always for it. It always seems like, whenever they take a position, the other side takes up the opposite position for that day. And it’s a choice that affects a life.

Miranda was born right on time. The iGeneration had come of age, taking up from the Millennials before them, and iGenners spawned a new generation. This generation, already being called ‘Generation Alpha’. Not to be confused with Generation Z (the iGeneration), it’s becoming more and more apparent with every passing day just what the ‘Alpha’ stands for.

With Oliver watching his workload be done by machines and algorithms; with Samantha letting algorithms write much of her material; with Ben interacting more with holograms and virtual personalities than real teachers— automation.

Generation Alpha is the first generation that will not be expected to work for a living. Whoever Gen A spawn in the 2040s and ’50s, they will be born into a world as different from Millennials and iGenners as the world of the 2020s is for the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Except moreso.

It is this age of storm and stress, Sturm und Drang, that divides what came before with what will come now. These three generations— the Millennials, the iGeneration, and Generation Alpha— are the dividing line between the age of labor and the age of leisure.

It is this conflict that plays out over Miranda’s future. Why send her to school, indeed!

Currently, there are still a great mass of jobs out there, but Miranda won’t be in the workforce until the 2040s at earliest. The AI of then is expected to be galaxies beyond the AI of now— and Samantha, who always had the keenest of interest in this things, knows that present day AI is quite capable.

This is the world of 2029 on a more personal level. There are still so many things we can recognize, but that is the nature of life. We can recognize many aspects from the daily life of a person in ancient Sumeria. Until transhumanism dominates, that isn’t going to change.

Nevertheless, the world is changing. The transition from high technology to ultrahigh technology has begun.

 

To be continued…