The World of 2026 … Again

First, a thank you to readers. A couple of months ago, I asked you to help me out with my vision of what the world would look like ten years from now. A group of intrepid souls realized that my request to answer the blog post in the comment box wasn’t working (my WordPress skills are Future technologyapparently lacking), and I got a wealth of commentary from them anyway. The most regular critique of my initial vision came in the form: “Your 2026 looks a lot like today. Surely much more will have happened by then.” That gave me pause. Leaving out geopolitics, which I didn’t have the temerity to predict (except to assume CyberWar I will happen in a few years, which I take to be obvious), things did move pretty much at current pace. I hadn’t fleshed out that assumption with deep analysis; after all, I’m writing fiction. But really, look back at 2006. More apps, yes; otherwise, not so different.

About a week ago, the economist Paul Krugman reviewed THE RISE AND FALL OF AMERICAN GROWTH, by Robert J. Gordon, in the New York Times. Krugman, reflecting on Gordon’s thesis, says “The truth is that if you step back from the headlines about the latest gadget, it becomes obvious that we’ve made much less progress since 1970 — and experienced much less alteration in the fundamentals of life — than almost anyone expected.” He notes that between 1870 and 1940, “Electric lights replaced candles and whale oil, flush toilets replaced outhouses, cars and electric trains replaced horses.” But today, “you or I could walk into a 1940s apartment, with its indoor plumbing, gas range, electric lights, refrigerator and telephone, and we’d find it basically functional. We’d be annoyed at the lack of television and Internet — but not horrified or disgusted.” (Tell that to one of the chilly dudes waiting in line outside the Apple store for the latest iPhone. Wait … have our lives become trivial, or is the insatiable quest for life improvement focusing on that which is available?)

Anyway, I feel more comfortable with a world in which I don’t have to spend too many words explaining exotic, transformative technology. Thanks again for your additions and corrections.

The World in a Decade – Thanks!

When I asked you, my friends and readers, for your take on the world a few years from now, I expected comments responding to the post.

I waitedWaiting

and waited

and waited

… nothing.

Then I realized the comment section wasn’t working and your comments were in a special folder in my e-mail.  So I stopped mumbling under my breath. One friend was probably right that I jumped the gun having Congress start using genetic data to ration healthcare by five or six years from now.  Hell, just getting the roads fixed is in the Too Hard column for Congress.  My friend Weaver gave me a prescient warning three years ago that I’d better deal with drones, so I was glad to see his references to several articles (the media does tend to look forward at the end of a year).  I got some help on the likelihood of grid coverage or lack thereof and the staying power of wired connections. A member of one of the critique groups that are pulling me (slowly) toward good writing mentioned that the implanted blue tooth devices I imagined in my second novel are just around the corner, not the few years away I imagine.  Another friend comments that I haven’t really addressed demographics … I have no Muslims, just Bostonians, North Dakotans, Floridians, good old boys.  The third book will have Muslims.

Thanks to all of you!