You know, all my life I hoped this would happen. Ever since childhood I expected it. I knew these creatures were alive somewhere, but I had no proof, scientific proof, and I had to keep it to myself, or my colleagues would have all laughed at me. -- Dr. Sampson, The Giant Behemoth
Robn invited me to do one of them internet meme things you see on blog sites that actually have readers.
My ability to make predictions is terrible, mainly due to the fact that people are insane and irrational. I was sure, in 2003, that Howard Dean was going to be our next president, for example. Instead the primary voters nominated a solid block of wood. Min will also tell you that i'm constantly stunned by how stupid people are: i keep expecting people to act in ways that make sense.
But for fun, here's my guesses (actually, fears and hopes don't count as predictions, so i'm covered when they all turn out to be wrong) about what i see happening 15 years from now:
What do you fear we'll likely see in fifteen years?
A world completely dominated by corporations. Republican administrations do everything in their power to weaken the federal government's power to regulate, and Democratic administrations basically spend their time ineffectually trying to repair the damage but not actually making any forward progress (being generous about the Dems actually, since while they may be slightly left-of-center on social issues, they tend to be just as "pro-business" as Republicans). The movement to privatize basic public services and resources continues with little organized protests, putting more of the things we take for granted under the control of people who are only interested in maximizing profits. Meanwhile, corporations are becoming more and more global, making puny single-country governments less and less relevant. Irrational fears of a New World Order conspiracy, and the belief in American exceptionalism, prevent us from strengthening the power of the UN into a functional world government. I think the change will be subtle. We will continue to elect our government reps, but these people will
have less and less ability to make changes that benefit us. Hell, this may have already happened.
Hand in hand with the point above, we'll see our country become less and less democratic, with more and more of our civil liberties eroding. As corporations become more powerful, they'll need puppet governments to keep us in line while they extract our resources and keep us working. Again, this will be subtle. I don't see us turning into a 1980s style latin american dictatorship over night, but the effects will be similar.
Oil scarcity. Despite reading a lot of de-bunkings, i'm still a (somewhat skeptical) believer in the peak oil theories. I think oil will become more and more difficult to extract and process as we move to the more unconventional sources such as tar sands. Therefore oil prices will increase dramatically and become less affordable to ordinary people.
I'm the only person (except record company executives) in the world who thinks this is a bad thing, but i think the internet will continue to replace conventional methods for music distribution. This will result in the amateur-ization of music since it's impossible to support a full time devotion to music when you are providing your content for free. It will also result in a sea of mediocrity as it becomes impossible for listeners to find new music and for the truly great musicians to bubble to the top and have an impact. I know you don't agree and i'll admit i can see some positive aspects of this as well but i'm an old man who fears change.
The collapse of the concept of a shared universe at Marvel comics. With creators seemingly feeling increasingly restrained by continuity issues, the (wrong) philosophy that long histories are a barrier to new readers, and the fact that the entire US comics market seems to teeter on the brink of disaster, i worry that the thing i love most about comics is not long for the world.
The beginnings of an apocalyptic future dominated by spam-generating supercomputers, which will culminate in the great Chrono-War of 2038.
What do you hope we'll likely see in fifteen years?
Assuming the peak oil thing happens, i'd like to see it turned into a positive, getting people to live more locally and sustainably - find jobs near where they live, supporting food growers near where they live, building houses that don't require a constant flow of artificial heating to stay warm. Sort of a "from the post-apocalyptic ashes" kind of hope, but it's the best sort of thing that i can muster.
It's always possible that the netroots thing actually goes somewhere. I'd like to see a takeover of the Democratic party from the left the way the christian right and other conservative groups took over and redefined the Republican party in the late 70s. I think it can happen. I think that the leaders of the netroots movement need to be less supportive of the current democrats in order for it to work, but they can be influenced by their readers so it's a possibility. I think that, plus changes in demographics in the south, will cause significant changes in the democratic party, but the question is, will it happen in time?
The one thing we're still good at is gadgets. We don't use our technological power to create solar powered homes or viable mass transit, but we can build neat toys. It's hard to imagine something better than an 80 gig iPod, but what about being able to download your entire musical library directly into your brain? Virtual reality porn (what, you think they aren't working on it?)? A computer that's even faster than the one you have now!! Eh? Eh?!???
The past decade or so has seen a resurgence in Godzilla movies. The special effects keep getting better, but they have lost the charm of the movies from the 70s. I think someone is bound to realize this and find a way to put the fun back into Godzilla. I am not predicting more Godzilla movies. Instead I am predicting a weekly televised sporting event, similar to professional wrestling, except with everyone in rubber monster suits fighting on miniaturized sets. And that's a really positive development, so don't go saying i'm pessimistic or something.
What do you think you'll be doing in fifteen years?
God, in fifteen years i'll be... old. Who cares what i'll be doing?
Ok, let's see:
Least likely, most desired: My immortality and related body-altering super-powers kick in. I leave the planet, exploring the vast mysteries of outer space. Eventually i return to earth and conquer it, imposing my terrible-but-just vision upon the masses.
Vaguely likely, desired: Min and i build our earthship lakehouse in the mountains. We grow a percentage of our own food and run a vegan bed & breakfast to pay the rest of the way, leaving only to tour with our band.
Most likely, least desired: Saddled with debt from a half-completed earthship, i am forced to return to my corporate job only to find that i am no longer qualified for my old position. I spend the rest of my life in mindless middle-management positions...
...uh, who gave me this assignment? They are in big trouble. This is depressing.
The way these memes are supposed to work is after i'm done i'm supposed to name 5 people to answer the same questions on their blogs. But (also due in part to a lack of readership) i'm not naming anybody. I don't care what you think - you people are crazy. So, much like my family tree, this branch of the meme dies with me.
Update: I mean no slight to my small but loyal group of actual, non-imaginary readers. But you're crazy too, and you know it.
I get a lot of spam from the year 2038. It's disappointing that we will still need viagra and penile implants in the year 2038, and it doesn't look like the porn gets any better, but it's nice to know that the world will still exist. Unless it has been taken over by spam producing super-computers.
Seriously, how hard is it to filter out mail that has a sent date that hasn't even occurred yet?