September 03, 2004

predicting the future is addictive

International man of mystery Joi Ito points out the Ars Electronica project Timeline+25, "a web site inviting participants to make predictions about the next 25 years, year by year, and to vote on predictions already posted." Not only is this a cool project; making those little capsule predictions about events in specific years turned out to be kind of addictive ;-) It reminded me a bit of scenario planning work I've done in the past, for example with the folks at GBN. I think the future is probably more uncertain now than it has been in a long while, due to the rapidly changing mix of social, political, demographic, religious, technological, and environmental factors we are confronting these days. Thus tools to think about the future with, made accessible to the many, seem necessary and appropriate.

I don't know how long the Timeline+25 site will be live, so I've captured my own predictions here. I really don't know why they are so bleak, they just seemed like an almost-plausible string of events, despite my own gut level objections to them. Do I really believe that Ahnuld will become the first independent, centrist American leader of the 21st century? Nah. But on the other hand, reality seems to outpace fiction on a regular basis anymore...

2007 | First verified human clone

After a series of unverifiable and probably false claims, the first cloned human child will be revealed. DNA sequence matching will verify that the child is indeed a genetic replica. The original genetic material will be found to have been taken from an 11-year old boy from a wealthy Chinese family in Canada, who was tragically lost in a drunk driving accident in 2006. Sadly, the cloned infant will be diagnosed with a rare gene defect with symptoms resembling MS.

2008 | Cheney vows to end Mideast War

Campaigning on a hard line platform of economic protectionism, moral reform, and strong homeland law, order and security, presidential candidate Dick Cheney promises the American people that the ongoing war with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon is "winnable, and we will win." Outgoing president George Bush will give an effusive endorsement, saying "Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz know what's best for America, and God is on their side."

2010 | american security inc.

In response to the escalating threat of radical non-Arabic terrorist cells in America, President Cheney declares martial law in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington DC, and signs a presidential directive allowing private security firms to operate as de facto homeland security forces within US borders. The largest of these, American Security Inc., reaches $1 billion in annual revenue and is listed on the NYSE.

2011 | suicide moms

Driven to the edge by extreme Cheney era hostility to women's rights, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, rollback of workplace laws against sexual harassment, and the general tone set by the powerful Religious Right in America, a radical underground women's movement emerges, marked by numerous shocking suicide bombings targetted at conservative male politicians and business leaders across the nation. Cheney responds by giving contract police force American Security Inc. a broad mandate to investigate "extremist feminist cells" and detain suspected leaders indefinitely. American Security's CEO Condoleeza Rice downplays the situation, pointing to her own success as a prime example of the strides that women have made in US society.

2012 | Schwarzenegger defeats Cheney

Following 12 years of compassionate conservatism under the Bush and Cheney administrations which have paradoxically left the USA in a social and economic state just left of the 1970's era Soviet Union, beloved California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes the first Independent candidate to win the presidency, defeating Cheney by a landslide. Campaign strategists Wes Boyd and Joan Blades downplayed their role in the victory, mumbling briefly about the grassroots efforts of many citizens and then moving quickly out of range of reporters' cameras.


Posted by Gene at September 3, 2004 10:46 PM | TrackBack

OK G - you need to find a happy place and go there. So dark! Suicide moms and years of Cheneyism - You better be way wrong or the only place I'm going to be living is in one of thos i-neighborhoods I can't access!
On the other hand, a view like this might be a good addition to the Kerry campaign - a little truth in advertising? Hope the strumming is going well.

Posted by: Megan at September 14, 2004 11:55 AM

I see the future as being somewhat bleak, too, but from a more apolitical point of view. Here are the two big things to worry about in the future:

1) Cheap oil is gone forever, and it's only going to get more expensive from here. This will have a far-reaching impact on how we live and work, not only in the area of increasing the cost of all sorts of manufactured goods, but in the cost of running the distribution and transportation infrastructure we all take for granted. Luckily for you Ubiguys and Ubigals (note: it took me a while to figure out what that Ubistuff meant-- you might consider a glossary or some such if you're looking to be more accessible to a wider audience, G.:), portability/ubiquity demands energy efficient design, so I don't see a big negative impact on Cyberspace (is that term considered obselete?)-- perhaps even the contrary.

2) The very large and growing multi-species reservoir of viral agents (mainly in the Far East-- think poultry farms) is going to inevitably be unleashing more nasty surprises as time marches on. SARS was just the warning bell.

The political stuff will just churn and churn like it always has, in a loose orbit about whatever the American public thinks is political moderation.

Which leads me to a question perhaps better suited to another topic: What's so bad about Cheney? And what's "Cheneyism"? He's the only guy in the W administration with any brains. Or is that precisely the problem?

Posted by: Toosh at September 15, 2004 05:53 AM
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