Things might be different tomorrow

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves what wonders the future holds in store for us to keep from getting too depressed and worn down by the bigotry and problems of the present.

Paul was awake. Like a light switch. One moment he was deep in REM, the next his eyes popped open. Idly he toggled on his intraocular display and checked diagnostics. It showed all systems nominal. Even after almost five years, Paul still took youthful delight in the capabilities of his cerebral cortical implant. The spintronics chip in the implant was no bigger than a hair, yet it had more computational power than a thousand of the old personal computers at the beginning of the 21st Century. Five years since he had gotten his implant and it still seemed like the stuff of science fiction. Waking up fully refreshed and ready for another 23-hour-day after only an hour of “sleep” was no fiction, however, and Paul had work to do.

Uplinking to the web, he pinged JtO and found him already at the studio.

“Hey buddy,” JtO responded, “are you going to sleep all night?”

Paul smiled. Nobody needed much sleep anymore. “I’ll be over after I shower.”

“Shower?” JtO snorted. “Decadent beast!”

Paul chuckled as he broke the link. Nanoengineered graphene clothing made bathing unnecessary, but he allowed himself the luxury of a real shower every few days. As he relaxed in the hot spray he toggled on the intraocular display again and picked out working grays to wear for the day. The 3-D printer was just finishing as he stepped out. Dried and dressed, he went to the kitchen and gulped down the nutritionally perfect smoothie that was waiting for him there.

Ready to go, he ascended to his living room and out the front door, where he paused to admire the heavily forested landscape. Ever since monolithic domes became popular replacements for the relatively flimsy and wasteful stick frame houses, millions of people had opted to put the bulk of their living areas underground. Many neighborhoods now looked more like parks or even pristine wilderness than sprawling suburbs.

Paul considered then discarded the idea of running the more than 10 miles to Karen’s GWW Studio Productions facilities. With the youthful and athletic physique afforded by modern longevity technologies, he often went running for hours at a time just for the joy of it. But today he was in a hurry, and activated his Lit C-17 Motorcycle. As the gyroscopes hummed to life and the stand retracted, he opened the door, settled himself in the comfortable seat and glided down the driveway.

Over the years, Lit had gone through several series, but the C-17 was his favorite. Unlike early versions, it could seat two abreast, and with the custom installed ultracapacitors fully charged by the onboard E-Cat reactor, he had an effective range of 20,000 miles between “fill ups.”

Once on the highway headed toward town, he let the autonav take over. He was in a hurry, but if he cranked it up to 300 KPH he was liable to flash though town before he could stop. And besides, he wanted a few minutes to review the night’s work ahead, and brought up a visual of the preparations to be made for the morning shoot.

Following the Singularity, all forms of bigotry-including what used to be considered politically correct prejudices like the feminists’ sexism-had fallen into disrepute. In the almost 30 years since then, few remembered what it had been like for the early proponents of Equalitarianism. Their names were remembered. Men like the gentle but redoubtable Warren Farrell, the irascible Richard Doyle, Fred Hayward, David Ault and many others. Women like Christina Hoff Sommers and Cathy Young, Lisa Scott, Typonblue and GWW, whose studios they were using. But to most people, with the exception of present day mogul-celebrities like GWW, they were little more than names in the archives. AVfM intended to change that with a docudrama about the early days of what later historians called the Equalitarian Movement.

Much had changed during the century from the 1960s to the 2070s. It all began in 2014 when biotech companies first subdued and then began to take control of viruses. After they eliminated all of the viral diseases, they began to engineer viruses to extend and enhance life. Next were the breakthroughs in spintronic chip technology that led to the creation of VI: virtual intelligence. It fell short of the original goal to create a self-aware artificial intelligence, but people still thought of them as self-aware, and often treated them like real beings, if not friends. Virtual intelligence was that sophisticated.

The VI’s were capable of intuitive leaps by design. This, coupled with breakthroughs in ultra-capacitors and what used to be called “cold fusion,” gave scientists the resources they needed to make more breakthroughs in just a few decades than in all of human history prior to that time. Like the Zero Point Module, matter transmutation, the elimination of hunger, poverty and disease. Together, these caused a counter-intuitive decline in the global population that eventually became permanent as billions moved off planet to colonize the solar system.

No longer saddled by the need to engage in the “daily grind,” it didn’t take long for humans to gorge themselves on gizmos, gadgets and distractions of every kind. But after a while it all got to be too much and most sought to use the array of advances to cut down the clutter of daily life, celebrate simplicity and engage in more fulfilling pursuits. Among other things, this produced the development and widespread adoption of the cerebral cortical implant.

Paul smiled at that. With an effective IQ now of over 800, it was almost hard to remember why some things used to matter so much.

In a world of abundance, when anybody who wanted could join a colony to suit their beliefs, or start one of their own, or even fly off into deep space for the modern equivalent of a “walkabout,” war was a thing of the past. Politics, a hobby for some, was largely ignored by the majority. Oh, nation states still existed, but their focus was more cultural than political. And since most adults had a cerebral cortical implant, which could translate any human language, communication no longer posed a barrier.

Paul broke out of his reverie as the C-17 angled off the highway. He disengaged the autonav and drove the few remaining blocks to the entrance of GWW Studio Productions, and pulled into a parking space next to JtO’s classic C-14. After GM filed for bankruptcy and “cold fusion” and ultracapacitors made gasoline engines obsolete, the Lits became very popular.

Karen’s GWW Studio was one of the few facilities in town to have several buildings above ground. They were necessary, she had once explained to him with an expression of wry patience usually reserved for a parent explaining the obvious to a small child, for the outdoor scenes in her many dramatic and documentary projects.

After sunrise, they were going to need that for a depiction of one of the many feminist protest marches. This one was of what had been called a “slut walk.” Paul laughed. The idea that women might need protection from men was a concept foreign to anybody born after the Singularity, when it was no longer possible to lie about criminal behavior. And with life expectancies now being counted in centuries rather than years or even decades, the concept of modesty had changed so radically that the word “slut” had lost all meaning. He had no doubt that most would view the slut walk scene with the same amusement that audiences of a bygone era had enjoyed as they watched Charlie Chaplin elude the Keystone Kops.

“Yes,” he thought as he descended the stairs to the front office, “life is good.”

This kind of future is possible. We face many challenges. The most daunting, however, are social, cultural and political. Scientists and engineers are making incredible progress to develop most of what I describe in the short scene above, although I’m not yet persuaded that the zero point energy module is a reality or that there is such a thing as the LeClair Effect that can be used to transmute water into other elements. And I stole the idea for a cerebral cortical implant from one of my favorite authors, L. Neil Smith. But as for the rest, most if not all are likely to begin coming to market this decade.

Will you be ready? That is one of the big questions. We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of scarcity and the apparently insurmountable opposition of the feminists’ hate male campaign, not to mention the innumerable wars raging around the world, that such a future seems implausible, if not impossible.

Confronted by the imminent probability of a global depression, the pervasive sexism and other uncertainties, it’s easy to lose sight of the possibility that tomorrow might be different. It will be different. Will those differences lift up human kind, or will it lift up only a few? That is another big question, and one we will eventually have to answer.

I prefer to view the challenges as opportunities, the possibilities as exciting, and being here to witness and be a part of such a pivotal time in human history as a blessing. The future is what we make it. So let’s make it a good one, and try to have fun while we’re doing it.

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