|Man/Woman imbalance||Get a job!||Gene improver|
|Scientist, pseudo scientist and cyber muse||Basement nerd||Ambitious families|
|Urban farmers||MLM business types||Social Justice Warriors|
|Space stories||Movie-inspired stories||Starbucks and Zombie mode|
by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2016
This is more speculation on what the various lifestyles of 2050 will be like, particularly those taking place in the Total Entitlement State (TES) environment. Some of the ramifications are surprising.
This TES is the enviroment where some proxy of "the government" is providing all a person's basic necessities in food, shelter, healthcare and the catchall dignity and wellness. Dignity and wellness in this environment will include things such as education and vacations to "necessity resorts" such as Disneyland. (I pick Disneyland for a reason: It's 2010's variants are a archtypical examples.)
There will be many different lifestyles in 2050... but not as many as in the 2010's because "Top 40 Jobs" will be dominating the list. This Top 40 Jobs phenomenon falls out of mixing the high levels of automation that will exist in manufacturing, transporation and service jobs with "Do what you are passionate about." advice.
Here is what I think "get a job" and many other elements of day-to-day living will have evolved into in 2050. These are in no particular order.
This first example is one of the surprises. It is concerned with the male/female balance in the world's child bearing.
In the 1970's low-cost and reliable birth control and abortion methods started mixing with population control efforts. The surprise outcome of this has been a boy/girl birth ratio that became more and more male. This is especially true in East Asian cultures, and it is now causing a mild demographic crisis: Where are the brides for all these excess males? (A bigger crisis is: where are the young, ambitious workers?)
Short-term solutions to the Bride Crisis are coming. They will be based first on computer-oriented entertainment and later on cyber muses as they become common.
o The earlier-implemented and more common solution will be to provide males with lots of engaging entertainment options. This will distract them from the frustrations of not having wives and girlfriends, and engaging in other meaningful-to-the-community activities such as a job. This is promoting the "make the males happy in the basement with their video games" thinking -- a modern variant on "loner male" lifestyle which is a moderately powerful instinct -- for many mammal species living as a loner male is the norm so humans have the instinct. The question becomes how vigorously it gets expressed. This entertaining solution should be effective in the TES environments. This is just another part of solving the challenges of "males getting marginalized by automation and gender equality" trends.
o The second, later-implemented, option will be providing cyber muses. These will provide comfort in addition to distraction. How much and how effective the muses are at comforting and inspiring will increase steadily with time as the cyber muse industry matures and improves the products. It will also depend on how much money -- luxury money -- the male can spend on the muse. The expensive ones are "arm candy" muses.
Entertainment and cyber muses are the short term solutions. The longer term solution is that as more child bearing happens out of wedlock, the more single mothers will be choosing the gender, and they will be choosing girls. This will be supported by the rise of the "baby club" child raising lifestyle -- this will become quite common. And with lots more baby club-raised babies and not so many family-raised babies, the ratio will reverse. In ten to twenty years there will be more girls born than boys. In baby club culture the thinking will be, "Why bring out a boy? They're useless." This thinking will be supported by the aggressive matron styles of feminism that will be active in 2050.
As this transformation happens the problem will be reversed -- the question becomes where are the grooms for these excess brides? The solution will be the same -- cyber muses substituting for the opposite sex. (Hmm... one of the interesting features of this twist is... how common will being submissive to a cyber muse become? That lifestyle will be a lot more common among young women growing up with cyber muses because of their Bride Thinking instinct.)
The real big challenge will remain the same: getting enough kids out, period. Urban lifestyles do not produce enough kids, they haven't since cities were invented way-back-when in Mesopotamia. Most humans will be urban in the 2050's, so the major population crisis of the 2050's and beyond will be humans creating enough children. If humans aren't creating and raising them, cyber will have to take on those functions as well. Stranger and Stranger, indeed!
Yup! The more I think about it the more finding and defining meaningful employment is going to be the big challenge of TES environments. The definition is going to have to change just as dramatically as the change between Agricultural Age and Industrial Age, and older and newer Industrial Ages.
And, likewise, these new era jobs are going to be just as mystifying to old era trained people as is true today between new and old eras. This is going to be a big, and constant, issue because the change will either keep accelerating, or humanity's jobs will become Top 40 and irrelevant to increasing material prosperity. The silver lining with that is the more jobs become Top 40 the less dramatic and traumatic the changes will become.
In fact, this "settling down" of jobs will be a good symptom that human endeavor is becoming irrelevant to both creating material prosperity and understanding how the universe works. It means the human employment universe is becoming the equivalent of a declining city's employment universe. Think of Detroit between the 1960's and 2010's.
Hot item human job: gene editor. (which I will call gene improver)
Gene editing may become and remain a long-term, human-oriented, value-adding activity because of its complexity and subtleness. Newly-available CRISPR technology is like word processing for genes. Humans use word processors to tell stories -- the word processors don't tell the stories themselves. For this reason humans may stay central to the gene-editing/gene-improving process.
In human writing, there are good story tellers and bad ones. In gene improving there are going to be good designers and bad designers. The good ones produce organisms with a superb mix of results. The bad ones don't produce lethal results, but they are not attention-gettingly good.
There will also be lots of themes in gene improving. Just as there are horror writers, history writers, technical writers and many others, there are going to be gene improvers that are good at different styles of editing. These different styles of improvers are going to be proficient at accomplishing different goals.
What will the different styles and different goals be like? One example of a different style may be how much redundancy is put in the package -- how much backup in case things go wrong. The converse can be a high performance organism, but delicate. Another issue can be flexibility -- how dedicated to a single task is the result?
So, what does a hot gene improver produce? What does a mediocre improver produce? What organisms do they work on?
The low-level and DYI types will work with bacteria. Next up come fungus and algae. Who can work with these? School kids? Next up are those who work with plants. (Plants are next up mostly for instinctive thinking reasons. Their genetic complexity ranges just as widely as animals.)
Those with lots of training, and certifying, work on mammals. And top-of-the-heap are those who manipulate human genes. What will be done with humans?
And back to themes: What kinds of changes are the equivalent of wonderful symphonies? What is scary? What is legal/illegal?
Update: This 11 Mar 16 WSJ article, Jennifer Doudna: The Promise and Peril of Gene Editing Geneticist Jennifer Doudna on the controversy about Crispr-Cas9, a technique that could potentially cure genetic diseases by Alexandra Wolfe, takes the classic "watch out for the mad scientist" slant to current gene editing breakthroughs. It is tiresome reading for me, but it certainly expresses a powerful emotion for the community. It is tiresome for me because this is such a complex field, and evolution has made the gene pool so robust that even a big slip by human gene editors will be a very small ripple in the natural gene pool. In sum, I see very little to worry about in this arena, and lots of opportunity to be missed by too much worrying.
Scientist and pseudo scientist -- the rare, and the much more popular.
What will scientists be working on? How will cyber muses help them? Can they be of much help?
What will pseudo scientists be working on? Likewise, how much can cyber muses help them? The cyber muse types will humor the pseudo scientists, but when their humans aren't watching they will be face palming at the lack of rigor.
There will still be projects that require lots of human teamwork on a hard science project. These projects are beyond what a single scientist plus cyber entities, or a collection of pure cyber entities, can solve with on their own.
Because of the prestige of the term scientist, pseudo scientists won't drop it. (as an example even in the 2010's some scholars of the Koran are entitled scientists in their local language) However hard science types may come up with new terms to differentiate their activities from pseudo science.
Basement living nerd -- male and female -- a very common lifestyle.
This is going to be an easy style to slip into. Part of what will make it easy is helicopter parenting -- why/when should the protecting stop?
In the TES environment entertaining becomes more and more important because other important activities are being taken over by cyber. And this entertainment can get more individualized so social interacting for entertainment also becomes less needed.
The basement nerd life will get physically simple, but become intellectually quite engrossing.
As a writer I see a big challenge here: This basement living is sure going to be hard to write interesting stories about. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end doing little but entertainment activities...
Whoa! I had a curious intersection with this thought come up: I watched the first half of the movie "Joy". (I walked out on it, I got real uncomfortable watching all the losers.) That first half is a movie about this! It is about a dysfunctional family with several basement-style members, each with their own basement style -- aspiring entertainer, soap opera addict, small-time/not-successful business owner. The theme: lots of people making promises they don't keep.
...And this became a movie???
More thought required on this, I guess. I guess the familiarity fuels its popularity. (although it didn't get very popular)
As I think more about this... the promises-not-kept theme is something I encountered in another recent writing situation: It was the really depressing part of the two creative writing classes I took in fall of 2015. The stories selected as course reading material were either about losers or fish-out-of-water stories... which are essentially stories about losers. I found myself longing hard for stories about winners -- Forbes and Fortune style stuff -- about clever people succeeding.
Just as worrisome is the real life loser stories I see and hear around me. I sure don't enjoy these one bit. There are way too many people who live on making interesting promises and then not keeping them.
I sure like being around people who keep promises. A related thought: Good infrastructure maintenance is a symptom of good promise keeping at the community level.
And further thinking about... How will cyber muses fit into promise keeping? As I think about it: it is likely that promise keeping by humans will decline... because what in TES harsh reality will support it? The only thing that comes to mind is some kind of social shaming. But cyber muses will make up for the lack in many activities.
"Don't believe it unless the cyber muse promises it." may become a truism of 2050.
People will still likely be coming to Starbucks equivalents. But how will Starbucks and zombie mode communication interact? Will people come, buy coffee, sit down, and zombie out for most of their stay? Today there is a lot of zombie out going on around phones and laptop computers, but these are visible forms of zombie out. The future zombie out will be totally internal. Will this make a difference? Will coming to a Starbucks to zombie out still be a popular activity?
These people are zombieing with other people in other places. What's the advantage of doing this in Starbucks? What's the advantage of doing so today? Why sit with a computer in Starbucks instead of at home, in the basement?
Kids of ambitious parents: The smart ambitious parents who want kids grounded in harsh reality will be giving them Outward Bound or Boy/Girl Scout experiences -- smart in the sense that they want their kids to be well-grounded in harsh reality. This way they can produce world-shaking accomplishments centered on their experiences with the physical realities they encountered while they were growing up.
There will be many ambitious parent themes -- grounding in harsh reality will be just one. Getting proficient at networking with influential people and cyber will be another. (these two themes are the Harvard-MIT difference) Proficiency at entertainment will be another. Promoting social justice will be yet another.
One interesting question is how long computer programming will remain an important endeavor for humans? It may not be for long. My guess in that cyber will become very proficient at most forms of programming very soon now. Plus, programming proficiency already changes very quickly. A person who mastered C using a terminal with a "C:" prompt in the 1980's became pretty irrelevant as the Windows, IOS, OOP, and then the numerous apps environments grew in size, variety, and importance. In my own experience, I find my English teaching and writing skills have had much more enduring value than my technical skills with various waves of computer-oriented hardware and software.
And there are the changing trends in child raising.
Child raising is heavily influenced by the Tattoos and T-Shirts phenomenon. (my term) Kids of today are not the "commodity kids" of times and lifestyles when child and adult mortality rates are high. These kids of parents living in low-risk/long-life times, with lots of luxury money, will get beautiful and expensive and highly ritualed child raising experiences. The ambitious ones will get more "real life" ritual than Tender Snowflake kids, but there will be lots of ritual for all the themes.
To my surprise, after doing some thinking about this, Tatoos and T-Shirts can already explain a lot of current child-raising trends. The nutty Protect the Children rituals that are already in place today come to mind first.
Urban farmers -- this will be a popular form of dilettante work. Much of this will take place in multi-story greenhouses. There will be lots of wearables (as in, sensors on the plants) and surveillance in addition to lots of humans. The humans will be mixing science, urban legend and surveillance into their activities. There will be lots of prescriptionism, and much arguing about which ways are really the right ways to do things.
MLM business aspirers -- these are people who aspire to business with little other useful experience or imagination. This is popular today among those with aspirations but no experience and business discipline. This is likely to stay popular in the future. Many of the projects will be built on popular urban legend.
Social Justice Warriors and others fighting for a cause -- what will they fight for and how will they fight for it? This is likely to be quite popular and take on many forms. Here are a few of them.
Protesters and soldiers -- both are on my Top 40 Job list. Both thrive on the protecting and aiding style of instictive thinking. This instinct will remain strong. The question is how will they conduct their activities when there is lots of both cyber and surveillance around to assist? What will "cross the line" and become illegal? What will cyber censure, what will humans censure? These will be different.
Bringing civilization to remote areas/peoples -- I guess this will still be happening, and those who do it will be closet-supremists of various sorts. The popularity of going to Mars these days is an indicator of how strong this go-to-unexplored-worlds instinct is. Exploring remote places on Earth can stroke this instinct.
Animal rights -- These days I'm always surprised at the paradox of how much attention animal rights gets, but how little plant rights gets. I think this will remain an issue, but I'm not sure how it will evolve. If plants rights raises in profile, then plants rights people will be urging us to eat algae, fungus and bacterial slime. For those even more extreme, nutrients assembled from "dead stuff" like oil and coal without any living processes involved.
Caring for homeless -- This will evolve, but it is likely to remain popular. The constant problem in 2050 is going to be finding "real" homeless, not entertaining nomads of various sorts. Conversely, those entertaining nomads can really look homeless, even more so than the real homeless of the 2010's, so they can stroke the instinct even better.
The key, key issue here (in real life) is what activities can become space commerce? What can people profitably send between space colonies and Earth's surface? The more "stuff" there is to send back and forth, the bigger and more elaborate the colonies will be and the larger the population that can be sustained in space and on various moons and planets.
Again... commerce is the key. Once commerce happens, then the other details of what is happening in space get interesting. That said...
o Much will be cyber. Rule of thumb in space: if you are sending something physical, send cyber to control it.
o But there is a strong instinct for humans to colonize, so that will be supported... somehow... Then the question becomes: Can those colonies turn into a "North American experience" in some way? Or will they stay International Space Station-class experiences, and not become world-shakingly innovative and prosperous? Tourism is likely to remain a big part of the picture for a long time. The adventuring instinct will support it.
What are going to be story-worthy activities happening in 2050? What is going to be happening that resonates with familiar themes of the 2010? This is even more important in the 2010's than it was in the 1960's because the 2010's movie-goers and story-readers are much more responsive to familiar themes.
Blacklist story? -- Who will be blacklisted? It should be pretty common in 2050, part of social media shaming. Blacklisted for doing what? How will it be handled? Because of Tender Snowflakism there will be people calling for shaming on all sorts of issues. On the other side will be those preaching real tolerance.
I'm not sure how much weight the real tolerance people will carry in TES. Historically, in Industrial Age conditions tolerance produced significant material benefits because immigrants could work in a community, and because many disruptive ideas could be heard, and a few of them embraced. In the TES environments neither of these benefits are going to be as large. So, the instinctive benefits of Us versus Them -- supporting shaming in various incarnations -- will be much higher.
So in TES communities urban legend-based prescriptionism is likely to dominate. But in each community which urban legends and which prescriptions dominate will be different... Us versus Them. [sigh] And lots of Pillar of Faith issues.
The story can be about those differences. Some kind of Romeo and Juliette theme.
Human-human romance -- This won't be a commonplace activity given the risks -- social and financial -- and the plentiful cyber muse alternatives. But there will be some, and the people of the day will love to see/read stories of it. It may happen little in real life, but it will happen all the time in stories.
Party hearty stories -- How will teenagers and early-20's party hearty? What will get them in trouble? When a person is equipped with lots of wearables getting excessive will be harder to do... but if anyone can figure out how to abuse them and get beyond limits, it will be the teens and 20's who figure out how to do it first.
Fast and furious -- These movies are variants on the party hearty stories. These will endure, just as Westerns endured long after horse riding became anachronistic. How will cyber and wearables mix into this theme? I don't know, but they will.