This story is taking place in 2112, and human civilization a hundred years from now will be different in many ways. The goal of this book is to present you, the reader, with a series of interesting stories about what it's going to be like in a future world that is really possible, and really probable.

This is not a post-holocaust or Malthusian-stressed world. It's a comfortable world where mankind has faced our contemporary challenges, and found successful solutions.

So... be prepared for a very different kind of story.

Let me give you the axioms of the world in this story. These axioms are the "givens" of this world.


o Earth is a happy and productive place. The hundred years between now and story time have been filled with people becoming more prosperous and more urbanized. There have been no civilization disrupting catastrophes.

o Earth's human population peaked at about 9 billion in 2050, and by 2112 it is down to about 7 billion and declining steadily. This has happened because prosperous people find they have many interesting things to spend their time on other than baby-making and raising.

This is an important point, so I will say it again: The population decline is due to prosperity and the distractions it brings to people, not due to improvement in birth control, disaster, or some government-imposed, draconian population-controlling regulation. (Here is a 4 Aug 11 WSJ editorial, The UN's Imaginary Babies by Jonathan V. Last, discussing this demographic trend.)

Because the population is declining due to prosperity the world is "grayer" than it is today -- there are many, many more old people and fewer young people.

It is also much more urbanized -- 90% of the world's human population lives in large metropolitan areas or popular resort areas that service these urban areas. The rest of the world has a lot less people than even today. Small cities and rural areas are virtually depopulated... by people.

o The world is much more automated than it is today and the automation is much more efficient. This has allowed mankind to become more prosperous and more efficient at using Earth's resources -- so much more efficient that resource exhaustion is no longer a threat, it is now just a well understood issue.

In human eyes the pinnacle expression of this increased automation are the creations. These are self-aware robots who are part of a self-aware world-wide network that does both computing and communication. The creations and the less complex supporting computer systems and communications networks do the routine legwork that keeps civilization prosperous, productive and operating with a light impact on earth's resources.

Creations and other automation infrastructure are now what inhabit the many cities and rural areas that humans have migrated away from.

o There are self-aware cyber entities in the global communication/computation network but their interaction with humans is subtle and happens mostly through creation activities, so these are mostly off of human radar.

o There is some space travel. Humans routinely travel to the Moon and Mars and creations are exploring the rest of the solar system. There are a handful of explorer probes en route to other star systems that will take millennia to arrive; so there is no star travel to speak of.

o There is a lot of advancement in biological sciences and technologies. These have produced technology surprises. These surprises, and how humans react to them, are much of what these stories are about.

And these are the axioms. The stories that follow presume all of the above are true.

What follows are some more details on these axioms. If you feel you've got these down, you can jump into the story from here, or you read on to find out more of my thinking on these axioms.

The People

The decline in population will happen not because of a Holocaust of any sort, or because humans have run out of a vital resource and are now in a Malthusian crisis. It will happen because 90 percent of the world’s population will be living a prosperous urban or suburban lifestyle and as a result people are too busy with many other enjoyable activities to have enough time and interest to make and raise enough babies.

Prosperous urban lifestyles are fun, interesting, and personally satisfying, but because there are so many interesting things to do child raising gets put off for years and years, and one or two children are the most common numbers for those who do find the time. After 2050 not enough people are spontaneously willing to commit to the long hours and years of dedication it takes to do child raising so the population has been declining for decades. It is now 2112, and this decline has been going on long enough that even the population growth alarmists admit that it’s not a fluke.

It is now recognized by most people that, without community intervention of some sort, or a catastrophe of some sort that sends most people back to the farm, there will now always be too few children to sustain the population unless steps are taken to encourage child raising.

Much of this story is about what such steps will be.

However, those people who do take on the sacrifice of child bearing and child raising will, as is true today, want the best for those children. In fact, even more so because there is nothing inevitable about their choice. Another difference is, because they live in a prosperous world, they will have a lot more resource to throw at the adventure.

The Creations

Automation, computers, and communications networks will have continued their exponential growth in both capability and complexity. The result is that productivity of day-to-day goods and services is ten-to-a-thousand times what we experience today. In other words, we are ten to ten thousand times more efficent at making stuff. That means that human civilization is no longer taxing earth's resources.

It also means that computers are doing ninety percent or more of the legwork to make manufacturing, transportation and other routine activities happen. Humans don't make much in this world, they do other things. (What they do is much of what these stories are about.)

The highest form of computer/automation expression, in human eyes, is the creations. These are self-aware robots and they handle much of the interfacing between humans and the vast productive complex that makes things in the world of 2112.

As pointed out above, the automation infrastructure is what inhabits much of the world's surface between the densely-human-inhabited metropolitan areas.

(Note: The creations are much more aware of how complex all the Earth's computing has become. But this is a story about humans. So we will see the world through their eyes.)


What this story is about


This story is a series of tales about people living in the world of 2112. It's about the surprises we can expect as our human civilization gets more and more prosperous and we learn and exploit deeper and deeper mysteries of science and technology.

Since these stories are about surprises, this book is not some crystal ball telling about exactly what will happen when, but it is about the lifestyles of people that are likely to emerge as the world gets more automated and more prosperous. It is about how human thinking and living will interact with the opportunities more and more prosperity will give it.

Let me say that this has been a challenging tale to create. It's challenging because it's not conventional story-telling. But hopefully, even if it is not telling a familiar story, you will find it enjoyable, interesting and compelling.

Have fun with... The World of 2112!