The Vision

The Role of Violence

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright January 2015


Violence has been with life on earth since the beginning of animal species -- well before humankind appeared. Like many other activities humans engage in, its forms change when the tools and wealth available to the community change -- you don't get armies until you get agriculture, you don't get killer drones until you get integrated circuits. Likewise, which forms are acceptable and which forms are... outlawish... change constantly and from one community to the next -- is beheading an acceptable form of violence?

Pervasive surveillance

The coming of pervasive surveillance is going to change a community's relations with violence once again. Cameras can show violence happening, but that is just the start. Wearables can also experience violence. If a person is subjected to sudden acceleration, was that from a blow? If their heart-rate and hormone levels change to fight-or-flight status, are they being threatened? Are they getting ready to threaten someone? There are lots of ways pervasive surveillance can indicate when violence can happen soon, or is happening.

In the same vein, if a restraining order is issued keeping two people apart, with wearables and GPS this can be supported easily and in a flexible fashion.

Pervasive surveillance is going to dramatically change the acceptable forms of threats and violence. How it will change them will be surprising. Some people, in some situations, will still want to express themselves in ways that are considered violent to some other community members. Keep in mind that what is considered violent will not be agreed upon by all community members. Think of the newly evolved trigger warnings in the 2010's. With that in mind, how the lines get drawn and how people will skirt those lines will be quite different in 2050.

Social Media Violence

This is the old "ugly rumors and chatter" sort of social violence updated by modern communications techniques. In the 2010's the emergence of social media "trolls" became a new way to upset other people, and this evolved to have a gang-up-on-someone variant as well. This problem was amplified by "tender snowflake" child raising which brought with it heightened sensitivity to "trigger language" issues.

These increased-sensitivity-to-criticizing-language trends are supported by instinctive thinking, so unless harsh reality or pervasive tolerance training intervene, they will be even stronger in 2050.

Domestic Violence

One of the surprise changes that cyber muses will bring is that cyber muses can substitute for humans as targets of domestic violence. If a human comes home drunk and frustrated, they can slap around their "bitch" cyber muse to get some relief. (Icing on the cake: These cyber muses can be programmed to piss and moan when the person comes home late and drunk, so they deserve it.)

How acceptable this will be will be up to the community, so it can vary from just fine to as inappropriate as hitting a human. If a community loads up with prescriptionist, social justice-oriented humans who feel in their hearts that cyber muses should be treated like humans, it won't happen much, but some other "letting off steam" practice will replace it. If the community becomes an "across the tracks" community which tolerates this (in the eyes of the prescriptionists mentioned above), it will happen routinely.

As mentioned above, when wearables can detect a person feeling threatened, and report it to other entities real-time, this will affect human relations of all sorts. This becomes the ultimate form of "trigger warnings".

The not-so-surprising twist from this is human-human relations in 2050 will be delicate indeed, and in response humans will prefer dealing with cyber muses even more.

Another response may be to organize "Fight Club" style gatherings were socially forbidden activities are openly engaged in. ("The first rule of the Fight Club is: you don't talk about the Fight Club.") How these will mesh with pervasive surveillance will have to be worked out.

Gang Violence

Young men forming gangs is instinctive behavior. It happens when there are no bigger community acceptable goals and organizations for the young men of a community to join and pursue, and they get frustrated. In the TES environments -- with their lack of linking survival to disciplined behavior -- this lack of compelling bigger goals will be common. Finding attractive, acceptable goals -- Next Big Thing (NBT) goals (my term) -- will be a big challenge for all TES communities. Those which can't come up with popular NBTs will have thriving gang cultures.

But pervasive surveillance will also be in place. So what gangs can get away with in the way of anti-social, law-breaking behavior is something gang members will be constantly experimenting on -- and they will find ways. This will be a chronic arms race in all communities with gang problems.

Rebel-with-a-cause violence

Closely related to gang violence will be those who commit violence in the name of a cause. This can range from protesters who get modestly violent at a mass protest to the terrorist equivalents of 2050 who commit heinous violence in the name of a cause.

Protesting-related violence is promoted by frustration, just as gang violence is, so it will be just as big a challenge to control in the TES communities of 2050. It is likely to be the era's biggest and most organized violence challenge.

In the 2010's terrorist violence is encouraged by media pursuing, "If it bleeds, it leads." reporting policies. Terrorist violence is about promoting a cause, and the heavy media coverage does a fine job of promoting it. If reporting techniques of 2050 are clever enough to have ways of reporting terrorist violence without promoting the cause, the amount of terrorist violence will be low.


How war is conducted constantly changes as war making technology and political circumstances change. The famous military truism concerning this is that an army is always well prepared to fight the last war, not the current one. This means that the wars of 2050 are going to be nothing like the wars of the 2010's.

This means that the question of what humans soldiers will be doing, and the kind of violence they will be engaging in, is going to have surprising answers. What will human soldiers do when drones, creations and avatars are doing most of the actual violence -- and these are all being controlled by cyber?

In 2050 soldiers on the advanced technology side of a conflict are going to be more humanitarian types than shooting types. They will follow up after the cyber and avatars have done the violence and offer succor to the survivors -- they will be offering the human touch to reduce the anguish of the survivors.

The impoverished technology side of the fight may still have humans doing violence to other humans. But, given the revulsion that most people have towards violence, and the pervasive surveillance, these impoverished human soldiers are going to have to be real sneaky about the violence they do, or they will loose support for their cause.

All of the above said, the powerful instinct to support warriors will still be in place. Even if the soldiers spend almost all of their time marching back and forth, back and forth, they will still be a well-recognized and well-honored part of most communities. And they should still have lots of "toys" to play with -- defense budgets will remain large ones.


--The End--