Pete Schweizer has asked me, for Independence Day, to write something upbeat and optimistic. This is not an easy task for me, given that I’m the gloomiest person in the world.
But in fact, I AM upbeat and optimistic about the 2020s. So, instead of talking about Independence Day 2011, let’s go a decade into the future, to July 4, 2021, and look at the world then. This is speculative, but it’s grounded in generational theory.
Let’s start with some optimistic assumptions. We have no way of predicting whether America will survive the coming world war and world financial meltdown. So let’s assume that America survives, and let’s go even farther — let’s assume that America “wins” (whatever that means) the world war.
America and the World in Recovery
July 4, 2021, will be a day of jubilation for Americans. We will have beaten the financial crisis and we will have, once again, defeated an enemy that wanted to destroy us. Once again, we will have proven American exceptionalism. There will be joyous parades of war veterans, as the country as a whole cheers, along with President Doe who welcomes the veterans back home and thanks them.
But, as President Doe says, there’s much work to be done. Hundreds of cities around the nation and around the world contain large “dead zones,” where radioactive contamination makes them unliveable. Bridges, trains, and other infrastructure has been destroyed, making delivery of food to some populations almost impossible.
With over 2 billion people having been killed by disease, famine and war, there will be a new Green Revolution, to make sure that no one ever starves again.
These are all job opportunities. Unlike the 2000s decade, when the economy was contracting and growth was impossible, in the 2020s there are plenty of jobs, and the economy is exploding with growth. America establishes a new Marshall Plan, and sets out to rebuild America and the world.
During the war, super-intelligent robots will be used to kill people. At first, they will be under direct control of humans, but by the end of the war, there will be thousands of these robots making their own “shoot to kill” decisions, based on software algorithms programmed in to them.
By July 4, 2021, these robots will be repurposed for Recovery. They’ll be able to remediate radioactive waste sites that would be deadly for a human. They’ll be able to do many of the tedious, repetitious chores involved in anything from rebuilding a home to harvesting crops.
Special attention will be given to medical care. Returning veterans will be fitted with “intelligent prosthetics” that work better than their former limbs. Sick people will have “intelligent nursemaids” available for 24 hours a day. A lot more medical care will be possible in the home, essentially providing each family with a full-time doctor/nurse at home.
It’s quite possible that President Obama will get the credit for universal health care. The current “Obamacare” plan is economically disastrous, and will not be implemented, as I’ve previously described. However, once the war ends, the health care issue will be revived. Universal health care will finally be possible, thanks to the new technology described in the last paragraph. The result may (or may not) be credited to Obama or his successor.
Issues that fill the news today will have become irrelevant. New technology will resolve the climate change issue, for example.
The world economy and geopolitics
The dollar, by virtue of its position as the world’s major reserve currency, will most likely still be the strongest currency in the world. Other currencies likely to do well are the pound sterling and the yen. Many other currencies, including the euro and the yuan, will most likely be ravaged by hyperinflation.
After falling for almost 15 years, housing prices will start to rise again. The stock market, having crashed to Dow 2000, will finally start its long recovery.
Europe will have been torn apart by the war, and will decide to apply “lessons learned” from the first attempt at a European Union. They’ll try again, and this time the EU will be much more cohesive, possibly very similar to the United States.
There will be an NUN — a New United Nations, with a new organizational structure. The NUN will attempt to resolve the issues revolving around the world’s most dangerous regions, and the results will depend on who wins in each region.
Thus, whether Israel will survive as a Jewish state will depend not only on whether it survives the war, but also whether the world blames the Jews or the Arabs for the problems of the Mideast. The future of Kashmir/Jammu and the future of Taiwan will be decided, based on the political sensibilities of the time, and the aftermath of the nuclear war between India and Pakistan.
In regions around the world, the NUN will redraw country boundaries with only one objective in mind: To guarantee peace for as long as possible.
The bickering and divisiveness of the 2000s decade will be gone, and the country will be fully unified for the first time since the end of World War II. As in the 1950s, women who earlier had faced starvation and homelessness, possibly becoming refugees when nuclear missiles attack their home towns, will consider staying at home and taking care of the kids to be a gift from heaven.
Something like the Great Band Era will return. Your iPad of the 2020s will carry in its memory every musical recording ever made, and so live music will become the most valuable form of entertainment. Even though new movies will be available on home entertainment centers, movie theatres will still be around for dates, or just to get out of the house.
However, the villains of the country and the world will be clearly and unambiguously identified, as in the Nazis of WW II. In business, the bankers seem to dig themselves deeper and deeper every day towards being the most hated group in the world.
The 2020s will be a jubilant time for America, but the 2030s will present new challenges. In particular, that will be the time of the Singularity — the point in time when computers become more intelligent than humans and start improving themselves rapidly. The Singularity may be the greatest boon to humanity, or the greatest disaster. It could go either way, and there’s no way to predict.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!