The World in 2052

This is an excerpt from an email to a player character

I've revised what I said about your character [King Arthur] being able to time travel since we're picking up the story earlier than I'd anticipated. In the upcoming adventure, you have the opportunity to gain that power. The following may ramble a little, but I hope you find it useful…

The year is 2052. The most powerful political entities in the world are the European Union, followed closely by Canada, Russia, Japan, and a somewhat liberalized China. The reorganization of the United Nations has improved its reputation and it now lives up to its charter under the name World Zones Authority. The Islamic League is a wild card, having come to prominence in the late 10's. It is thus no surprise that the Middle East is a political hotbed again. Africa is experiencing unprecedented prosperity and are leveraging their youth in comparison to other developed parts of the world, where the average age has been increasing for decades. Many worry that Africa will become a dominant force in the 22nd century. Latin America is the ignored part of the world, especially after the Mexican War (2029-37).

People of the 20th Century would find the 21st to be more conservative and farsighted than they are use to. Religion and volunteering are on the rise again after a decline in the 20's. Race relations and civics are better on the whole as well. Subcultures remain strong, though, America has become a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. Justice is swifter and more severe than in 2000, street crime is unusual, thanks in no small part to the GPS-enabled smart IDs. Local and state governments have more power than today. People have focused on building strong communities. As people have begun to live together, political inequality has diminished. However, there is growing animosity toward the elderly as their ranks swell — centenarians make up a significant fraction of the population. This came to a head in the U.S. when Social Security collapsed in 2016. The Geriatric War (2016-19) weakened the U.S., and America is still recovering from the second wave (2043-47).

Environmental awareness is at an all-time high. Global warming is slowly coming under control, though tropical diseases and their hybrids like the white fever and the shakes are ravaging the temperate latitudes. Palm trees grow happily around the canals of Boston, and Holland is underwater. Only recent advancements in pharmaceuticals and cancer therapy have allowed people to enjoy being out in the sun. Decades ago, the Pacific Rim forced the W.Z.A. to develop an E.P.A.-like organization with the power to implement change. For example, industrial countries like the U.S. have brokered deals with African nations to ensure that they haven't exceeded their "carbon budgets" as mandated by the G.P.A. Fifty years ago, people thought information would be the coin of the new century, but it's electricity, clean air, and water that people prize, but developments such as the LED white light have helped.

The Earth's magnetic axis flipped in 2007, and several migratory species would have become extinct, were it not for the hard work of zoos and geneticists. Although thousands of species were temporarily lost, many have been reintroduced. Pigeons, bees and salmon are still on the endangered species lists. Combined with a worldwide drought and the climate shift, the world experienced a global famine in the teens, which allowed Canada and Russia to rise to join the ranks of other world powers on the backs of the wheat harvesters. On the other hand, China and India suffered terribly. The famine caused the Indonesian Massacre of 2012, as swarms of starving Indonesians tried to flee to Australia and were repelled.

The world functions under solidarism, which is a fruitful blending of capitalism and socialism after food price wars led to the "capitalist
economic anarchy" of the teens followed by strangulation from socialist "economic dictatorships" in the 20's and 30's. Over time, investors as a class have grown bigger, richer, more socially diverse, and more politically powerful as the global economy has grown. Many functions of government have been contracted out to specialist entities. Governments are smaller but better run due to advances in information technology — polls happen constantly through the day and representatives can really represent the people (or people "invest" their vote in someone else…) Due to direct marketing, goods are in general less expensive than today. A globally-accepted world currency, the Canadian dollar, has opened the world to everyday global commerce. People work more flexible hours and have shorter work weeks. Moving to another country to work is much more common, much like relocating to another state in the U.S. (Nanocomps have helped this, amongst other things they can translate human speech.) Most people only go to the office to have face-to-face meetings, which are more common than today because of the increased importance of building relationships, thanks in no small part to women. Women have reached true equality in the first world, and trends continue to favor women — better education, longer lifespans. The hottest jobs in 2052 are hospitality and travel services, especially to exotic places like the tropics and the Moon.

All but the poorest people have access to power of a desktop computer and the Net in the palm of their hand. Holographic cubes are the data storage medium of choice — a sugar cube sized crystal can hold a terabyte. Hot software: self-organizing information systems (ie. self-optimizing databases, limited neural networking, etc.) and seamless communication networks (automatic negotiation and translation of arbitrary protocols). Processing power is high enough that voice interface carries insignificant overhead. Keyboards and mice exist for the most part in museums. Holographic displays are considered chic. Household robots do common chores and have the processing capabilities of a trained monkey. Electric-powered cars practically drive themselves. So do the hypersonic VTOL airplanes and commuter spaceplanes. Low earth orbit is prime real estate.

Lasers are used almost everywhere you can imagine blades today. They are also used to sublimate ice to launch payloads into space. Lasers are also found in "disco ball" laser-powered, artillary-detonating defense systems and their descendants. Most wars are still fought with traditional cased-round rifles, linear induction mass (LIM) drivers and railguns, plastisteel flak jackets, adjustable yield munitions, cookers" (microwave-based EM disruptors, which made the tactical nuke somewhat obsolete) and sweat, though battlefield robots and weather modifiers are getting better all the time. Homing rounds are still too easily confused to be reliable, a problem which plagues plasma weapondry. Fixed-wing, tilt-rotor craft has made their way into civilian hands. Exotic weapons like dissolvo (enzymatic flesh-eater) and nanobyters (nanomachine nibblers) are deployed on occasion.

Technology hits the streets at a record pace. Gone are the days when it takes years for products to reach the shelves. Computer modeling has made storm prediction a luxury taken for granted. Miniaturization allows for things like all-temperature clothes and x-ray-vision glasses.
Cybernetics haven't really caught on.

Distance learning is the norm, as well as life-long learning. Digital books and electronic libraries are normal, bookstores are unusual and
haunted by the elderly. Virtual reality is common as a training tool.

Biosensors are hot, and common security consists of measuring a person's thumb's bioelectric field. Smart money is the norm, and security
algorithms are currently stronger than hackers can penetrate (this month, anyway). Banks and information purveyors have teamed up, and most people download their personal e-mail from kiosks/ATM's. Personal radios/phones are ubiquitous, and material advances shield users from harmful EM transmissions. Biosensors also allow for cheap mine detection, CO gas detection, etc.

Computer advances paved the way for a material science boom. Room-temperature superconductors are commonplace, and high-temperature superconductors are on the horizon, as well as high-purity stainless steel, semi-conducting lasers. Glassteel ("transparent aluminum", if you prefer Trek-ese) is in widespread use. Many common objects are made of materials which "remember" their shapes but are highly malleable. Nanotechnology looks promising, but has not reached widespread use expect as a medical diagnostic tool.

Humans have discovered how to create controlled gravitational fields. Primarily, these are used to lessen the gravitational mass of objects as
part of "levithrust" drives. They're used for compacting trash, too, but that's beside the point. Fusion power plants power major cities in the
EU, China, and Japan.

Scientists in the EU, China and Japan has been working on a methods of transmitting information regardless of distances. (In 2000, scientists have learned that under certain conditions, the quantum state of one particle can change and affect another particle instantaneously.) But, they are beginning to suspect that the leap barrier is arbitrary and that a properly shielded suit would allow the wearer to co-exist in a past time period. If all goes well for them, time suits will permit historians and archaeologists the ultimate luxury.

However, a knowledgeable observer could affect the past, maybe avoid the imposition of the limitations on the throne…

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