As a cynic whoose outlook has been validated by events for over forty years, I predict:
In ten years, computers will be 128 times “Moore powerful.” However, Microsoft, now involved in world government (now simply called, “gummint”), has continued to develop, and use, higher and higher level languages to write the (only remaining legal) operating system in, and the operating system and its native applications are now 256 times larger and slower – so computers will do things for us as 1/2 the rate they do today.
Our mornings will still begin with waking up. Mornings will still suck, and you still won’t like them.
Today, your coffee can be brewed while you sleep. Tomorrow’s robokitchen won’t allow you to have coffee, because in doses roughly equivalant to pouring the Black Sea down their little throats, it causes cancer in laboratory mice (who now have been specially bred to have no immune system at all.)
Of course, you aren’t the only one who has to get going in the morning. Your spouse and kids will be taken care of, too. One morning you’ll get up, and find that your children have been permanently taken to a “re-education facility” because the “smart toilet” reported to the Federal government that they had marijuana in their system from the junior prom, the night before. Your spouse is presently at the lawyers, suing for divorce (in 2014, 3 out of 4 people in the world are now lawyers.)
Your spouse might telecommute – but for the lawyer, she has to be there in person. You won’t have to take the kids to school, because they’ve been taken away from you by the gummint. School based education and socialization – Cliquing 101, pre-teen sexual activity, learning to crib, mandatory studies of how God(tm) created the earth in 4000 B.C. and the gummint in 2008 A.D. – that’s all over for now. Your kids will be learning how to hack the universal credit machine at the mall from the other kids in gummint custody.
Although you have an advanced degree, you work at McDonalds because the gummint doesn’t like your attitude. So you drive to work. On your bicycle, because that’s all you can afford. You’ll arrive at work windblown and very sweaty. No one will want to venture very close to you. You won’t have to worry about car keys, because you (and 99% of the rest of the population, which is huge because the pope, now a cabinet level post in the gummint, has told everyone to have plenty of children, bless you, bless you) can’t afford a car.
Throughout the day, your non-removable wristband, a mandated citizen ID technology, will keep the gummint apprised of your wearabouts, alert to report any transaction upon which you fail to pay taxes, any jaywalking event, or use/consumption of banned substances such as coffee or pornography.
Recording your entire life will take a lot of storage, but the cost of gummint data storage will be entirely paid by your taxes, so that’s no problem. The images of your life will be beamed through the air to an archive that only the gummint can access. Step over the line just once, and you’ll automatically be tried, convicted and punished, all without the intervention of a human being.
Your McDonald’s sales kiosk will have a smart wall of its own, giving every worker a chemical and hormonal scan for banned substances. And no matter which chair you sit on anywhere, the chair will monitor your nervous system for anti-gummint reactions to gummint infomercials, which are projected in the air 22 hours a day from your gummint wristband. The chair is networked to the gummint, of course.
On the way home from work, you’ll stop to pick up a few things at the grocery store. No standing in line, though, to check out: you’ll just waltz out the front door, as the Radio Frequency ID chips in the products you’ve bought allow their highly inflated costs to be tallied and your account automatically debited. You won’t have enough credit left to pay for heating again next January. Your personality profile will be analyzed as you walk out the door to see if you’re buying products that have been forbidden to you. If you have, courteous and snappily dressed gummint representatives will escort you to a reunion with your children.
You might make dinner yourself, if you enjoy cooking. You can have fried prole outmeal, baked prole outmeal, or stewed prole oatmeal. But if not, your automated kitchen will again take care of everything, including reporting your precise consumption of prole dole to the gummint. And you’ll have a humanoid robot, too — the descendant of today’s dancing Honda Asimo — that will stand guard in your home and bedroom in case you were to do something illicit, like teach critical thinking to your children, or attempt sex in anything other than the missionary position, or masturbate, which has been illegal worldwide since the 2011 ascension of the Christian Right to Microsoft’s helm.
After dinner, you’ll watch personally tailored higher quality gummint informercials available instantly on your wall-screen TV for precisely two hours. Your wristband ceases to project holographic infomercials for these two hours. However, tonight your viewing is interrupted by the divorce service from your spouse, and the lawyer bill.
(Micropayments will work flawlessly: you’ll be debited for each infomercial you are exposed to throughout the day, no matter if you paid attention to them or not.)
Meanwhile, your kids will be off in gummint custody, enjoying fully immersive virtual reality re-education — who’d have thought homework could be such fun? Eventually, though, it’ll be time for them to get ready for bed. Sadistic prison guards will introduce them to long-term felons, and their education will really begin!
And, a little later, you’ll turn in for the night, as well. But perhaps just before you fall asleep, a thought will occur to you — something you just have to remember to do the next day. Oh yes – you’ll have to increase your personal debt load to pay the lawyer. No need to tell your wristband, though – it already knows, and you’ll have no option but to pay. So no heat in February, either.
So have I got it right? Only time will tell. Feel free to tell your wristband about it. Of course, if you do, you’ll be incarcerated for anti-gummint talk, so maybe you’d better just shut the hell up.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled infomercial.
Robert J Sawyer, Canadian Sci-Fi Author