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THE WORLD OF 2060

A post-political world under cyber capitals
THE WORLD OF 2060
Contributors (1)
HW
Published
Oct 28, 2019

THE WORLD OF 2060

PRESENTATION

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION

Sci-fi movie: The Matrix, Ready Player One, Harmony

Architecture: The Walking City, Seasteading Institution

Book: Digital Nomad

Place making: Black Rock City for Burning man

WORLD BIBLE

INTRODUCTION

The world of 2060 is established upon the ubiquity of digital work which disregards the relevance of location to work, full automations in all parts of material supply, autonomous transportation system across different scales, and the dominancy of cyber capitals in economy and regulations of a post-political world. While cyberspace is constructed for work, education, social life, and entertainments, the physical world of our civilization consists of two parts: consumption paradises where one can find attractive resources of leisure activities to consume; places of backings where production, assembling, and shipping of materials are operated with robotic labor forces. The economic divide between people performing vital and side characters in cyber capitals results in a dichotomy with two societies practicing different lifestyles and living in different territories.

1.1 The Virtual World of Cyberspace

Cyberspace is a virtual environment which constantly evolve with data inputs co-created by people from all over the world and assistances of artificial intelligences. Cyberspace offers virtual commend nodes and trading platforms for a variety of economic developments across the world; it also provides communication platforms ranging from private channels to virtual courts and public forums which digitalize most human activities in education, jurisdictions, and social life.

Thanks to the completion of broadband satellite network [1], people can access to cyberspace at anywhere from their portals [2]. Most of the (recorded) population in the world dedicate a certain amount of time of their daily life to the cyberspace for work their work, social interactions, and entertainments.

[1] Broadband satellite network: a set of satellites providing signals for high-speed internet access that covers every corner of earth.

[2] Portals: personal or shared hardware devices that allows people to access cyberspace. It used to be called ‘computer’ in previous eras. As cyberspace becomes an indispensable part of people’s life, these devices are generally called portals with implications of a passage between virtual and material world. Most portals are wearable as eye shields that translate cyberspace into virtual realities. Some are implanted inside human bodies with instant connections to brains. There are also screen-based ones such as laptops and tablets which are considered outdated and can be found in markets of exotic goods.

1.2 Automated Material Supply

With advanced robotic technologies, artificial intelligence, and virtual command nodes in cyberspace, full automation is achieved in production, assemblage, and transportation of food, industrial products, and pre-fabricated building components. Human laboring in these industries consists of digital work in designing products and optimizing methods of production. Sometimes human labors also involve in the process of managing material flows through command nodes. Material supply for various human activities are conducted through an automated mechanism of ordering, processing, producing, assembling, and delivering.

2.1 Cyber Capitals in the Post-Political World

Cyber capitals are the dominant powers in economics and regulation of human activities and their developments directly cause the collapse of geo-based political orders which used to rule the world. They emerge from a variety of online businesses and gradually acquire vitality in certain aspects of human activities through managing economic flows and, in some cases, through monopoly.

By 2050s, many of them became rule makers in productions and services of their fields. They produce trans-territorial economic flows and pervasive digital currencies [1] which were hard to regulate by involved nation states; their participants are from the different parts of the world and are technically under different taxation systems. This placeless nature of cyber capitals and their growths directly challenged the economic and jurisdictional domains of nation states and other regional political powers. In the progress of industrial automations, cyber capitals increasingly intervened in ruling the material world by constructing automated production sites and transportation infrastructures and eventually overwhelm nation states in economy and jurisdiction. In 2060s, the geo-based political orders lose their grounds in controlling population or human activities. Countries and cities only exist in names and their relevance is no more than labeling different places.

[1] Digital currency: forms of money that circulate in the cyberspace and can smoothly translate into buying powers for both virtual and material goods.

2.2 Shared Assets

A significant impact of virtual capitals on the socio-economic rules of the world is the ubiquity of sharing physical assets through credits and digital currencies. Built upon early concepts of shared economy such as Airbnb, Uber, and co-working spaces of the 2010s and the shared autonomous mobility of the 2020s, cyber capitals gradually transform the meaning of ownership in practices of economy by allowing people to access nearly all the necessities of their life, ranging from housings to sunglasses, through shared asset businesses and virtual sharing platforms for deals between individuals. During the conflicts between cyber capitals and nation states, the promotion of shared assets by cyber capitals allow people to travel lightly [1]. People with sufficient buying power in the digital economy are encouraged to become ‘homeless’ and ‘propertyless’ in the physical realm in order to avoid responsibilities of managing properties or undertaking devaluations of properties under the unstable global market. Many economists argue that the ubiquity of shared asset offers tremendous advantages for cyber capitals to stand against nation states in regulating economic activities, which contributes to the victory of cyber capitals in the ruling the world.

[1] Travel lightly: a pervasive concept of travel in which a person can travel with nothing more than a portal and are able to access to accommodations, mobility, furniture, entertaining facilities, and even personal outfits through shared asset businesses and virtual sharing platforms.

2.3 Placeless Populations

The development of digital work, automated material supply, and shared assets enable people to work and live at anywhere and on flexible schedules of their convenience as long as they are connected to cyberspace. On the other hand, advanced technologies in transportation such as autonomous vehicles, hyperloop networks [1], and passenger aircrafts [2] enable people to travel conveniently at different scales and different speeds. The late 20th- Century notion of digital nomadism [3] is pushed to an extreme. As national borders vanish in the post-political scenario, the only elements that determine whether a person would travel to and stay in a place are the personal desires of material life and the financial condition of the person.

[1] Hyperloop network: a mode of passenger and freight transportation that consists of pods running within sealed systems of tubes. Without the impact of air resistance, the pods can travel at speeds higher than 1000 km/h. Between 2020 and 2050, this transportation system was developed at different scales and gradually forged a global network for high-speed travel and material supply.

[2] Passenger aircraft: in addition to the traditional mode of mass-transit provided by large passenger airplanes, a variety of other passenger aircrafts evolve at different scales: passenger drones and jetpacks allow flexible personal travels at short-range distances; airships return with reinforced safety and serve for live-in-air experiences with luxury cabins and entertaining facilities on board.

[3] Digital nomadism: a nomadic form of live, work, and organizing backed by telecommunication and personal mobility. It originated as a late 20th Century concept of knowledge workers traveling through customized airlines and utilizing cellphone to work remotely; the developments of wireless internet in the early 21st Century gave rise to digital nomadism with a common image of young people working on laptops in resort settings.

3.1 Consumption Paradises

Given the placeless conditions of most human activities under cyberspace and cross-regional material supply, the relevance of specific places to people is limited to materialized consumptions of tourism and cultural experience. Places with sufficient resources of such are categorized as consumption paradises where people with affordability to consume circulate and enjoy their offline moments of sightseeing, party, and outdoor sports. From the profit-driven perspective of a cyber capital, consumption paradises are the primary territories of human presence and the major targets to invest for leisure economies in the physical realm.

Fixed consumption paradises are often located at historical human settlements of pre-digital eras such as Medieval towns and previous metropolitans in Europe, Imperial cities in Asia, and heritage sites in Africa where buildings and cityscapes of certain cultures are well preserved with interactive AR programs installed for touring. The eternity of these paradises and strong economic opportunities brought by consumptions offer them opportunity to gain a certain range of autonomy [1] against cyber capitals.

In addition, there are often temporary paradises organized by cyber capitals at places with attractive landscapes such as scenic beaches in Florida, tropical forests in Latin America, and snowy mountains in Tibet where consumptions of scenic views, extreme sports, and sport games are permitted at their best times of a year. During their peak seasons, portable infrastructural systems [2] are shipped through autonomous transportation systems from their nearest production sites and are assembled on sites and are followed by temporary facilities to transform the places into an instant built environment. When the off seasons [3] come, facilities are disassembled and shipped to the next temporary paradises or recycled for other productions.

All of the consumption paradises and designated sites of temporary paradises are interconnected through a global transportation system which guarantees their accessibilities to both visitors and material supplies throughout the world. In addition, cyber capitals actively seek opportunities to maximize consumption in by creating new forms of paradises out of placeless conditions. A common way used by capitals of mobility business is to convert transportations into mobile paradises. While hyperloops maximize the efficiency of ground transportation, some capitals still maintain their passenger trains at lower speeds in order to encourage on-board consumptions of luxury services, goods, foods, drinks, and parties while allowing passengers to enjoy views along their journeys. Low-speed mass-transportations such as touristy airships and cruises also operate as mobile paradises running between other geo-based paradises. Proposals of floating and movable settlements from earlier eras such as the Walking City by Archigrams and Seasteading floating city are revisited by cyber capitals and are adapted into floating paradises [3] and are built by automated construction industries.

[1] Autonomy: some popular paradises are able to retain part of their governments and rules in their places, although they still collaborate with cyber capitals for material supply and organizing some types of public events.

[2] Portable infrastructural system: composes of pre-fabricated components that can be shipped and assembled on site to build an instant framework of power supply, waste disposal, and circulation networks for human activities. It serves as a basis for an instant built environment with temporary buildings, shelters, and event facilities installed onto the framework.

[3] Off season: the time of a year when a place is unattractive for temporary consumption paradises or other human activities. For example, East Africa holds temporary paradises during wild migration seasons for visitors to observe magnificent scenes of animals moving across the wildernesses. During off seasons, the wildernesses has insufficient opportunities for consumption paradises to occur.

[4] Floating paradise: a modular megastructure that operates in oceans with self-navigating systems. It can operate individually, dock at coastal paradises along its routes, and can connect to other floating paradises to shape a collective and freeform settlement. It incorporates facilities for accommodation, public events, and entertainment. Floating paradises largely rely on architectural experiences of the megastructures to attract people and their competitiveness is within wisdoms of design and manufacturing.

3.2 Places of Backings

While consumption paradises are categorized by cyber capitals as the territory of human presence, their counterparts are the places of backings which are utilized by capitals for non-human activities. These places often involve harsh climates, environmental pollutions, and physically unattractive landscapes which lead to undesirable conditions for living or organizing events. Places for temporary consumption paradises to occur may also be converted into places of backings during their off seasons.

The ‘backings’ indicate material supplies for human civilizations to sustain, which is reflected in production sites and warehouses for food, energy, civil products, and pre-fab manufactories for constructions of architecture and infrastructures. All of the sites are connected to each other and to consumption paradises through autonomous air and ground freight systems of for material processing, assemblages, and delivery. The operations of these facilities are fully automated with robotic labor forces and AI-assisted systems of control. Any commands for changes can be sent online and processed by robots.

As demands of material supply varies according to latest trends of material consumption on individual levels and in paradises, cyber capitals constantly build new production lines and associated facilities which make the places of backings to infinitely expand. This ceaseless upgrade results in a lot of abandoned sites with facilities that cyber capitals find unprofitable to recycle or to reuse. Although capitals claim their mechanisms of material supply to be environment-friendly with clean energy sources and relatively few impacts to the air, water, and soil comparing to the technologies of previous eras, environmentalists still protest against the expansion of the place of backings all over the world as it disrupts the diversity of ecosystems by ceaselessly converting nature into built environments. Although cyber capitals set a considerable range of space around consumption paradise sites as nature reserves for the best experience of living and consumption, it is hard to reconcile the environment-material supply conflicts consumption paradises, places of backings, and the remaining nature.

4.1 Nomads

With dominant positions in cyber capitals, people in the upper class acquire financial advances and privileges to optimize their work-live balances. Under a placeless condition of live, these people tend to fulfill their material life by living nomadically and travelling between consumption paradises for fresh living experiences. Many of the privileged nomads spend their traffic time to manage their works through their portals. Once they are arrived at the harbors/ airports/ train stations/ or highway exits of their designations, they fully dive into their temporal homes and enjoy touring, sports, parties, exhibitions, and cultural festivals. After consumptions of the places, they are picked up by local transportations they booked and are dropped off at their resorts or shared homes to end the day. They may stay at a place for a flexible range of time from one night to several months depending on their schedules of work and affordability for local consumptions.

There are also old-school nomads who are interested in the pre-digital notion of ‘private home’ and exotic lifestyles of living in recreational vehicles practiced by American hippies in the 20th Century. They often live in transportable living pods [1] which are probably the biggest assets circulating in market that can be made completely personal. By having private accommodations to travel with, they manifest their lifestyles as extensions of the ‘golden age with private realms’.

[1] Transportable living pod: contains a self-sustainable domestic environment with beds, a bathroom, and sometimes a kitchen that operate upon built-in power supply and energy converting mechanism. It functions as an accommodation both when positioned on site and when in transportation. They are often carried along with their inhabitants by autonomous trucks, aircrafts, cargo trains, and hyperloops in between consumption paradises. Most consumption paradises offer plug-in sites for living pods which provide amenities for nomads during their stays.

4.2 Parasites

Although the placeless condition of people in the global society reconciles racial and geographical segregations to a great extent, social divides persist in economic powers which lead to differentiations in accessing social and material resources. As the counterpart of the upper-class nomads, lower class people whose positions in cyber capitals are insignificant are self-mocked as parasites. They generally cannot afford to travel or to live in consumption paradises and have to rely on unregulated material resources beyond those provided by cyber capitals.

Most of the parasites live in anarchic slums among places of backings where they can build their boxes [1] in spaces between production sites, under hyperloop tubes, and on the abandoned production facilities. As cyber capitals manage places of backings loosly through fully automated systems in material supply, slums are neglected from registry of housings and are free from networked jurisdictions. These slums bring back the pre-digital notion of local communities in which parasites organize and fund their local grey powers [2]. As economic activities in slums are mostly disconnected from the economic networks of virtual capitals, transactions have to be made either by personal transferring of digital currencies, or through establishing local mediums of exchanges such as illegal drugs and services.

[1] Box: metal and plastic structures built out of discarded shipping containers or industrial wastes and are used as accommodations.

[2] Grey power: self-organized groups in charge of governance, material supply, and community security of slums. While most of them are not recognized or legislated by the ruling classes of cyber capitals, they establish some degree of rules and informal laws to regulate their associated slums. Grey powers often consist people with extraordinary hacking skills and leaderships. Although the autonomous freight systems are highly encrypted and are hard to be hacked in, grey powers can hack in the supervisory systems of adjacent production sites and ‘harvest’ foods and basic industrial products for local slums to consume. They then organize black markets to distribute basic goods. Some grey powers also possess ambiguous relationships to cyber capitals and can sometimes acquire restricted medical products to sell in black markets at extra costs.

4.2-1 Virtual Utopia

With insufficient incomes for travel, limited material supply, and miserable living environments in slums surrounded by infinite spreading of machines, the parasites are drawn to spend most of their waking time to explore cyberspace for working, job-seeking, and entertainments. Their collective dedications in virtual life and perhaps interventions of their grey powers in virtual world buildings result in an intricate and seemingly unregulated virtual utopia. In this virtual world one can find diverse games, fantasies, art works, and even virtual replications of consumption paradises. To manifest the culture of parasites and protest against the consumption-based world ruled by cyber capitals, most part of the virtual utopia are accessible for free with proofs of parasite identity. This intriguing world sometimes also draws attentions of upper-class people and challenges their ideology on consumption. In addition, some cyber capitals struggle to utilize virtual utopia as a new consumption market for profits. Some parasites take this opportunity to work for cyber capitals and join the nomadic society of the upper class, others reject capital interventions and conduct cyber wars to protect the virtual utopia with anti-consumption ideals. On the other hand, the dedication of building deep web constantly intensifies the lack of attention that paradises paid to the physical realm, which in turn deteriorates the living environment of slums.

  1. A History of the Digital Era

1990s

Work: digital work emerges under preliminary forms of telecommunications

Lifestyle: mostly home-office routines; digital nomadism is introduced under advanced personal mobility which allows knowledge workers travel and relocate their homes while working remotely

2010s

Economy: following deindustrialization, service and consumption economy rises in the developed world

Work: the rise of service economy, pervasive personal computers and wireless internet further expand the territory of digital work

Lifestyle: all-round digital interventions with services such as online social networking, video games, and platforms for shared assets. Digital nomadism is advertised with a common image of ‘traveling, working, and living in different resorts over a year’

2020s

Economy: Production, assemblage, and transportation of are automated under robotic technology which crashes labor-concentrated economies of the developing world and pushes developing countries to develop consumption-based economy.

Work: Automations in various industries further expand the range of digital work. While digital nomads continue to emerge among freelancers and entrepreneurs, large corporations and institutions start to compete for workforce by offering long working vacations which allow their digital workers to enjoy travel and establish flexible schedules for their projects when working offsite.

Lifestyle: digital nomadism is normalized and give birth to productive tourism. Digital services such as AR-added language translation apps and cryptocurrencies are also developed to facilitate cross-border movements of population.

Politics: In response to the consumption-based economy, Governments in East Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America launch a variety of visa programs, temporary forms of citizenship, and tax benefits targeting digital nomads. As digital nomads quit housing mortgages of large cities and live nomadically at affordable Airbnb homes at touristy sites, the once-predominant concepts of citizenship, residency, and home shaped by national borders and geographical places are challenged among new generations.

2050s

Economy: assisted by fully automated production, cyber economic powers emerge from a variety of online businesses and gradually transform into cyber capitals which acquire vitality through managing economic flows across the globe. Under the dominancy of virtual capitals and advanced transportation systems for material supply, most economic activities are free from geographical restrictions.

Work: cyberspace becomes the core of economic and social life where work is redefined as actions of 1) designing methods for productions, 2) managing material and information flows, 3) serving other people in education, consulting, trading, and entertainment.

Lifestyle: while people spend their time in cyberspace for work, social life, education, and entertainments through their digital portals, material supply for individual needs are handled through the automated systems of production, assemblage, and delivery upon order and regardless of their location. Life in the physical realm is limited to consumption which depends on their affordability. Upper-class people tend to practice digital nomadism between leisure spots to maximize the fulfillments of their material life. Those without enough buying power have to stay in places with low costs of life.

Politics: Given a placeless condition of human activities, geo-based nation states lose their vitality in politics and economy against virtual capitals. A post-political world is under construction where virtual capitals establish new orders to regulate the global society.

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