January 18, 2013

Horse 1429 - 200 Years Hence

It is with much understatement that I say that the world will be very different in 2213. The world of 200 years hence will more than likely be a nastier, more unpleasant and more uncomfortable place to live, save for the upper 14% of the richest population of the world. Yet it is frightfully easy to suggest the overall trend and reason as to how and why it will get there, even if it is impossible to say what the world of 2213 is physically going to look like.

One of the biggest trends of the past 500 years has been the elimination of costs associated with labour. How can we either make things more efficiently per unit and not pay wages, or how can we find new sources of outright cheaper labour? This more or less single handedly explains the rise of Holland and the windmill, steam power in the industrial revolution, the dawning of the electric age in the late 1800s, the rise and eventual fall of the slave trade, and more recently the rise of China in particular and South East Asia as a manufacturing powerhouse in the late 1900s to date.
With this in mind, the 2000s and 2100s are pretty easy to work out.

On the labour front, as incomes rise across South East Asia, labour will become comparatively less competitive. At the same time, as happened in Europe during the 1800s and 1900s, rents will begin to rise, thus driving labour to demand higher wages simply in order to keep a roof over their heads.
Manufacturers will begin to look to Africa and South America as the newest and cheapest source of labour.
I think I'm pretty safe when I suggest that from 2050, Africa will begin to emerge as the new economic powerhouse, whilst wages across North America, Europe and Asia (Australia included) are eroded. I think we can expect to see a new wave of slums appearing in urban areas across the old world but this time around, without any religious fervour to see people's lives improved, the monied classes will turn inwards and ignore the great poor mass. I think that we will also see a return to the attitude that poor people deserve to be in a pitiful state. I'm pretty sure that this process is already underway.
The late 2000s and most of the 2100s will see the process repeated across Africa and South America as labour is first employed then discarded.

2213 then will be a place where labour across the world has probably reached the state of maximum interchangeability and thus the rather appropriately named concept of "commodity hell". At the same time, another 200 years of unbridled industry, environmental destruction and exceptionally scarce resources will mean that the planet itself will be beyond a nice, comfortable state to live in.
I can imagine mass epidemics of flu taking out large numbers of people and unscrupulous knaves releasing things like polio back into society.
It is fitting that 1969 will remain mankind's year of greatest achievement, with Concorde, the Jumbo and a bloke kicking the moon but I seriously don't think that anyone will ever go back, a Mars trip will never happen and in 2213, even air travel itself will be more than likely a thing of the past.

I still don't think that God will have called "time" by 2213. I would wager that the world needs to get considerably more uncomfortable for that to happen.
Even if you don't believe in the existence of God, you and I and everyone you know will have long since shuffled off this mortal coil but the people of 2213 will not look on us favourably. The rich will be too concerned about eking out their own happiness on the degraded planet and the vast numbers of poor people which will exist will be too sick, stupid and illiterate to know that we even ever existed.

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