Monday, April 12, 2010

Cyberpunk Part 3

So what will the year 2032 look like? Base on the prior themes and the present, here is what I feel that the Cyberpunk Gameworld of 2032 would look like:

- Fall of nations: Just as the Soviet Union fell, our current democratic alliances will fall as well. The US has been subject to leftist ideals for a very long time and the radicalization of the educational institutions will create ever more left thinking youth. In the new Socialist United States, the United States, Canada could join the European Union and collectively establish socialized education, healthcare and heavily regulated commercial companies. The bureaucracy will slow innovation and amplify social crimes (smoking, speeding, child abuse, etc). The threat of terrorism (from libertarians and religious extremists) will increase domestic surveillance and limit personal civil rights.

- Rise of nations: China and India will collectively become the new economic force of the world. As new superpowers the will push the world in new directions. China will continue to be communist with a nationalistic approach similar to the foreign policy of the United States in the 1980s. China will become the world manufacturing leader and establish a low-middle class of blue collar workers. China will approach growth very strategically and manage their population through wage and education to ensure they retain a proper balance in the career diversity of the workforce.

India on the other hand will be much more "American". India will repatriate all the people who left India in the 90s to work as technologists in the United States and the mixture will add to India's already diverse population. India will struggle with radical terrorists and China's aggressive military and commercial threats (military and industrial espionage).

- Terrorism: China as a world power and the United States no longer acting in a "world police" role will increase the number of dictatorships and other oppressive governments. Much of the world will become increasingly more lawless as small armed groups fight for control. New terrorists, guerrilla groups, pirates, gangs and criminal organizations will spring up all over the world and commit overt and covert war on all opposition.

- Technology: Two technologies will be pervasive in 2032. Personal communications and surveillance. Personal communications devices will evolve into a pervasive mesh of sensors, peripherals, networks and processors in and on everything possible. Clothing, jewelry, appliances, vehicles and almost anything else a person comes into contact with will be networked and personalized to each user. Everything will be connected to a internet-like network of almost infinite information. Consumers will drive this technology via purchases of the latest gadgets or applications for their latest gadgets. Wearable computer interfaces will be integrated into everyday items and augmented reality (also known as "terminator vision") will be as common as today's smartphone applications.

Surveillance: China's stance as world leader of manufacturing coupled with their totalitarian ideology will create a golden age of pervasive surveillance. Every person in a lawful country will have their every move tracked and analyzed. Unmanned Arial Vehicles will patrol the skies as unmanned vehicles patrol the streets, and public places of the world. Video surveillance and facial recognition will not only track individuals but their moods, intentions, what is said to others and networks of associates. Vast networks owned by intelligence agencies will monitor and analyze data automatically.

-Punk: Why so glum? We knew the future would suck. But people will always rebel and fight authority. There are cracks in the system and the new hackers know how to exploit them. In 2032, Chinese hubris will allow them to insist there are no security vulnerabilities in their systems when the Chinese government itself is responsible for installing intentional back doors and vulnerabilities in the first place. The governments of the future will have no choice but to implement the flawed technologies because of the Chinese monopoly on technology. Underground cultures will rise up and systematically rebel in any way possible. The locks are only there to keep honest people honest...

How does this all tie together? What might the possible characters in this game world be like? More on that later...


  1. You forgot the robots.
    Imagine an America 20 years from now when the hottest political issue is not immigration or taxation, or even foreign policy, but regulation of robotic labor. Robots that were learning to walk and drive in our time become a growing percentage of America's future unskilled labor. Just as U-Scan and ATM machines displace service industry jobs in our time, not to mention the manufacturing jobs of yesteryear, the America of 2030 watches as businesses begin investing extensively in robotic labor for traditionally human service jobs such as landscaping, short order cooking, and long haul truck driving. Robots don't take coffee breaks, don't require maternity leave, and never, ever back talk the paying customer no matter how offensive the language or gesture. Robots work 20+ hour days (depending on maintenance needs), holidays, and weekends but are never late, never call in sick, and never strike for better compensation. Robots can be upgraded in a day, never requiring job retraining or continuing education, and can be replaced at will. Furthermore since Robots can easily work 3 shifts a day, they not only displace 3 times their number of humans in most areas of the service sector but also fund social security with 3 times the dollars any one human would (via the Robot Labor Act of 2025) without ever drawing SS money for disability or retirement. This means there is growing population of unemployable humans now depend upon social programs for their livelihood. Remember also that a robot laborer can't be bribed, doesn't feel fear or pain and is a perfectly unbiased witness to any crime. And as the robot becomes viewed as either a slave or a job stealer, people with robotic enhancements will begin to be viewed similarly. Those with cyber limbs will keep that knowledge to themselves lest they find themselves lynched along side the robot waitresses from the Asimov Cafe. Maybe this isn't cyberpunk after all. Perhaps Robotpunk?

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. Cyberpunk is such a fertile topic!

    Considered robots, I think they are Sci-Fi cannon but I can't see robots as a big part of the next 20 years. I could be wrong, but I don't see it.

    Current robotics take the form of industrial machinery. The current mine accident in West Virginia brought up the question of robotics in mining. The problem is that machines break down, and a broken machine 5 miles underground is a problem. Even NASA put a robot on Mars but lacked the technology to prevent it from getting stuck. Imagine the robot gardener getting stuck in the petunias? Even with a ton of decent AI, it would still be tricky to have a "robot" more than a Roomba.

    Automation is a different story. Store clerks, fast food workers and even many levels education could be replaced with software and technology. Far from cutting edge, in 20 years the idea of a person cooking fast food would be as laughable as a milkman (as well as mailman, or daily paper).

    I also wanted to call into question the other areas of Cyberpunk for a more realistic interpretation of the genre. Our current technology is far more inclined to biological reconstruction and re-growth than robotic or cybernetic means. Future wounded soldiers will benefit from stem cells to repair nerves and lab-grown tissues. It is far more likely that a doctor in 20 years would use a lab-grown arm, leg or heart rather than a mechanical prosthetic.

    Cybernetics is cannon as well, but I think that robotics is generally as realistic as moon apartments.

    Thank you for the comments!


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