IRC 2017 Time Capsule: What will our world be like in 2047?
1. What classic book do you think will be even more relevant?
Our two California partners, Jeff and Austin, say Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal, but we can’t tell if they’re joking or being cynical. Bracketed between Jack’s Das Kapital (by the fifth Marx Brother) and both of Ayn Rand’s brute-capitalism tomes, Atlas Shrugged (Michael) and Fountainhead (Tony), we have: Emma for the Harry Potter series; Trish for A Course in Miracles (by Schucford, et al.); Lord(s) of the Bible, of the Rings and of the Flies chosen respectively by Ryan (former two) and Kathy; Inferno (Tiffany); Slaughterhouse Five and Goodnight Moon (by Olev, who will bear watching closely hence); and Orwell’s 1984 and Hunger Games (from our own pair of Sunshine Boys, Mike and Brandon, respectively). Rob predicts E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful will grow in import, or we are in trouble.
2. Do you think we’ll have a cashless society?
We have 15 answers. Mike is trying to cause a tie with a “probably,” but 10 say ”Yes;” four Troglodytes say “No” for reasons of: nostalgia (Rob), cost (Michael) flexibility of cash (Ryan) and security (Tony). Tiffany, Brandon and Carine say we’re almost there now. Jeff wittily says he worries about the value of his coin collection. Futurists like Austin and Olev say respectively that we might be using an Amero (like the Euro) or Bitcoin for online transactions.
3. What will happen to the sharing economy?
Adriano establishes a moderate position that most people will “rent cars” in 2047. Others focus on cars and say either that utilization would increase (Emma, Brandon, Tiffany and Olev), improve (Ryan, Michael and Tony) or both increase and improve with driverless cars (Ryan, Carine, Austin, Mike and Jeff). Brandon is in this latter camp but riffs on the advent of mass rail transit; Jack says more families will live in fewer homes with more generations together and that cars, per se, would not be needed in society; Trish says that the sharing economy’s impact on so many areas of life would be very positive and in ways unimaginable! Tony thinks regulation may be the death of it all.
4. What will social media be like?
Nine respondents over the age of 35 say it’ll diminish or be gone, and “good riddance.” Tiffany, Austin, Jeff, Kathy, Olev and Rob think it’ll evolve to thrive with the key being reversibility, i.e., the ability to disconnect, retreat and delete. The former three are Californians and generally positive about the evolution; the latter three Midwesterners span an array of hope (Olev), wonder (Kathy) and resignation (Rob). Michael takes a wise (or confused) pass. Young intern-Jedi Ryan alone is voluble, saying, ”…we progress to equilibrium, and access continues to bring us together (in) understanding…as we continue to socially manicure ourselves, we could face some troubles, but I believe we’ll find our way through. [Social media] will play its part in showing us, across gaps of miles and cultures and separate difficulties, that we are all good people.”
5. Will there be hard copy newspapers?
Nine flat “No” responses. According to Brandon, “Unfortunately there will be very few reporters who collect hard news…We will have more commentators...who spout conjecture and speculation…the truth will be even harder to find…it is ugly now and will be worse in 2047 when the newspapers are gone.” Michael, Olev, Ryan, Austin and Jeff hold out hope for specialty versions that will be more expensive though less widely distributed. Two romantic answers: Mike says “newspaper” will be a candle scent; Tony predicts many folks will still want the tactile sensation of a live newspaper.
6. Will there still be a European Union?
All 16 respondents are confident of the EU’s survival in some form. Most agree with Brazilian partner, Adriano, that “it just makes sense.” Tony and Brandon are sure the current structure will have to be redone, but Ryan, Jack, Olev, Kathy, Rob, Jeff, Austin, Mike and Carine think the EU will strengthen naturally. Michael thinks growth prospects will be “enhanced” by pressures from Eastern Europe and the mass immigration that is so controversial today. Trish thinks the EU will expand outside the borders of Europe! Mike is concerned that Ryder Cup victories in golf will be hard to come by.
7. Will drones deliver everyday items?
We have 12 “Yes” answers differing only between certitude and certitude with rue. Ryan says “No” because we’ll reserve some jobs for people. Michael thinks liability and limited air space would combine to kill the possibilities a-borning. Jeff is either being optimistic or nihilistic when he says “most things will be controlled by a chip in your head.”
8. Will the Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions appear in a Super Bowl by 2047?
Brandon does “not believe in miracles.” Ryan says “God save the Queen.” Emma speaks for the profoundly apathetic majority when she says “Yes,” without elaboration; Jack for the cruel when he dryly says (prior to the playoffs), “Lions in 2017.” Trish wants what her friend and Lions fan, Michael, wants, though he himself is not optimistic in the limited time frame, nor is Mike for the Browns. Adriano does not call our game “football” so there is nothing “Super” about the Bowl; Carine favors NCAA basketball; Tony favors silence on the subject; Jeff thinks the topic will silence itself due to head injuries.
9. What will cell phones look like?
Apparently, in the very near future, this question will not make sense at all. No one thinks they will be called “phones.” They might be worn on our eye successfully (Emma), or as a failed experiment (Ryan, son of an optometrist). Tiffany, Carine, Michael, Austin and Trish think they will be worn in the ears; Rob on the wrist; Olev, Adriano, Kathy, Tony and Mike think they will be part of other devices, even clothing. Brandon says we will have a bee-killing environmental nightmare; Jack says we will have personal robots; Jeff says this will be (another) chip in his head.
10. Will we be drilling for oil or natural gas in Yellowstone?
Nine vehement “No’s;” three resigned “Yes’s;” and three sad “I hope nots.” Jeff points out that Mother Nature has the best weapons and will outlive us all: “Might as well try to stay on her good side while we are here.” Rob says 2047 will see 30% of Earth’s land and 10% of oceans set aside as natural reserves in order to give species a chance to repopulate and thrive. This will include swaths of the Congo Basis, Amazon basin, Sahara Desert, Central Australia, Rocky Mountains and Russian steppes, as well as all reefs, Mediterranean/Caribbean islands and the upland centers of Sweden and Norway.
11. What will the Dow Jones Average be?
Stop reading NOW, and get thee to a trading desk. This is actionable info. Only Adriano, Trish, Emma, Olev, Tiffany, Kathy and Carine do not know this answer. The rest of us confidently predict it will be exactly between 6,000 and 265,000, and the average of eight brilliant minds is 75,347.12. So that is what you should take to the bank. (Mic drop.)
12. Will paper books still be mass-produced?
The “mass-produced” qualifier kills off affirmative responses from all but our two most optimistic (or old-fashioned) readers, Texas Tony and Emma of Yellow Spring Farms. Ryan, Adriano, Michael, Olev, Austin, Rob and Trish hold out hope for special edition books and collector items to be published. Six of the “Nays” believe the future of only lighted pages is arriving as we speak.
13. Will elephants still exist in the wild?
The lessened production of books will, according to vote returns, help save habitats needed for elephants. Twelve say “Yes” in hope or angry certainty; Olev, Emma and Austin see either zoos or extinction on the horizon for our popular pachyderm pals.
14. Who will be president of the United States?
Only Mike takes his name out of contention; other respondents apparently still have hats in the ring. We’re forced by Emma to Google “Katya Zamolodchikova” but now think her chances, in character, are better than his, out of character. Rob says Malia Obama. Six respondents predict some form of Trump -- similar to the form of Trump now in the White House – and Trish abandons previous favorite, Michael, to throw her predictive weight to Ryan (probably because Michael predicts Miley Cyrus).
15. Will it be legal to manually drive your car?
Only Rob, Ryan and Brandon of the dozen “Yes” predictors think driving will be an elite luxury. Adriano of Brazil says a flat “No,” while Michael and Jack risk their American citizenship to agree. Mike wonders how one would get to a golf course in the hinterlands with Uber, and whether a ‘driverless’ car, would be restricted to 13 clubs?” (Golf joke.)
16. Name the industry that will employ the most people?
Out of 17 answers from 14 respondents, only technology, health care and tourism garner two votes. Olev, our best musician, declines to respond, probably because music is a way of life—not just a way to make a living.
17. Will the state of California still exist?
Most predictions are enthusiastic and positive. Only Emma and one of our California residents (Tiffany) say “No.” Kathy, Brandon, Mike and Rob are gauche enough to mention that pieces might be missing due to earthquakes or political “undermining.” (Political joke)
18. What will be our primary means of communication?
Mike thinks we will be using paper cups and strings in 2047, while Rob predicts a comeback for cursive writing and the advent of telepathy. Tony mischievously suggests people will talk face-to-face. Intern-Jedi Ryan says, “We are trying to talk to other solar systems already. On Earth it doesn’t get much better than a three-second delay to the other side of the planet.” Rob sighs and says, “Listening to Ryan is like knowing Luke Skywalker as a lad on Tatooine.”
19. How many people will live on Earth?
Mike, Trish, Olev, Tiffany and Kathy must have been fun in math class. They answer every numerical inquiry with “lots,” “many,” or “too many.” Pythagoras dies anew with their every response. The right answer according to the average of the 10 respondents who aren’t drinking during the test is 11,499,344,444. Rob and Brandon think that all but 500 million of the 11.5 billion will live in the world’s largest 650 metropolitan areas.
20. What one thing will change that no one but you has thought of?
According to Austin, we’ll be eating “insects and algae.” Rob asks, “Will we be frogs?" Thanks to Jack, Trish and Brandon, we know we’ll be humanoids networked in communes and every bathroom will have a bidet. Mike says, “That is no way for frogs to live!”
21. What will be the reputation of the Millennial generation in mid-career?
Today’s 20-year-olds will be creative at work-life balance, hard to fool, less materialistic and innovative with solutions to overpopulation, pollution, resource scarcity and inequality of opportunity. They will be “happy, relaxed and networked,” says Jack. “Happier and more peaceful,” says Adriano. Some Gen-X respondents predict Millennials will drive up the price of good wines, be unable to focus, act entitled, be confused or wish to receive in their 50’s awards for participation. No “Teammate” trophies for those voters.
22. What will be the reputation of Gen X-ers (b. 1965-1980) as they retire?
Well, some in this group will be retiring at age 82. Apparently, they’ll be worried, tired, frightened and frustrated. On the up side, they’ll likely be heroic, hardworking, connected, creative and wealthy. They also know the next two generations will have it even tougher than they did.
23. What is the best thing you expect to happen to you?
Life, luck, age, grace, kids, cats, dogs, work, hikes, grandkids, globalism—everything has been going fine until Emma mentions “witchcraft.” Then we get Olev going wistful, Trish swearing like a sailor and Michael in a fever-dream about impossible World Series outcomes for the Tigers. Adriano says there will be “more humanity coming from humans.” Good plan!
24. How many states will there be in the U.S. (which ones new or dropped?)
Fifty-one. Puerto Rican statehood is just around the corner, according to the Magnificent Seven: Ryan (Horst Bucholz, the kid), Michael (James Coburn), Tony (Charles Bronson), Brandon (Eli Wallach), Rob (Robert Vaughan), Jeff (Steve McQueen) and Jack (Yul Brynner). Brandon says he knows Eli Wallach was not one of the “Seven,” but no one knows the actor Brad Dexter. Trish, Olev, Mike, Tiffany and Kathy say “lots,” “many” or “too many.” Archimedes weeps over the grave of Pythagoras.
25. What professional sport will be most popular, and why?
Five people say soccer, but not Adriano who hails from Brazil, presumably because Brazilians do not say “soccer.” Five people abstain, presumably because they don’t wish to openly agree with Tiffany, who says, “Hunger Games.” The hopeless romantics like Carine and Mike say basketball; the merely hopeless, like Michael, say baseball.
26. Will the in-home television, as a separate instrument, still exist anywhere?
Whoa! Behold the biggest surprise of the survey: “Yes” wins 11-4 over “No” and “only in museums.” And no, Ryan, we don’t need your prediction about couches.
27. Will there be Ivy-League caliber degrees available online? What will the cost be?
Ten idealistic respondents follow Trish over the cliff and say “Yes,” and at prices ranging from free to $1 million. Olev and Michael say “No” with long asides on the importance of the campus experience. Jack says yes to the “free” but no to “Ivy caliber.”
28. What year of life will be the consensus age for beginning “old age?”
This is as scientific as we can get: Answers range from 56 to 100. The mode is 70, the median is 76 and the mean is 78.133. Mike, Trish, Olev, Tiffany and Kathy say “lots,” “many” or “too many.” Descartes helps Archimedes dig up the casket of Pythagoras so he can turn over in his grave.
29. Will the U.S. have a single-payer system for pre-retirement Medical care?
Ten people answer “Yes” along a wide spectrum of certitude, three abstain by silence or a confession of confusion and three say “No.”
30. Will there be a guaranteed annual wage, in whole or in part intended to compensate for the disappearance of manufacturing jobs?
Carine, Ryan, Austin, Jeff, Mike, Michael, Adriano and Tony say “No.” Emma, Brandon and Olev hope the answer is “Yes.” Jack goes virtual with “No wages at all;” Trish goes hardcore Marxist-Flower Child, using “common,” “community” and “communal” in a single sentence; Rob starts lecturing to the world in the affirmative from an empty conference room and hasn’t finished by press time.