Saturday, 29 December 2007

2050: Age of the Silverback

The year is 2050.
Climate change has been acknowledged as a way of life around the world. What differentiates the two broad demographics dominating the planet are their degree of understanding.
Peak oil has passed and the race is on to move the production of essential chemicals to new sources.
The influence of regions which based their clout on the supply of oil and not much else has waned significantly, with considerable impact on global politics. A goal that could have been achieved far earlier has been reached by necessity.
The West as a label describing certain nations bound by their common history has given way to industrialised and under-industrialised regions. The former are able to employ ever more sophisticated methods of determining their status, while the rest function in an ad hoc fashion constrained by their ideological dependencies.
Electronic surveillance, gene technology, and computing power surpassing the historical limits of hardware make it possible to combine their respective potential to create the massively interdependent state.
Privacy has been substituted by meta-data encompassing lateral as well as longitudinal storage of personal information. From movements in terms of geographical locations to multi-level profiling in terms of behaviour patterns at any scale, humanity in the industrialised zones resides in a comprehensive storage of ever increasing complexity.
What prevents the data logs from becoming the authoritarian instruments of old are the lack of resources combined with the evaluation of efficiency quotients down to the minutest detail that are applied to the system of governance.
Derived from the concept of environmental footprints when climate change began to influence the agenda, governments adjust themselves in accordance with dynamic ledgers that feature the current effect of a measure against its ultimate efficacy - feeding back into the overall evaluation of society through its collected data.
Behaviour - whether on a personal or societal level - is no longer subject to ideological boundaries but has become a parameter in a formula that contains the algorithmic calibration of sustainability. These changes are not so much the result of wiser minds; they have been brought about by continually biting shortages of resources available to the administrative processes. Resource-wasting moral guardians are now enemies of the state; they have been replaced by data-mining technocrats.
The profiling of individuals, groups, and demographics consists of a multi-faceted evaluation from genetic to environmental factors and assesses the degree to which the respective elements interact with their system. Any freedoms or constraints in that regard are a function of the role they are able to play within their stratum. The feedback process of sustainability accreditation layers these roles with respect to the system overall. Data-mining provides the parameters, and efficacy measurements establish the boundaries.
Artificial mind simulations of increasing scope are used to play through societal scenarios via functional dynamics, their hypothetical content a substitute for the real world. Such modeling enables the analysis of demographic states on a continuous basis, updated and fine-tuned by synchronising the effects in one sphere with those in the other.
Within the under-industrialised regions the effects of the general resource shift are also felt, but the response lacks the depth only a sophisticated information flow can allow. The resultant pressure is uncoordinated and in tandem with the specific ideologies in force at the local level.
Migration surges occur at regular intervals, but are not permitted to spill into higher-level neighbours. Instead they contribute to changing population patterns inside those zones which could be analysed and responded to positively if only the means to do so existed. The availability of food and energy resources is at the constant whim of random power plays acted out on the basis of religious and political perceptions. What decides a region's membership in one or the other type of zone is its ability to ramp up to the necessities of the times. Sometimes the historical boundaries of nations will have been redistributed to better reflect the nature of their demographics.
Dissolution here and there within the industrialised bloc leads to the formation of niches, which are either made use of or pushed further and further to the edge of their host - on a geographical as well as a cultural level.
The boundaries and differences between demographics are in the end determined by the results of high-to-low and low-to-high conceptual intersections, that is the transposition of conceptualisations from high-complexity regions to lower ones and vice versa. As such the outcomes represent a natural selection process that always had been in operation but has now become more accentuated due to the restrictions prompted by economic contingencies.
The same goes for non-human organisms. The survival of species becomes a matter of their attractiveness to local perceptions, translated into economic utility. Some manage to maintain themselves within their respective eco-systems, some find respite through their usefulness, and others are restricted to special enclaves or computer simulations.
Aid programmes, channelled towards dirigiste governments by the former developed world, have been reduced to narrowly defined policies under the umbrella of sustainable efficiency determined by their source. While the ruling hierarchies at the receiving end are no longer kept artificially alive by such transfers, neither are their dependent masses. Survivability or otherwise has reverted back to the local potential and no other.
Success for the individual means being able to negotiate the constantly changing priorities of governments, businesses, and interest groups, which themselves are subject to similar considerations.
It is the age of the silverback.
Happy New Year.
Note: for references see the next post.

1 comment:

Tom Wayburn said...

I will have to come back later when I have had more sleep. I had forgotten what a challenge your writing and thinking represents.

Tom Wayburn, Houston, Texas