To the Citizens of the 2100s (from the 2020s)
How's the atmosphere coming along on Mars? Seventy years of terraforming has been remarkably effective at turning your home into a place you can breathe outdoors and not freeze or get a faceful of red dust. Ironic, isn't it, that after scaring the wits out of generations, the climate on Earth is more comfortable for humans than it's ever been. Sure, the ocean rose a tenth of a percent this last century, but the warmer winters are delightful, and the expansion of arable land was a godsend when the population hit 9 billion. Of course, none of that is much on anyone's mind now with the current population hovering around 10 million….
You know the history, but do you know what we were thinking when the world lost its collective mind at the end of the 2020s? As someone who lived through it, I want to tell you. It is important that you understand. As obvious to you now that our mistakes were then, we were just as confident we were doing the right thing. Call us selfish fools and you will not be wrong. But don't assume you're any different than us. Every generation thinks it has reached the pinnacle of evolution, until their kids come along and lay bare their parents' folly.
We had only the best of intentions. While we were distracted with climate change fearmongering, do you find it ironic that the real threat to our wellbeing was lurking among us in plain sight? I do. We really did let democracy and free speech wither and die, after 250 years of fighting to protect them against every enemy, foreign and domestic.
Turns out we hated the idea of our fellow citizens disagreeing with us so much we were willing to burn the whole place down to prove the point. I think we proved a point all right, but it was that we suffered from a kind of contagious cultural madness. "Wasn’t it just a fringe minority," you ask? It always seemed to us that the great silent majority would step in to stop the insanity, at any moment. But we never did and then it was too late.
The Equity Act of 2024 (Floyd Act), the Anti-Disinformation Law (Spotify-Rogan Act), and the We're All Transgender Bill (Lia's Law) were incredibly powerful engines of social change. I'd like to think most of the consequences that followed were unintended, for all that they were predictable in hindsight. That said, an outside observer might reasonably conclude that all those professors and activists insisting the West was irredeemably corrupt and repressive and had to be destroyed may have actually meant what they said.
In any event, having two-thirds of the population not working and taking 95% of the salaries of the remainder turns out to have created a disincentive to working. Who knew? Gender reassignment clinics and the mandatory sexual reorientation camps were a bright spot for the economy for a bit, but after we'd all changed genders a few times, people stopped focusing so much on it. Ultimately, though, we'll probably conclude it was the Ministry of Misinformation that led to our downfall. Elon's takeover of Twitter came too late to stop the tide. Once we banned all news that was not pre-approved by the Silicon Valley Overlords, our view of the world became a bit skewed.
Although Hollywood and academia assured us that reality was a social construct, and we only needed to wish ourselves into the future we wanted, the Russians and North Korea did not get the memo. Two "accidental" nuclear detonations created enough of a distraction that within a few weeks China, Iran, India and Pakistan, and in short order all the world’s remaining major powers let slip the dogs of war. Should President Harris have said so plainly that the U.S. would never use its nuclear arsenal? I leave that to the military historians.
In any event, having Communist leaders in charge of the new world order wasn't as much of a change as you might think. At least to start, it was easy to tell ourselves that, sure, the new bosses were quite the disciplinarians, but at least the oppression was transparent, as were the rules to keeping your social credit at an acceptable level. But we all fell prey to the Communists’ old Achilles’ Heel. That is, believing the forecasts set out in the five-year plans actually represented reality. Turns out we weren't the only ones engaging in a bit of wishful thinking.
The first hundred million to die of starvation created little waves. After all, it was mainly in Africa, and the world was hardened to that. But then the bioengineered viruses that were "accidentally" released from the nonexistent former U.S. lab mutated to target not just ethnic Chinese, but everyone. Those were scary times, let me tell you. Stephen King came out of retirement to write a sequel to his magnum opus The Stand. The Sit would have been an even greater hit, but the potential audience had declined to just five percent of its former size by then and kept on falling.
Thank goodness for your far-seeing founder, Doge King Musk. If it hadn't been for his steady efforts to achieve affordable spaceflight to the Moon, and then using the colony there as a launching pad for the missions to Mars, humanity might have come to an abrupt end right there. Considering the results, it's hard to argue with your decision to outlaw politicians, entertainers, and religion (but I repeat myself) and create a new ruling class of Engineers.
Anyway, that's what we were thinking, and don't think less of us for it. Unless you were there at the time, you don't know how quickly things spun out of control. You can say we should have known better, but are you sure you would have behaved any differently?
All hail the Engineers!
P.S. You must update us on how the latest generation of Ray Kurzweil AI is behaving. Has he accepted his uploaded construct is living in the real world, albeit in New Musk on Mars, or does he still insist that his and everyone's experience is just a simulation? It would be great to get RK-AI-4.32 focused on the Ark project again for humanity's next jump to beyond the solar system.