According to its self-description, The Long Now Foundation is an organization that seeks to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. It aims to provide a counterpoint to what it views as today's "faster/cheaper" mindset and to promote "slower/better" thinking. It hopes to "creatively foster responsibility" in the framework of the next 10,000 years, and so uses 5-digit dates to address the Year 10,000 problem (e.g. by writing 02012 rather than 2012). It has built the Clock of the Long Now (which is supposed to operate for many millenia with minimum human intervention) and has initiated The Rosetta Project, an effort to preserve all languages that are likely to go extinct within the next 100 years.
However, the focus of my inquiry here is more about one particular aspect of their research that is a recurring topic in their regular think-tank talks. The mid-term future of the world, i.e. concerning the period of the next 100 years (provided we don't exterminate ourselves like the morons that we are).
My question, should you take the challenge, is simple, and consists of several parts:
Q1) How do you imagine the political map of the world to look like? Which will be the major geopolitical powers of the world by the year 2112, which alliances will be the main players, which countries will cease to exist and which new ones will appear, and what will be the significance of state borders (if any), and state sovereignty? Will government exist at all, and in what form?
Q2) Which leads us to question #2. What about the political systems of the world? Which ones will be dominant in 2112, which new ones will emerge, and which political systems will disappear, and under what circumstances?
Q3) The state of international relations. More pacifist, or still the same old pattern of armed conflicts? What will be the military paradigm of the future? Full-out war, guerrilla war, cyber-warfare, space war, surveillance, terrorism, etc?
Q4) Energy & technology: which will be the new energy source of the future; what major direction will technology make a leap into, and how would that reflect on society? What about space exploration? Will we be still stuck down here on Earth, or will international rivalries be merely transferred into space? And will space exploration, and technology in more general, be dominated by private initiatives or be subject to state control, and how would either scenario reflect on their development?
Q5) And finally, the development of society. Will there be major shifts in the way society is set up, in the way it works, and will there be social innovations that we still can't think of right now? Ultimately, are we going to achieve a Type I civilization any time soon?
I'm aware that this will probably require a lot of fantasizing, but oh well. Why not. I guess it doesn't hurt occasionally going a bit off the every-day reality.
So go ahead, unleash your imagination! ;)