By Trent Schlictmann
I beg to differ with my colleague. Having read the futuristic accounts of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Philip K. Dick, the path our future shall take will be bleak, indeed–but in a much different way.
When the ongoing trend of corporate mergers reaches critical mass in 2030, the scant handful of corporations that remain will be too powerful to resist and will ultimately supplant all government. National borders will crumble, replaced by warring corporate armies who deploy vat-grown Yakuza assassins to take down enemy CEOs in the name of commerce.
The future will be every color but gray–not that the future will be worth living in. Giant videoscreen billboards will cover the exposed surface of every skyscraper, bombarding our consciousness with advertising for anything and everything. Looking up will expose us to giant orbiting mylar superscreens bearing more logos and slogans.
A citizen will be unable to walk down the street without encountering roving clouds made up of billions of microscopic nanoprobes that form corporate logos right before their very eyes.
Which is not to imply that the average citizen will do much walking: When every inch of space is privatized, it will cost money to walk from your living room to the kitchen. The average citizen will spend nearly all of his waking hours neurally jacked into the futuristic grandchild of the Internet, roaming cyberspace rather than moving and interacting in the inelegant, inconvenient three-dimensional world.
When we do log off the CyberNet, the very walls of our apartments will teem with droning media messages. Tolerating such in-home advertising will be the only way the average citizen will be able to afford an apartment at all. Only the wealthiest will be able to afford a quiet, dark room in which to sleep. The rest of us will simply become desensitized to the 24 hours of stimuli attacking our minds.
All media will consist of some form of advertising–print, audio, video–with some actually beamed directly into our brains. The theme song to every TV show will be a product jingle.
Newscasters will segue straight from war reports into soft-drink pitches without batting an eye.
To the powers that be, a citizen will be no more than a potential receptacle of consumption, only as valuable as his or her electronically catalogued personal wealth. All transactions will be conducted instantaneously by retinal scan, and credit fraud will be a crime worse than murder.
Oh, how I pity future generations.