Looking Back: The Wonders We Didn’t Expect

Paul Saffo

By Paul Saffo

It has been a wild ride of a century full of expected wonders. Molecular manufacturing became a reality well before 2050, turning all sorts of once-valuable materials into commodities, and yes, we even eventually got flying cars.

But the century also with came a rich harvest of utterly unexpected surprises and the stubborn persistence of some things we thought had been left behind in the twentieth century. Here are a few of the outcomes you never guessed back in 2012:

Southern Africa Takes Center Stage

Michael Lee

By Michael Lee

It is five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve at the end of the last day of the twenty-first century. In Dar es Salaam, one of the wealthiest cities in the United States of Southern Africa (USSA), revelers from across the region have traveled on the Trans-Africa high-speed train network to witness the arrival of the new century at a massive fireworks display and international gathering in East Africa’s “harbor of peace.”

Beyond Transhumanism

Gene Stephens

By Gene Stephens

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy 2100!

Now it’s really time to reflect and try to decide what’s next for me. I’m young—88 in a few months—but still it never hurts to take stock, especially in this Brave New World. I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before. Anyway, it’s really true today. Who would have thought I’d be one of the few predominantly humans left on Earth?

Paradise Found: No Aging, No Pensions

Jouni J. Särkijärvi

By Jouni J. Särkijärvi

I’m now 88, but it is something completely different from what it used to be in your days. This is probably the biggest change: We don’t have to get old and die.

When the Storms Came

Richard David Hames

By Richard David Hames

Hi. I’m Daeng, an emeritus biocultural ethicist. Each month I work my allocated 10 hours for the FinanceLab hubbed here in Moscow, a “resilient” city with a populace approaching 21 million.


Gereon Klein

By Gereon Klein

Geonautics was the name of the spaceship traveling between Cosmos and Earth. They would be approaching their destination today. One by one, all geonauts came into the conference room for the briefing.

Energy and Living Well

Paul Bristow

By Paul Bristow

Life in the year 2100 is all about energy. No, that’s no longer true. It’s about living well.

We had to completely reinvent civilization in the face of fossil-fuel shortages and increasing climate change. Permaculture became the basis of our new sustainable civilization.

Life and Love in the Pod

Bart Main

By Bart Main

Timmy stirred beneath the blanket as the dawn filled his room. Stretching deliciously, he opened one eye to look at the clock.

2099: Headlines Warn of Global Cooling

Tsvi Bisk

By Tsvi Bisk

Howard Nathan was reading his hologram news “paper” at breakfast (funny how archaisms survive, he thought—there hadn’t been paper newspapers for well over 50 years). It was December 2099, and the pundits had begun to pontificate about the new century.

The headline “Worried Environmentalists” caught his eye; it was an article about the impending manmade Ice Age and the disappearance of the world’s deserts.

Reunion: A Civil War Fable

Cynthia G. Wagner

By Cynthia G. Wagner

The twins were separated at birth in 2012, and though they had been communicating with each other for many years, they planned their physical reunion to coincide with the reunification of the United States of America on January 1, 2100.

Meaning for Miranda

Robert Moran

By Robert Moran

In her conversations with friends and family, Miranda—a remarkably fit, thrice updated, 88-year-old freelance infominer—notes that the discussion always bounces between the four corners of humanity’s hollow valley:

1. Remarkable physical wealth.

2. Craving for authenticity.

3. Decline of traditional religious belief.

4. Redefinition of the age-old concept of “Free Will.”

The Last Oracle

Stephen Bertman

By Stephen Bertman

It was winter 2099. For generations no tourists had traveled to Delphi. Yet it seemed like only yesterday that he had first come and taken his place before Apollo’s temple. Now, as always, he waited for someone else to come, someone he could talk to and share his message with. The simple words he would speak were stored in his memory, ready to be spoken in a hundred different languages if need be to anyone who would listen.

Automated Government

Peter Denning

By Peter Denning

Futurists have historically been better at describing the present than the future. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a set of communications from one of my descendants, whose eyewitness accounts of events around 2100 are far more reliable than any such speculations I can offer.

Old Cities of Amber

Daniel Egger

By Daniel Egger

It was two decades ago when it stopped. Everybody knew that it would happen. We were informed regularly about possible approaching changes, and stories were told. Nonetheless, what we did not expect was the velocity and the impact when it occurred.

Here’s the News from 2100

By Karl Albrecht

Dateline: January 1, 2100

Futures experts are now more divided than ever about the fate of humanity, according to World Future Society president Timothy Mack, whose brain spoke to us from his jar in the Johns Hopkins Medical Lab.