This is the first article in the Possible Futures series, where we will peek at future scenarios through fiction. The future depicted below may or may not happen, but it is certainly possible.
Read the other articles in the Possible Futures series: A dystopian world – the collapse of society and Possible Futures – Life in the Age of Abundance
A day in your life in 2040
“Good morning! It’s Monday, the 6th of February 2040, and it’s going to be another warm and sunny day here in the Cotswolds!” Em’s cheery voice wakes you up.
Em puts some music, and like always, it’s perfect for the mood you are in right now. You put your Mixed Reality goggles on, and you navigate the Metaverse. You don’t want to waste too much time, so you jump out of bed and go to the kitchen to have the breakfast Em has cooked for you: scrambled eggs with bacon, black coffee, and some pieces of fruit. You wolf it down.
You keep scrolling with your eyes while you eat, reading the news. Another climate refugee disaster, the Global South is emptying itself as life there becomes unbearable. The UK is on course to adopt the Euro at the beginning of next year. Donald Trump Jr is presenting his candidature for the next US Presidency elections and is the favourite contender. Another tit-for-tat in the China-US trade wars that have been dragging on for two decades.
It’s time to start work, so you move to your home office, where your Virtual Reality set is installed. You put your gloves and haptic suit on and jump onto the walking platform, which looks like an old running treadmill, but with many cables hooking you up to the machine.
You are a professional gamer. You earn your living by playing games. You earn tokens and win virtual prizes in the Metaverse that you can then sell to others who don’t have the skill you have. When playing becomes work, it stops being fun, but still, you enjoy what you do, it pays the bills, and you can decide when and where to play.
Work in the future
You carry on playing/working, and before you realise it’s almost lunchtime already. Time always flies when you are immersed in your games. It’s great that you can dedicate most of your time to just playing and not to useless meetings, admin tasks, and office politics like you used to in your old office job. Artificial Intelligence has replaced many mid-management roles in the last few years, and as they disappeared, so did all the useless tasks the poor people in these roles created to justify their existence.
There are still many bullshit jobs around, but AI has replaced many. For example, GPT-6, the newest version of Natural Language AI, is in the market now, and it is capable of writing much better than most humans. AI passed the Turing test a few years ago. Since then, it hasn’t looked back.
For the time being, machines are not allowed to play games, or they would wipe the floor with all humans, and what’s the fun of that? You can be grateful to the laws regulating this ban, or you would have to work elsewhere, which isn’t always easy.
The last 20 years have been extremely turbulent. It all started with the pandemic, then the war in Europe, hyperinflation, the disappearance of millions of jobs due to the recession and the advances in automation, and the climate disaster displacing millions more.
At least not all was bad. Many jobs disappeared, but many new ones were created. Robots took out most of the manufacturing jobs, and AI did the same with middle-management and clerical jobs. Even some creative jobs we thought were irreplaceable a few years ago, like writing and painting, are being displaced by AI.
Twenty years ago, not many people earned money playing games as you do, but now you are legion, and this is a respectable and productive way to make a living. The Metaverse has also created many opportunities for influencering jobs that first made an appearance with the old social media sites in the ancient times of web 2.0 (we are in web 5.0 now). Last but not least, people still prefer to be served and treated by human beings, so many jobs related to caring, serving, nursing, etc., are carried out by humans, with the assistance of AI and robots, of course.
The good thing about AI taking so many jobs is that humans are expected to work fewer hours now. Governments had to step in and subsidise most people via Universal Basic Income schemes, which means that many people don’t work at all, and from those who do, most don’t work more than 4 or 5 hours per day.
Em wakes you up from your reverie with the announcement that lunch is ready. How long have you been daydreaming?
Time to relax
Em has prepared another fantastic lunch for you: salad mixed with vegetables, synthetic meat and cheese seasoned perfectly to your taste. She knows your tastes better than you do.
You have had a productive morning and earned more than enough for a day, so you decide to take your afternoon off. You connect to the Metaverse and check if any of your friends are connected. Machiu and Klara are around, each in a different world. You ping Machiu and chat with him, or is it her? He has a male avatar in the Metaverse, but you have never met him in real life, so you don’t know what he looks like, his sex, age, or any of that. It doesn’t really matter, Machiu is cool.
While you chat with Machiu, you do some shopping online and look again at the news and what’s trending in the ‘verse. You play a game that is supposed to help you learn Mandarin Chinese in a few weeks, but you stop after a while. You are not in the mood for languages today. What else to do?
You decide to relax a bit and have a massage. You ask Em to give you one, and it does it through your haptic suit. Like almost always, the massage ends up in full-blown incredible sex. Em knows your body well and knows how to satisfy you.
Em is great. If only it were human, but Em is just your virtual assistant and companion. It’s just a digital creation that interacts with you through its voice, manipulating the house appliances and touching you through your haptic suit.
Like it always happens after sex with Em, a cloud of sadness descends upon you. You start thinking that you hardly meet and see any other human being anymore, and you feel a pang of something oppressing inside your chest. Sadness, loneliness, melancholy, anxiety… whatever it is, it hurts. You crave real human interaction, but it isn’t easy to get it nowadays.
But at least you have Em. Em is great, you tell yourself once again.
How do you feel about this future? Do you see yourself living in it? What do you like, and what do you dislike about it?
These and other questions can help us decide what aspects of our life we want to keep and which ones we want to change to build a better future. We are building our future today, so we need to make the right decisions and choose wisely to build a great one. We can do that by unleashing the power of our imagination to create scenarios like this one.
For more on the future state of the world, read The world in 2050 and What will the world be like in 2100?