October 22, 2017

The Next 100 Years: Land of Sopapillas and Chilies or Chips and Bytes?

Posted on 31. Dec, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Education, Energy/Environment, Healthcare, NM, Politics, Social/Cultural

Judging by the great strides made in technology over the last 100 years, we can expect massive change during the next century. The world as we know it will be gone. It will be replaced by one that is shaped by the forces of technological growth, increasing social pressure and by dwindling resources and a crisis of governance.

The Economy and Technology:

If our economy survives without too much injury, we might be able to revive capitalism to the point where we can export the philosophy to more countries in the emerging world and gain a competitive advantage through mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements with them, and perhaps even manufacture for them!

With more wealth will come much more technology. The world of 2112 will see distances between countries, cultures and communities eroded even further, enlarging the neighborhood and allowing more people to interact with one another over the internet on devices as small as a pencil.

The New Mexico Spaceport will stimulate the growth of a vibrant, modern materials and aeronautics/space research sector that will create thousands of high-paying jobs.

Our homes will be interactive and individually programmed to respond to voice commands (even from our smartphones). When coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) they will ‘get to know us better’ and anticipate our desires, teeing up the system by responding instantaneously to our wishes. “Lights on, heat down 2 degrees, security system armed and start perimeter recording at maximum sensitivity level.” A grasshopper won’t be able to get through the average 2112 home security system let alone a human intruder because our AI home will go into lock-down mode, automatically reinforcing our smart windows and doors that can go from normal tensile strength to bulletproof level protection in seconds due to advances in new, space-age materials.

Computers and computer microprocessors will be imbedded or merged into many new products, and these integrated circuits (chips) will be reprogrammable by their users to accommodate new requirements and applications.

Holograms will take the place of DVDs and videos and will be viewable in life-size. They will also be programmable to act as opponents in games and as conversation partners, thereby ending loneliness for millions of people.

Education:

Education of our children will take place earlier and earlier, starting in the first few months of life with ‘crib ed’ where newborns and infants learn languages and are even tested at home from remote testing sites.

New, government-funded ReTraining Clusters will be formed to deal with the chronically unemployed. The RTCs, which will be electronically networked with all American businesses and all state Labor Departments, will closely monitor the workplace (job) needs and re-train America’s unemployed or underemployed workers for those jobs.

A new type of high school curriculum will be instituted in America’s schools. It will be built on a uniform aptitude test given to all middle school students. Each student will be voluntarily ‘directed’ to a curriculum specially suited to his/her aptitude and skills that will continue throughout the six high school years. Those having chosen that path and graduating will be awarded a 100% scholarship to a nationally-funded school of higher learning/training that will match up their skills with the needs of the business community and society at large.

The University of New Mexico will be privatized and no longer be a drain on the state’s budget. It will segment itself into several profit centers and will triple its international student population and generate important revenue from scientific and other partnering.

Energy/Environment:

Solar and wind power, hydrogen, bio-algae and biomass fuels AND traditional energy sources will   play a role in the next 100 years. The ‘all of the above’ solution will be the only viable one for our personal transportation and home energy needs until the perfect balance is found between imported oil and domestic production.

New Mexico will become the Alternative Energy Capital of the United States as the state develops its bio-algae, biomass, solar and wind resources (the state will actually produce enough bio-diesel fuel to power all of the vehicles in the federal fleet from its massive bio-algae GreenWay park in southeastern New Mexico).  Important federal grants for renewable energy projects will be given to New Mexico to offset the reduction in force and mission at Los Alamos National Laboratories (a victim of significant federal budget cuts). The state of New Mexico will be given permission to commercialize all renewable energy technologies in a three-way partnership with the federal government and the private sector.

Governance and Politics:

In the year 2112, there could very well be a supra-national government, based on the United Nations model that governs specific global areas like: food and energy production, monetary and financial matters and maybe even sets standards for a host of other things. We could see the world operating on an intellectual property or idea standard alongside a world currency where countries with patents and ideas generate royalties and enjoy a financial advantage.

We may see a merging of the House and the Senate into a unicameral body (this will come as a result of the gridlock that will nearly paralyze our legislative efforts to govern ourselves).

Our state government will be an on-line 24-hour accessible one and our legislature will morph into a full-time paid one with regular sessions that mirror the federal legislative calendar.  New Mexico will enter into a program of ‘Enterprise Zones’ that will be formed with Colorado, Texas and Arizona that harmonize taxes and incentives, enabling the state to better compete with the rest of the country for out-of-state direct investment.

New Mexico will also begin offering a special Retirement Investment Incentive (largely a package of tax reductions on personal income tax, sales tax and property taxes) to those willing to purchase property and retire in New Mexico. It will become a popular incentive and be copied by other states.

The New Mexican political landscape will also change to reflect a growing dissatisfaction with the two traditional political parties. Voter registration will see a significant increase in the number of independents in the State resulting in a new political makeup of 25% Republicans, 30% Democrats and 45% Independents (the Independents will be absorbed by two new political parties that will spring up in the second half of 21st century).

Unfortunately, we will lose some of our personal freedoms in the coming 100 years as new terrorist attacks turn us into a more insular and protective society instead of an outgoing one.  Crime will increase, but new types of penalties for minor crime will take the place of incarceration, so our prison population will decrease.

Healthcare:

Each new citizen will be DNA tested at birth by law and get a Genetic Profile Prospectus (GPP) that will give him/her an ‘odds and probabilities’ assessment as to which diseases that he/she could succumb to and which preventative or cautionary lifestyle choices he/she should make. This GPP will become part of our national identity card and follow us all through our lives.

Transportation:

Many of us will rarely leave our homes. We will work, remotely, and even direct our businesses from our computers, but for those who must travel, they’ll be taking to the air. We won’t have flying cars, but we may have flying mass transit for short distance travel. Flying maxi-taxis with designated routes (flight plans), capable of transporting 50-100 people high above our freeways will be standard fare.

Our four-wheel transportation will utilize hybrid fuel technology that will incorporate several types of energy sources: electric, fossil fuel, biodiesel and even solar. In order to get consumers to buy the newer vehicles, government will offer deep discounts and other incentives such as fuel rebates and even matching funds for vehicle repair.

In New Mexico, our Rail Runner will give way to a sleek monorail that is built down the middle of I-25 and I-40. It will carry passengers from Socorro to Santa Fe and from the Greater Albuquerque area to Moriarty. The price of the tickets will be subsidized by a surcharge on businesses and by property tax increases along with a direct Dept. of Energy grant from the federal government.

Chilies and Luminarias, starry skies and broad vistas will remain largely unchanged as New Mexico will lag behind other states in population growth (unless no progress is made on stemming the tide of illegal immigration), due in large part to finite water resources. Living in the next century will be a challenge, especially for those who believe that technology should occupy a smaller footprint going forward. The next hundred years will demand that we all learn more and do more with that knowledge. Much will be asked of us, but I’m confident that New Mexicans will accept the challenge and figure out a way to make decisions that will reflect our chosen way of life. We are, and will continue to be, the stewards of the land that we call, enchanted.

- Editor

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