History of the Mid to Late 21st Century (2050-2100)
The following is a summary of the most significant social and political changes that occurred during the mid to late 21st century.
- Transportation--Advances in fuel cells made possible inexpensive
ultraminiature cars, which became extremely popular. Instead of
having a single large automobile, people began to use microcars for
commuting and other everyday purposes. For special events such as
long trips or for carrying cargo, it became more economical for people
to rent cars or small trucks than to own a large vehicle. Because such
vehicles were delivered by automated drivers, rental became a practical
alternative for millions of people. This eased congestion and cut energy
- Entertainment--Since microcars were connected to the Internet,
people listened to streaming audio in their cars instead of
the radio. This led to the decline and eventual extinction of
terrestrial radio broadcasting. Television also fell into
decline as it was gradually replaced by the Internet. Although
some proclaimed this to be the beginning of a new era in
individual empowerment, ultimately Internet video fell into
the hands of a small number of large entertainment companies
just as before.
- Commerce--As Internet commerce displaced brick and mortar
businesses, package delivery companies such as FedUPS
became increasingly powerful. From 2021 to 2025, FedUPS
secretly controlled the governments of four American states.
- Housing--Housing prices continued to ratchet up throughout the
early 21st century because of periodic declines in interest rates.
Eventually more and more people were forced to live in condominiums.
Individual ownership of real estate declined continuously
throughout the 21st century.
- Computerization--Crime-detecting computers (CDCs) became
omnipresent, virtually eliminating crime and, to a large extent,
individual liberty. For example, the CDCs would automatically
impose a fine if a person disposed of a light bulb in a disposal
bin designated for food waste instead of a (much more expensive)
bin for toxic chemicals. The fine was automatically
deducted from the person's bank account. Every person and device
had at least one individual IP address, and each person had an
implanted broadband wireless connection to the Internet, which
served as identification, as entertainment, and as a replacement
for currency. Unfortunately, because the implanted chips also
recorded every action and spoken word, they were also later used
by the dreaded OSP (Offensive Speech Police) to suppress all
unapproved political speech.
The average person could not avoid these crime-detecting computers, because they were embedded in almost every consumer product. A popular saying in those days was, "Nowadays, TV watches you!"
- Entertainment-- The American entertainment industry was decimated
by a large influx of higher-quality movies and videos from Asia.
Hollywood was unable to compete because years of mixing political
opinion with the entertainment had made the viewers cynical. In
those days, people made no distinction between fictional films such
as the science fiction classic "An Inconvenient Truth" and documentaries
such as the nostalgic cult movie "Mutant Vampire Flying Saucer Women
from Betelgeuse B", which was the most popular movie in theaters
throughout 2015 and 2016.
- Health care--After the imposition of national health care in the North American Union (NAU, which was known in those days as the United States), the government made it illegal to eat junk food or to exercise fewer than three times per week. The rationale was that eating junk food was unhealthy and therefore caused added expense for other citizens. The Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Enforcement Branch (HHS/DEB) was widely feared and mistrusted, and its responsibilities were eventually transferred to the Department of Internal Order, a quasi-military department created in 2026. The DIO also took over the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security, which had been plagued with scandals and a series of bizarre on-the-job injuries and accidents under its previous director, Macaulay Culkin.