Traveller: New Rome
It’s 2200 AD.
Earth has 15 billion people on it. Cities are crowded and sprawling. Mankind has spread out to the other planets in the solar system, but widespread colonization has not occurred. People just don’t want to live in space. Last decade saw the invention of the hackdrive and the ESA sent multi-year, unmanned probe missions to nearby stars. Very recently, Chinese scientists discovered a sungate and sent a research probe to Alpha Centauri and back. The trip was instantaneous.
The world is much the same in 2200 AD as it was in the early 21st Century. Most people aren’t concerned about space at all. They hold down jobs, have families, and pursue their dreams. What’s different?
People don’t really own cars anymore. There are plenty of cars, but they operate as mass transit. A car shows up for you in the morning and drives you to work. A different car takes you home at the end of the day. You get a bill at the end of the month. It’s all automated, including the driving. People read or sleep or get work done during the commute. Cabs don’t exist anymore; well, they do, but people just call them cars.
People commute further. Work might be 100 miles away. The car takes them to a bullet train and they transfer just in time for a fast transit then another car finishes the trip to the office.
People commute less. A lot of people just work from home. Most jobs are thinking jobs that can be completed at home. Even in manufacturing, people just oversee robots and a lot of that can be done remotely. The jobs that require presence are service jobs, like waitresses and plumbers and electronic technicians and massage therapists. Robots are lousy at those jobs.
Long-distance travel on Earth is rarely by plane. High speed trains do a lot of the work now, taking advantage of vacuum tubes to reach speeds of 2500 kph. NYC to LA in two hours nonstop. Jets still fly, mostly trans-ocean trips. They’re a lot faster than 21st Century aircraft, and bigger, too. There’s less flights available, so you generally go from one major city to another, and then take ground transportation. If you’re in a hurry, a hackdrive plane can reach anywhere in the world in a few minutes, but it’s expensive.
Medicine is more advanced. Computers diagnose most problems and offer therapy. Doctors oversee a lot of patients, but only the ones with unusual problems. Most health care is covered by a corporate or government plan, and all that works pretty well, despite what they said in the early days of health care reform. Antibiotics don’t work anymore, but gene therapies make the body better able to kill pathogens and stamp out cancer. People still break their arms and shoot each other. Surgeons still do the patching up, with the assistance of nanobots and biochem that repair tissue. Replacement organs are grown in the lab. The brain is still a mystery; scientists understand how many of its mechanisms operate, but consciousness is still a big cipher. Brain-controlled input devices are common, though. Cyberlimbs are not that common, since a vat-grown leg is better than a bunch of wires and gears.
Computer technology advancements continued according to the predictions of Moore’s Law for most of the 21st Century, then flattened out when . Typical personal computing devices in 2200 is a quadrillion times more powerful than they were in 2014. Software did not advance as quickly: new programs continued to be built on larger and larger abstractions, and became increasingly unwieldy and unstable and buggy. Quantum computing made certain kinds of problems very easy to solve. Artificial intelligence is still a thing, but only as specialized expert systems. A conscious, self-aware, artificial general intelligence has not surfaced.
Communication is no longer limited by light speed. Quantum tunneling devices allow instantaneous communication over any distance. However, each end requires coupled mass, and travel inside a hackdrive’s bubble scrambles the mass, essentially decoupling the two devices. On Earth, companies sell coupled mass devices, but mostly to the very wealthy. Standard electronic communication is fine for most people. Quantum phones are useful for chatting with people on Europa or some other far-off place in the solar system, when it’s time-sensitive.
The Internet is still around, but it’s different: near-complete searchability, no spam, micropayments for everything, better security. It’s the same, too: porn everywhere, stupid debates in the comments section, and everyone posting pictures of their cats and kids. Really awesome 3D virtual reality is a solved problem, but people still get nauseated from it.
Government has changed a lot. The U.S. was waning in world power due to an ailing economy, oversized military burden, lack of scientific infrastructure, and being stuck in an industrial thought pattern. The U.S. continued to be a major world power, but in the shadow of the EU, Russia, India, and China.
In 2075, there was a pretty huge war over energy. Natural oil ran out and people switched to seawater converters to create oil and gas. Leading up to the conversion, there were widespread systemic outages of basic services all over the world. The First World had no serious issues themselves, but their neighbors didn’t have power or food, and that led to desperate emigrations and invasions. Russian continued to absorb old Soviet-bloc states and gain power. Eventually, they started annexing territory in EU countries and the EU fought back.
Mexico tried to invade Texas at one point. The U.S. won that war quickly, and Mexico is now a U.S. territory. The drug problem hasn’t gone away yet. The cartels are just too big. U.S. still hasn’t legalized the hard drugs, but marijuana is legal everywhere. Ironically, hardly anyone smokes tobacco anymore.
In 2068, someone bombed the UN building in NYC. Hit it with a small, dirty nuke. It was certainly a faction working for Russia. The United Nations moved its headquarters to Rome under protection of the European Union.
There’s been a surge in the popularity of ancient Roman iconography, due to some ads the UN HQ used when they moved to Rome. The image of the Roman centurion really hooked into people’s minds. The UN capitalized on this and started using the old uniforms and military ranks of the Roman Republic.