Point

Point/Counterpointtime travel May 17, 2000

The Future Will Be A Totalitarian Government Dystopia

By Timothy Geist

I am sad to say that for all our efforts in the name of freedom, the future shall be a bleak one, indeed. Such visionary authors as George Orwell and Robert Heinlein have mapped out the hellish future that awaits.

By the end of this century, the Earth will be controlled by a single unified world government–a government solely dedicated to perpetuating itself and keeping the populace under control. The first and greatest casualty of this New World Order shall be personal liberty.

Humans will live in identical, low-ceilinged, one-roomed concrete dwellings, outfitted with little more than a bed and a telescreen, arranged in endless grid patterns stretching to the horizon. Our bleary-eyed descendants 100 years hence shall shuffle between their assigned tasks in gray, one-piece coveralls. What few possessions they enjoy will be meted out by the government, and even these spare trinkets will be small and inexpensive–a plastic comb, a morsel of chocolate, a new pair of shoes when the old ones have worn to unwearability.

Citizens will be assigned to various vocational fields, the most common being propaganda, bureaucracy, and the police. Those who perform with unerring loyalty will be rewarded with slightly larger dwellings and the right to lower the volume of their telescreens.

Unremovable electronic trackers will be implanted in our brains, monitoring our whereabouts and thoughts at all times. Citizens who harbor anti-authoritarian sentiments will be swiftly seized by jackbooted secret police and either put to death–a procedure filmed and displayed via telescreen as a grim warning to other would-be dissenters–or rehabilitated into blind servitude through torture and brainwashing.

Food will be prepared by machines and served in drab public mess halls. No fruits and vegetables for future-man: Every meal will be a flavorless, grainy paste designed to provide just enough nutrition to sustain life and nothing more–any more energy and the powers that be risk rebellion.

Oh, how I dread the future. May God protect our yet-unborn children.

Counterpoint

The Future Will Be A Privatized Corporate Dystopia

By Trent Schlictmann

I beg to differ with my colleague. Having read the futuristic accounts of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and Philip K. Dick, the path our future shall take will be bleak, indeed–but in a much different way.

When the ongoing trend of corporate mergers reaches critical mass in 2030, the scant handful of corporations that remain will be too powerful to resist and will ultimately supplant all government. National borders will crumble, replaced by warring corporate armies who deploy vat-grown Yakuza assassins to take down enemy CEOs in the name of commerce.

The future will be every color but gray–not that the future will be worth living in. Giant videoscreen billboards will cover the exposed surface of every skyscraper, bombarding our consciousness with advertising for anything and everything. Looking up will expose us to giant orbiting mylar superscreens bearing more logos and slogans. A citizen will be unable to walk down the street without encountering roving clouds made up of billions of microscopic nanoprobes that form corporate logos right before their very eyes.

Which is not to imply that the average citizen will do much walking: When every inch of space is privatized, it will cost money to walk from your living room to the kitchen. The average citizen will spend nearly all of his waking hours neurally jacked into the futuristic grandchild of the Internet, roaming cyberspace rather than moving and interacting in the inelegant, inconvenient three-dimensional world.

When we do log off the CyberNet, the very walls of our apartments will teem with droning media messages. Tolerating such in-home advertising will be the only way the average citizen will be able to afford an apartment at all. Only the wealthiest will be able to afford a quiet, dark room in which to sleep. The rest of us will simply become desensitized to the 24 hours of stimuli attacking our minds.

All media will consist of some form of advertising–print, audio, video–with some actually beamed directly into our brains. The theme song to every TV show will be a product jingle. Newscasters will segue straight from war reports into soft-drink pitches without batting an eye.

To the powers that be, a citizen will be no more than a potential receptacle of consumption, only as valuable as his or her electronically catalogued personal wealth. All transactions will be conducted instantaneously by retinal scan, and credit fraud will be a crime worse than murder.

Oh, how I pity future generations.