Alright, so our first adjustment will be to leaven the best and worst cases, with a little more reality. So we’ll take worlds 1, and 2, and change each variable, one at a time, and see what we come up with.
Well start with world #1, our utopian transhumanist paradise, and introduce one worst case variable each time until we’ve done them all.
World #3: All best cases except worst case population.
Well, in a world where population hasn’t come under control this probably means that, in spite of free energy, and advanced genetics, supercomputing and whatnot, we still haven’t really achieved much penetration in terms of economic growth, or education. This is probably down to some kind of religious backlash against advanced technology and free information, as blue meme tribes always want to increase their numbers to overwhelm the opposition. This creates pressure for living space, and tension between regions that want to control population density to maintain their standard of living, in the face of mass immigration.
Although most of the resource-based reasons for war are going away, ideological conflict and terrorist excursions are still prevalent. This is a variation on the mark pesce ‘terror and transhumanism’ scenario, where we have so much power it’s ridiculous, but still can’t quite get along. Any one misanthrope or psychopath can make a big noise in a crowded world.
As this continues, the drive to colonize the oceans, virtual reality, and/or space have a large impetus to ramp up, as opposed to other situations where we have the technology and resources but no particular urgency. The diaspora of a retribalising world to the four corners of reality begins as each faction adopts just enough technology to liberate themselves and declare difference but shuns the rest, or it’s full implications. Think the space station full of Rastafarians in ‘neuromancer’. Another example would be primitivists, some of whom will use genetics to turn themselves into apes, or dolphins, but not explore the full ramifications of pervasive biotech.
There may end up being a global cyborg hive mind, and the ability to do that exists, but this situation mitigates against it.
World#4 All best cases except worst case climate:
A future where we have climate catastrophe, falling population, and advanced technology is probably one where you’ve had some kind of primitivist or malthusian programme take effect. When you look at how katrina was used to ramrod global warming hysteria into the public discourse, and multiply that by a thousand, you have that here.
Population ‘control’ here is exactly that, as our ‘best case’ is really a combination of austerity and genocide, as vicious constraints apply to anything that might smack of straining our carrying capacity or ecological footprint.
As a result technology stays in the hands of the elite, and is subject to the approval of an increasing politicised and ideological scientistic priesthood. There’s lots that we could do, but like now, a lot that we don’t.
You’ll probably see a reign of terror- style purge of ‘climate criminals’ of various stripes, as green lefties celebrate their long awaited vengeance.
The destruction of energy infrastructure by climate disasters and backlash against fossil fuels mitigate against anything like a globalised world, so we have another kind of retribalisation, in a more literal sense, as everyone re-localizes into some kind of bucolic peasant existence, which is shot through with advanced technology. Whole earth cataloge-hippie world, basically, for those who get with the programme. Those on the wrong side of the jihad, or who want to go big and weird with the new tech, are in for a tough time. You probably have an international malthusian bureaucracy, which legislates the development of poorer countries ruthlessly.
World#5 All best cases except worst case energy:
It turns out nature played a joke on us, and petroleum was as good as it gets for surplus energy.
As we cascade down the olduvai cliff, we have the means to adapt though, as our technology evolves to become not only more powerful, but more energy efficient. Everything gets smaller, cooler, and harder to see. Hard mineral-based stuff is set to one side in favor self assembling large scale biotech, which feeds off the sun. Buildings that grow like plants, photosynthetic skin grafts for humans, computers the size of grains of dust.
We internalize most of our technology, and rebuild our ecosystem. We’ve gotten our psychological and educational issues under control, and the earth is cooperating with our efforts to live smaller and quieter. Our big dreams go into the virtual world, and to outside observers we eventually look like completely primitive people living in a highly organic world. But behind our eyes, all bets are off.
World#6 All best cases except worst case technology:
A negative singularity in a world without energy constraints is really, really bad. There will always be harmful uses of advanced technology, but a worst case is something really off -the- hook.
Most of the reasons for war don’t exist, so WW3 fought by AI’s is not likely. A small dispersed population wouldn’t suffer greatly from an engineered plague. Grey goo could always happen, but it’s pretty likely it could be contained in a stable world with a working infrastructure.
One possibility is that some psychopath makes it through the door into a post human super being condition, and goes on a tear. One is probably not enough to constitute a worst case, though, depends on how smart he/she is though.
If however, you had a cheap enhancement technology that produced violent or aggressive behavior in whoever installed it, and the uses of it went massively viral over the world, via the wireless computer network, you’d be in for a bad time, especially if they started working together.
Suppose you could install a combination nanotech/genetics package that made you super-humanly smart, with diamond hard bones, carbon nontube flesh, redundant organs, and factories in your skin that made infectious copies of the same package… and the whole thing also turned you into a hardwired psychopath with out of control aggressive instincts…
Once it was out there, you’d eventually have too many to control, especially if they started working together, and with new variations all the time.
Silence of the Lambs meets 28 days later. Eventually there would be no normal humans left, as they would have to be enhanced themselves, just to survive.
Any strange and dangerous self replicating creation would have similar effect. This scenario presupposes that it outruns our attempts to control it, which implies that it either catches us totally off guard, or that it’s smarter than we are.