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Old 07-17-2018, 01:26 PM
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REVISITING: Which dystopia do you find the most plausible?

A few years ago, I started a thread on which literary or cinematic dystopia people found the most plausible. It's only been three years, but I feel like the world has changed a lot in the meantime. And I wondered if the answers would be similar today.

So, which invented dystopias from books or movies (or any other medium you want to bring in) strike you as being the most plausible, if not necessarily likely?

(You can throw in least plausible if you like.)
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:51 PM
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I think the USA is one good Terrorist Attack away from a V for Vendetta-style totalitarian quasi-theocracy. I already fear for Trevor Noah's safety when he get on a roll.
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Old 07-17-2018, 01:56 PM
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Elysium seems like an extrapolation of current trends. Super-rich minority lives in a remote paradise, enjoys vast wealth, political power, and superlative health care; while a super-poor minority toils away in factories for minimum wage, receives just enough health care to keep them productive until they die, has no political power, and suffers under a brutish, unfeeling police force and an unsympathetic bureaucracy.

Oh yeah, and robotic exoskeletal prosthetic implants with direct neural control. Pretty sure it'll be along within the next few decades.

Last edited by Machine Elf; 07-17-2018 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:00 PM
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In the original thread, I was suggesting both Brave New World and Children of Men (movie, not book). The last couple of years have pushed me more toward Children of Men, with the treatment of migrants and stronger nationalistic vibe.

it's sad to see some suggestions that were pooh-pooh three years ago as too ridiculous, looking more possible now.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:06 PM
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My only female coworker and I constantly, only partially, joke that we're mere steps away from a Gilead existence. The best we can hope for is to end up a couple of old Aunts
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:06 PM
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Most plausible to me is still the Theocratic America in Heinlein's Revolt In 2100. Rikwriter thought that was hilarious 3 years ago. How do you feel today, Rik?
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:37 PM
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That person in a previous topic who said they'd rather live in Wolfensteins "Nazis rule the world" dystopia than current Trump's America seemed to be on the right path.
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Old 07-17-2018, 02:40 PM
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Something like Rollerball, where the masses are distracted with bread and circuses while the rich run things. Or perhaps Solaria in The Naked Sun, where rich people live without ever seeing each other, with their robot slaves. If Asimov had simply depicted the Solarians as looking at their phones all the time, it would have been even more prophetic.

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Old 07-17-2018, 03:53 PM
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:02 PM
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I find Octavia Butler's Parables dystopia depressingly plausible. I'm actually worried that's where the country may be headed.
That's what I said in the last thread, and it's even more true now.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:11 PM
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Is the world of Black Mirror dystopia? Or is it simply a plausible projection of reality 10 or 15 years into the future? Whichever it is, we are quite seriously almost there. Forget about the political elements and the outlandish post apocalyptic hellscapes and evil Orwellian governments - the world shown in Black Mirror is our world's future.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:15 PM
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[Moderating]

I recognize that this thread is inevitably going to go political. In order to keep it a fit for Cafe Society, let's restrict ourselves to specific societies from specific works of fiction. So an answer of "fundamentalist Christian theocracy" would be out of bounds, but "like under Nehemiah Scudder in Heinlein's future history" is in bounds. And let's try to avoid tangents about how, specifically, our real-world political system is moving in various directions: That's a valid topic, but for GD, not for CS.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:30 PM
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...And let's try to avoid tangents about how, specifically, our real-world political system is moving in various directions: That's a valid topic, but for GD, not for CS.
Can you clarify this? If I say I think the world of 1984 is looking more likely, am I not allowed to say why?

When the topic is what dystopias are plausible, it doesn't seem a tangent to mention the specific ways the government is moving toward a particular dystopia.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:38 PM
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It's not that it's off-topic; it's that allowing that would inevitably lead the conversation down paths that would be off-topic. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I'm choosing to draw it close.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:13 PM
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I always found Brave New World's concept of people willingly subjugating themselves more compelling than malevolent 1984 style dictatorships. Some things would need to be updated as it's 86 years old, of course.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:18 PM
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I also agree that it is something like Brave New World. A Dystopia where the people inside it don't even know they are in one because they are happy. It is only revealed as empty and sad by the outside observer who sees what it is lacking.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:25 PM
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I recently read Gnomon, an excellent, dense dystopian work.

The novel supposes a UK with cameras everywhere, fed into an heuristic AI. No human ever sees any images unless the heuristic flags potential criminal behavior. In addition to flagging actual criminal behavior, it can flag potential criminal thought-patterns, at which point the suspect is brought in for an involuntary interrogation, in which electrodes can read surface thoughts while skilled interrogators elicit the desired surface thoughts. Suspects often have a "tune-up" of their minds to remove the criminal patterns, which they invariably appreciate, post-tune-up.

The mindreading bit is maybe way out there, but the death of privacy was pretty compelling.
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Old 07-17-2018, 07:42 PM
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I also agree that it is something like Brave New World. A Dystopia where the people inside it don't even know they are in one because they are happy.
Is it actually a dystopia then?
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:15 PM
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Oh yeah, and robotic exoskeletal prosthetic implants with direct neural control. Pretty sure it'll be along within the next few decades.
It's been here for a couple of years already, dude; try and keep up, eh.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:24 PM
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Hmm. Idiocracy was considered dystopian when it was released. But now I think people accept it as the status quo.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:42 PM
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Most plausible to me is still the Theocratic America in Heinlein's Revolt In 2100. Rikwriter thought that was hilarious 3 years ago. How do you feel today, Rik?
Three times as hilarious. America is more and more secular every day, especially the younger generation.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:44 PM
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Something like Rollerball, where the masses are distracted with bread and circuses while the rich run things.
Now THIS is much more possible. I can see a less-elaborate and less-dramatic version of this happening IRL...if it hasn't happened already.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:33 PM
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Blade Runner seems more and more plausible to me, even if L.A. doesn't look much like the movie's version of it on schedule next year. Enslaved humaniform robots, heavy-handed cops, environmental devastation, hypercommercialized sex, a permanent and poor immigrant subclass, and no political leadership worth following - yup, I'm afraid we're well on the way.
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Old 07-18-2018, 12:33 AM
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Running Man, for me.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:06 AM
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Three times as hilarious. America is more and more secular every day, especially the younger generation.
Personally, I fear that the secularism of young people is passive and not underpinned by any real conviction, and therefore would not stand up to strong persuasion. I have experienced this in real life in a few cases.

I hope this remark, being not political, passes mod muster for this thread.

For the OP, I think that beer and circuses is the more likely route than guns and steel. So Brave New World for my money. I can also see Elysium as a possible direction, where the "have" class gets smaller and richer, and everyone else pays for it.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:28 AM
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...where the "have" class gets smaller and richer, and everyone else pays for it.
That's not just future, that's past and present.
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Old 07-18-2018, 02:18 AM
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Is the world of Black Mirror dystopia? Or is it simply a plausible projection of reality 10 or 15 years into the future? Whichever it is, we are quite seriously almost there. Forget about the political elements and the outlandish post apocalyptic hellscapes and evil Orwellian governments - the world shown in Black Mirror is our world's future.
Definitely this.

By setting it near and far into the future and considering the implications of both science fiction ideas and tangible science fact it covers a lot of ground.
It isn't a coherent world that forms a single dystopian image but I think it nails many of the ways that "technology" plus "society" equals "problem".

I don't doubt that some of Charlie Brooker's ideas will permeate our world and we'll not really realise it until it has already happened.

Particularly persuasive to me was "The entire history of you" (dealing with people keeping a constant record of movements and activities) and "Nosedive" (the perils of maintaining a high social media profile)

And I don't think it is a coincidence that "Black Mirror" could be taken as a reference to the screens in "1984"
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:48 AM
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I'll still go with the answer I gave back then: The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. Multiple environmental disasters (crop failures, etc.) start hitting the world and people start freaking out.
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Old 07-18-2018, 06:01 AM
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Personally, I fear that the secularism of young people is passive and not underpinned by any real conviction, and therefore would not stand up to strong persuasion.
Secularism doesn't need to be backed by conviction. In fact, it's the lack of conviction, the understanding that there are things we can't know and that those things aren't actually that important to our lives. Since there is exactly zero chance that the US will be taken over by fundamentalists in the near future, it would have to be the next generation driving it, and they won't.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:40 AM
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Handmaid's Tale. I mean, we literally have women walking down the streets in red capes and bonnets.

Maybe they were being ironic.
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:21 AM
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Decadent hedonism, like Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, or Logan's Run. (In each case, the trope for which the story is most famous, is not the most important part of the story.)



from the forward to Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman:
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We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:08 AM
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Is it actually a dystopia then?
That is what makes it so interesting because you could indeed argue that. I am in the camp that it is.
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Old 07-18-2018, 11:21 AM
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Dr. McCoy: "Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of paradise."
Captain James T. Kirk: "No, no, Bones, this time we walked out on our own. Maybe we weren't meant for paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums."

"This Side of Paradise," Star Trek
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Old 07-18-2018, 12:41 PM
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Seconding Octavia Butler.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:04 PM
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I always found Brave New World's concept of people willingly subjugating themselves more compelling than malevolent 1984 style dictatorships. Some things would need to be updated as it's 86 years old, of course.
This, with a healthy dose of Brazil, both the movie and the social/criminal structure of the country. The way Machine Elf describes Elysium---I have not seen it---rings true for me as well. Techno-feudalism is the way of the future: a small stupendously wealthy empowered elite, a slightly larger techocrat class to run things, and a gigantic stupefied, segregated proletarian class that votes for all of the above.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:30 PM
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I want to give the nod to Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, especially given the upsurge in fascism today.
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Old 07-18-2018, 01:59 PM
Karen Lingel Karen Lingel is offline
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Oryx and Crake, another Margaret Atwood novel.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:19 PM
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Secularism doesn't need to be backed by conviction. In fact, it's the lack of conviction, the understanding that there are things we can't know and that those things aren't actually that important to our lives. Since there is exactly zero chance that the US will be taken over by fundamentalists in the near future, it would have to be the next generation driving it, and they won't.
I disagree. A dedicated religionist can be relentless and, in the end, persuasive, if you have nothing to answer back except "well, I don't know." I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not sanguine.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:33 PM
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A major part of Brave New Word that is very unlikely to come about is the determined engineering of worker classes like the Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, largely because we have automation to a degree Huxley could not have imagined, so why bother?

The most likely dystopic form in the short term, I expect, is the corporation version as seen in the original Robocop and its sequels. They've always been pulling the political strings, they'll soon be doing so openly and brazenly, to the point where elected officials are just figureheads chosen by popularity contests.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:25 PM
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Dudes, I am using this thread to put together my vacation reading list. Is there anything mentioned so far that will ruin my vacation?

Last edited by Karen Lingel; 07-18-2018 at 07:27 PM. Reason: "make me want to kill myself" might sound like I am looking to do that on my vacation. No, I am looking to avoid that.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:27 PM
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I disagree. A dedicated religionist can be relentless and, in the end, persuasive, if you have nothing to answer back except "well, I don't know." I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not sanguine.
I have personal experience. My father was an evangelical Baptist preacher and I was raised in a fundamentalist household. I was able to begin thinking for myself and I have no reason to believe your fears have any weight in this country.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:28 PM
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The most likely dystopic form in the short term, I expect, is the corporation version as seen in the original Robocop and its sequels. They've always been pulling the political strings, they'll soon be doing so openly and brazenly, to the point where elected officials are just figureheads chosen by popularity contests.
Where the hell have you been? It's been that way in this country for decades.
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:23 PM
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I disagree. A dedicated religionist can be relentless and, in the end, persuasive, if you have nothing to answer back except "well, I don't know." I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not sanguine.
You always also have "... and you don't know either, so STFU" to add to your initial answer.

I'm an atheist, sure, but mainly in terms of religion I'm what might be called a "hard agnostic" - adding to EVERY religious answer "...and you don't know either, and nobody ever will, so STFU"
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Old 07-18-2018, 08:47 PM
Larry Borgia Larry Borgia is online now
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Can you all save the religion debate for GD, pretty please?
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:05 PM
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One plausible scenario I could see happening is a Black Death event - a new disease erupts that kills a third of the world's population and plunges humanity into a new dark age. (The Plague killed a third of Europe's population in the 1300's.) Or god forbid there is a worldwide pandemic like the one that Native Americans experienced after European contact. That one is believed to killed somewhere between 85 and 95% of all Native Americans in The New World. It was series of epidemics consisting of smallpox, measles, and yellow fever among others. (Though I believe smallpox contributed to the majority of deaths.)

I am not sure if there are many novels or movies based around this scenario though.

Last edited by dorvann; 07-18-2018 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:57 PM
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Can you all save the religion debate for GD, pretty please?
It's not a religious debate, it's a debate about the susceptibility of young people to persuasion from (what I think is) casual skepticism to religious belief, the point of which is whether this country might succumb to religious fervor and become a theocratic state, which ties back to the OP.

I think it's possible, RikWriter does not.

RikWriter: I submit that in order to start thinking for yourself, you had to overcome some things in your upbringing and early influences which led you to some firmness in your convictions. If you had only drifted into secularism because that's the way you had been raised, I believe you would have been less armored against persistent religious persuasion as a young adult.

However, it is something of a side point to the discussion, so perhaps you can take the last word and we can drop it.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:08 AM
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I hope this isn't considered threadshitting, but it's probably nothing that anyone is predicting. When we predict the future, we have a habit of taking the present and exaggerating it, while ignoring the fact that a lot of major and minor changes will lead to a totally new world.

The trick is predicting the big changes.

What, you want me to do that? No, I'm not smart enough for the task.
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Last edited by Regallag_The_Axe; 07-19-2018 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:15 AM
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One plausible scenario I could see happening is a Black Death event - a new disease erupts that kills a third of the world's population and plunges humanity into a new dark age. (The Plague killed a third of Europe's population in the 1300's.) Or god forbid there is a worldwide pandemic like the one that Native Americans experienced after European contact. That one is believed to killed somewhere between 85 and 95% of all Native Americans in The New World. It was series of epidemics consisting of smallpox, measles, and yellow fever among others. (Though I believe smallpox contributed to the majority of deaths.)

I am not sure if there are many novels or movies based around this scenario though.
Earth Abides, for one.

Yes, smallpox mostly. Unless the Sentinelese have some disease that we're all susceptible, I don't think the Native American scenario would be plausible. That one was particularly bad because while it came with European contact, it moved faster than the settlers ever encountered native tribes.
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:27 AM
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Where the hell have you been? It's been that way in this country for decades.
Well, it's not quite to the point where a corporation can take a city "private" and police it with its own security forces, but it's getting there.
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Old 07-19-2018, 06:51 AM
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Well, it's not quite to the point where a corporation can take a city "private" and police it with its own security forces, but it's getting there.
A lot of people argue that this is exactly what Disney did with the city around Disney World here in Florida.
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