Digital money is used more and more, especially for Internet payment. Private currencies with security from companies or goods are appearing on the Internet; their legality and formal status is unclear, but in practice they have many advantages compared to the national currencies.
Llamar, the first truly new musical style of the new millennium spreads world-wide over the Net from its origins among Mexican rave culture. At the same time the music industry meltdown is complete: the traditional companies are forced to accept that piracy is impossible to prevent, and that their future is as marketing and portal sites rather than distributors. They are just one of many businesses that are forced to adapt as the Net becomes the pre-eminent way of trading.
The HUGO project is totally completed. Protenomics and morphological prediction start to boom. Biotechnology is the hot investment object: the general mood in the biotech business is similar to the mood in the computer business in the early 80's.
Inexpensive DNA chips can now identify all genetic diseases reliably, and estimate the future likelihood of many other diseases. The chips are banned from use by non-doctors by many governments, since they fear the chips will be used for prenatal screening or by people who might discover they suffer from an incurable disease. A black market for DNA chips quickly develops.
The EU attempts to introduce mandatory key escrow for all cryptographic keys within the region. Several states are slow in implementing it or refuse. Protests from civil liberty groups and multinational corporations. In the end the decision comes to nothing.
50% of the population in the West own wearable computers. Wireless computing networks are replacing much of the old telecommunications industry.
The increasing use of digital money for tax planning and tax evasion (helped by the spread of private finance expert system software that automatically moves investments and digital currencies to the nations that are most profitable for the moment) has worried the US government for several years. The Wooten-Staufer Bill is proposed to ban or regulate digital currencies, strong cryptography and some private finance expert software. Despite widespread protests it is passed, but it backfires: the extent of software use had been underestimated making the bill nearly unenforceable, updates exploiting loopholes in the legislation are spread instantly across the net, and the revelation that several of the leading political supporters also use similar methods hurt the credibility of the bill (and the government). The fiasco resounds across the world, and a similar proposal in the EU is quickly sent for further evaluation to a committee.
To fight growing unemployment and budget deficits the European nations begin to restructure their economies, selling off government monopolies and cutting down on welfare. Massive popular protests in several nations leads to long and bitter political conflicts on the national and EU level, which slows down the development of the EU even more. The "restructuralists" fight the "populists" in an ever more loud and dirty political game, while the economic changes continue in silence.
The massive relocations of people due to the Three Gorges Dam in China causes political upheaval and conflicts. The project has been implemented despite serious internal and external criticism. Especially the desperate holdouts in Wanxian cause international concern. The People's Liberation Army manages to keep the situation under control, but resentment against Beijing lingers in the affected area. At the same time Shanghai is emerging as a new software capital.
The financial software committee of the EU comes up with a proposal for how taxing the use of the Net could be implemented, based on micropayments for clearing economical transactions with government servers. The proposal becomes bogged down in the fight between the restructuralists and populists.
A vaccine against prion diseases such as BSE or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is developed (actually genetically modified chaperonins unkinking the prions). Vaccines against Alzheimer's disease, AIDS and several kinds of cancer are already in use in the West. The WHO is undertaking a massive AIDS vaccination program in Africa and Asia.
The advances in life extension threatens many national pension plans. In many places there is a noticeable shift towards private, self-paid pension insurance, but large groups of retirees demand their money. Fierce debates rage over what treatments should be covered under health insurance and how to solve the pension problem. The political struggle between the greys and other interests become one of the most divisive issues in the 10's.
Climatologists demonstrate more and more convincing evidence that the interglacial period is ending and that the world is rapidly moving towards a new ice age. The greenhouse effect, which up until now had been a major concern and subject to increasingly successful control attempts, had merely masked the approach of much colder climate. Once the balance tipped over to cold, it had very little effect in delaying the climate change. The claims cause some concern, but are widely ignored since most people are focused on fighting the greenhouse problem. Some environmentalist organisations attempt to discredit the studies.
Gay activists protest the work of Life Enhancement International to develop a gene therapy for enhanced syncytiotrophoblastic cells, which would act as an extra protection for the foetus during pregnancy by blocking viruses, poisons and excessive hormone levels but incidentally decrease the chance of the child becoming homosexual. Some claim LEI encouraged the protests to get extra attention and sales due to the "side effect".
A fundamentalist Islamic coup with strong public support institutes a fundamentalist government in Egypt and closes the land against the outside world. Overall, millennialism and fundamentalism are at an all time high as many people interpret the climatic and social changes as the end times.
The Human Brain Mapping Project (HUBMAP) is begun. The goal is to map the total neural structure of a normal human brain.
Tong Jikun, the first (officially) genetically modified human is born in Singapore. Despite many protests, germline genetic engineering is increasingly used by parents among the internationalists, at first mainly to prevent genetic diseases or defects, gradually to give the children the best possible potential.
The "Reform War" struggle in India. The growing internationalist middle class clashes with nationalist and fundamentalist political groups in an attempt to reform the government, which is considered too corrupt and inefficient. Riots and outbursts of violence in several cities, as well as full-scale netwar and misinformation campaigns. In the end a compromise is reached which partially fulfils the goals of the middle class but leaves everybody unsatisfied. The tendency of regions to become more independent is accelerated in India.
The Chinese government tries to control the ever more dynamic economy, setting off a market reaction. Hardliners attempt to fight "destructive capitalist elements", which results in an instant massive outflow of investment capital and market confidence. As the economic chaos spreads rioting occurs in many major cities, and Beijing tries ever harsher measures to retain control over the situation.
Programmable bacteria are developed concurrently by several biotech companies. The biobots are essentially microscopic biological robots that can do nearly anything of given plasmid programs. The initial applications are mainly in advanced analysis methods and for biotech development, but it is clear that the biobots will be applied to much more.
The Sichuan province revolts against the Beijing regime, the signal for the Chinese Civil War. Over the next five years China disintegrates into warfare between warlords and unstable regional governments. Conflicts spill over to neighbouring nations as millions of refugees flee the devastation. Over the next ten years hundreds of million people will die in the conflicts or the famines, epidemics and disasters following. The rest of the world is unable to deal with chaos on this scale, and mainly give woefully insufficient humanitarian aid whenever it can.
A long series of infowar attacks (the "Autumn Raid") against Net-based financial systems occur, threatening the Net-based economy and much of the remaining traditional economy. The attacks are powerful and well coordinated and manages to cause significant disruptions, but in the end the financial systems prove too well defended and distributed to fall. The economic fallout lasts for some years as many people take steps to guarantee their savings by diversifying and distributing them as much as possible. The source(s) of the attacks were never identified, even if popular speculation blames China or the old power elites in the West.
After the failures of the US and EU to control the digital economy and the dramatic Asian demonstration of how fast capital and investments can move away from disturbances, it becomes more and more clear that governments no longer can control the flow of money and the international economy. At the same time the traditional multinational corporations face growing competition from young, flexible networked companies that can exploit new economic niches, new technologies and move faster than the old ones. The traditional 20th century economic and political structure begins to unravel across the world.
The fast decrease in world average temperature has become so evident that nobody doubts the developing climate change. Northerly regions experience increased emigration, wild schemes for controlling the climate are proposed and many nations begin to study the likely effects of the glaciation and how to deal with them.
Micromanufacturing spreads world-wide. By using flexible mini-automation and robotics many goods can be produced locally in small minifactories/stores, only standardised raw materials need to be transported. At first this revolutionises the textile business and later more and more areas by speeding up production, cutting storage, transport- and import-costs. Standard goods become substantially cheaper. The secondary effects in the economy spread, e.g. by rationalisations of transports, environmental improvement and the obsolescence of many factories. This, combined with other technologies for radical production improvements is the last nail in the coffin of the old manufacturing industry.
The results of extensive climatological studies and simulations begin to cohere to a picture of the expected climate the next twenty years. The models warn of imminent drastic temperature changes in many regions. Northern Europe and central Canada will be especially hard hit. While ice sheets will take millennia to grow, permanent snow cover slowly building up will become a problem within approximately ten years. On the other hand central Africa and western North America can expect increased rainfall, and there will be slight temperature increases in the middle latitudes of the Pacific Ocean.
HUBMAP is completed, providing a treasure of data for neuroscientists. The basic rules underlying the way neurons organise themselves, how brains produce intelligent behaviour and the subtle interplay between genes and upbringing in forming personality are becoming understood.
A serious antibiotics-resistant cholera epidemic spreads in the Shanghai area and later other parts of former China. The rebels and some outside experts claim this is biological warfare from the Beijing regime, which of course is vigorously denied.
The International Olympic Committee is forced to accept performance enhancing drugs and gene therapy; the doping restrictions and the system needed to enforce them has simply become too cumbersome and the last ten years the Olympics have been riddled with scandals. Instead they institute a system of norms, where contestants compete against other contestants of roughly the same baseline abilities.
Central Africa and South America are experiencing an economic boom not unlike the growth in Asian economies in the late 20th century. One reason is the improved stability of Central Africa after the 2016 Brisbane Accords, another reason capital flow southwards as investors move long-term investments away from the northerly countries.
Simple neurocomputers are developed. Using the abilities of neural networks or brain systems, they are ideal for controlling robots, information mining ("Netwhales") or as learning simulators. As Moore's law in chip development peters out, computers are increasingly relying on adaptive software running on many processors or integrating neurocomputers.
A religious-political revival sweeps the United States. The Brothers of the Land combine conservative Christian values with environmentalist and anti-globalist sentiments. The Brothers gain significant local influence in many areas, and do their best to network internationally with similar-minded organisations to resist the globalists.
Indonesia splits into a number of independent nations after a spring of public protests and political change not unlike the fall of the eastern block in 1989. Several of the new nations instantly become economical boom regions. Indonesian style becomes briefly fashionable.
After a referendum, Sweden declares that it is going to close its economy against the forces of international capitalism over the span of a few years and focus internally on its own culture and dealing with climate issues. The decision follows the example of Kazakhstan, Belorussia and some other nations; it is an last ditch attempt to retain some control over the economy from the networked international community. The economy is already severely weakened as investors move southwards, but this decision leads to the final move away for many companies and people. The rest of the world merely shrugs.
Due to strongly lowered tax income most western nations are nearly bankrupt despite a prospering world economy. Corporate sponsorship keeps much of the local government and infrastructure afloat; the standard of living is often reasonable or good. Some regions (like university towns, the tropics and California) flourish when well-paid and well-educated flock to them, while other regions turn inward. Local independence movements, often with ultranationalist tendencies appear world-wide. An internationalist class (the "netocracy") has developed, living a mobile internationalised life world-wide.
The Gulf stream has slowly shifted southwards, and now brings warmth and moisture straight eastwards to Africa. Europe is rapidly becoming dryer and colder, while northern Africa is experiencing increased rainfall. Areas in Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria and Libya are greening. The new fertile areas are being developed with international money into new regions, which are rapidly attracting emigrating Europeans.
A tactical nuclear weapon detonates in Tallin after a failed attempt of nuclear blackmail against the city government. The perpetrators are a Russian terrorist group with contacts in the remnants of China, their likely source of the bomb. The detonation destroys parts of the city and kill over 100.000 people directly or indirectly. Despite strong demands for a safer world experts admit that it is nearly impossible to protect oneself against large scale terrorism.
Bills are passed in the US and later the EU redefining the rights of states and regions versus the government. The new system, already used in practice, give them a significant freedom to set up local rules, taxation and infrastructure. The decisions were made both to offload the strained central governments of many duties, and as a response to the fact that many regions already were basically independent already. Many other nations follow their example, becoming little more than coordinators and defenders of the regions inside their borders.
The Update Conflict causes much practical trouble and a minor recession. The reason for the conflict is the urgent need to update the ageing Internet protocols to suit the needs of modern society without disrupting all the existing software infrastructure. Several proposals exist on how to accomplish this daunting task, but there is a lack of agreement on which one to use or who would be allowed to implement it. Eventually two of the competing standards begin to market themselves on their own, quickly creating a confusing and unstable situation of incompatible and redundant software just like the bad old 90's. Over a period of several month a new Internet coordination task force emerges, the Net Maintenance Audit Board. Over the next decade, the NMAB emerge as the global centre for all serious Net development.
Microfarming is becoming a mature technology. Using biotechnology to design efficient and hardy plants and microorganisms hydroponic farming is becoming competitive in many areas, especially those with major climate changes. Microfarms can be built indoors and produce large amounts of high-quality crops from nearly any form of organic refuse, combined with aquaculture to get protein from fish or run in "micromode" to just produce nutrient algae. While most people prefer normal soil-grown food, microfarms are cheaper in colder areas and very suitable for disaster relief work.
A global fatwa is called by the Pure Land Alliance, an extreme offshoot of the Brothers of the Land, against the senior bioinvestor Donovan Keller, claiming he is a representative of the globalist conspiracy that ravages the Earth and personally responsible for the defiling of nature by biotech (he is a majority shareholder in MicroFarm, one of the corporate networks behind microfarming). They offer a large sum of untraceable money for whoever who can kill or permanently maim him. While similar fatwas has been called before, this reaches enormous notoriety, especially after a failed attempt on Keller's life in Madrid kills 4 innocent bystanders. Keller is forced underground, and in the wake of the events other fatwas are called against prominent scientists, investors or other representatives of the internationals. The fatwa becomes a common political weapon, both on the national and international scene. While the probability of being killed by a fatwa is usually low, the threat forces many people to adopt low profiles or avoid controversial issues.
Cities in Northernmost Scandinavia, Siberia and parts of Canada have become uninhabitable: while the temperatures are not extreme, the gradual accumulation of snow makes the infrastructure collapse. Some attempts has been made to convert some cities to climate-proof arcologies, but the cost is much higher than the value and the attempts are discontinued. The British isles are paralysed by severe winter storms for the fifth year in row. The flow of climate émigrés is straining the resources of the regions to the south.
The American Freedom Union spreads a highly contagious haemorrhagic fever at LAX airport, attempting to infect the "worldwide nerdocracy". Due to a mixture of luck, short incubation time and data mining the epidemic can be contained before it spreads widely. The resulting scare promotes the idea of global task forces to deal with terrorism, epidemics and other disasters in the public mind. These net-funded international forces are usually based on (and contains the people of) the old national task forces or organisations such as the CDC or Europol.
The Indian Ocean Biodiversity Consortium (founded and supported by several environmentalist millionaires) buys up most of the Soqotra, in order to protect the unique biodiversity of the island. For all practical purposes the island becomes a national park nation, especially since Yemen is quietly dissolving into independent tribes.
Living materials, able to repair themselves, grow or adapt are being increasingly used in buildings. Medical biobots are in widespread use, mainly to treat infections, improve healing or for medical monitoring. Artificial organs grown from stem cells and tissue engineering, once intended only for medical use, are now also used in chemical industry and many other applications. Regions with strong restrictions on biotech are finding themselves further and further behind economically. The structure of the system of Threat Assessment Groups (TAGs) emerges, part due to suggestions from a global net policy think thank, part by already existing interest groups coalescing into the structure. The TAGs analyse local and global threats within different fields, alerting the Net and coordinating other groups to solve them.
Oil prices has gradually increased due to the spreading cold and the problems with the North Sea and Siberian oil fields, but driven by the demand artificial fuels extracted from hardy genetically modified plants are becoming the main source for vehicle fuel or for warming. The oil producing nations still make great profits, now selling more and more oil for biochemical processing. Saudi Arabia is often called "the green nation" for its strong emphasis on biotechnology, the environment and Islam.
Electronic pets outnumber biological pets, despite the introduction of genetically modified pets such as the Japanese metaneko cat.
Iconic art and virtualism is at their height: among the internationalists information is what matters, and the physical world merely an inconvenient problem. As a counter-reaction many traditionalist and "realist" movements has emerged among the nationalists, and the young New Materialism movement has begun to form on the Net.
Green Cay, the first biotechnological island, is completed in the south Bahamas. Formally a part of the US, in practice it is owned and run by a consortium of biotech, finance and hotel companies. The islands spread in all the tropical oceans, becoming havens for the internationalists. The islands are to a large extent self-sufficient and extremely eco-friendly. They are powered by OTEC and solar power and recycles waste through microfarms and biotech scavenger factories.
An epidemic of a new tuberculosis strain spreads in Egypt. The land has isolated itself from the rest of the world, a refuge for fundamentalism but with few young. As the death toll increases the outside world tries to help by supplying medical biobots, but the government refuses the satanic temptation. Eventually someone introduces an infectious vaccination biobot, forcibly helping people. The act stirs up an intense debate about the ethics of biocoercion, and several of the epidemologic task forces declare that they will henceforth fight not just natural diseases and bioterrorism, but also attempts to use unrestricted biobots. Most local governments and the Net agrees with them.
The asteroid 1997XF11 passes within 600,000 kilometres of the Earth as predicted in the 90's. There is talk about funding Shield, a more elaborate Earth defence project than the current SpaceWatch, but little action.
A biobot designed for beryllium scavenging accidentally gets loose in Florida from a lab working for Reclaim after a break-in. At first nothing is suspected, but as unexpected industrial failures occur along the Caribbean coast industrial threat dataminers discover something amiss. After a few days the NERD is on the case, manages to identify the biobot and produce a tailored bacteriophage spread across the region. Reclaim is sued by several states for gross negligence in not revealing the nature of the biobot when the break in occurred or at an early stage of the investigation.
The World Conflict Network reports that despite events like the Tallin bombing or the Chinese internal wars the last decade was one of the most peaceful in recorded history: the risk per capita of being killed in an armed conflict is at an all time low. The number of large-scale wars are few, and the gradual dissolution of the national states into semi-independent regions have eased many ethnic tensions. The WCN warn that terrorism and micro-conflicts on a personal level are still a growing problem, and that there now are terrorist groups equipped with both chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
The struggle to save biodiversity in the Amazon continues unabated as decreased rainfall makes the forest give way for savannah in many places. Environmental initiatives to preserve refuges and species from the endangered areas remain among the best funded environmental projects in the world. Fullfreezing is one method used: whole sections of the forest are gathered and frozen with liquid nitrogen for storage so that even uncatalogued species can be saved in their ecological context.
Free Dolphin Island (nicknamed Dolph), the first artificial island in international waters (the eastern south pacific). It quickly becomes fashionable among the most libertarian internationalists and a competitive tax-haven.
The highly publicised London Tent project is admitted a failure. The project intended to protect central London from the weather using an organic, self-repairing and adaptable transparent "tent" held up by 8 pylons. The Tent proved too expensive and inefficient to maintain, and pollution generated on the inside couldn't diffuse out efficiently. The whole infrastructure would have to be changed for the project to succeed. This is an immense embarrassment for the organisations involved and the large-scale bioengineering business, despite its past successes with the artificial islands. Experts still agree that this kind of solution would work in some cities, especially as the technology matures, but right now few are willing or desperate enough to go for it. One exception is Chicago, where local interests are willing to gamble on a more successful implementation to save the city.
Scandinavian and British climate refugees pose an increasingly urgent problem for the various European governments. In many regions they are disliked and mistreated. The old EU offices in Brussels have been turned into a semi-permanent refugee camp.
Some software-neurocomputer systems are declared intelligent by experts from the International Academy of Cognitive Science. While not exhibiting human-like personalities, they show evidence of being aware of themselves and their relation to the world, make decisions of their own volition and have higher order thought processes that can only be called intelligent. On the net the debate of AI/neurocomp rights rages.
Soqotra has quietly developed into a haven for internationalist capital, communications and offshore bioengineering. The inhabitants, having been given stock in the Indian Ocean Biodiversity Consortium when it bought most of the island in 2024, are now per capita the richest nation on Earth - a step from nearly medieval standards to the height of internationalism in just ten years.