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A new day has come in 2045

Mario was a pragmatic and distrustful guy, he used to delegate all important decisions
to the technological gadgets he gathered. „Work smarter, not harder“ was one of his favorite
mottos. A member of an upper middle class family from Rio de Janeiro, he was born in the
1990s and studied in a traditional private school. His father was a diplomat and his mother a
university professor. At home, he had all the cutting edge gadgets his father used to buy
when he traveled abroad. Mario was the first in his school to bring a laptop in the classroom.
He no longer wanted to use notebooks, nor did he draw by hand anymore.

His father wanted him to study business administration, to be a businessman. His
mother saw in him a talent for Computer Science. To please both of them, Mario became an
Economics and Computer Science student at university. He heard from his father that the
future was Europe, that since the adoption of the Euro in 2002, there was no better place to
work and live. He also said that the European Union was wonderful for symbolizing the union
of different peoples, the free movement of individuals, progress, and sustainability.

Mario started as an intern at an agribusiness company. He was developing systems to
increase the productivity of soybean fields in the Midwest and North of Brazil. There,
soybean producers deforested the Amazon to increase production. But it changed as of
2023, when the government became more rigid, after the ratification of the trade agreement
between the European Union and the Mercosur, which demanded a change in the South
American countries‘ attitude towards the climate crisis. Agribusiness seemed like a good
business for Mario, because his algorithm showed continuous population growth, and
producing food meant everlasting profits.

Mario started basing his decisions on the answers provided by the artificial intelligence
he developed. He used to put together predictive analysis spreadsheets to guess from the
cheapest travel destination to the results of the Champions League. This is how he chose
his fiancée, Livia, and projected that they could raise two children. He loved two girls in
2024, but by analyzing the pros and cons of both in a spreadsheet, he opted to date Livia.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, Latin America could never recover from the effects of
inflation. Mario thought it was a good idea to exchange his cash for cryptocurrencies. He
invested half of his savings in Bitcoins, because he believed that this asset would become
valuable in the future, and the other half in the stock market. With the profit, he would
finance his new life in Europe.

Twenty-two years have passed. Today is July 12th, 2045, and Mario accidentally
meets Alberto, his friend from university, at the Frankfurt airport café.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other! Tell me how you are!”, Alberto
says. “Things aren’t going very well”, Mario replies.

Flights are delayed because a massive blackout has affected flight systems. With the
efforts made in the 2020s to replace fossil fuels with renewable and green ones, power
generation has never supplied the demand. There are no flying cars yet, but all vehicles are
electric and autonomous. Even airplanes no longer have any pilots. But the energy is crucial
for them to fly.

Mario got divorced. The truth is that the marriage never succeeded. Sometimes he
thinks about Estela, the girl he rejected when he chose Livia, advised by the AI. He tried to
meet Estela recently, but she swore she would never answer his holographic messages
again. By the way, the new “iHologram 5” is really amazing. Have you already bought yours?

“How much has changed since we met at my graduation party in 2023”, Mario says.
“The world is very different from the one we dreamed of”, Alberto replies.

Because he trusted technology too much, Mario saved everything in the cloud.
Personal data, passwords, cryptocurrencies. With the global blackout, which will be a
constant occurrence, bitcoins and cryptocurrencies are stuck, and he can’t withdraw them. In
fact, right now, the price of these currencies (the only ones out there, since the antique
currency has no longer existed since 2032) has dropped sharply, because everyone is trying
to have access to them, but Mario doesn’t know yet that he has lost almost all of his savings.

Governors despair about the blackout. Old coal and gas plants begin to be inspected
in an attempt to reactivate them. India is the new world superpower. Unlike China, the Indian
population has never stopped growing and now reaches 2 billion. The world is not managing
to produce food sustainably as imagined in the 2020s. Vegan food is popular and cheap
now, thanks to underground farms that produce continuously, even in winter. But lab-grown
meat has become too expensive again because it requires too much water to produce.

Food production is another major discussion. The European Union and Mercosur
agreement in 2019 triggered a wave of dissatisfaction with French, Dutch, Spanish, and Irish
producers because South American products were arriving cheaper to supermarkets than
local ones. The Confederation of European Countries now makes the decisions. It replaced
the former European Union, after most countries decided to leave the block. Today the
Confederation is composed by Germany, France and the United Kingdom, which suffered so
much economically with the Brexit that it decided to rejoin an alliance with other European
powers. The remaining countries have collapsed because right-wing populist rulers have
taken power and banned immigration. People don’t trust each other as much anymore.

“I should have believed more in what people told me”, Mario concludes.

One thing Mario’s predictive algorithm got right: he had two children. Oh look, the old
gas generator at the airport has been turned back on. The electricity is restored. Mario says
goodbye to Alberto, because he is going to visit his children. They now live in an educational
camp in the northern Amazon. This is where children from upper middle class families have
gone to study, to supposedly become more human and sustainable. Of course, they pay
more money for that privilege. Since the region is still remote, there is no internet or
computers or iHolograms. Since artificial intelligence has made people around the world
lazier and less literate, on the school’s door, an advertisement emphasizes its uniqueness:
“Here, we teach in an old-style way to make the future better”. Capitalism has found a new
way out again.

by Cristian Edel Weiss

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