I stumbled across an interesting article recently, A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years by Douglas Coupland. Perhaps a bit much on the “pessimist” side, but what struck me is how this list mentioned some cyberpunk-like concepts.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.

2) The future isn’t going to feel futuristic

This isn’t very cyberpunkish, but the first line explaining this is: “It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly.” A lot of cyberpunk stories focused on the concept of “future shock”, where life changes too fast for us to keep up and maintain control. I’m reminded of Vernor Vinge’s most recent book Rainbows End where one character unconciously slips into speaking Chinese due to technology that imparted that language to him. Imagine how out of control it would be to not even understand what language you are speaking.

9) The suburbs are doomed, especially those E.T., California-style suburbs

They didn’t call it “The Sprawl” for nothing in Gibson’s books. The suburbs were indistinct from the urban areas for the most part, so perhaps we’ll see “suburban renewal” projects.

14) Something smarter than us is going to emerge

Wintermute? Neuromancer? Or perhaps something more scary?

16) “You” will be turning into a cloud of data that circles the planet like a thin gauze

and

17) You may well burn out on the effort of being an individual

Shades of Ghost in the Shell here. Being always connected might lead to us becoming less distinct and more dispersed.

18) Untombed landfills will glut the market with 20th-century artifacts

Again, Gibson seems to have nailed it with the concept of gomi that many other cyberpunk settings have picked upon.

20) North America can easily fragment quickly as did the Eastern Bloc in 1989

The history written for the paper RPG Shadowrun shows North America fragmented into different groups. This is mostly due to the more fantastic element of supernatural beings and magic being introduced, but still an interesting parallel.

31) The built world will continue looking more and more like Microsoft packaging

See the reference to “The Sprawl” above.

34) You’re going to miss the 1990s more than you ever thought

That’s when good cyberpunk was at its peak! :)

42) You’ll spend a lot of time shopping online from your jail cell

A future so connected that even prisoners have internet shopping connections.

Overall, it’s an interesting look at the future, even if it did focus a bit on that “pessimist” side as I mentioned above. What do you think? Is our world heading toward cyberpunk dystopia? Or are we looking at something more like the more upbeat world of post-cyberpunk?