In many ways this is the future mankind always wanted. Advances in automation, artificial intelligence and robotics have taken the drudge work and menial labor out of life. Jobs from taxi drivers to janitors to ‘burger flippers’ in café’s, secretaries and garbage collectors are performed by automatons and virtual assistants from one of several popular models. Hazardous professions have been largely taken over by artificial workers: such as infantrymen, miners and waste disposal. Human beings are generally required to supervise for both legal, ethical and common sense reasons but within a modern city proper – as opposed to the surrounding Sprawl – very few people engage in ‘unskilled’ work.
It doesn’t end with the robots or AI either. Immersive VR has come into its own, creating whole new types of entertainment and experience, as well as educational and training tools. The skies are within reach for those with the resources as repulsor-lift driven cars and sky cycles ply the airways in increasing numbers while ‘self driven’ ground vehicles make for efficient, safe traffic grids. Advances in medicine and genetics allow humanity to cure most of its common ills and repair even the most grievous of injuries. Cybernetics allows for the replacement of lost limbs and organs, and mega-corps are exploring ever more ‘augmentive’ applications. Materials science has allowed construction to build bigger, better and faster. Newly emerging genetic technologies are beginning to allow people to tinker with the fundamental building blocks of humanity.
The new age of progress has its dark side, though. The collapse of rural economies in the wake of the Phage has crowded most of the remaining nations’ populations around their large cities. The resulting massive ‘Spawls’ are a powder keg of people who desperately want to get into the cities proper and people who can’t or won’t play by society’s rules, aren’t accepted by normal society or aren’t useful enough. Crime, substance abuse, escapism and urban decay are common in the Sprawl. The network of cameras and electronics used to keep track of things like self-driven taxis and delivery drones means that someone is always watching in most public spaces and many private ones as well.
It’s not just crime and poverty, though. The events of the Mutant War and the Sentinel Purge realigned the political landscape and made the Mega Corporations major power players. Competition for contracts, resources, technology and genetic IP is stiff and espionage and even low level corporate warfare happens. Mostly it occurs out of the public eye but sometimes it spills into the limelight and makes things… complicated.
Transhumanism is another way that things get messy. There’s no shortage of people advocating that mankind ‘evolve beyond’ its present difficulties. The trouble is that the exact form that takes varies greatly. Some turn to technology – suggesting digitalized minds uploaded into robot bodies or just mass cybernetic augmentations. Others are sure the matter is better solved by genetic manipulation, using mutant DNA or other biological tricks to make humanity not only immune to the phage but also just better. In general the methods advocated by all camps are either too expensive for general use, too early in their development to be reliable or both.