887: Future Timeline
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Title text: Not shown: the approximately 30,000 identical, vaguely hysterical articles titled "WHITE PEOPLE IN [THE US/BRITAIN] TO BECOME MINORITY BY [YEAR]!", which came up for basically any year I put in.
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This comic uses the same strategy as comic 715: Numbers, in which Randall uses Google to search for phrases and then charts the results. This one is charted as a timeline, whereas 715 was charted as line graphs.
"2101 - War Was Beginning" is a reference to the opening narration of video game Zero Wing; the same narration is famous for the internet meme "All your base are belong to us". As there are not any other out and out references in the comic, and the rest are actually results that you can find if you search using Randall's methods, we're pretty sure "War Was Beginning" came up when he googled 2101 as well.
Another point of this comic is that certain event, e.g. "Social Security stops running surplus", are repeated multiple times. Also, certain bizarre events, like "Apocalypse occurs", or "Flying cars reach market", happen before rather plausible things, like "HTML 5 Finished". Certain events, like "Japan is a robot-only country", may be related to a recurring theme in xkcd comics, including 605: Extrapolating.
The title text is borne of a recurring "white people panic"; scaremongers will put in years of the very near future in order to get the panicked racist people to pay attention to them (without actually using valid or accepted scientific measurements to back up these claims; panicked racist people don't exactly fact-check very much), while level-headed sociologists will usually come up with more distant dates from their extrapolations.
As for how accurate the Internet has been: The ONLY prediction to have come true as of January 2014 is the world population hitting the 7 billion mark. The United States is scheduled to remove the last of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but the cynics in the audience may note that the government is usually lenient about these dates. And unless you count the Android phone platform, Linux shows absolutely no signs of winning back 50% of the operating system market in the next 12 months.
From the top:
- World population: Ever since the advent of modern medicine and the more efficient agricultural processes developed suit the Industrial Revolution, the human population had been growing at an unprecedented rate. This has caused some people to worry about overpopulation, which would cause a scarcity of resources and overcrowding, and propose various solutions, most of which involve some form of eugenics. 7 billion is a landmark number because it is a multiple of 1 billion.
- Flying cars: For decades, flying cars have been a staple of futuristic sci-fi and technological predictions. So far none of these predictions, which to tend to hover around 5–10 years from whatever the current date is, have come true.
- Canada cuts greenhouse admissions: Currently, the Earth is experiencing an unprecedented period of warming we call global warming, caused in part by greenhouse admissions, which are gases that help trap heat in the atmosphere. Countries have repeatedly gotten together and promised to stop emitting greenhouse gases, but so far they have failed to meet their targets.
- Apocalypse occurs: This is in reference to the popular film 2012, which portrays the world ending December 22, 2012, using the end of a cycle of the Mayan calendar as a basis for predicting the end of the world. Some people took this rather more seriously, and actually believed that the world would end on this date. It didn't.
- National debt paid off: For years, the subject of national debt has been a political point of contention, with the Republicans typically favoring paying it all off, and the Democrats more willing to spend to pull the country out of recessions in the economy. Clinton, a democrat, at one point proposed paying off the debt by 2015: http://money.cnn.com/1999/06/28/economy/clinton/
- Microchipping Americans: Microchips are small computer chips, typically embedded in pets in case they get lost, that contain information about the pet. Some, more irrational, people worry about the government microchipping everyone in an effort to monitor their activities.
- Homlessness ended in MA: Homelessness has been a persistent problem in societies all over the world for centuries. It is unclear why Massachusetts specifically would end homelessness — Massachusetts is a more Democratic and wealthier state than others, but not particular initiatives have been started there to end homelessness.
- Health care reform law repealed: A health care reform law, popularly known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010. Ever since, many Republicans have tried their utmost to repeal it, disliking the idea that government should provide and require healthcare.
- US leaves Afghanistan: After the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan, home of the Taliban, the terrorist organization behind the attacks. The war has gone on since then, with the public growing increasingly tired of it. Public support now favors a withdrawal, but for military and logistical reasons, the government cannot simply move all the troops currently in Afghanistan home right now. For one, that would cause immediate chaos in the country. Therefore, the government instead promises to eventually withdraw all troops, planning on doing so by the end of 2014.
- GNU/Linux dominant OS: An operating system, or OS, is the software that forms the structure in which applications on you computer function. Some typical OSs include Mac OSX, Windows 8, and Linux. The first two of those three are commercial products, sold as a copy by a company. The last is an open-source OS, one that anyone can download and modify free. Typically, open-source software is used by a small number of socially conscious people. It is therefore unrealistic to predict that it will become mainstream in the near future.
- Baby boomers begin turning 65: Baby boomers are individuals conceived in the years following World War Two, roughly defined as those born from 1946-1959. This isn't so much a prediction as basic math; if you were born in 1946, you turned 65 in 2011.
- Android takes 38%/45% of market share: Android is a popular operating system for smartphones and tablets, created by Google. Market share is the percentage of all devices that use the product, in this case the Android operating system. These entries together are humorous because they cannot both happen at the same time.
- THE FUTURE
- According to Google search results
- Events for each year determined by the first page of Google search results for the phrases:
"By <year>" "In year" "By the year <year>" "In the year <year>" "Will * by the year <year>" "Will * in the year <year>" "In <year>, * will" "By <year>, * will" 2012 World population reaches 7 billion Flying cars reach market Canada cuts greenhouse emissions to 6% below 1990 levels as per Kyoto Apocalypse occurs 2013 National debt paid off through President Clinton's plans Microchipping of all Americans begins Homelessness ended in Massachusetts Health care reform law repealed 2014 US leaves Afghanistan GNU/Linux becomes dominant OS 2015 New Horizons reaches Pluto Health care law causes hyperinflation 192 UN member nations achieve millennium development goals:
- Extreme poverty and hunger eradicated
- Universal primary education implemented
- Women empowered, gender equality reached
- Environmental stability ensured
2016 Baby boomers begin turning 65 Android takes 38% of the smartphone market Android takes 45% of the smartphone market Windows Phone overtakes iOS in smartphones 2017 China completes unmanned Lunar sample-return mission Social Security stops running surplus US budget balanced Newspapers become obsolete and die out Cosmetic surgery doubles 2018 Social Security stops running surplus Jesus returns to Earth 2019 Social Security stops running surplus Every baby has genes mapped at birth 2020 Solar power becomes cheaper than fossil fuels Keyboards and mice become obsolete New Tappan Zee bridge constructed 2021 US debt reaches 97% of GDP US unemployment falls to 2.8% Restored caliphate unifies Middle East Lake Mead evaporates 2022 Kilimanjaro snow-free HTML 5 finished Newspapers become obsolete and die out 2023 Jesus returns to Earth (again) US debt passes 100% of GDP All unprotected ancient forests gone from Pacific Northwest 2024 Atlantis begins to reappear Orangutans extinct in wild China lands men and women on the moon NASA sets up permanent moon base Female professionals pass males in pay 2025 World population reaches 8 billion Two billion people face water shortages 62 MPG cars introduced US power fades 2026 Atlantis emerges completely Rock Bands die out US debt paid off Car accidents cease West coast falls into ocean 2027 Japan introduces new fastest Maglev train Lyndon Larouche-planned Mars colony is established Social Security stops running surplus 2028 Tobacco outlawed 40% of coral reefs gone US debt paid off Social Security stops running surplus 2029 Social Security trust fund exhausted Computers pass the Turing test Aging reversed Wikipedia reaches 30 Million articles 2030 Half of Amazon rain forest lost to logging Cancer deaths double from 2008 levels Arctic ice-free in summer 2031 Computers controlled by thought Realtors replaced by technology Social Security trust fund exhausted 2032 "Big One" hits San Francisco US elects first married lesbian President Entire world converted to Christianity 2033 Kilimanjaro ice disappears India becomes superpower Europe reaches Mars 2034 US diabetes cases double, treatment costs triple US builds autonomous robot army 2035 80% of America's energy comes from renewable sources Himalayan glaciers down 80% in size Arctic sea lane opens 2036 80% of US has access to high-speed rail Asteroid Apophis misses/hits Earth 2037 Arctic ice-free in September Social Security trust fund exhausted 2038 32-bit timestamps roll over, causing Y2K-level chaos "Big One" hits California 2039 US population hits 400 Million Severe heat waves become commonplace Scientology becomes majority religion in US 2040 Arctic summers ice-free Nanotechnology makes humans immortal 2041 Social Security trust fund exhausted 2042 2043 World population passes 9 Billion 2044 Mankind genetically engineered to be happy Childhood obesity reaches 100% 2045 Humans and machines merge 2046 World's natural resources depleted 2047 World ruled by banks and corporations Tobacco industry fails US begins using autonomous attack drones 2048 Salt-water fish extinct from overfishing Unisex bathing suits cover body from shoulder to ankle Entire US population overweight US begins using autonomous attack drones 2049 $1.000 computer exceeds computational ability of humanity Singularity occurs Fishing industry collapses 2050 80% of Earth's population lives in urban centers China controls space Sex with robots possible Cars banned from European cities One million species extinct from climate change 2051 Atmosphere escapes into space 2052 Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security spending exceed total US revenue 2053 US budget balanced Majority of Americans in prison Cars driven by dogs 2054 Hunger becomes unimaginable global problem 2055 Atmospheric CO2 doubled Oil runs out Copper, tin, lead, gold, and nickel all exhausted 2056 RFID-tagged driverless cars Robots given same rights as humans 2057 150 Japanese settlers on Mars Colorado River runs dry 2058 Smoking ends in New Zealand 2059 Humans have domesticated robots 2060 Human race lives in peace Extreme droughts across much of Earth Global temperature rise reaches 4 °C Oil runs out again 2061 Halley's comet returns 2062 Uganda hosts World Cup The Jetsons 2063 First human clones reach adulthood Population of Moon reaches 100,000 Population of Mars reaches 10,000 Spacecraft exceed speed of light 2064 Clean Air Act finishes reducing haze in national parks to natural levels 2065 Last coral reefs die out Chernobyl cleanup complete 2066 Cyprus achieves its goal 2067 Americans live in domed cities and watch 3D TV Redheads go extinct 2068 Ozone hole over Antarctic finishes recovering Lord Jesus rules Earth from throne in Jerusalem Entire world population gay due to chemicals in the water 2069 Public masturbation legalized 2070 World population peaks City-scale flooding disasters 60% of world's energy comes from renewable sources 2071 Europe's temperatures rise by 3 °C World summer temperatures rise by 5 °C 2072 US retirement age is set to 75 2073 Oceans do not rise one foot 2074 Number of 100-year-olds reaches one million Supertyphoons hit Japan 2075 US retirement age set to 69 2076 Average scientific paper has more than 24 authors Social Security trust fund exhausted 2077 2078 Newspapers become obsolete and die out 2079 US debt reaches 716% of GDP Lodgepole pines disappear from Northwest Floods commonplace Religion marginalized 2080 Federal spending reaches 70% of GDP UK population doubles 2081 2082 World population declines to one billion 2083 2084 Robot policemen introduced 2085 US deficit reaches 62% of GDP 2086 2087 2088 Japan becomes all-robot country 2089 World halts fossil fuel use 2090 Global warming hits 7 °C Global warming hits 4 °C 2091 2092 2093 2094 2095 2096 2097 2098 2099 2100 Global warming around 5-7 °C Sea levels have risen by a meter or more Joshua trees nearly extinct Earth's climate resembles that of the Cretaceous Germany tropical Emperor penguins extinct Arctic permafrost thaws Rising seas flood coastal cities Rain forests mostly gone due to climatic shifts All coral reefs gone Gillette introduces 14-bladed razor 2101 WAR WAS BEGINNING