Cyberpunk is described as a genre that is set in a world in the future, typically near future, that focuses on the high tech and low life combination of the setting. The world has advance technology, yet at the same time the social order is chaotic. For example hover cars, AI’s, holograms, virtual realities, and fast travel exist, meanwhile many of the people are living in poverty, crime is high, corporations have so much power as they exploit others, society has fallen in terms of order; these are the kinds of aspects present in cyberpunk works. The point is to show how society can be advance in technology, yet at the same time lack stability.
Taking a look at today’s world, it’s possible to see this kind of reality. In 2018 we have automated cars, virtual reality, talking robots, and developing AI’s, meanwhile we still have poverty with people living in hunger, and not all parts of the world have access to clean water. One can argue we are living in a realistic version of Cyberpunk. Looking to the future, the reality of Cyberpunk is more realistic as developments will make our world into it. It may not be entirely like it is in the books and movies, but it has a realistic shape. There are a few key points that explains why and how our world will transform into a Cyberpunk one. In my opinion, these points are base on the idea that for a society to experience that of Cyberpunk, the majority of its people have to be unable to contribute to society thus giving most of its power to the businesses and its owners who then continue to make society benefit only themselves at the cost of the people. These points serve as ways that will happen.
The media is a big part of so many people’s lives. With social media and the smart phone, now people can consume all the media they want, any place, any time. The increase of quality tv shows along with the rising presence of streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu increases the amount of media people take it. This causes for huge distractions for the masses. This isn’t to say it’s bad to watch television, check the news, and be on Twitter, but there is a downside to it from a consumers point of view. Not all consumers will get it, but many will. Consuming a lot of media will causes people to be distracted from other important duties. They will be so caught up with catching up on so many of their favorite tv shows, seeing what’s trending, what their friends are saying on social media; that they will be overwhelmed with it, yet still try their best to consume all of it so they won’t miss out on it. In today’s world, there’s a great urge to be on top of everything. The fastest wins, you have to know what’s trending, see the latest episode as soon as it comes out, and know what celebrity said what as soon as it becomes news. This idea of consuming the most at the fastest, will make people more suitable to miss important things. Mass media will only increase as time goes by. Companies like Amazon and Netflix are expanding, more shows are being produced, advertisements are everywhere (tv, internet, mall), social media is increasing its reach; this gives so much for the average consumer to consumer. It puts them in a more relax state where they won’t have the incentive to be active with important pursuits; it disables the people’s ability to want to do something with their lives.
I believe the War on Drugs will soon come to an end in the next 30 years because drugs are starting to be more decriminalize. We see it already happening with Marijuana how now people can smoke it in some states for recreational uses, and it’s being sold. This is only the beginning as more drugs will be legal for consumers in some way. This is great for criminal justice as people will stop going to jail just for doing certain drugs, and it’s great for businesses to sell them, but for the people who are actually taking the drugs, this will harm them. With the legalization of drugs, they will be easier to be access by people and it more quantity allowing people to destroy themselves with it. This isn’t the “if drugs are good or bad debate”, it’s simply stating that the more people on drugs, the higher the percentage of the population who will be unable to think for themselves, be an able body, and be a productive member of society. Just like the mass consumption of media causes distractions therefore denying people the time to be productive, drugs will cause people to not have the ability to be productive period.
Robots Taking Over Jobs
With an increase in technology such as robots, there will be a lot of jobs that are replace by robots. In today’s world, robots are already taking over certain jobs. This will only increase. Amazon has automated stores where there are no workers, Uber was testing self driving cars, and in factories machines make machines. Although there are setbacks, and these jobs are usually jobs that are repetitive and simple, eventually robots will be on the right course to take over most jobs. This leads to a future where the only jobs available for human beings besides sports, entertainment, government (police and military) will be jobs where a degree is required such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and teachers. Even those jobs will have some robot influence in them, if not entirely. There is a knockoff effect of robots taking over jobs. With many people out of work, the competition for the jobs available for humans will increase as supply will go up, but the demand will go down. We’ll have more people than jobs required. With more competition, people will be required to have more education/degrees for their jobs in order to stand out among the mass candidates for the jobs.
Yes, people will still be going to work, but there will be a mass number of people who will be unemployed. Now we’re getting into one of the main aspects of cyberpunk which is the low life, the poverty. This will be a big contributor to poverty in the future, unemployment. There will be homeless people on drugs, lazy people who just watch tv all day, but in the future we will see poor people who are able to work, and have the incentive to do so, but they can’t because they can’t find a job. You can’t work, if you can’t find a job, and if you don’t have a job, you can’t make money. With no money, people become poor.
This one is kind of a combination of the 1st two. Obesity rates are increasing along with other chronic illnesses. In a future where many people will not have the money to afford healthy food at the same time they consume so much media, they will turn to the cheap unhealthy food they can afford. With people eating unhealthy foods, their bodies will be damaged just like those who do drugs. This will lead to an increase in people who have health problems, and they won’t be able to take care of themselves, thus disabling them to be productive.
From looking at these points, it’s clear what kind of world the future will bring us. One where the majority of people are either too lazy, lack the mental capacity, or just too poor to be a productive member of society. The only people who will benefit will be the ones with most of the money which are the owners. The CEO’s of the companies that will make the robots that will replace the workers, the bosses of the all the other companies, drug stores, people in the entertainment business such as actors, musicians, and other artists because they are the ones who will be making the media. This will increase the gap between the rich and the poor, making the rich richer, and the poor poorer, ultimately making the middle class disappear.
So what’s the effect? Where does the Cyberpunk world lead us? To a dystopia. Now when hearing the word, dystopia, a person might think of a world savaged by nuclear warfare where the sun is blocked, and mutant creatures run wild. Or one where the government has cameras in your house, armed guards patrol every street, and we’re forced to watch the same tv show every day.
But what is a dystopia? Oxford dictionary says a dystopia is “An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.” Merriam Webster says “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives”. Wikipedia says “A dystopia is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.” It seems like a dystopia can be based on what a person seems to be bad, because what is one person’s dystopia is another person’s utopia, as the ones who are in charge of that dystopia, can be living a good life while the citizens live a bad one. The world which Cyberpunk is set in can be a dystopia, in fact in many works it is. Our Cyberpunk future will be a dystopia for many people.
The future will not be 1984 where the government commits terror among its people, it will be A Brave New World where people are too distracted by “the good times” that their technology brings, to do anything to change their lives.
So what can you do? Although technological advancements will happen, and society will face the pros and cons of it, people are not defenseless to the suffering. You can use the advancements in technology to benefit yourself and make yourself the best version of yourself so you can be the best fit to take on the changing world. Because although the future may seem dark, there is always opportunity and hope. Social media has allowed anyone to gain a flowing that propels them to success. We will continue to see this and ultimately see kids less than 10 become millionaires off of Youtuber while few CEO’s will become trillionaires. Many young people of the next generation won’t even have to rely on their schooling to get themselves a job, when they will be able to use the internet to make themselves a successful career.
By being all you can be, you can adapt to the world and the future. It may sound cliché, but it’s the truth. If you expand your mind and your skills, you will increase your chances of success, so in the future, you won’t be taken by the Cyberpunk. From there, you can be in the best position possible to change things for those who cannot do it for themselves, and make the world a better place.