What will the world be like ten years from now, in 2026?
It’s a question I’ve answered out of necessity for my two novels, Fatal Score and Skins and Bone because I began with a premise that required two things that haven’t happened yet: an escalation of cyber warfare and the attempt by Congress to control medical costs by fiat.
If you have come to this page from by blog, my facebook page or a tweet, you know that I’m asking for one of two things: either a critique of how I have projected the world to be (shown below the comment box), or the vision of 2026 you see in your mind’s eye.
Here’s a space for your comments. (If you would like me to let you know when I release chapters of either book, fill in your name and e-mail.)
Here’s what I have so far:
HealthScore: In the first book, Congress has coughed up a hairball called HealthScore to control medical costs. Supposedly fair because it’s based on genetic research (which surely won’t be up to the task by 2026), the HealthScore determines whether a patient is likely to benefit from increasingly expensive medical treatment or not. If not, she is provided with prayer and painkillers at the end. Each person has a MedRecord, carefully protected in the super-secure IACC database.
The Yak: The Interagency Communication Channel (a kluge of words, but remember, the government named it) is known by the pronunciation of its acronym, IACC, as the Yak. It has been rushed into reality by hacks and cyber attacks that have grown before 2026 to be nationally-sponsored actions. The (imagined) journalists of the time dubbed the first great outbreak CyberWar I. The Yak protects all the stuff in current government databases, financial transactions (banks and financial products such as credit cards, shares and derivatives) and medical records, as well as a wealth of infrastructure data about dams, power grids and the like. Weezy, protagonist in both books, works for the Yak as a Tracker.
Details: I have assumed many small changes but no major ones. I’ve stayed away from calling political campaigns and issues (too damn difficult), assuming that political issues move along as they have before (i.e., slowly). In the second book, Zambia is in the hands of a strongman (not true now). Africa is the new emerging economic growth area and is emulating the European Union. But the US and the EU are largely unchanged. Of course, over the decade, many smaller things have changed, such as:
- the near-universal “e-pad” (don’t want to get sued) is a phone and computer combined. Most of the time, a call is a video event. Various models of the e-pad fold or roll up.
- In the second novel, bluetooth phone receivers are being inserted under the skin behind one’s ear (mastoid bone).
- Cars are partly self-driving, though the software in Joe Mayfield’s old Honda Element is 2nd generation and not good off interstates. In the second book, in Europe, autodrive cabs are ubiquitous (but not in the States).
- Trains are back in fashion, increasingly popular for high-end business travel “since air travel had moved from exciting to banal to disgusting.” (Skins and Bone)
- In Skins and Bone, Joe has a “MobiBag,” a suitcase which reads its owner’s bluetooth and trundles along behind him.
- Business meetings are beginning to use holographic devices for presentations.
- Drones have been regulated. In Fatal Score, the bad guys contemplate searching the Big Bend of Florida for Joe using a drone, but decide it would draw too much attention from authorities.
- Language: Ahhh, there’s a hard one. I have consigned the current use of “awesome” (IPA awwww-sum) to the dustbin of linguistic history and added the Mandarin “Ni Hao” (or Nihow in 2026-speak) because it seems to me the earliest injection of one language into another is the form used in greeting (cf. Ciao). Otherwise, I’ve left English alone.