“I’d like to share two potential outcomes: dystopian and non-dystopian.

The Dystopian View:
Here’s what 2040 might look like if societal systems don’t change. In this scenario, society still values excessive growth, productivity and efficiency as the primary metric of success for humanity. This is why AI has had a cultish effect on society despite the fact that its financial benefits have only been distributed to a tiny portion of people largely in the Global North.

  • “Humans who have access to the Internet and LLMs (AI) are not encouraged to be creative any longer, whether for writing (every form of written communication), making art or expressing and producing any other sort of creative output for which the AI companies have created creative tools. All writing queries for these tools will also have been outsourced to AIs.
  • “People don’t think about communities as groupings of humans any longer. They interact with personalized AI chatbots throughout their day that are designed largely to harvest their data, tell them what they want to hear and lead them to purchase or buy-in.
  • “Sadly, most people now have no jobs after society learned the hard way that the promise that ‘humans and AI will work together’ was an agenda-driven lie because the very second that any human task, skill or craft can be automated, it is, because humans are fired and replaced as soon as possible when key performance indicators and metrics focus on excessive competitive growth above all. Any logic of ‘retraining’ people is largely hogwash – at least any type of training that might actually pay people’s bills while they look for jobs, which are now mostly non-existent.
  • “As AI tools continue to be created without prioritizing ecological realities and necessities, a majority of aquifers around the world have been permanently drained due to the excessive water-cooling needs of massive data server farms. Water is now the most precious global resource and is traded on the market for higher value than any Bitcoin ever was. Most humans who are not rich do not drink potable water any longer from taps or any sources that used to come from aquifers. Climate immigration, war, famine and general chaos erupt on a regular basis due to the water shortage issues, which were vastly increased after LLMs were first introduced, because they use millions and millions of gallons of water in the act of continuing to harvest people’s data and intellectual property as they often to also continue to generate racist results, errors and anthropomorphized responses.

The Non-Dystopian View:
Here’s what 2040 might look like if societal systems change.

  • “In 2023 companies and policy makers realized it was critical to prioritize ecological flourishing and human well-being at the outset of design. Otherwise, other things would get prioritized and people and the planet would suffer.
  • “The focus for humanity has shifted from competitive capitalism to participatory relationality. The loneliness epidemic that in 2023 showed 1 in 2 people suffered from isolation (globally) has been eradicated and all people are plugged into local communities near where they live to help prioritize their individual and community-level well-being. AI or other tools are used to help this process, but people are encouraged to not use an AI agent/bot first in this process.
  • “Each new AI tool is highly regulated to only be put into play after it is assured that people’s data is protected and people and planet are accounted for in all supply and value chains as well as in the end uses of any AI system or the products, services and tools they output. California led the way for people to truly have access to their data with its ‘Delete Data’ act written into law in October 2023. This led all U.S. states and countries around the world to demand that data brokers delete all data about them from the past. In addition, all people are provided with algorithmic-level data agents that honor their preferences on sharing data in the real, digital, virtual and metaverse realms. This has finally brought a parity to data exchange providing genuine disclosure and advanced ways of exchanging ideas and data.
  • “It is 2040, and the prioritization of the planet has finally taken hold. No more species have been eradicated, emissions have been lowered and the 30 x 30 idea inspired by the 2022 Montreal COP and focused on biodiversity has been put into play. There are enough resources for all 8.5 billion people on Earth to flourish for generations to come. Any company harming the planet in any way is regulated and fined to the point where they will be shut down or bankrupt if they violate major environmental laws.
  • “The Indigenous have been brought into every aspect of government and technology design so that free, prior and informed consent are well known for all. All marginalized groups have been brought into every aspect of government and technology design so that JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) is moving policy forward through the contributions of stakeholders of all kinds (not by older White men).
  • “People in 2040 take time to prioritize caring for others and the planet and focus daily on building a positive future for our young people, shedding our past deeds that were destroying the people and planet. We celebrate music and consciousness and beauty and generally value resting and finding our joy more than rushing about and forcing productivity for productivity’s sake. We, our animals and our land are much happier. We, our children and our youth have time to play. We all smile more. We remember what it is to love. And we love.”

This essay was written in November 2023 in reply to the question: Considering likely changes due to the proliferation of AI in individuals’ lives and in social, economic and political systems, how will life have changed by 2040? This and more than 150 additional essay responses are included in the report “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence by 2040”