One way to visualize possible scenarios for the medium-term future of Earth civilization (100-1000 years) is to consider major yes/no questions and then speculate how the various combinations might play out.

Below are the current lists of questions I’m considering, and four major scenarios that seem plausible.


Ecological Questions

  • Will human population begin to decline because of family planning, female literacy, and/or the high cost of having children?
  • Will we experience a population-reducing megacatastrophe (asteroid strike, sun-blotting supervolcano, weaponized biological agent, etc.)?
  • Will climate engineering (carbon sequestration, reduced carbon output, and sun-dimming) offset severe climate change effects?
  • Will the trend of increasing environmental protections, ecological restoration, and reforestation continue?
  • Will we develop widespread access to cheap, clean energy via modular fusion, efficient solar, and/or thorium nuclear systems?

Technological Questions

  • Will AI exceed the human capacity for conscious intelligence?
  • Will we create a fully functional virtualization of the complete human body/nervous system/consciousness?
  • Will we achieve the smooth transition of human consciousness to non-biological substrates?
  • Will we colonize the solar system via moon and planetary bases, terraforming, and or large-scale habit spaceships (ie. ringstations)?
  • Will we create a functional warp drive that allows FTL/non-time dilating interstellar travel (antimatter fueled, negative mass harnessing)?
  • Will we contact or gain direct evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations?

Social Organization/Global Politics Questions

  • Will the global trend of increased literacy and access to education continue?
  • Will the global trend of increased empathy, pluralism, tolerance, and reduced violence continue?
  • Will a superpower go ideologically mad and start World War III?
  • Will there be successful pushbacks and reforms vs. extreme concentrations of wealth and power?

Plausible Scenarios: 02100-03000

By considering answers to the questions above, here are four possible scenarios for the medium-term future:


  • gradual population decline due to family planning/choice
  • catastrophic population decline due to natural megadisaster
  • global trade collapse, resurgence of nationalism/tribalism
  • solar system colonization via ringstations, isolated progressive/scientific cultures
  • human genetic and cultural diversification due to isolated populations, genetic editing


  • gradual population decline due to family planning/choice
  • increased global commitment to environmental protection, reforestation, ocean habitat restoration, clean energy, carbon sequestration
  • humans “retire” into virtual worlds (end of death)
  • social reform to reduce wealth concentration, increase universal public services, basic income guarantee
  • major catastrophes avoided due to prevention, luck, and/or intervention


  • gradual population growth due to public wealth/services
  • solar system colonization
  • warp drive invention, interstellar travel (tiny android astronauts)
  • environmental engineering
  • death “cured” with body replacement, virtualized brains
  • androids/AIs demand human rights, create parallel societies
  • multiple ET contacts, cultural conflicts


  • steep population decline due to depression epidemic, high cost of children, general pessimism
  • unchecked wealth concentration and widespread feelings of powerlessness, class warfare
  • increased terrorism and acts of sabotage
  • new terrifying weapons of mass destruction, including weaponized viruses and parasites
  • collapse of global trade, collapse of many higher institutions
  • high vulnerability to natural disasters and disease due to lack of civic organization or effective international communication
  • unchecked environmental pollution, deforestation, carbon accumulation, ocean acidification
  • food collapse due to soil erosion, drought, disease
  • failure to find a viable alternative to fossil fuels, fossil fuel depletion
  • technological retardation, lost knowledge, collapse of energy and internet infrastructure
  • human extinction, or tiny isolated survivalist communities


Another way to consider future scenarios is simply to extrapolate the evolution and spread of existing cutting technologies and trends.

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.
William Gibson

  • Computers can recognize faces and voices.
  • Computers can read and write.
  • Robots can read and imitate human facial expressions.
  • Cars and trucks can navigate and drive themselves.
  • Cars can fly.
  • Computers can provide a full health report from a single drop of blood.
  • Human intelligence and ability can be radically enhanced with accelerated learning and cognitive enhancing drugs.
  • The vast majority of illnesses can be cured or effectively mitigated with dietary, lifestyle, pharmaceutical, surgical, nanodrone, and/or other physiological interventions.
  • Cheap, clean energy availability.
  • Ubiquitous availability of world’s knowledge.
  • Things, including machines and computers, can be printed.
  • Lifeforms can be artificially designed constructed from basic proteins.
  • Household objects communicate with each other.
  • Multiple virtualized information levels are superimposed onto physical places and events.