Once it became undeniable, given the emergence of e-clones and RCRs in the 2030s, that we were on the way towards personal immortality, there came to be a pressing need for a settled global system of governance which could control the size of the population and the nature of humans themselves. The predisposing factors that worked in that direction during the first half of the 21st century were roughly as follows:
By 2030, almost all aspects of economic life were governed by rule-based, global organizations with attached judicial fora, built on the model of the WTO. Progress in this direction between 2010 and 2020 had been much faster in those sectors that already had English as a lingua franca. The advent of effective universal machine transation in 2016 removed most of the remaining barriers to global cooperation; and availability of the babelfish implant from 2025 (it was mandatory for international negotiators, legislators and jurists from 2028) more or less permanently destroyed national barriers based on language.
'The Decade of the People', as it became known (2027-2037), saw a rapid shift in general sentiment against sectoral and doctrinal interests, and an intensified move of policy-making from national to international arenas, in a mass reaction against the horrors of the Arab/Israeli nuclear exchange in 2025, which killed more than eight million people. That was the last shout of nationalism, and was the period during which people finally emancipated themselves from 'isms' such as nationalism, religion and political belief systems such as socialism. The Decade of the People saw the final triumph of 'people power'; something which had been given a name in Poland as long ago as 1985, but which had taken more than 50 years to become a reality. By 2040 it was a rare event for a national or even an international organisation to be able to take a view which was significantly different from prevailing mass opinion. The introduction of real-time, continuous global issue voting using direct brain-to-RCC communication in 2070 merely recognized what was already a practical reality - the first time since classical Athens, or perhaps ever, that a society was truly democratic.
Progress in cultural and political globalization was slow as long as language barriers remained, but caught up rapidly in the 2030s. The United Nations had staggered from crisis to crisis in the 2010s, but when globalization became both inevitable and accepted after the Arab/Israeli war, the much-strengthened UN was the preferred umbrella organization for global cultural rule-making bodies. A model already existed in the form of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), both of them agencies of the UN since the end of the 20th century, although WIPO itself was transferred to the WTO in 2015 (the WTO had administered the judicial role of WIPO from the beginning). Other UN-related bodies which were formed between 2010 and 2030 included the World Association of Professionals (WAP), which takes in lawyers, doctors and architects among other professions, and the World Educational Organization (WEO), formed after almost all tertiary and much secondary education had migrated to the Internet.
A clutch of international bodies born in the 20th century while the market was still subservient to central planning were abolished or folded into other organizations. Thus, the IMF (intended originally to police foreign exchange) and the World Bank (intended originally to assist the rebuilding of Europe after WWII), were merged and made into a financial agency of the WTO in 2018. Private markets, securitization and disintermediation on the Internet had made them both irrelevant. The OECD held out for a while, but became the economic research agency of the WTO in 2020, joining the World Environmental Agency, which had acquired global reach under the Washington Accord in 2018 after the USA finally gave in to Chinese pressure.
Alongside the globalization of most aspects of international governance, which itself was rapidly leaching power away from national governments, the 2020s also saw a rapid increase in the power of multinational corporations vis-a-vis governments. With standard-setting on a global basis (already a de facto reality in 2010, and legitimized in 2017 when the International Standards Organization became an agency of the WTO) the focus of governmental involvement with corporations became competition law: reining in, or even just understanding the immense power of corporations was one of the major preoccupations of early 21st century governance. Almost without exception, the technological advances of the 21st century were driven by private business endeavour, although of course national governments and the global bodies that increasingly took over regulation and supervision of business were ever-present. For example, financial power-house Goldman Sachs made profits in 2006 of US$6bn on net revenues of US$30bn, and had assets under management of more than US$700bn. By 2015, having absorbed a number of competitor organizations, banks and other types of financial institution, these figures had risen six-fold. The firm's profits in 2015 were US$30bn, net revenues were nearly US$200bn, and assets under management over US$3 trillion. In 2015, Goldman Sachs's revenue stream was larger than that of all but 12 countries; and many other companies were even larger, particularly in the energy, electronics and consumer manufacturing sectors.
The angst of increasingly cash-strapped nation states faced with immensely rich corporations was only increased after the abandonment of corporation tax under the Harbin Accord of 2023. This was not just because people had stopped believing in the economic efficacy of government, but in many cases simply because most governments did not have the financial resources to compete against the multinationals, and even when they did (as in the case of the USA and Japan) were hamstrung by fractious legislatures. Russia and China provided exceptions for a while, but by 2030 even these countries had given up the unequal fight. The last major investment activity at nation state level was the establishment of Moon and Mars bases by the USA and China respectively in 2020-2025. Even inter-stellar exploration, beginning in 2050, was a privately-financed venture.
The third member of the governance triumvirate alongside the WTO and the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee (see below) gained power during the 2010s and 2020s as the relative importance of sport, entertainment and recreation grew in relation to 'work'. Individual sporting bodies such as FIFA became affiliated agencies of the IOC, and a series of judicial bodies grew up to administer rules of conduct in the various recreational fields. For the IOC, the summit of its importance was reached when non-human sports were given their own Olympiad in 2037.
It took longer for the regional political organizations such as the European Union and Nafta to merge into a world political body, not so much because of economic boundaries (the world was 100% tariff-free by 2020) or because nation states resisted the process, but because of language and cultural barriers which were only finally demolished in the 2030s. By 2020 the EU incorporated Turkey, the Ukraine, Belarus and European Russia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine; NAFTA merged with the Free Trade Area of the Americas and CARICOM in 2026; and APEC, excluding China, by then incorporated most of Australasia. India and China, due to their size, remained standouts.
Negotiations towards a final, global economic and political association accelerated after the Arab/Israeli war, but it was not until the widespread adoption of RCCs in the 2040s and 2050s that eventual agreement was reached. All 384 of the nations that had come to exist collaborated in the World Union of 2057, while retaining their national identities and a number of reserved powers.
The structure of the World Union took account of parallel developments that had been taking place on the genetic and cultural fronts. The tussle between 'improvers' and 'stayers', that's to say, between those who would allow an unlimited range of genetic and bionic changes to humans and those who would allow only remedial work for a very limited range of defined, genetically-transmitted conditions had occupied almost 40 years before an accommodation was reached in 2050. To a great extent the battle was fought in the arena of public opinion, particularly after 2030 when global electronic opinion polls became universal.
As might be expected, governments were 'stayers', although strictly on pragmatic, mostly cost grounds. Religions, equally predictably, also lined up with the stayers, ostensibly on moral grounds, but in reality out of fear for their position. Other essentially conservative forces included teachers, doctors and the 'multilaterals', each in its own way defending territory rather than taking ethical positions. It's difficult indeed to say whether ethics played any part in the struggle on either side. 'Improvers' were just as forceful and just as opinionated as 'stayers', but equally self-seeking. Technologists on the whole were naturally on the improving side, as was business, for the most part.
By 2050 e-clones and RCRs were already in widespread use, and primitive RCCs were becoming the subject of much argument, raging over the issue of whether the individual consciousness should preserve its isolation from the deep-rooted collective unconscious when individuals began to take part in collective cognitive activity, or whether it was better to create pathways to the unconscious so that a fuller and more explicit version of each individual psyche could play its part in the collective experience. The issue of deception played a major role: there seemed little point in recreating the highly deceptive social behaviours that characterize most human social groups in new fora designed to allow closer cooperation between people. The result was a compromise, and a limited set of additional neural pathways, allowing conscious access to some significant parts of the unconscious, but by no means all, was incorporated into the standard model of the human brain which is accessible to individuals in their e-clones, RCRs and in RCCs.
Once it had become clear that there weren't any technological limits to what a human could become, immortality was available (at a price), and that people could make choices as to their life-style, appearance, location and psyche virtually at will throughout their lives, there seemed little point in tampering too much with the 'people' we were already familiar with, so that it was widely agreed that it was just much safer to stick with what we knew, apart from the modifications to consciousness and some genetic 'tweaking' to reduce the incidence of anti-social and psychotic behaviour.
The eventual consensus regarding human development was reflected in the Human Settlement of 2051. The Settlement prohibited genetic variation outside the existing genomic range, although some exceptions were made for robotic, medical and psychosomatic research. And of course there was a long list of permitted corrective genetic manipulations for the suppression of disease, known as the Codex Humanicus. The Codes of Conduct for bionic enhancement and for RCRs include a very large number of specific exemptions from the basic Settlement rules, and these grow in number and complexity year by year; but the Settlement as such has stood the test of time, even when RCCs became the normal mode of human cooperation. Management of the Settlement, including enforcement, is in the hands of the Global Genetic Gathering, unsurprisingly known generally as G3. It is an affiliated agency of the United Nations, and all 384 nations are members.
The World Union re-established the United Nations as a global dispute resolution forum, but ongoing executive power was located in the Assembly of the People, which was reorganized in 2065 to have three primary divisions, Education, Sport and Science. Economic management remained in the hands of the World Trade Organization. From 2070, the growing influence of the essentially conservative Assembly, which from the beginning wanted to control education according to existing models, acted to block off too much experimentation with the possibilities for group behaviour inherent in RCCs.
The story of the rest of the century is largely one of humankind's response to pressure on resources. While the invention of e-clones, RCRs and RCCs made it possible, and in many people's eyes desirable to live in cyber-space, the population continued to increase between 2030 and 2060. After the World Union took place in 2057, the first order of business was to create a sustainable model for the future of society, and a goal of 90% cyber-living was set, to be achieved by 2080, together with limitations on childbirth to 1% of the population per year. Under these rules, and with continual improvements to RCRs and RCCs, the population had stabilized at 20 billion by 2080, of whom only 10% were allowed to occupy their physical bodies at any one time, on average.
Reproduction takes place between pairs of individuals, as before, and pregnant women live in physical shape until the child is three years old, but are allowed some hours a day in cyber-form to continue with 'normal' life. About 10% of a child's time is spent in its physical body, more during puberty, less afterwards. Once grown up, the physical body is used mainly for holidays. Injury and death remain possible, and physical death is accompanied by cyber-death: it's not permitted to have one mind-form without the other. The prescribed 1% annual turnover in the population, which is desirable to permit variation and evolution to continue, is achieved mainly, though, through voluntary euthanasia ('wiping') or emigration to stellar colonies, and there are some cyber-behaviours which carry a death penalty, or rather, transportation.
Along with the forced move to cyber-living went a wholesale reorganization of the economic models according to which people exist in society. Cyber-space, e-clones, storage and maintenance of unused physical bodies and the ongoing back-up processes are provided free to all individuals. Money and the international financial system still exist, but for cyber-living money was largely replaced by a system of 'contribution' under which people are rewarded according to the response of their peers for what they provide to society. Annually, 20% of 'contribution' acquired during the year is converted into money at a fixed rate and used to pay cyber-space facilities providers.
NB: The Judicial and Regulatory agencies which operate in parallel to the Supervisory Sub-Committees are not shown on this diagram.
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