What the future might be 200 years from now

Jonathan Power
Jonathan Power is the author of the new book Conundrums of Humanity



The industrial revolution of the late 18th century that began first in England and quickly spread to other parts of the world caused a major shift in lifestyle worldwide.  New products coming out of the factories made life for those who could afford it more aboundant.

If any book heralded these momentous events The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith published in 1776 or 237 years ago, did. That seems an awfully long time ago but really it is just four life spans away. Your great-great-great-great grand parents would have lived through it.

In another 237 years from now where will we be? Dead of course, but where will the world be? Today we listen to Mozart who was born 257 years ago. We read Shakespeare who was born 439 years ago. Shakespeare and Mozart and some of the greats have survived the changing tastes of time and have spread well beyond their original orbit of European culture to countries as varied as Japan, Argentina and Tanzania. We can assume that generations yet to come will have much the same cultural interests as we do today.

In all likelihood folks living in 2250 we will probably still enjoy tastes picked up from the late twentieth and early twenty first century. Perhaps they will listen to the Beatles, visit galleries to view Picasso, or read Neruda and Chinua Achebe.

In future we are unlikely to have a better set of artists. Who can ever rival Tchaikovsky, Leonardo da Vinci, Tolstoy or Shakespeare?  But we shall have a handful of artists who will be just as good.

In future the great religions of today will persist. But Christianity will flourish mainly among the less well educated; those prone to take matters at face value.

Astronomy will probe to the very limits of our universe and go on beyond other to universes. But none will find God there to settle once and for all time the debate on belief.

In the year 2250, the great upheaval of the twentieth century, the rise and fall of communism, the dominance of the United States, the Arab Spring, the poverty and crisis in Africa, all will have become but faded memories.

Instead for most people, economic and material needs will be satisfied. People will be satiated by progress. Some people will be living until they are 200 years old, totally bored by prolonged retirement and wishing they had died a 100 years before.

There will be a flowering of the arts. Space travel will have made human activities on the moon a common occurrence. Space ships will have explored the distant reaches of our galaxy, beaming back intimate pictures of furthest outer space.

Just like today, the future of economic progress will be a topic of intense conversation. But the limits of growth will no longer be discussed. Making do with less: the world will have abundant energy, food and minerals; and these will be available everywhere. Science will have brought us fusion power, crops that produce unimaginable yields and ways of transportation that require only small amounts of energy.

John Maynard Keynes' thoughts will still dominate the thinking of economists. His ideas on demand management will be in vogue. The ideas on austerity to balance the books will have been long declared. “We shall once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful.”

The likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mobutu, Pinochet and Assad will have been thrown into the dustbin of history. People will be too well educated and prosperous to allow tyrants to emerge and the world will be so cosmopolitan that nationalism will have withered away.

Democracy and the observance of human rights will prevail. The Catholic Church, Judaism and Islam will no longer be theocracies. Atheistic non-violent Buddhism will be ever more popular as the source of a universal moral code. Buddha's denunciation of war will make military conflict and the abuse of human rights, regarded for what it is: the practice of inferior human beings.

The words one Michael Mandelbaum once wrote in the early twenty first century, will have been shown to be spot on: “The great chess game of international politics is finished.....A pawn is now just a pawn, not a sentry standing guard against an attack on the king.”