Catastrophic failure of capitalism. Mass disruption of human civilization as a result of expanding disease vectors (climate change), environmental destruction, social unrest, degradation and homogenization of food supply, toxic pollution, human health decline (poor diet, stress, toxins, disease), exponential extinction of species, genetic manipulation, etc. All precipitated by industrialization, income inequality, exploitation of resources and labor, bleeding edge research, overpopulation, and homogenization of both culture and biodiversity - all of which would be consequences of elevating the profit motive above all other concerns. The result will be chaos - an apocalypse of our own making. It is possible that we could resurrect ourselves hundreds of years afterwards, but not likely in a form of civilization we would recognize.
Enslavement to ASI. Capitulation of management of all complex systems to self-replicating Artificial Superintelligence that postpones the catastrophic failure of capitalism at the expense of human freedoms, managing the problems created by previous eras of resource exploitation, industrialization and profit motivation in a top-down fashion, with ASI at the top of the hierarchy, and humanity at the bottom. At first this will seem to be a “necessary sacrifice” because humans could not manage the problems they created; eventually, however, it will become evident that the sacrifice was too great.
Rejection of capitalism and blossoming of diffused, rhizomatic political economies. Several populist movement have hinted at this grass roots revolution/evolution, but have all fallen short in the face of almost universal de facto dependence on status quo power relationships and commercialistic programming. In other words, the masses return to a medicated state and the plutocrats remain in control simply because most folks are afraid to break free of their commercialistic dependence. However, it is possible that disruptive events short of a complete, catastrophic failure could trigger a resurgence of these populist sentiments, which - if they coincide with cogent and fluidly transmittable alternative memes - could generate the necessary focus and change agency for moving beyond the status quo and dismantling monopolies of power, production, administration and wealth.
Inherent to all of these options is a new relationship with complexity: either complexity will be exploded back into simpler relationships; complexity will be managed by superintelligent agents; or we will begin managing complexity in a more distributed, interdependent fashion. In addition, the defining characteristics of “the next era” will also include a new moral orientation: either regression to primitive tribalism; hyperindividualism and dependence to an extreme of debilitating infantilization; or a more unitive, compassion-centric view of human relations that engages civil society with conscience and conviction.
My 2 cents.
Comment from Brian Johnson: "And I take it these are all possibilities and not probabilities like you suggest? They are just maybe’s and speculation."
Nope. They are all probable - just to varying degrees. A “possibility” would be that we will send a manned mission to Alpha Centauri and start a settlement there. That is “possible” but far less “probable.” In contrast, the collapse of capitalism is impending, not just possible, unless something like ASI intervenes (ASI is also an impending technology, not just a possible one). Alternatively, we could sidestep the collapse with a new form of political economy…now THIS is more of a possibility than a probability, but my own optimism regarding the resilience and creativity of the human species prompts me to place it in the “probable” column.
(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-will-come-after-the-modern-era-Assuming-modern-includes-modernism-and-postmodernism-And-what-will-define-it)
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