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What will the great upheaval of 2020 look like in hindsight? That’s one question that writer Peter Leyden is addressing in his new speculative fiction series The Transformation.

In its first installment, the fictional Stuart Rand—perhaps a reference to the Whole Earth Catalog editor Stewart Brand—reflects on the changes he’s witnessed in his century-long life, looking back from the year 2100. For instance, he writes that viewed from a distance, the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic was actually ideal, arriving after the digital revolution made it possible for the world’s knowledge workers to move their operations online.

More good news…


The future will be battery-powered—and it’s closer than you think. Introducing The Mobilist, a new blog from GEN and Marker contributor Steve LeVine that goes deep into the world of…


The pandemic revealed our society’s failings. We’re running out of time to fix them.

Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Earlier in 2020, as the lockdowns arrived, time started to feel warped. We began to ask ourselves whether we were living in the past or the present or whether we were caught somewhere in between. This feeling of inertia was a function of recognizing a time lag between when the virus arrived and when we realized it was here.

The coronavirus case counts we saw updated every morning were already history — reality as it was two weeks prior. What was happening had already happened but also had not happened yet. …


Normal life isn’t coming back. To pretend otherwise is deadly.

Patrons wait outside Caffe Dante in New York City on March 19, 2020, days after bars and restaurants were limited to to-go orders by the city. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Getty Images

The few times I’ve gone out to “enjoy” a nonessential service since shelter-in-place began in Chicago, I’ve found it to be an intensely guilt-ridden, hollow experience. Buying a coffee, getting a sandwich, shopping for clothes at Target when I didn’t really need to — I thought these exercises would feel comforting and normal. Instead, they have felt like a perverse mimicry of my old life, a game of pretend played at the expense of workers with a lot less power and security than me.

A week ago, I went to a walk-up window and bought a bubble tea. The shop…


I worry that antibodies and immunities tests will divide those who are allowed to reenter society, and those who are shut out

Photo: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Like everyone else, I live in fear of Covid-19. I worry that I, or someone I love, will contract it and possibly not pull through. I’m apprehensive about the long-term effects on our economy. But, unlike most of the population, I am petrified of the aftermath. I have a dysfunctional immune system, making me especially susceptible to the virus. I can’t help but wonder, how will society view those like me once we completely emerge from our cocoons? Will I be shunned and segregated? Or will I be forced to isolate myself to “protect” my physical health? …


What the golden years will look like for today’s young people

Photo by Simon Fanger on Unsplash

If you’re in your twenties and haven’t started thinking about retirement, well, it’s probably time to start. Yes, it’s still very far away, and yes, it’s easy to imagine that by the time the millennial generation hits retirement age, we’ll all be living in some sci-fi realm where health care is less complicated and robots take care of the elderly. But in the real world, enjoying your golden years requires careful planning long before you reach them.

And that planning takes on new urgency when you consider the fact that retirement a half-century from now will almost certainly look different…


Private armies were the norm in most of military history, and they’re making a big comeback

Credit: ilbusca/E+/Getty

Everywhere around the world, the nature of war is changing, and the West is failing to adapt. Western powers are already losing on the margins to threats like Russia, China, and others that have made the leap forward and grow bolder each year. Eventually someone will test us and win.

The West has forgotten how to win wars because of their own strategic atrophy. Judging by how much money the United States invests in conventional weapons like the F-35, many in our country still believe that future interstate wars will be fought conventionally. But although Russia and China still buy…


Despite a crisis of trust, surging populism, and falling revenues, journalism’s purpose has never been clearer

The Columbia Journalism Review’s “Misinformation news stand” as seen in New York on Oct. 30, 2018. Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Alan Rusbridger was editor in chief of the Guardian from 1995 to 2005. He is now principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and chair of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

In a world of fake news and information chaos, we need more journalism. That was the elevator pitch — at least, inside my own head — as I embarked on a book about the revolution in news which is still ripping through our industry with the force of a Category 5 hurricane.

We’ve now stood on the brink of this existential crisis long enough to be frightened…


Great Escape

Unless you’ve booked passage to Mars, it’s time to consider the unimaginable

Jeanne Tripplehorn and Kevin Costner In ‘Waterworld’. Photo: Archive Photos/Stringer/Getty Images

Three-quarters of the world’s megacities sprawl seaside. More than 40 percent of Americans live in oceanside counties. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that number will increase, even while the seas rise an estimated 20 feet over the next 80 years. Efforts to erect sea walls and implement massive pumping systems are underway in some locales, but even with those measures in place, tens of millions of people will be displaced.

Where will they all go? Most will go inland, of course, and maybe a few will join Elon Musk on Mars. But increasingly, technologists are envisioning off-land human…


It happens to every generation, and not for the reasons they expect

Credit: Dimitris66/E+/Getty

Nothing is more arbitrary and changeable over time, or regarded as more self-evident and absolute in their moment, than social mores. In my own fleeting half-century, I’ve watched mores shift (and, long after them, with tectonic slowness and resistance, laws) until the landscape of the past has become unrecognizable.

Twenty-first century kids will never know the dreamy peace of lying on the shelf beneath the rear window of the car, looking up through the shield of glass at the stars. When I was in grade school, we sometimes played an unsanctioned game at recess called “Smear the Queer” (less offensive/more…

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