Wyo in 2043? Here are some predictions, hopes, fears

Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily
Posted 4/7/23

Bill Sniffin column for Friday, April 7, 2023

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Wyo in 2043? Here are some predictions, hopes, fears


(Note: This is Part 2 of a series predicting the future of Wyoming in 20 years.)

My daughter recently reminded me that only a fool or a crazy person would attempt to predict the future during these bizarre times.

So, while throwing caution to the never-ending Wyoming winds, here goes.

In many ways this winter, I have already seen the future. It is much different out there in the country than we see it here in the Cowboy State. In getting away from Wyoming’s cold weather, we recently spent time in four American cities: Dallas, Omaha, Denver and Las Vegas. Two things were top of mind:

First, America has never been more of a melting pot. White folks are no longer predominant. In my travels, there were brown and black people everywhere. And they were doing just fine. It is just amazing that some left-wing leaders still claim there is rampant racism in this country. It sure seemed to me that people of all colors are everywhere and doing everything. 

Second, electric cars are in abundance in the cities. It will be a long time until we see them in Wyoming, but they are everywhere in the cities, especially Tesla models.

In preparing this column, I reached out to some smart Wyoming people and some like Tom Lubnau of Gillette and Dave Bell of Pinedale were brave enough to offer their thoughts.

A legitimate futurist, Jeff Wacker of Dallas, gave me some chilly predictions. Wacker was the single futurist for HP, a company of 330,000 employees. He knows his stuff but I sure hope he is wrong.

I wanted to make this a prediction column about Wyoming in 2043 but much of this will be a national focus. The Cowboy State will try to maintain its own identity but it will be hard to remain isolated from trends that are dominating the rest of the country. So here goes:

Dave Bell predicts: “Wyoming has a great future. We are a ‘freedom’ state. We don’t need or want the nanny-state of California or even what the feds are pushing down our throats.

“Digital currency, surveillance, woke-ism, and the inability to speak and debate freely without fear of being cancelled, or called any one of a number of names, is evidenced in today’s woke vocabulary. Have you been ‘shadow banned’ by Facebook? I have.”

Tom Lubnau opines: “Fossil fuels are a transition fuel. The time of the transition depends upon the adoption of other energy technologies. I’ve always maintained it takes more energy utilization, not less, to clean up the environment. Lip service is given to eliminating fossil fuels, but when the standard of living starts coming under attack, there will be a switch back.” 

My futurist friend Wacker sees a big future for robots. He and his fellow international futurists recently met and decided robotics are advancing much faster than earlier thought.

Now they see the singularity or what they call the “spike” as coming in seven years when digital computers can equal the human brain in solving problems and getting work done.

They believe it will be 20 years (by 2043) when physical robots will be so commonplace in everyday life that much work will be obsolete.

“We risk becoming a population of folks living without purpose. Depression will be epidemic,” he says. He points out that 10% of the current population have mental issues and 30% are on depression medications. “This will get much worse,” he says.

Culturally, he sees the national woke agenda getting more extreme. It is possible that dogs will no longer be pets in 20 years and laws against bestiality will be modified as people will want to marry their pets, he says.

Dave Miller of Riverton, with his tongue in his cheek, writes: “The year is 2043, my electric car won’t start because yesterday I used the wrong pronoun. No air conditioner in my 30-square-foot pod, because I’ve reached my monthly allotment of electricity!”

Back to Wacker’s predictions:

He says in two decades, artificial intelligence will totally dominate all jobs. “If you have AI for every job, where people use skilled minds, any mental job will be obsolete — automation of AI will do it cheaper and more effectively, faster, and never needing human interaction. This will be medicine, engineering, anything and everything,” he says.

Two big exceptions will be tourism and art, he says.

“You just cannot duplicate the experience of visiting those wonderful vistas you have in Wyoming. Travel will be gigantic going forward,” he says.

Although AI can do some art, the human brain cannot be duplicated for its ability to do original art.

Overall, he is pessimistic about the future. Once robots through AI reach this “spike,” life will never be the same and it will be almost impossible to go back to how it is today. 

But he also offers this final bright spot: “Charity will be huge in the future. Helping others will be a reason to keep on living.” 

He worries that the USA is on track to become Argentina, which has become socialist and is mired in turmoil. Wacker thinks President Joe Biden’s administration may go down in history as the most dangerous presidency ever.

On that sobering note, I will end this column. Wyoming will be a different place in 20 short years. Hope to see you there.