It’s 2026.

Your Uber is zipping along at 100mph, and yet you haven’t spilled a drop of your morning coffee.

You often eat breakfast on the way to work these days, and thanks to the active-tilt feature in this self-driving Toyota, your freshly-baked pastry never leaves the plate. You sleep 30 minutes more every night since automated cars have raised speed limits and relegated traffic jams to the internet archives.

Heck, you even bought a nicer house: Who needs to live in overpriced cities when you can sleep, eat, and play Resident Evil 17 on your commute?

And when you pull up to the security gates at LikeFood HQ (“It’s Food, Virtually!”), you do so in a city that’s quiet, clean and virtually pollution-free: No more parking lots, no more car horns, no more smog. Many of the old streets are pedestrianized these days, and sometimes you hop out early to hit your mandatory daily step count. (HealthTrack Insurance: “The more you share, the more you save”.)

Your city friends cycle to work, of course: All those parking spots were quickly converted to bike lanes once people realized that modern cars would never hit them.

(They were programmed that way, weren’t they? Besides, we haven’t had a major attack on the car network since the events of 12/2022. And we can’t live our lives in fear, can we?)

The gull-wing door pops up, you step out, and your car swiftly shoots off to the service garage. The automated gates swing open ceremoniously and the door beeps in joyful recognition of your heat pattern. The hallway lights flicker to life. Dozens of wall-mounted screens flash up your profile picture to welcome you back. And with a single “hello”, your devices light up in perfect unison. Always-on voice detection is a beautiful thing.

(They can’t hear you if you whisper.)

Skyscrapers with Digital network communication in Shanghai.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Of course, actually going to work is optional for many these days: Slack for Oculus made physical presence somewhat vestigial. The “virtual watercooler” is pretty much the same as the real thing. And the “beers after work” app really does make you feel a little bit buzzed.

(But what about all those physical jobs? What about the service jobs? All just a memory.)

So you plug into the office’s intra-world and in strolls your chirpy virtual assistant. He’s super chipper today. He loves your blue tie! Really accentuates your eyes! You’ve been awarded the “snazzy-dresser” badge! You called him Mr. Clippy, of course.

(A reference that none of your 20-something coworkers will ever understand. Everyone here is 20-something, it seems.)

Your news feed opens on a queue.

World’s oldest person turns 161. Unmanned Mars mission nears completion. Neural implant update boosts IQ by 10 points.

Your assistant pulls up your mail, and your chat app, and your to-do list. A fresh coffee rolls in on an automated platter. Your seat adjusts for maximum comfort. The music app detects that you’d like some 90s throwback tracks. Compulsory mood tracking is a wonderful thing and you’re very happy about it.

It’s 2026 and everything is amazing.

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