Bill Sniffin: Wyoming In 2043? Here Are Some Predictions, Fears, And Hopes

Columnist Bill Sniffin quotes a futurist who says: “In two decades, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will totally dominate all jobs. If you have AI for every job, where people use skilled minds, any mental job will be obsolete.”

Bill Sniffin

April 01, 20237 min read

Bill Sniffin lots of snow 1 16 23

(Part 2 of series predicting the future of Wyoming in 20 years.)

I have seen the future.

It is just like today. Only different.

Oops, it changed again.

Never mind.

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. Three things were top of mind:

First, America has never been more of a melting pot. White folks no longer are 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.

Third, street people are a problem in every warm city. They are a tiny minority of the population but they make a big impact because they stand out from everyone else. Nobody has a good legal solution to this issue.

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. Two of our Cowboy State Daily reporters, Renee Jean and Wendy Corr, also offered their thoughts.

What Does A Real Futurist Say?

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. I am fearful some of what the feds are pushing will have a very serious effect on our quality of life and our ability to call ourselves free. 

“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.  The out-right censorship by big tech is like a boot on the throat of many Americans. What started as open networks for the free exchange of ideas—Facebook, Instagram, Google—are now tools used by the censure crowd to crowd out active discussion and exchange of ideas. 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.

“Fossil fuels will be around until they are no longer cheap available energy to power the economy. A lot of lip service is given to eliminating fossil fuels, but when the standard of living of people starts coming under attack, there will be a switch back.”  

Wendy Corr fears the USA will become less of a world economic power but says: “I think China will become the dominant economic country, but the American idea will remain the world’s standard. There’s a strength in our independent way of thinking.”

Renee Jean says: “The nuclear threat is dramatically higher than it was. Other countries did not take America’s road to zero. They used that as an opportunity to ramp up. We are, I fear, dramatically and significantly behind the capabilities of other countries. That’s clearly disadvantaging us on the world stage, as we can already see with how events are unfolding in Europe.”

Robots Have A Bright (And Dark) Future

My futurist friend Wacker sees a big future for robots. He and his fellow international futurists recently met by zoom and decided robotics are happening 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 percent of the current population has mental issues and 30 percent 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.

Wyoming Tourism Offers Hope

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. Wacker feels humankind will still be able to find satisfaction from doing 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.  

Wacker is proud to be a conservative. He is not happy with the national woke agendas but he accepts them as the reality. In the future, he anticipates the country will be run by people even crazier than the ones who are running it now.

He is hopeful that Wyoming with its small population and vast open spaces can be a beacon of hope for the rest of the country. “Your small population is your biggest asset. Also, your guns,” he says with a degree of pessimism.

And he 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. 

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.