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Dear friends:

This letter is an attempt to share a glimpse into the future and the lives our

descendants will lead. I hope it also will serve as an explanation for the changes in personality we have seen in some of time travelers. Many of them have had difficulty

reintegrating. They will need the sustained support of everyone as they move forward in today’s world.

When my team and I crossed the threshold into 2223 Eugene, Oregon, we were met by

a welcoming committee of self-described diplomats from the “Continuity.” These

people were different from any we had ever encountered. As they greeted us, they

stood facing odd directions, never turning their unnaturally large heads toward each

other or us even when speaking, and infrequently fixing their eyes on anything in the environment. We thought at first that they might be sightless.

Complicating communication even further, they spoke in halting, cracked voices, as though they were unaccustomed to talking out loud. After a lot of confused repetition, we finally made out what they were saying. We were expected and welcome, but we had a decision to make before we could proceed further.

They gave us two choices:

1. Explore the world as we were, through our un-enhanced brains and sensory systems.

We would see the infrastructure, the photosynthetic energy production facilities, the food generation systems, and the rewilding parts of the environment, and even make a quick trip to the moon.

The diplomats would do their best to describe the lives that humans led in their Continuity as well, but we would not directly engage with other people and would ultimately learn little about what it meant to be a human in 2223.

2. Undergo modification. We would be fitted with temporary neural extensions, which would grant us modulated access to other humans. Full engagement wouldn’t be possible because we were not genetically enhanced. We would experience just enough of the Continuity to have a sense of how people lived. The diplomats assured us that there was virtually no risk to our physical safety but we would almost certainly struggle to integrate back into our lives once the extensions were removed and we returned to 2023. As you can imagine, this was a lot to process. We weren’t expecting to be subjected to any kind of modification, much less “neural enhancement.”

And at that point we weren’t entirely convinced that the diplomats were trustworthy, or even human. So, we decided to stick with option one.

Thus began a whirlwind tour of the future. You can read the official details in our observation logs and journal entries. In this letter, I want to give you a more personal sense of what we experienced, and what the world will be like in two hundred years (if all of this time travel doesn’t upset the course of history).

Behaviorally, the people of 2223 are barely recognizable as human.

At one point, when we were walking through a city, everyone suddenly erupted in laughter, all the way up and down the street and in the buildings, without any explanation. I have never felt so outside of a connected experience, and yet it was stirring and beautiful to witness the connection.

Sense organs were all but vestigial. People could sense the composition of things in their environment down to the molecular level. Eyes and ears and touch were limiting compared to the sense-data they received in this way. Because they rarely looked at each other, their faces are unguarded and expressive.

They moved through the world like curious children.

To understand all of this, we needed to learn about the Continuity. Our diplomats described it as something much more profound than telepathic connection. It is an unbroken ocean of awareness, they said.

Each human being has unlimited access to the experiences, memories, and knowledge of all other continuous people. They spend more time exploring the experiences of other living beings (not just human!) in the continuity than those they live directly. In their words: “We represent an awakening that transcends anything you can imagine in your experience as an isolated being. We are a vast, continuous, global organism, pulsing with sensations, thoughts, and emotions.

The sense of individual identity so prized in your time no longer exists in ours. We value instead a universal knowing, with an ever evolving, but shared awareness, of the human experience.

War and violence are unthinkable to us. Anyone who harms others must also experience the pain they have inflicted.

We require no formal education, though the training of bodies and minds is still part of our maturation experience. We can instantly access skills and concepts through shared cognition.

We need no media. Content is dynamically and instantaneously generated and we can experience it with all of our senses.

We need no travel. We can visit with anyone we like and can experience any populated place. Interacting with others is richer and more satisfying than what you experience in your unenhanced state. We know this, because we have agreed to experience life outside the Continuity every few years. We need no governance. Resources are efficiently allocated, and inequities have been dissolved. Competition is unnecessary. Innovations benefit from the cognitive resources of many working together instead of a few in rivalry. We need no markets and no currency.

We need no peripherals, no computers, no phones. We can easily oversee the operation of artificially intelligent machines as they perform the necessary labor to support living beings.”

How is all of this possible? To summarize the official report: future humans have been enhanced by a new layer of brain tissue that is genetically engineered to extend the inherent quantum capabilities of human brains. Genetic engineering also enables the development of bio transmitters and receivers embedded in the skull. Skulls are also embedded with sensors that can detect even the faintest signals in the environment, including chemical signatures and light and sound waves across superhuman spectra. I had a hard time believing that humans would ever consent to giving up their individual identities, the genetic modification of infants, or the dismantling of markets and government.

When pressed on this, the diplomats said: “Think back across all of human history. What drove progress? Connection! As human societies flourished, we grew more connected. During periods of decline, we grew more distant.

Early humans learned to connect through gestures, then words, then symbols and then written language. Each advancement enabled new forms of connection. The printing press spawned a revolution in human culture and technology unimaginable to humans who lived in all of prior history. And then the radio and then video. And then the internet. And the years after your return to 2023, your world will face a series of intractable existential crises. None of this will be a surprise to you.

Your time is already grappling with climate change, the sixth great extinction, war between nation states, and misguided use of what you call artificial intelligence. The maturation of quantum computing will magnify these problems beyond your world’s ability to solve them. Discontinuous humans, with their divergent agendas, will nearly destroy all of the progress of human history within the span of a few years. Humankind will have little choice: come together or fall apart completely.”

Thank you for reading my letter. I hope it will help to serve as an explanation for the changes in personality we have seen in those travelers who chose neural enhancement during their time in the future. They are clearly struggling with their separation, and striving already to create the Continuity so that they may return to connection within their lifetimes.


Amanda Russell

Senior Researcher

United Nations


Karessa Torgerson

Karessa Torgerson is a graduate student in foresight at the University of Houston. She is interested in supporting cultivation of foresight skills in adults who are working to overcome high ACES (adverse childhood experience scores).

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