The 4th of July, aka America’s birthday, is one of the most iconic days in the U.S. We all associate a lot of things with today, but what will the 4th of July look like in the future?
July 4th being midweek this year is annoying in that, yes you get a day off during the week, but it doesn’t set you up for that sweet, sweet three-day-weekend as usual.
That got the Edgy Labs crew thinking: what will July 4th be like in ~30 years?
We previously did a shorter piece about how future technology will affect the patriotic American holiday. It focused on drones, how countries might change, VR, and lab-grown or alternatively sourced meat and food.
But how will a traditional July 4th celebration change by 2050?
1. Food: From Pork Fat and CAFOs to Socially And Ethically Conscious Options
Food is, without a doubt, one of the most central parts of any July 4th celebration.
In fact, I would argue, as a person who grew up in the southern U.S., that food might just be more important than the whole American independence thing.
Due to how food preparation works, we probably won’t have flakes that magically turn into whole cooked chickens like Leeloo Dallas Multipass in the Fifth Element any time soon, but a girl can dream.
However, we could potentially see a totally revamped food manufacturing process.
In last year’s article , we touched on how lab-grown food will grace our grills. But this focuses just on our enjoyment of the meat. The implications go far beyond whether or not we eat meat from a real animal — it addresses environmental concerns, too.
People already challenge the environmental damage and ethics behind concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These industrial farms produce high amounts of carbon emissions and can contaminate local streams and rivers.
Along with other envirotech like solar/wind power, bioremediation, and data science resource management, the year 2050 might see circular economies celebrating much more than one country’s independence day.
2. Reimagining Backyard Family BBQs and Pool Time
Yes, that is a dude on a real-life, Green Goblin-esque hoverboard. But hopping on a Flyboard Air might not be the only thing to change about classic family get-togethers for the 4th of July celebration.
Apart from the aforementioned differences in food sourcing, we might adopt alternative ways to “grill” or otherwise cook our food. What if — gasp — we don’t even consume food like we do now and it’s all just pills or patches or intravenous options?!
I pity the day when people don’t relish a glass of lemonade in the summer heat as they dig into delicious food that all their friends and family brought to share.
However, “block parties” don’t really happen anymore and more people live farther away from their friends thanks to the Internet. That means that technology can fill the void created by distance, time, money, and other impediments to camaraderie.
In the 2016 U.S. election, some people utilized a unique VR chatroom to engage with others. By 2050, this process could be an integral part of everyday life.
Holographic or VR projections may be a mainstay for everything from work to recreation to long-distance celebrations. By leveraging technology mentioned on #4 of this list, we could take things one step further into sensory engagement.
Of course, I’d love to have a July 4th that isn’t like standing inside someone’s armpit during a really important job interview that happens to be in 100°F heat. Let’s keep all the friends, the food, and the fun, but ditch the heat and the bugs, eh?
3. Androids in Celebrations and History Lessons
Dramatic historical re-enactments are one popular facet of Independence celebrations.
In Ireland, you can find dramatic actors roaming St. Stephen’s Green and other areas around town decked in their finest James Joyce inspired attire. June 16th is Bloomsday or “Ulysses Day” after the author’s famous novel.
In the same vein as these troupes, Americans sometimes recreate things such as the founding father’s signing the Declaration of Independence. But imagine if these recreations didn’t involve humans anymore, but androids instead.
Imagine real-life android versions of all the dead white guys you learn about in school.
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, John Adams — the works! Now imagine Alexander Hamilton android singing and dancing to the Hamilton! musical. It’s the future and it’s brilliant.
Or, it is at least better than the alternative which is the above pictured George Washington destructo-bots from Bioshock: Infinite. If you want to explore some alternate history for July 4th, that’s the game to play.
But chatting it up with an android Ben Franklin would be pretty nifty, if potentially weird.
4. Force Feedback Fireworks and Total, Immersive VR
VR lets us do many things these days including watch the Earth travel through the void of space.
Though immersive, VR mostly gets used for training or educational purposes. While we think Tron 3 could be the first VR film, the probability isn’t high. With high costs to adopt and a bit of a learning curve regarding use, VR isn’t viable on a large scale yet.
But by 2050, VR will have been nearly perfected, assuredly.
As such, we could see new solutions to the fireworks conundrum in terms of a) LOUD NOISES and b) environmental impact, but I want to see the big things go boom.
You must forgive my monkey brain; I absolutely LOVE fireworks. So the idea of force feedback VR fireworks is really something because you can experience the aural and physical sensations of fireworks without any real fireworks whatsoever.
There could be a collective firework display for people to tap into each year. People could coordinate their own fireworks displays for their neighborhoods. The possibilities are somewhat endless really.
Another benefit regards people and animals with aversions to fireworks.
If we phase out real world, combustible fireworks by 2050, we could spare military veterans and sensitive doggos and catfriends the added stress of fireworks.
Of course, there may soon be a neural implant for PTSD sufferers to ameliorate some of the symptoms of living with trauma experience.
5. World Changes and (Potentially) Aliens…?
As we pointed out in our previous July 4th article, the world may drastically change in just a few decades. From countries combining to new countries forming, who knows how American Independence Day will evolve.
But regardless of what flags look like in the future, I’m more interested in aliens.
Oh yes, I said it — aliens.
They might not come in peace like the aliens of Independence Day the movie or the spoof film Mars Attacks. Or they might just not care about us and find us quaint.
By 2050, Elon Musk will have long had his Tesla factory on Mars. We will, undoubtedly, discover things about the Martian planet history we couldn’t dream of today.
While we may not encounter a plot as in the video game series Mass Effect, surely human technology regarding space exploration and travel will have evolved to the point of determining whether or not we are alone in the universe.
July 4th could evolve into a day of inclusion — celebrating the principles upon which America was founded for all its people: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We are a nation of immigrants, after all, along with the Native Americans who were here long before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon what he thought was the “West Indies”.
Perhaps July 4th could come to represent a day of welcoming for alien refugees and all who seek asylum from oppressive or negligent parents countries/rulers. But this is, by far, the biggest conjecture made in this article.
Still, though…aliens are real. Fox Moulder told me so.
Final Thoughts on American Independence Day
By 2050, we might also acknowledge that July 4th is not the actual independence day.
The Continental Congress declared America’s independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. We celebrate the day that Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence (as drafted by Thomas Jefferson).
Essentially, a formal (if perfunctory) document announcing the declaration superseded the declaration itself in history. In fact, the document wasn’t even signed until August 2nd.
But even if we move it to July 2nd and use human Ubers to portray us at family events, there will still likely be big, flashy fireworks and some kind of grilled food to eat.
One thing is for certain: Aliens or not, today is still America’s birthday.