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I design an amateur (indie) sci-fi video game and wondering about which of current states or federations (like European Union) could be the top 4 superpowers by, say 2050. I care about technology and the economy as well because it will be some kind of strategy game and yes, I need 4, not 3, and not 5 factions by design decision.

I think the USA, EU, China, India, Russia could be possible choices, but as I know the population of Africa will be a very huge percent of the Earth's population by 2050 (but I don't think to Africa will be united). Other possibilities also imaginable, but I could be happy if anybody could write an argument with reasonable facts to this question.

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  • $\begingroup$ Any country that would not be exploited by the main players you mentioned. Because those countries would be nuked. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Jul 24 '18 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ 1 important factor to note is actually the EU could crumble in the next 30 years, its unlikely i admit, but i Britain manage to successfully exit without screwing it up badly as they currently are, then it will prove that the EU is not as important as it is seen to be, and other states may look to exit as well, its part of the reason why the EU is giving Britain such a hard deal $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Jul 24 '18 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ It could but as you admit as well, it is unlikely. GB is a slightly different story I think because of its special history and different culture maybe because of the island effect, maybe for another reason(s). In addition, the economy of GB has had an advantage with EU-membership (undoubtful, London is a financial center), but GB was always more independent in economical and political traits than a continental member of EU. $\endgroup$ – Bence László Jul 24 '18 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ @BenceLászló If you want to reply to comment, as a matter of protocol you add "@" to their user name in form at the beginning of this comment. This only works for one user per comment. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 24 '18 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, BenceLaszlo, since the future is unknowable we have to rely on probabilities the nations you mention are the most likely candidates for being the principal superpowers in 2050. You have a window of opportunity to nominate whatever four you prefer. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 24 '18 at 8:49
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The two that you haven't mentioned in your potential list are the United Kingdom and Japan.

Japan currently holds the 3rd position in terms of economic rankings (although this precludes the EU) and the other advantage they have over other countries for the future is that they are currently still investing heavily in scientific research. There are some fields of physics in which the only research jobs in the world are located in Japan. The downside is that at present they have a declining population (actually negative population growth) meaning that their numbers may not support their economic goals for the future at some point (although this is doubtful to manifest as a real issue in 32 years).

The UK is reasonably high on the list and the loss of its economy to the EU will be a blow in some regards. It is completely dwarfed by the combined economies of the EU of course, but it currently sits at 5th in economic rankings but has been dropping. It is less likely to be a power going forward unless it reverses this trend, but it may well do so in the future. Its success was largely based on military technology sales, but the USA has dwarfed its capability in that regard for some time and it is looking for other areas of development now. I don't know enough about how this search is going, but if it finds a good niche, then you might just find it on the rise again. The people of the UK are generally unafraid of hard work to achieve such goals.

Wildcard Bonus
Given the ever increasing population size, some commodities that we take for granted now may well become even more important than technical wares into the future. The obvious ones here are food and energy. If food becomes the 'new oil' insofar as it becomes the most important commodity for global trade, then one country that's not currently in the race may well rise;

Australia.

Hear me out on this one; Australia exports a lot of minerals, yes, but it also exports a lot of food. It has a far greater capacity to grow food than it has to consume it and this could easily make it a superpower in the future if the need for food increases. Additionally, Australia is more or less the 'Saudi Arabia' of uranium, with around 30% of the world's reserves. If nuclear power for all those people suddenly becomes the norm, then Australia's rise as an economic superpower is assured. It's already investing in higher learning, with tertiary education now being its third highest export. All we'd need now is a solid research program and we're set...

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your detailed answer, I will suggest my team to increase the number of fractions because you inspired me with such good ideas. I knew before that Australia is rich in natural resources and well-being, but what you say makes sense to include. $\endgroup$ – Bence László Jul 24 '18 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'd argue if you're pushing for Australia, then Canada would be in the list. Canada has the 3rd largest oil reserves, 3rd largest uranium reserves, plus many mined resources like gold, coal, platinum. Canada actually builds and exports nuclear reactors, something banned in Australia. Canada exports more food than Australia by value, and beats it in foods like wheat and corn. Canada can more easily trade with US, Mexico and Europe, and has the natural accessibility of human resources from the US. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jul 25 '18 at 21:38
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This question is highly opinion based. However, we can try to make an argument for and against every option.

  1. USA

    • Why yes: Big diversified economy, technological leadership, strongest army, stable political system;
    • Why not: Looming entitlement crisis, political infighting;
  2. China

    • Why yes: Big diversified economy, technologically advanced, strong political system, untapped potential;
    • Why not: Economy might have reached its peak, aging population;
  3. EU

    • Why yes: Big diversified economy, technologically advanced, educated population;
    • Why not: Unevenly matched members, economically and politically, aging population, high entitlement spending;
  4. Japan

    • Why yes: Sizeable diversified economy, technologically advanced, educated population;
    • Why not: Endless recession, aging population;
  5. Russia

    • Why yes: Abundant mineral resources, technologically advanced, strong army;
    • Why not: Non-diversified economy, aging population;
  6. India

    • Why yes: Sizeable diversified economy, lot of untapped potential;
    • Why not: Political system may not be stable enough to produce stable growth;
  7. Brazil

    • Why yes: Abundant mineral resources;
    • Why not: Political system weakness;
  8. Nigeria

    • Why yes: Abundant mineral resources, lot of untapped potential, potential leader in Africa;
    • Why not: Political system weakness coupled with security issues, low level of education;
  9. Technological singularity

    • Why yes: Powers superior to tradition "superpowers";
    • Why not: 2050 may be still too early for it.
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  • $\begingroup$ Speaking about the future is always be slightly or more opinion-based, but I try to make the game's lore more authentic than pure fiction. I say special thanks for the political system traits. $\endgroup$ – Bence László Jul 24 '18 at 8:04

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