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So, in this hypothetical world, a lot of things are exactly the same as they are now, save that its around 100 years in the future. The borders of countries cease to change from the way they are now. They stay this way for around a century. What possible reason could there be for this?

Context:

  1. Whatever caused this has more negative effects than positive.
  2. Large corporations hold a greater amount of power after the century completes.
  3. There is a greater amount of international co-operation.
  4. Human population has risen to around 11 billion by the end of the century.
  5. The Chinese and English languages become much more popular than they are today.
  6. There are no significant space colonization efforts during this time.
  7. A rather large rogue planet moves through the Oort cloud during the end of the century.
  8. Very smart but not yet human level machine intelligences populate the planet.
  9. Technology continues to advance.
  10. Wage gap between the poor and the rich widens.

Since I'm saving an asteroid impact for later and I don't want to be cheap, I don't really want the event(s) to be too cataclysmic. Please, step outside the constraints I've imposed upon you as you see fit.

Previously I thought something like a long-term economic depression would do the trick, maybe mixed in with some sort of event which made governments irrelevant, maybe just an extreme form of stagnation?

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  • $\begingroup$ the short answer is peace, border have not changed a lot recently, a stronger UN could bring that down to zero change. $\endgroup$ – John May 5 '17 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ I'm having trouble with "very smart but not human level". Personally, I would not describe most humans as "very smart". So in general, I would consider "very smart" to be above human level. Perhaps you meant but not beyond human level? Or rather dumb but near human level? $\endgroup$ – Brythan May 5 '17 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Brythan Sorry about the ambiguity of the statement. In this world people are able to crudely scan brain activity, from this they can create human-like intelligence. these "AIs"can complete basic tasks and achieve some level of intuition, but it is very doubtful that they are what we might call sentient (at the very least: they do not perceive the world as we do) $\endgroup$ – Hsasaradd Tsinthos May 6 '17 at 11:33
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Stability, and not in a good way. I'm going to on the opposite direction of @thestarchyninja and say one government, or cabal of businesses are doing it through old Soviet style of oppression.

You keep people at subsistence levels, scapegoat a few, and make the borders meaningless as the businesses will be constantly transferring people from nation to nation so that ethnic and cultural cohesion no longer exist. Bonus points for destroying all family bonds in the process, which could be done through anti-nepotism laws so that members of the same family would not be able to work for the same companies.

The companies could, of course, stifle competition through regulatory capture. Regulations for starting a new business would be so cost-prohibitive as to see that the cabal was never challenged.

Through these regulations, the corporate cabal could push down wages. Combined with the thinking computers, most low-level jobs would be eliminated, ensuring that only a certain class of people could rise to the level of employed. Black markets would of course rise, but any that came to any prominence could be quickly squashed due to their illegal nature. They should be allowed to continue to exist so that you could have people turning each other in, preventing any sort of cohesive resistance to anything arising.

TLDR:

In short, keep the people divided both physically and economically, pit them against each other, and have the loyalties be towards their corporate masters first, and national boundaries way down the list. War, and shifting borders are bad for business.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's a really great idea! I could certainly see that working, plus you included a lot of my context. How could a situation like that come about? perhaps countries with economic problems created mega trusts? I'll certainly think on this. $\endgroup$ – Hsasaradd Tsinthos May 5 '17 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ @HsasaraddTsinthos It could be done fairly easily through laws "protecting" people. Putting in regulations that no small company could hope to meet would ensure the consolidation of the big ones. Companies would pay off governments and governments would pass laws favorable to the corporate cabals. A few "scandals" causing the corporations to be fined would be a way for the governments to look like they were protecting the people. The businesses would use this as a way to pay off governments while looking like they were being punished. $\endgroup$ – Richard U May 5 '17 at 18:09
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My first thought on this would be some form of world government where every country has a representative although this is extremely unlikely from ever happening.

A world government would mean that there would be no wars because everyone would be in an "alliance" and the chances of a country getting through a measure of decreasing another country's borders would be very unlikely. This idea would come inline with more globalisation and also two main languages would help considerably as every country would be speaking the same language naturally meaning you have already broken down any language barriers.

To summarise a solution to your problem would be world government where every country would act like a state/constituency and would each have a representative that would represent their interests.

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  • $\begingroup$ It makes a lot of sense to have a worldwide alliance. However this is quite hard to do. people tend to disagree, and people with enough power want more power, not to share it. I'm kind of thinking about a short period of change that leads to a WW3 situation wherein after defeating the Massive threat, the US and China both make similar "Truman Doctrines/policy announcements" and join together to ensure world peace and solve overpopulation issues or something. $\endgroup$ – Hsasaradd Tsinthos May 5 '17 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yes that would be a good solution to the problem $\endgroup$ – thestarchyninja May 5 '17 at 17:35
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Lack of necessity for change.

Why do borders change? Because people are unhappy with their lot, and try to take something from somebody else, and the strongest wins. Because (like with Israel) one side loses a war, and the loss entails a loss of property, sovereignty, and perhaps a reward to the oppressed (Jews after WW II). Because a strong government conquered a people, became a weak government, and the people they conquered reassert their sovereignty. The USSR breaks up due to a failed economic pipe dream (Communism). Because of Malthusian pressures: The population increases every year until it outgrows even its stable resources, like fertile land and fresh water, so need leads to some excuse for war with neighbors so they have room to expand.

What makes for a lack of necessity? Either nobody is unhappy with their lot (at least, not unhappy enough to collectively risk their lives taking somebody else's land and resources), nobody is religiously motivated to slaughter any infidels, or nobody is strong enough to believe they can win such a war.

Reasons to be happy: The happiest nations on Earth today are generally the Nordic Model countries; Norway being one of them. The reason they are happy is the particular mix of socialism and capitalism they enforce; namely everything necessary for life and health is 100% free and guaranteed (healthcare, education, shelter, safety, food, transportation), everything else follows the capitalist model. I don't want to turn this into a political diatribe, I would just say evidence shows that if the existential problems of people are removed, they don't have to work at all if they are satisfied with the basics and their life is never in danger, then they tend to be happy.

How can you achieve this state worldwide? Through better technology. Unlimited energy technology (nothing new is necessary, space born solar power stations could provide that, one way or another), non-conscious robots to do work and production and farming and food production, cleaning and such. Healthcare professionals can get educated for free and work, they can be paid commensurately for doing so and live in bigger houses, enjoy better entertainment and restaurants and vacations, which are not free for everybody (only comfortable survival is guaranteed, not free entertainment or spa days or amusement parks, not fine food or theaters).

So, as in the Nordic countries; most people do indeed work so they can have some of the finer things in life. But the citizens are as a whole happy and not threatened by other countries. Because their survival is near guaranteed (save accident or incurable disease) they tend to have replacement levels of children and their populations are stable. So they aren't agitating for war or more territory.

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Peace is declared. And enforced.

Dubious annexations and suspect independence movements make the big players scared of losing territory. Russia, China, the US and UK all have non-trivial independence movements in some districts, if international support was discovered there might be problems. All borders are established permanently, all land is owned by exactly one government. To further protect governments from outside influences migrations of peoples between governments is strictly limited. Local independence interests would still cause frustration.

or Global warming treaties get serious.

The carbon value of every hector of the planet, land and sea is established and assigned to a nation. The process for transferring between nations is complicated and no one is able to convince all the necessary parties to agree to any deal. As meaningful barriers to damaging the environment are created it becomes apparent just how much we depended on mother nature taking one for the team. Everything becomes more expensive and complicated to avoid damage and to accurately account for all damage everyone does.

Language

As everyone in the world wants to talk and sell to everyone else common languages become more important especially in law. Many second tier languages hold on for various reasons, but if money changes hands everyone wants the contract in English or Mandarin.

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How about if borders are no longer what's being fought about? That is, the violence, the competition, the exploitation, just use different markers of territory and success? The borders won't change if that isn't where conflict is happening, that is, if they aren't doing much.

One idea I had was, you mention that corporations get stronger? That might do it. They could wield enormous influence through financial means, compete over markets and trade agreements, and - especially if these are multi-national corporations and the markets continue globalizing - generally not give a hoot where the borders are since they care about monetary resources and territoriality (profit), not land-based resources and territory (borders).

Such corporations would be powerful, as powerful as governments in their own ways. Monopolies give leverage over all those who must buy their products, especially if doing without is dangerous. Employers (especially when, in some areas, that is also a monopoly, see company towns) can also wield a lot of power over their employees, especially if they need money to live, so being unemployed is dangerous. And they might turn security guards into a security force (aka army), and internal auditors for fraud investigation and interpersonal conflict (aka police force) because don't they have a right to protect their investments, and which country should they apply to anyway when their holdings are multinational? And company rules that are, effectively, actual laws because hey, with so many people in so many countries, which set of laws has precedence and isn't this an internal company matter anyway?

And, these sorts of fiefdoms don't necessarily have to care about national borders - as long as the governments have, or can be persuaded to have, some kind of trade agreements. And that persuasion, eventually, can reach levels where lobbying by the tech companies that deal with information security on the devices the governments use (and therefore have access to information for blackmail) or else perhaps the companies that deal in hardware (like the weapons the government relies on to keep the peace) is really, ah, somewhat Less Uncertain than company lobbying methods today.

There isn't going to be a peace that leaves the borders where they are, that isn't how people work. There will be aggression, competition, territoriality, cutthroat politics, and tons of collateral damage - people will do it when they can get away with it, and actively try to shape situations so they can get away with it. But the territory may change, the limits and methods of enforcement may change, the seat of power and necessary politics might change, and if the old (land territory borders) are no longer relevant enough for the new (economic leverage) to fight over - why not leave them be? As, essentially, "historical artifacts".

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Actually the reality of borders not really changing is already here... mostly. Globalization and international economic interdependence has made the prospect of wars between 1st world countries absolutely unpalatable.

For example the United States and China are very unlikely to actually initiate an offensive war against each other due to their economic interdependence. They both hurt when one hurts.

When you do see wars these days, it is from 2nd and 3rd world countries that are not yet economically intertwined with their neighbors, nor are they stable. Also offensive wars against your neighbors typically results in getting curb stomped by 'Merica and the boys. Desert Storm being a prime example. The current exception to the rule is, of course, Russia pulling off land grabs against their neighbors such as Ukraine, and nobody stops them because they are still a military powerhouse globally.

The other main source of border changes come from ethnically or religiously based conflict that fractures Balkanized nations into smaller groups. North and South Sudan is a good example of this.

So the two types of modern wars are:

  1. Economically strategic land grabs (Russian invasion of Crimea, Chinese domination of the South China Sea, Iraqi invasion of Kuwait)

  2. Countries splitting over ethnic and religious differences (Yugoslavia, Sudan, basically all of Sub-Saharran Africa)

So a world without border changes would be a world where economically insecure powers stabilized and intertwined with the rest of the world, and mainly African countries established competent governments that effectively pacify secessionist movements of minority ethnicities and religions.

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