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The World’s Fair of 2064

Fifty years ago the writer Isaac Asimov took a guess at what a World’s Fair of 2014 might look like, on the occasion of the one held in New York in 1964. He got a lot right. He foresaw cordless appliances, for instance, and predicted that there would be robots but that they would not be very good. Today, as we consider the future, one thing stands clear: There is no World’s Fair of 2014. This contentious world, while it has grown smaller and closer in some respects, is in no mood to hold a celebration for itself. If it did, you would probably see one pavilion trying to acquire and consolidate its competitors while another tried to blow up its neighbors.

Still, by 2064 it is possible that the world will be in shape to give itself one heck of a great fair. It would be very different, of course, from the one that took place 100 years earlier.

First of all, there would be no national exhibits, because there will be very little interest in nationalism as such. The U.S. will still exist, we may assume, but any attempt to unite the Red exhibit with the Blue exhibit and then incorporate it with the Green exhibit will fail, and the notion of having three discordant displays costing three times the price of one will be rejected by what remains of the federal government. The impoverished, violent oligarchy that was once Russia will have dropped out as well, along with Europe, which won’t be able to afford the airfare.

Rushing in to fill the void, however, will be the three or four great global corporate states that serve and supply the world with all its needs.

The pavilion operated by Planet Amazon will be a splendid sight to see. By that time the merged super-entity will have acquired or put out of business all book suppliers, wine and liquor merchants, local food markets and supermarkets, drugstores, box stores, movie and television enterprises, newspapers and magazines, automobile companies — indeed, all the means by which people acquire the tools and supplies to feed, entertain, and transport themselves. The wonder of the fair, this exhibit will be staffed by state-of-the-art robots that are still quite flawed in many ways: Able to speak, walk, and appear somewhat human, they are as stupid as posts and truculent when frustrated.

Next door, the Temple of Facebook will be an inspiration to those who believe that our species is destined one day to be a unified meta-organism linked into a vast neural network with each of us as an individual node. Making this possible by that time will be the cortical-cranial implants that will have made obsolete all external means of digital communications — smartphones, tablets, glasses, even dinosaurs like wall-size television sets — all of which will have been internalized and powered by the electrical impulses that run what used to be our brains. Visitors to the exhibit will sample the full power of the collective mind maintained by the conglomerate that now includes Twitter, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, and finally, after a long struggle, Japan.

Time will not permit us to enjoy the wonders offered by frenetic, polluted China Inc., possibly because it will have torn down its pavilion as soon as it was finished and started building it all over again. Nor will we be able to report on the World Stadium provided by the corporations that run Brazil, because it will keep collapsing.

On our way out of the grounds, we will look up to see the circling swarm of drones. The Facebook drones will anticipate where each visitor will be and make sure everyone remains safe, secure, and engaged with all of his or her friends and relatives. Those of Planet Amazon will be busy supplying the fair with broiled turkey legs and cotton candy.

Given the advances to be made in the next few years on the issue of longevity, I fully expect to see all of you there.

Stanley Bing’s new book, The Curriculum, will be published by HarperCollins in April 2014. Follow him at and on Twitter at @thebingblog.

This story is from the January 13, 2014 issue of Fortune.