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Space in 2222
Humanity has colonized space and thrived following the development of affordable faster-than-light space travel. Contact with alien intelligent life forms is a result of the rapid expansion into the solar system.
The whole human population within the known universe has been measured by advanced census technology bringing people into a massive interplanetary dataset, with the official number being 5 billion: 3 billion remain on earth, 1 billion live on nearby planets with the rest spread across the galaxy.
It must be noted these galaxy colonies in the outer reaches tend to be relatively small and there are few colonies numbering more than 100,000 in population. The largest colony found away from the solar system is home to 300,000.
Advances in AI and robotics technology have enabled the creation of androids so sophisticated they’ve earned the right to survive and live among humans.
The fiercest critics of artificial intelligence argued AI would entirely replace the humanoid workforce, but in actuality most industries retain human workers at a significant level. Instead, advanced automation has reduced the hours in a working week for most humans: roughly 800-1000 hours per year, compared to 1700 for Japan in 2020 and 2000 in 1990 America.
This issue would not be settled until the late 22nd century with mankind ultimately determining androids could coexist with humans with a similar set of rights under statutory and common law. For some androids, such recognition does not go far enough and tension remains, although at lower levels.
Swathes of the Milky Way galaxy remain unexplored. Various organizations and individuals set out into the unknown in search of wealth, fame, status, and fulfillment. A conglomeration of traders and power-hungry corporations form The Guild, concerned with strictly controlling the flow of resources... including human labor.
People do operate outside of corporate support and control in adventures to new planets and star systems, although this remains an overwhelming minority. The majority support the officially controlled economy and crews striking out on their own are considered outsiders.
In 2222, these outsiders are viewed as an oddity akin to a society dropout. Often they are marginalized as a result of their race, ethnicity, ideology, family, and origin. Living outside of societal structures allows them to live without inherent disadvantages foisted upon them.
The renegade crews, or outsiders, have gained agency and control over their lives. Authorities dislike and indeed seek to stop them, however, this cannot prevent outsiders from opening up a new world and making a life outside of societal and corporate control.
There is much to explore. Human activities extend to roughly one-third of the Milky Way Galaxy and could expand further yet. Progress is however slowed by shortfalls in population as a result of smaller-scale, less developed, and insular communities.
The return on investment in finding new resources has stagnated in recent history. But the proliferation of cheap faster-than-light space travel by 2222 has revitalized the prospects for exploration. Suddenly, the prospect of a sustainable and even rich lifestyle is greatly improved for those who decide to live as outsiders.