I believe a war is coming. Call it World War III, the Great Class War, the World Revolution, whatever you like. But one day, whether it's a year or a century from now, the wealthy of this world will go too far, and push the underclass into violent action. They won't have a choice. All the protesting and begging right now is falling on mostly deaf ears. Even those who would join the downtrodden in spirit will not do so in action, because they have their own problems. The shrinking middle class is too busy trying to save itself to help the working poor. The working poor are too busy trying to get enough scraps from the rich's table to help the lost. And the lost just fade away, dying in an alley or along a riverbank somewhere, all but alone and forgotten. Homeless villages are broken up by police, sometimes violently. Very few cities want to even acknowledge a homeless problem, much less do anything constructive about it. "Go somewhere out of the way and die quietly" is the unspoken mantra of many a municipal leadership.
As the middle class slips into poverty and many poor teeter on the brink of catastrophe, most of the wealthy do absolutely nothing about it. In fact, many just keep taking more and more money, leaving less and less for everyone else. There are definitely some wealthy men and women who are trying to make things better. The problem is they are too few, too overshadowed by more powerful, selfish tycoons. It's definitely possible the wealthy will change their ways, avert this terrible conflict. But that will require them to stop being selfish and start thinking about people other than themselves. I'm not holding my breath.
Sooner or later, things will escalate. A disgruntled former employee or dissatisfied customer will murder a CEO or bomb a business. In response, more companies will begin hiring private security, and those who already have private security will give their officers more power, more leeway to harass employees and customers alike. Private security forces will become more heavily armed, more numerous.
Military forces will also become more ubiquitous, as politicians on the payroll of conglomerates deploy more soldiers on the streets of cities and towns. The politicians will do so under the guise of "providing greater security for our citizens" and "ensuring our brave men and women in uniform remain employed." But even the military will suffer from more frequent mutinies and AWOL behavior. Funding for living soldiers will be cut in favor of unmanned vehicles and robotic assets. It's easy to believe that there will always be a place for living soldiers, living pilots. But that's just the Illusion of the Present playing tricks. With a living person, you have hazard pay, a pension, disability insurance, medical costs, life insurance, etc. But with a robot (once AI advances sufficiently), all you have to deal with is maintenance and the cost of building a new one if the old one is destroyed. From an economic viewpoint alone, there's no real reason why robots will not replace human soldiers.
And this is what will make the war much more feasible. Because at that point, there won't be just civilians out of work. There will be many, many soldiers. It is these abandoned soldiers who will form the backbone of the world revolutionary movement. The confidence of having a military force backing them will give the poor the drive to finally rise up against the wealthy and take back what is rightfully theirs. It won't be an overnight process, but one taking years...years of suffering while the poor and abandoned soldiers muster the courage to finally overthrow the super-wealthy.
The conflict itself will be unlike anything the world has seen outside of science fiction. Human resistance fighters will be fighting autonomous machines that answer not to a malevolent AI, but to malevolent tycoons and corrupt political leaders. There will be the successors to Big Dog — extremely fast, agile, quadruped killing machines able to traverse many types of terrain; loaded with fragmentary grenade launchers, machine guns, and armor designed to resist EMPs and other attacks. Boeing has made no secret of its plans to create unmanned aerial drones that seem to have sprung straight from the Terminator films. There will be large robotic tanks designed to smash through urban walls and collapse buildings, eliminating threats from snipers in the most brutal way possible. Assassin robots smaller than insects, loaded with toxins, will murder millions without so much as one bullet fired before the Resistance develops countermeasures.
As sea levels rise and the temperatures across the globe soar, noble men and women will fight valiantly against the machine armies of the wealthy. Protected by temperature-stabilizing clothing, state-of-the-art armor designed by sympathetic tech companies, and armed with weapons fine-tuned to destroy their robotic opponents, the human rebels will eventually emerge victorious over the enemy.
How long the war will last, I have no idea. It will most likely be years, maybe even decades. And how the rebels will ultimately prevail is beyond my knowledge. But in the end, the wealthy will lose this war. They will fight for money, while we will fight for freedom. For our very survival. And we will win, no matter the cost.
What comes afterwards...well, that's when the future will truly begin.