Don't hesistate to ask

Below are some of the best and most frequently asked questions about Tales from 2040, the author, and 2040 Vision.

We welcome all questions. If you do not see the information you want here or on the top criticism page, please feel free to ask the author a question.

Questions about the books

Are these books supposed to predict the future?

No. In fact, these are stories from the future, but they aren’t even really about the future — they are about today. Each of these stories begins with a realistic action that an actual corporation could take right now, then describes how that one simple change goes on to help solve large social problems over the next 30 years or so.

That being said, I began writing about the future in 2006, and since I took so long to complete and release this book, a good portion of what used to be the future is now the past, and much of it unfolded more or less as I had written it. (This has nothing to do with my ability to predict the future and everything to do with the amount of research that went into these books.)

On a personal note, even though the point of the books has never been to predict the future, this level of accuracy has been bittersweet. On the upside, it meant that I did not have to revise the stories much as events unfolded, but on the downside, it also meant that what would have been accurate predictions became completely unprofound facts. (Having a number of accurate predictions may have drawn more attention to the book, but the fact that they were written about ahead of time was known only to my circle of friends who read early drafts of the books.)

These are stories from the future... So this is sci-fi?

No, this is not science fiction. In fact, even though they are told from the perspective of the future, these books are actually all about the present.

Each book explores an alternate reality in which a corporation or individual uses their power to benefit people right now. Telling the story from 2040 is merely a way to describe, in detail, how doing so could lead to long-lasting improvements in our society.

These books are essentially business plans translated into fictional stories. Instead of boring, wishy-washy theories about what could happen if the plans were followed, this format tells realistic stories about what did happen when they were followed.

So they are not science fiction, but rather science-based fiction, in that every statement of fact and practically every fictional plot point is based on research. All that research aims to accurately reflect reality to create a believable execution of an idea.

If you are looking to classify the books into a genre, the most accurate terms are future alternate history and speculative fiction.

Do the books need to be read in order?

No. They can be read independently and in any order.

When were each of the books written?

There was some overlap, but for the most part, Tale #003 (Facebook) was researched and developed in 2006 and 2007, Tale #001 (Apple) in 2008 and 2009, and Tale #002 (Lady Gaga) in 2010 and 2011. The following years were spent updating research, adjusting to account for current events (including a major revision of Tale #001), creating the story format, and writing the books.

Why did it take you so long to write each book?

There are several reasons these books took so long.

First, I readily admit that I am not the world’s strongest writer. Better writers could have written far superior books in a fraction of the time.

However, the time spent writing is only a tiny part of what went into creating each book. For example, for each hour spent writing, eight to ten hours were spent performing research. Whenever writing a statement of fact, no matter how obvious it seems, I feel compelled to research it, because even the most obvious truths are usually neither so obvious nor so true when closely investigated.

The other factor, though, is the creative process. A Kickstarter project sold glass jars with pencil sharpeners in the lids to collect the pencil shavings as a tongue-in-cheek method to measure the amount of unseen effort that goes into creative work. The vast majority of time spent on these books ended up as pencil shavings and crumpled pieces of paper.

Each book tackles a social problem — and these are large, difficult problems to which countless others have already dedicated their lives — so coming up with any new idea, let alone a good one, is challenging. And as much as I wish it were the case, plausible strategies to fix America’s political system or combat AIDS don’t spring from my head fully formed.

What made it into the book and endnotes are the final results; but what you don’t see are the jars and jars of pencil shavings.

As I said in the introduction:

While writing, I constantly turned to research to determine what would happen next. When I came up with an idea, I did not stop when I found research that backed it up – it is far too easy to find research to support almost anything – rather, I looked first for credible research that suggested my idea was wrong. Very often I found it, and each time, I went back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas until I could fit the story to the research, not the other way around. (Unfortunately, even career scientists tend to seek only information that supports their beliefs, even though, if they really wanted to find the truth, they would try to disprove their own theories instead.)

Sometimes I would have to repeat this process eight or nine times as the research guided the story through twists and turns I could never have predicted. This slowed the writing process to a crawl, but I believe the end result is a plausible account of how we could look back at 2012 not as the year the world ended, but as a time of great new beginnings and large strides in social progress.

Why did you focus so much on America?

With all the problems in the world, why did you focus so much on America?

I focused on America for several reasons (beyond patriotism and a sense of nationalistic pride).

First, this book is based completely on research, and there is more research available about Americans than any other population in the world. (No other group even comes close.)

Second, I felt it was important to practice what I preach with regards to sticking to one’s strengths. I am an American and am far more familiar with what would work with American businesses than a whole host of other topics. (For example, I know that AIDS is a very different and much bigger problem in Sub-Saharan Africa than in the United States, but even with years of research I doubt I would have a fraction of the knowledge required to come up with a helpful idea.)

Also, as I stated in the introduction to Tales from 2040 Vol. I:

Despite recent economic troubles, the United States is still home to the highest concentration of wealthy, influential, innovative, and generous people in the world. Roughly two-thirds of those who have donated $1 billion or more to charity are self-made, American entrepreneurs. If charitable capitalism is going to happen, it will most likely start here.

Finally, the overarching goal is to start a trend of charitable capitalism, and if that is accomplished, then people who, unlike me, know the first thing about problems in other countries would come up with ideas for helping them.

Did [Apple, Facebook, Lady Gaga] pay you to write this book?

No. These books were not requested, authorized, sponsored, or endorsed by Apple, Facebook, or Lady Gaga (or anyone else for that matter).

Can I print my own copy of the books?

Yes. If you want to read the books on paper, but don’t want to purchase a print edition, you can print your own copy for personal use. (You just can’t sell any copies you make.)

To make this easier, we have prepared a version of the book designed specifically for printing. On the book download page, click Show alternate versions and choose the Eco-Friendly PDF option.

Which eBook format is right for me?

  • PDF: The most universally recognized format; this will work on almost any platform. If you don’t know which format to choose, pick PDF. If you intend to print the book, click Show alternate versions and choose the Eco-Friendly PDF option.
  • MOBI: This format delivers a consistent, high-quality reading experience across a wide range of mobile devices. Choose this format if you wish to read the book on any Amazon Kindle e-reader, or with Kindle for iOS, Mac, or PC.
  • EPUB: A widely supported eBook format that works on most e-readers except the Amazon Kindle. The format is based on open standards, but results vary widely between devices and reading programs.

Additional notes:

The full book has almost 1,500 endnotes. If you typically enjoy reading endnotes, choose the ePub or MOBI format. (Adobe Acrobat has a known bug that makes the endnote references in the PDFs link to the wrong pages.)

If you need help adding free MOBI files to your Kindle library, this article describes three easy ways to do so. (If this sounds like too much trouble, you can get the Kindle versions, but these cost a couple of dollars.)

For Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac, the books are best viewed in full-screen mode with the multi-column option enabled.

The ePub files have been optimized for Apple iBooks (for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) and Google Play Books as well as e-readers made by Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony. Some applications may display the images in the ePub files smaller than intended on high-resolution devices. If this happens, please either try the high-res alternate format or send an e-mail to with the device and app you are using and the problems you are experiencing, and we may make an alternate version for your platform.

What will the next books be about?

The next books planned are:

  • How Google Revolutionized the Food Industry
  • How Amazon Made Manufacturing Greener
  • How Wal-Mart Saved American Health Care
  • How Microsoft Fought Poverty and Made Us All Smarter

Please note that these are working titles and are subject to change.

Questions about the 2040 Network

What is the 2040 Network?

The 2040 Network is a group that 2040 Vision is working to form to help make the future brighter by promoting the concept of charitable capitalism.

To that end, we are looking for professionals who want to collaborate on the next round of Tales from 2040 books, helping us make them better (and faster) than I was able to do on my own with the first three.

How will members collaborate?

Members will begin collaborating by participating in discussions on the 2040 Network forum. While most of this forum is open to anyone, some parts are restricted to those who have had their professional credentials verified in order to keep discussions more productive.

When progress requires work that goes beyond the scope of a message board, however, we will be looking to hire qualified professionals to help, who will work directly with our team as well as interact with other members through the forum, as needed.

What types of professionals are you looking for?

If you have knowledge or experience that could help, please consider joining — we need business analysts, marketing consultants, technology experts, economists, psychologists, sociologists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, designers, writers, and creative problem solvers from all walks of life.

In addition, we are looking for experts in the following areas:

  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Climatology
  • Education (all levels)
  • Emergency Room Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Factory Farming
  • Global Poverty
  • Health Insurance
  • Hospital Management
  • Language Acquisition
  • Medical Administration
  • Packaging Science
  • Psycho/Neurolinguistics
  • Publishing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Triage Nursing

How much will consultants be paid?

The amount paid will vary widely from profession to profession and will depend on experience and the type of work performed.

Ideally, we aim to pay competitive rates for professional consulting within any given industry.

How do I sign up?

To apply, simply join the 2040 Network forum and fill out the appropriate information in your profile. (Please note: You don’t have to join to use the forum, but doing so will enable more features.)

Questions about 2040 Vision

Why is 2040 Vision not seeking 501(c)(3) status?

When it comes to promoting the concept of charitable capitalism, we want to practice what we preach.

Moreover, even though the primary goal is to benefit society, each of these projects will benefit a major corporation, which makes it inappropriate to seek tax-exempt status.

These are just books. How do they benefit a corporation?

A company can benefit both from the content itself (consulting) as well as the impact of the book on public opinion (branding and public relations).

First, a company can benefit from the value of the consulting work presented through the book.

To produce a book like this, a consultant must perform considerable amounts of research, analyze the corporation’s strengths and weaknesses, and, most important, identify a new business strategy for the corporation. While it is unlikely that a company would emulate the exact plan laid forth in the book, the information and ideas contained therein can still be of great value to its business.

Second, the book can improve public opinion toward the company, the value of which should not be underestimated.

Both Apple’s and Facebook’s stock prices have recently taken sharp downturns, and critics are questioning if Lady Gaga’s fading popularity can be regained. Whether a publicly-traded tech company or an entertainment diva, a brand’s value lives and dies by public perception of its longevity.

To revisit the art analogy, each book paints a hyperrealistic portrait of the company as a future savior of the human race. Furthermore, these are unsolicited, as-of-yet unpaid works from third party consultants -- a kind of publicity that can’t be bought from a public relations firm. These books get readers to visualize these companies as being not only powerful enough to change society for the better, but also willing to do so, and still relevant and successful thirty years from now. Read among the right audiences, this can have a dramatic impact on the company’s immediate and long-term value.

Why give these books away for free?

If it takes so much to write these books, why give them away for free? Why aren’t you selling the books like any other author?

— Lucas

I don’t see myself as an author, nor am I trying to make money selling books. What I am trying to do is raise money to hire other people to help write similar books, only better and faster.

While I think these books are important to create and share, they are not riveting bestsellers. (See Why didn’t you make the stories more interesting?) I would love for future authors to prove me wrong on this, but I don’t think Tales from 2040 books will ever appeal to a wide enough audience to support their development costs using a traditional model.

However, the books themselves are not the valuable part. What is valuable, though, are the ideas in them, and those are what I want to give to the world.

Besides, research shows the effects of charging for content on the internet, and often more than 99% of people stop at the paywall. The internet has changed what people expect to be free (everything), and with so much high quality, free content available, this behavior is understandable.

Our success metric is not the number of dollars raised, but rather the number of minds changed. As is the nature of many ideas that could make the world a little better, their value increases with the number of people who become aware of them, and we believe that making the book free is the best way to remove barriers preventing more people from learning about and sharing these ideas.

Why not sell your ideas ... or just do them yourself?

This seems like a really roundabout way of getting things done. Why not sell your ideas to the companies instead of just writing about them, or just do them yourself?

— Lucas

Short answer: If the goal is to make the world a better place, then it’s best to give these ideas away.

Long answer: With patents driving corporate lawsuits and acquisitions worth billions, it’s clear to see the value of ideas.

However, the primary goal of this project is not to make money or even to make any of these ideas become reality. The primary goal is to shift societal norms to a point where it is expected for capitalists to do good. This project furthers that goal by getting people to visualize major corporations doing precisely that.

To answer you further, though, even if the goal were to make these ideas become reality, not just anyone could do so. In fact, merely suggesting that I just do them [my]self places far too much value on the ideas and gives too little credit to the execution.

The ideas in each book have been tailored for a specific corporation that is in a unique position as a global market leader to achieve what others could not — and only a handful of others could even make a serious attempt. (Just doing them myself would also require just building a worldwide social networking platform or just becoming an international pop star.)

On the other hand, giving the ideas away publicly gives equal access to all corporations. Whereas market leaders often become complacent, those who are trying to take their place never stop innovating. For example, Tale #001 could become How the Kindle Beat the iPad and Helped Fix American Politics and Tale #003 could become How Google+ Beat Facebook and Raised an Army of New Volunteers. Giving them away in this manner creates more incentive for everyone — both market leaders and market challengers — to act.

Finally, to anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset, it seems like the best way to get an idea executed is to form a company and do it yourself, and while I appreciate the allure of that approach, there are some drawbacks. For example, I could have developed the Badges application described in Tale #003 myself. (Anyone could have.) It would have been risky. For every startup success story you’ve read, there are countless others you’ve never heard of, ones that failed even though they also had great ideas and hard workers. Furthermore, startups often end up fighting to protect and own their ideas, or buckling under pressure from investors to make revenue, either of which would have killed the impact this application made. Meanwhile, no one could make that idea more successful today than Facebook could.

Again, if the goal is to make the world a better place, then it’s best to give these ideas away.

Questions about the author

Are you a real person?

Are you a real person or is Christopher Cardinal a pseudonym for the Apple marketing department?

— Tricia Philips

Yes, I am a real person.

Your question is perfectly understandable, though, as I included no information about myself in the pre-pub review draft of the book you read. I did this in part because I am a very private person, but mostly because I wanted the focus to be purely on the ideas in the book. (In fact, for a while I considered releasing these books anonymously for that very reason, but realized that would have gone against one of the principles I am trying to promote.)

Several people complained about the lack of information about me (and even more complained about the lack of photo, interestingly enough), so I added a short About the Author page to the books as well as to this site here. If there is any lingering doubt of my existence, you are welcome to contact me through any of the methods listed there.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice?


This has been one of the most frequently asked questions, and some people come away from reading Tale #002 feeling that I am obviously pro-life or pro-choice, but rest assured that neither side would welcome me into their camp.

For more on this topic, you may want to read God would thank me if I put a bullet in your head or You are a [bleeding-heart pinko liberal / fascist conservative].

While I respect the importance of both sides, I feel the entire pro-life/pro-choice debate rages over which of two bad alternatives is the lesser of two evils, which amounts to focusing on how to treat the symptom when we should be talking about the problem. To be clear, I think abortion is an important topic, but making it the central point is nearsighted and makes debate unproductive to the point of uselessness. Each side has unarguable truths that conflict with each other and will never be resolved.

As far as my own personal views are concerned, since so many people have asked, for what it’s worth I am pro-adoption, when it makes sense, but above all else I am pro-avoiding-unwanted-pregnancies-in-the-first-place, and I feel these are values that both sides can agree with.

Note: Quotes are excerpts and have been edited for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and profanity.