1998-- first corporate netrunner, i.e. a paid professional deliberately hired to explore real-time net systems (i.e. "wired in"). US still tops world market, Asian powers still seperate but growing, Europe sinking
2010-- first generation of netrunners as real-time systems open worldwide. US leads tech but suffering economy dropouts, disillusionment, growing disparity of poor. Federal power weakens as States try and solve things. European alliance breaks, some individual countries begin to gain in strength at the cost of their neighbors. Asian countries still show no cohesion. Middle East experiences depressions as demand drops.
2020-- economy of scale drops the price of access, netrunners now can freelance, pseudonyms are declared legal identification. Economically, US goes bankrupt, Feds break down and go merc to survive, state powers bailed out by Corps. European scattered scene begins to seperate into small power blocks. Intra-Asian rivalries begins to build to a peak. Middle East shifts economies amid much ruin.
2030-- new design and next wave of tech makes netrunning a potentially lethal operation. AIs appear as security. Netrunning becomes a lucrative field of exploration. First gen runners generally phased out, new gen is a mix of older hands and new punks, so-called 2nd gen. Corps now dominate US. Europe is a mixed bag, the successful countries being Corp, the less successful ones being examples of the poor but proud free. Asian bloc wars end, with China dominant but shaky, and a conglomerate of third-worlders holding place as equals. Japan re-isolates, francising high tech to survive. Middle East is more robust, also militarizes.
2040-- third gen netrunners come out, more like wage slaves than anything else. As a reaction, underground third gen approach it as an art form. The rest of society stops paying attention to it. Europe continues to min/max, Third-world Asian bloc dominates, China becomes unofficial ally of stronger European powers for economic reasons. Japan goes merc. US stagnates, corps try and connect overseas. Middle East now dominates the international military scene.
2050-- US is now entirely corp, mostly with international connections for balance. Successful Europe doesn't bother conquering unsuccessful Europe. Asia mostly unified for business but sets strict borders-- US and Europe find travel easier than people from neighboring nations. Middle East now takes moral high ground as Arbitrator, sort of a tough UN plus extortion, as well as banking central. US economic rifts widen even more, as regions become smaller and harder to cross.