As long as humans have been creating images, whether strokes of paint on stretched canvas, or crude marks on the stone wall, the topic has overwhelmingly been sex or at least nipples and wangs.
Filthy, Disgusting, Immoral... I like it.
From the Ancient Greeks and their love of showing off their fancy bits in marble sculptures, wall frescoes, terracotta jugs and the like, down to the aboriginal societies around the world, sex, fertility and the nasty are one of the few subjects that go beyond language and culture.
In fact, our obsession with watching other people do it has driven technological progress in modern entertainment -- You don't think the VCR and home video were invented to catalogue the pointless activities of your kids do you? And after all, who do you think settled the war between Blu-ray and HD to conquer the digital domain. So we can only look forward to future advancements in Real-D and holograms to see what's in store for smut in the centuries ahead.
2. Guns, Guns, Guns!
Enter da Vinci's Code to unlock da Vinci's Machine Gun!
It was John Lennon who sang that "happiness is a warm gun" which isn't technically ironic but pretty close. In any case, we have a long love affair with the boom boom stick thanks in part to Chinese and their marvelous gun powder, the one product made in China we didn't ban because of lead content.
The standard pistol of Confederate Cavalrymen during the Civil War.
Guns may have started out as primitive, temperamental bugle shaped noise-makers but they remain an area in which humanity has spared no expense. We've always built on the previous leap forward from the six-shooter, to machine gun, to that creepy mini-shotgun thing Lance Henriksen had in Hard Target.
You try cuttin' down Jean-Claude Van Damme from 30 paces with a cucumber sized rifle. That Frenchman can kick REALLY high.
Recently they've come out with this crazy electrically-fired thing that shoots a billion rounds a second and can ice a tank with pinpoint accuracy, or so that's how it looks in the computer sim.
Also, honorable mention goes to gun's close range predecessor, the sword. Here's a video of some redneck dudes showing off on hunks of meat from the butcher shop. Ideal for home defense.
3. Booze, and Gettin' F'd Up.
Even before the first Ontological thinkers asked "What is Reality?" We already knew how to brew up, smoke, or rectally absorb all sorts of stuff to help us escape it. Everyone is guilty of a little self-medicating; nothing beats a stiff drink at the end of a long day at the office, a cold brew at the game or toke at Lollapalooza.
It's a fundamental right to control what chemicals you imbibe to alter your state of mind, so long as you're not putting anyone else in danger. No prohibition has ever actually worked, only made billions for Al Capone and El Chapo.
Hell, even Han Solo was a drug runner who got dragged into some bullshit for dumpin' his cargo to ditch the Space Federales. I can't wait for Apple to invent the holographic rumpus-room from Star Trek so we can get baked and ride Brontosaurus' through Time's Square.
As long as there have been Ho's turning tricks, there's been a need to have something to exchange for their services. The world's been off the Gold Standard for a while now, and even if we're not so good at handling our electronic and plastic money, it's hard to imagine a world without some kind of currency.
Humans aren't even the only species who understand the concept of money. In one awesome experiment, researchers taught monkies the concept of money, exchanging coins for food, and it wasn't long before: "The monkeys that didn’t get any coins started to look for ways of getting those coins, they found that they could trade sex for coins" (click to see the nasty deets).
Amster-damn Good Biere...
Maybe after the world's entire economy finishes its current implosion, we can abolish the middle man and just introduce an entirely sex-based economy, which will be far less messy in the long run.
5. War, Yeah Baby!
Kind of a culmination of the other entries, and as old as the world's oldest profession, war is probably going to be around for a while longer. We're getting better at it though! Through advances in targeting systems, unmanned aerial vehicles -- well pretty much all the computer-related stuff, the overall number of casualties and scale of human destruction is demonstrably getting smaller every decade.
No, seriously! We're gettin' better at not-dying!
The truth is that war, for all its unspeakable horrors, well, kinda works. Sometimes there is no negotiating or treaty/accord-forging with a rogue state or suicidal religious fucks. The problem has always been that you can't get someone else's land or take out a Moammar Gadhafi without killing a lot of innocent people.
But the good news is, the good people at Cyberdyne are well on their way to creating the first Terminators to do our fighting and dying for us. In the latter part of the century, as humans branch out into the solar system for longer and longer stretches, it's conceivable that space stations loaded up with hemisphere-crushing warheads or death rays will serve as a global deterrent to the North Korea's of tomorrow.
Sleep tight knowing there are a few things that last longer than love or blood diamonds. But first thing tomorrow morning, crack open a cold one, pre-order your copy of Black Ops II for the 360, and fire up your DVD rip of Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge. When work calls, tell 'em you're busy enjoying the finer things because unlike them, you sure as shit aren't going to be around forever.