Science fiction becoming reality – that’s how life on the Earth (and beyond) would look like 100 years from now, with underwater cities, giant drones and super high skyscrapers.
The vision of the future introduced in the SmartThings Future Living Report by space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, futurist architects Arthur Mamou-Mani and Toby Burgess, and pioneering urbanists Linda Aitken and Els Leclerq, includes space colonies, 3D printable food and furniture and a three-day work week.
The authors said their vision was shaped not only by current technology developments but also by existing and projected environmental constraints.
The world people are going to live in 100 years from now will struggle with diminishing resources and overpopulation, forcing engineers and architects to look for new ways of accommodating the populations and their needs.
New materials such as carbon nanotubes and diamond nano threads will allow building much higher skyscrapers than the tallest of today, but urbanists will also start utilising space below the Earth’s surface building massive underground inhabitable complexes. Large water bodies will no longer be the realm of fish but will also see major infrastructure development with underwater bubble cities being created that will use the surrounding water as a source of breathable oxygen and hydrogen fuel.
“Our lives today are almost unrecognisable from those a century ago,” said Maggie Aderin-Pocock, one of the report’s authors. “The Internet has revolutionised the way we communicate, learn and control our lives. Over the next century we will witness further seismic shifts in the way we live and interact with our surroundings.”
Instead of going to IKEA to shop for their furniture, people will 3D-print their own tables, chairs and cabinets at home. Also houses will be largely 3D-printable, using recyclable materials, with flexible smart walls and integrated LED displays that adjust the interior decoration according to the user’s mood.
“The smart home revolution will have massively positive implications on how we live,” said James Monighan, from Samsung SmartThings, which commissioned the report. “Our homes are becoming smarter and can now detect the presence of things like people, pets, smoke, humidity, lighting, and moisture. And this is just the beginning.”
The authors even envision that grocery shopping will become a thing of the past. Instead of cooking, people will be able to 3D-print their food based on recipes from world-famous chefs.
Instead of cars parked in front of those houses, there will be personal flying drones, as three-dimensional transport will be an everyday reality. In addition to drones for personal transportation, there will be large vehicles capable of transporting an entire home for holidays.
The report also foresees substantial changes in the social sphere as teleconferencing and intelligent technology will increase the amount of free time. The report envisions that people will only be working three days per week and will have diagnostic medipods at hand to take care of their health to reduce cost of medical care.
The society 100 years from now, the report’s authors believe, will be space-faring, with colonies on the Moon, Mars and ventures into other galaxies an everyday reality.
But not everyone subscribes to such a vision of future utopia. American computer scientist Moshe Vardi sees potential problems in the decreasing amount of time people would have to work. With the rise of robotics, in only 30 years’ time, robots may be able to do almost any job today performed by humans. This trend could increase unemployment globally up to 50 per cent. The problem, he says, is that it is unlikely that those owning the resources (and the robots) will be so charitable as to feed those not needed workers for free.
"We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task," said Vardi, a lecturer at Rice University in Texas. "I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?"
The challenge for the economic system to restructure itself to provide decent lives for the billions of people ‘sentenced’ to lives of leisure seems, at this moment, almost unsolvable.
"The question I want to put forward is, 'does the technology we are developing ultimately benefit mankind?'" Vardi said. "I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing. I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing," he said.