Via Stuart “Futuryst” Candy we learn of MIT’s Future Freight Flows; four attempts to show just what the year 02037 might look like, from the POV of a person watching various iterations of a news program itself current to that period. (Stuart uses the Long Now’s 10,000 year clock calendar.)
Of the four, this one seems closest to the mark:
How close? Well in my view it’s good, apart from these elements of it’s depiction:
- Firstly, and mostly obviously, Nuclear Power. An increasing problem in extrapolating from the present in these rapidly changing times, something can happen just next week that invalidates the prediction you made today. This is a perfect case of that. Except for maybe state-controlled China (and we’ll see how long that situation itself lasts), that push we’ve been seeing to “re-brand” nuclear power as being ‘Green’ is over. No matter how hard they green-wash it, the world’s just got a deservedly bad case of the NIMBY’s for nuclear reactors. My prediction: reduced energy demands thanks to efficiency gains, coupled with a distributed, renewable energy driven, grid.
- Hyperlocal manufacturing thanks to 3D Printing tech? Hell yes! But… buying designs as DRM’ed products, controlled via IP law? Well, maybe for the new global elite it might be the chic thing, but for the rest..? No. Far more likely: downloading open-source designs from sites like thingiverse for everything from fashion and furniture to food to medicine, as the technology improves.
- Finally the year itself: 02037. 02017, more likely. It’s been traditional to project radical changes as being far away, over the horizon of the present. So this imagining of a newish world, a fictional future present, is pitched as being 26 years distant. But as we ride the wave of accelerating change, 6 years is the new 26 years, and I will happily place a Long Bet to that effect.
By way of contrast with this, I leave you with my least favourite of the four scenarios: the quasi-fascist/quasi-communist Eco World Order future: