At Trensition, we think about the future, day in, day out. Our job is to contemplate about what will happen in two, five or ten years and byeond from now. You might call us futurists, trend watchers or visionairs, but we like to think of ourselves as future analysts. We analyze the evolution of emerging phenomena through data in order to get a good picture of possible future scenarios. Our predictions are supported by artificial intelligence, hereby putting into practice what Ray Kurzweil once said: “Humans can’t predict the future, but AI will.”
In this blog we envision how some aspects of living in a city could look like on the 1st of January 2035, based on the evolution of some emerging technologies.
It’s 2035 and there are hardly any accidents on the road. Car sensors and integrated AI continuously trace all obstacles on the road and assess in real-time the risks to which cars are exposed. Cars anticipate automatically to the identified risks, safeguarding the safety of all participants in traffic situation at hand. In front of crossings and schools, for example, cars adjust their speed automatically. Driver’s licenses have become obsolete. You can sit back and relax and let the car do all the work. Gas stations are also disappearing as most cars are electric. Predictive maintenance detects if a car needs a service and then automatically plans a service according to your agenda. Your car, if you still own one, navigates you to the nearest available parking spot, as parking lots are also connected.
It’s 2035 and we are nostalgic about traffic jams because our cars are all connected to each other and continuously communicate to prevent the occurrence of congestions. If there is a risk of congestion, vehicles automatically inform each other and anticipate by slowing down or taking a different route. Traffic lights independently switch from red to green based on real-time traffic information. City mobility has become much more efficient and safe.
It’s 2035 and streets are much safer compared to 2020. Once a person or a vehicle approaches, smart street lights light up – and vice versa, hereby saving energy. Cameras on light posts and traffic signs surveil entire roads and immediately identify crime, fire or other calamities and communicate these to the responsible authorities for adequate action.
Sensor-equipped dumpsters anticipate for the overflow of trash. Other solutions monitor when and how garbage is collected. Advanced IoT platforms use such data to refine collection practices, cut back on vehicle emissions and improve service quality. Air and water quality in the city are continuously monitored and warning systems timely alert citizens about dangerous conditions, but also promote public accountability by automatically tracing the origin of hazardous discharges. With the right sensors in place, regulators have all the power to steer and act on the city environment. This is the heart of a connected city.
It’s 2035 and you remember how clumsy it was to keep an oversized smartphone in your hand and how addicted you were to these devices. Today, communicating with family and friends, buying stuff, gathering information happens via wearables, based on gestures and voice commands. Smart contact lenses augment the physical environment and provide you in real-time with all the information you desire.
It’s 2035 and a health service system alerts you that your 95-year old grandmother’s health sensors measured deviating values during her afternoon nap. The AI driven system decides to automatically warn a doctor on duty to make a final judgement. A couple of months ago, your grandmother received new 3D printed kidney and you fear that these artificial organs are failing, but the doctor comes to the conclusion that your grandmother only has a mild fever. The health service system alerts a health worker to pass by your grandmother and give her the appropriate medicines. You are kept informed about every single action during this process.
It’s 2035 and in the supermarket you are about to enter, an offer will appear in your smart contact lens. This is tailored to your needs and interest: you have bought wine here before, and now your favorite brand “Achával Ferrer Bella Vista Malbec 2019” appears to be on sale. You decide to buy the wine, together with the ingredients that were on your list to prepare dinner tonight. Your smart contact lens guides you through the supermarket, following the shortest and fastest path to collect all the items you desire. You finally pass the exit of the supermarket where a system automatically scans the products in your basket. You confirm your purchase with a simple gesture, identity yourself via face recognition and your payment is automatically carried out.
You also need a new t-shirt from a boutique next door. The smart mirrors in the dressing room tells you that this model is still available in my size and shows you different colors. Via voice command, you get can get more information about this piece of garment, for example on were it was made.
Shelves in both the supermarket and boutique have become smart to. They sense when they need to be replenished, and alert robots to restock them.
It’s 2035 and you return home after a long day of work. The car your are in informs your home control system about your time of arrival, so it switches on the lights, turns up the heating and starts playing your favorite music. At your arrival, your coffee machine has brewed you an espresso, just the way you like it. With time, your machine has come to know your taste, and that of your wife and frequent guests. The devices in your home no longer have touch-based controls. Today, voice control plays an important role, but there is more to it. Devices can also analyze your gestures by using radar technology. Today, the gesture control comes natural – for example, when changing the TV channel.
It’s 2035 and everything is connected. You have become much more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Of course, cybersecurity companies and governments always try to be a step ahead of potential attackers, but as history has shown, attackers are inventive and find a way around anyway. New chips with built-in security, encryption, and authentication technology are supposed not to be tricked by attackers, but recent advancements in quantum computing are challenging everything we consider as safe or unhackable. Yet, this is not the only challenge. Digital dictatorship is another challenge.
It’s 2035 and some regimes have systems in place to monitor every citizen in real-time. They follow literally everything you do: where you go, what you buy, what you say and even how you feel. They can sense if you are angry or do not agree with certain regime visions. This is going far beyond George Orwells 1984. Even getting to Minority Report situations where governments are predicting violence to happen before it happened. Once this kind of digital dictatorship is established, there will be no way to break it.
A final challenge is available free time. It’s 2035 and people have plenty of time. As early as 2017, the Israeli futurologist researcher and best-selling author of “Home Deus”, “Sapiens” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, Yuval Noah Harari, warned: “Most people will no longer be needed for business. They will become obsolete.” This is due to the fact that highly specialized experts are in demand. Everything else is done by robots and machines – and they are faster and cheaper than humans. Many had to adjust to this change. The problem was the lack of perspective that arose from it. Making decisions is also hard for many people. We delegate them to algorithms. We asked Google for directions, Siri for information and Alexa for our choice of music.
Yuval Noah Harari’s gloomy prophecy at the time:
“The real problem will be to make people’s lives meaningful in the future.”
Do you agree with this?