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A positive Future Scenario

There is a bright future for humanity possible and we can create it together. In this blog an example is given of the scenario of a self-supporting city of the future. We already have sufficient knowledge of science and techniques to reach this goal (see my 2 earlier blogs “Create your own future” and “Creating your own future: what is possible today?”).

Which positive scenario is plausible and possible if you consider all the opportunities that I mentioned in 2 earlier blogs? My favourite is a scenario of self-sufficient cities with free, independent residents [6]. Let us consider a city in the year 2030 with between 0.1 and 1 million inhabitants. The population can grow its own food in greenhouses around the perimeter, and in vertical farms inside the city. The residents will also grow some of their own favourite fruit and vegetables in their small gardens, or on their balcony. Artificial meat is created on 3D printers, using the ingredients from the gardens and farms. Water for drinking and recreation is purified from the local river, sea, or pumped up from the ground. Energy is entirely from the sun and wind [1]. Every roof in town has its own solar panels, and there are several batteries and reservoirs for the storage of electric energy. Electric cars, trains and bicycles are the only vehicles driving along the roads. And the batteries of these vehicles are partly used for local storage of energy.

Housing will not have changed much in 15 years’ time. Most houses are built to last at least 50 to 100 years. However, some of the major buildings in the city will undoubtedly change. And they will definitely change the face of the city. But most people will still live in houses similar to their current home. And they will do most of their work at home. Offices will only be needed for some team activities, or for the company’s social and cultural events. Because food, water and energy production are local, and because housing is more sustainable and work is done from home, there is much less traffic on the road. The massive traffic jams at the beginning of this century are gone!

Also healthcare and education are different in this future city. You can do these yourself, using eHealth and eLearning. The large general hospitals are divided into small, local district health centres, care hotels and specialized surgery centres. If you want to see a doctor, you can go to the local health centre, where you will be helped by your doctor or the specialist from the local outpatients’ clinic. Because people have more time to spend, they have also more time to care for their baby and to help their elderly grandmother, or neighbour. Learning is also different, especially in the higher education sector. Students take most of their classes from home. Most presentations and lessons by professors and tutors are recorded and made available though the on-line learning system. Students only use the laboratories and facilities of the local colleges and universities where they really need to learn by doing.

And of course there are robots! In this future city, robots are mostly used for cleaning the home and for farming. But you also see several robots in healthcare jobs, caring for patients. There is some local industry, specialized in building structures, fashion clothing and several high-tech sectors that are typical for this city. Our future city is specialized in robots, biotechnology and nanotechniques. Lots of new professions and several old ones have disappeared [2]. Economic activity is rather small compared to the large industrial activities of today’s cities. People in our future city don’t have to work as hard as they did 15 years earlier. Lots of things are available for free, or very cheaply. And everything is sustainable. There is a new way of life. People now really do have time to spend on the higher levels of the Maslow Pyramid!

Literature and sources

[1] WWF, ECOFYS, OMA, “The Energy Report, 100% renewable Energy by 2050”, 2011
[2] Ruud Smeulders, Renée Prins, “ Professions of the Future in Technology and ICT”, to be published