is the city a phase?


I have argued that two almost inevitable technologies, which sound like sci-fi, but are really only a  hundred or so years away, will transform society as we know it. 

1. Nano Printing

2. Virtual reality

Nano printing will change everything.  Physical globalization will be reduced to almost nothing.   Everything is information.  Objects can be assembled at the atomic level once computers get powerful enough and nano technology becomes more advanced.  the periodic table will be the ink.  Industrial atom printers will be able to churn out goods in local decentralised factories reducing the need to transport.  We will not need 100000 different special factories, but instead just a hand full.  We won't sell goods, but instead codes that can be sent over the internet in seconds and fabricated as needed.  We will also have almost no waste because everything can be completely broken down into pure atoms and reused.  We will likely have little need for human labor which will will be a problem.....

100-200 years in the furure the need for mega-cities will likely be reduced to nothing despite what the sci-fi- films tell us.  Will physical libraries even exist?  Will virtual reality become soooo good that our public and work realm will mostly become virtual.  Why pay for an office space when we can all work in a virtual office that is nearly if not completely the same. We can work with people from all over the world with a light speed commute time.  We can live in the middle of the Amazon and work at an international product design firm by just plugging in...Why build an expensive public building, that is only accessible to those who live close to it when we can build a virtual space, free from the laws of physics and proximity. Technology is going to eradicate the need for expensive cities and regional infrastructures.  We will be able to live in smaller self-sufficient communities and at the same time be connected to a virtual global society.  Will the house, the first architype,  be the last essential physical architype. Its comming eventually...

All we need to do is survive that long.  I think we often see the city as the ultimate height of human settlement.  I don't buy this idea.  I see the city as a phase of human settlement that is only relevant because our technology is limited and our economy requires physical space.  We are transitioning toward something different...something new....By accepting urbanization as we know it as the "end game" we are ignoring real societal and technological trends. 

Thoughts? ? ?

Nov 8, 12 11:11 am

who knew you were such an optimist.

By end of century world population is projected to top 16 billion. Economy may not require physical space, but growing food sure does. "smaller self-sufficient communities" is a matter of perspective. Less then 5 million in 2100? Whoa, tiny!

Good chunk of the world lives in abject poverty. Nano-printers and virtual reality as solution? maybe. One laptop per child had mixed results at best.

Predicting future is silly. But fun!

Nov 8, 12 11:52 am

hahaha... Guess I was feeling a bit hopeful for humanity with mitts loss and all...ok It just wore off......on second thought we are fucked!

Nov 8, 12 12:05 pm

I'm picking up what you are laying down. It could come even sooner given how technology is logarithmic not linear. I was talking to an architect friend the other day about mining in the future, will people in the future mine atoms? Will they mine inatoms our landfills? Will energy be beamed like radio waves?

Nov 8, 12 12:08 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

I imagine giant underground warehouses filled with humans floating placidly in saline pools, their brains wired into a computer simulation where they wake up in their virtual houses, go to virtual offices, and look forward to virtual vacations.  They will never need to leave the saline bath.

The nanoprinters can print robots to help nurture and protect the humans floating in the saline baths.

Nov 8, 12 1:46 pm

yeah man, its a thin line between utopia and dystopia...the politics of the future are going to be wild.  Will we be able to preserve liberty?  Will we live dual lives where we trade our freedom in the real world for ultimate freedom in the virtual world .  will we be free in neither or free in both?  Hard to say.   I wish I could live long enough to see how it all goes down but with all the stress of this career and my bad habits, I'm not sure I will live past 120.. and for that I'm counting on some crazy new medical shit...haha

Nov 8, 12 2:02 pm

I have three big bottles of saline solution, EKE, unused since I stopped wearing my contacts.  I'll start my pool now!

Nov 8, 12 3:00 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

Duty Now for the Future!

Nov 8, 12 3:25 pm

that's an awesome link rusty. one of my favorites:

 Prediction #24: Vegetables Grown by Electricity. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer. In cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster, and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and develop unusually early.

they may not be making strawberries with the second prediction, but that's pretty much the path they're taking in colorado.  expect big innovation in hydroponics now that they legalized recreational weed.

only 43 days left until we've learned everything we're going to learn.  technology is increasing logarithmically but at some point we'll know everything we can and it will just stop.

Nov 8, 12 4:21 pm
i r giv up

two quick things:

1. Nanoprinting: don't know enough. I won't pretend to comment.

2. Virtual Reality: Read Malcolm McCullough's Digital Ground. Ubiquitous computing is VR, people assumed the incursion would be one of reality into the digital and not the other way around. Further reading on computation and the computing power of commonplace objects might be in order too. I know you don't live in a real city, jl, but it is amazing how handheld devices shape and amplify the new york/boston/dc experience.

Nov 8, 12 10:15 pm

Why settle for saline pools when you can have saline balls?  (Note:  don't follow that link if you're squeamish.  You've been warned.)

Ballz, yo! 

Nov 9, 12 9:25 am

just to be clear that link is NSFW

Nov 9, 12 2:18 pm

You can thank savage love for that one.  Never would have thought to do that with saline on my own in a million years.

Yikes, yo!

Nov 9, 12 2:47 pm

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