How will we live in 100 years? People have been wondering this forever. Most predictions today are pretty dystopian; then there is the SmartThings Future Living report, prepared for Samsung SmartThings in the U.K. They make connected home devices that are supposed to make our lives easier, so it makes sense that this report is relentlessly positive and optimistic, a vision of a future where technology makes life easier for everyone, everywhere. Led by space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, architects, planners and urban designers try to envision how we will live 100 years from now. Here's the short video:
In the written report, you could take issue with the first two sentences:
Technology and engineering are evolving at a faster rate than at any other time in history. The world today is unrecognizable from 100 years ago, and not just in an aesthetic capacity, but in the way that we, as humans, function within it.
It's an important point in looking ahead 100 years to look back as well. Many of us live in 100-year-old houses and buildings, drive cars with internal combustion engines, fly in planes, get entertained by watching moving pictures, and work in high-rise buildings served by elevators. All of this has evolved, but perhaps with the exception of the computer, smartphone and the Internet, we're not really living that differently than we were then. Will it be that different in 100 years? What will our homes look like?
As living space in cities becomes scarce, our buildings and interiors will evolve into hyper-flexible spaces. Rooms will serve different functions, walls, floors, ceilings will have embedded technology, which will allow them to change position depending on the activity (i.e. making the bedroom much smaller and living room larger when receiving guests).
This is certainly happening already, with transformer furniture and moving walls as seen in the LifeEdited project. But in the future, the walls will be like a flexible skin, creating temporary furniture as we need it.
Even the buildings themselves will be capable of adapting to the needs of its inhabitants and the external environment. Based on sensors and user-interfaces, terraces will open up when drones arrive or when solar radiations are too high and will retract again when the interiors are too cold.
Oscar Wilde would love living in this future; his last words were, “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.” In 100 years, the walls will all essentially be embedded displays, showing whatever pattern or scene you desire.
3-D printing will be everywhere.
We will be able to purchase and download designs, and then customize them to fit our exact requirements in terms of shape, size and colour. We will each have small capacity 3D printers in our homes enabling us to print smaller items, whilst for larger items, we will take our purchased designs to a local 3D print shop where they will be generated to our particular specifications.
I take some pride in having made this prediction a decade ago at the dawn of 3-D printing, that instead of going to IKEA, we would simply go to our neighborhood 3-D Kinko's or the like and print out the designs from anyone anywhere. We will not be waiting 100 years for that.
Not only that, but it will be possible to generate homes using algorithms that will take into account social patterns, search engine usage, structural forces, site-specificity, latest innovations and sponsorship. These algorithmic homes will then be printed by swarms of 3D printing drones also controlled by the algorithm.
This is already happening as well.
A sustainable, post-fossil fuel world
It will be a sustainable world, with all our food and personal waste being run into a digestion tank that will produce gas and water, which make power that is stored in batteries, topped up by solar panels, wind turbines and piezo plates — although with fusion power, lunar solar farms and microwaved power from space, wind turbines seem superfluous.
We will have many choices of where to live, perhaps in mile-high skyscrapers or under-water cities. And roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
In terms of circulation, a new kind of drone-car will fly directly to the different levels of the high rise buildings — the concept of streets will no longer just be confined to the horizontal plane. With the development of vertical roads, skyscrapers would not need lifts, and as such the internal architecture of high-rises as we know them would completely change, most likely becoming open floors with Sky Ports that people buy as sites and occupy/construct as they please.
That is a bit problematic. You can’t get out of your building without calling a drone? What if you want to go for a walk?
Although we probably don’t really have anywhere to go. Holograms will make it unnecessary to go to an office or to take a trip. We won’t need to shop for food or go to a restaurant because we can 3-D print out recipes from the world’s famous chefs. We will have holographic virtual dates and relationships and virtual reality headsets. Instead of going to the doctor, we will step into a capsule that does full body scans, along with wearables that monitor everything all the time.
It’s an intriguing vision. It's hard to figure out what anyone will actually do; the 3-D printers make everything, the computers do everything, we don’t have to actually go out and shop for anything, or meet anyone or go anywhere because the holograms and the virtual reality systems bring it all to us. We just tell our floor to form itself into a comfy sofa, lie down and let all the technology take care of everything. And if we get totally bored on Earth:
Ultimately, as we utilize and thus exhaust more of the planet’s resources, it will eventually be cost effective to start looking elsewhere in the solar system for the provision of sustainable accommodation and resources.
I do hope these techno-optimists are more right than wrong, and that we have a happier future than some other writers are predicting. However, going back to my point at the beginning: While many things have changed in the last 100 years, fundamentally, the way we actually live hasn't changed that much. Really, we're just beginning to change our lightbulbs; it's hard to imagine everything else changing much faster. We are creatures of habit, resistant to change to the point that we refuse to even try to fix what’s broken now about how we live or get around, let alone replace it with something better.
But it's nice to dream.