Sunday, December 14, 2008

Future of physical proximity

Where will you live? How would concepts and norms of physical proximity evolve if cars were no longer the dominant form of transportation? How would residential areas self-organize if not laid out around the needs of cars and roads? Imagine gardens replacing driveways and roadways. What if people just walked outside of their houses or onto their apartment rooftops to alight via jetpack, smartpod or small foldable, perhaps future versions of the MIT car. At present, cities, suburbs and whole countries are structured per the space dictates of motor vehicular transportation systems.

Nanoreality or rackspace reality
There are two obvious future scenarios. There may either be a radical mastery and use of the physical world through nanomanufacturing or a quasi-obsolescence of the physical world as people upload to digital mindfile racks and live in virtual reality. The only future demand for the physical world might be for vacationing and novelty (‘hey, let’s download into a corporeal form this weekend and check out Real Nature, even though Real Nature is sensorially dull compared to Virtual Nature’).

Work 2.0
The degree of simultaneous advances is relevant for evaluating which scenario may arise. For example, economically, must people work? What is the nature of future work? Creative and productive activity (Work 2.0) might all take place in virtual reality. Smart robots may have taken over many physical services and artificial intelligences may have taken over most knowledge work. Would people be able to do whatever work they need to from home or would there be physical proximity and transportation proximity requirements as there are now?

Portable housing and airsteading
Next-level mastery of the physical world could mean that people stay incorporeal and live in portable residential pods. Airsteading (a more flexible version of seasteading) could be the norm; docking on-demand as boats or RVs do, in different airspaces for a night or a year. Docking fees could include nanofeedstock streams and higher bandwidth more secure wifi and datastorage than that ubiquitously available on the worldnets. Mobile housing and airsteading could help fulfill the ‘warmth of the herd’ need and facilitate the intellectual capital congregation possibilities that cities have afforded since the early days of human civilization.

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