Future Fictions: a postcard from 2030

What will life be like in 2030? One Danish MP has a challenging set of predictions for us.

Ida Auken, a member of parliament, in Denmark has written a provocative vision of life in 2030, published via the World Economic Forum. And it makes some bold predictions:

Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car. Now I can hardly believe that we accepted congestion and traffic jams, not to mention the air pollution from combustion engines. What were we thinking?

(This is also what makes Elon Musk’s solar storytelling so interesting – he’s making worlds like this seem feasible.)

Once cheap or free transport became feasible, our entire relationship with possessions starts to change:

Once in awhile, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy — the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Since transport became free, we stopped having all those things stuffed into our home. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.

No Utopia here

However, Auken’s vision isn’t all a service-driven idyll. That are some snakes in this Eden:

My biggest concern is all the people who do not live in our city. Those we lost on the way. Those who decided that it became too much, all this technology. Those who felt obsolete and useless when robots and AI took over big parts of our jobs. Those who got upset with the political system and turned against it. They live different kind of lives outside of the city. Some have formed little self-supplying communities. Others just stayed in the empty and abandoned houses in small 19th century villages.

The political ructions in the US and UK over the last year make that feel like a very valid concern.

Oh, and there’s this:

Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.

Scary, but fictional, right? Well, perhaps not as much as we’d like:

The Snoopers Charter, an extreme surveillance bill that passed last week, and it’s the most extensive domestic spying regime that any “democratic” country has passed, and is a potential blueprint for Orwellian surveillance elsewhere in the years to come.

That’s the UK, by the way.

Visions can become nightmares. Can we fight for the utopian vision without unleashing dystopia?

And is it even possible? As Stowe Boyd asks:

Still, there seems to be something missing in this scenario: whatever happened to capitalism, and the entrenched authority of the neoliberal economy? Did it disappear? Wouldn’t that have led to a collapse?