The Future is Now. As a forward-thinking leader in the global construction industry, I’m passionate about future-proofing, but I feel anxious about the future of our cities and transportation, as I’ve realised that the industry and governments are not asking the right questions about the future or investment.
We need to adopt a futurist mindset that looks 150 years ahead, not ten, twenty or fifty years. To do this we must ask ourselves ‘what don’t we know’, and how to invest in that.
As it stands, the planet will not be able to sustain the population at current growth prediction of 10 billion by 2050 and our transportation doesn’t respond to future demands. A bold change in how we live is the only way to survive, so what is our vision for this?
The good news is we’re capable of imagining a new future, we’ve explored this before through many science fiction films and shows including in 1962 like The Jetsons. The Jetsons inspired a generation of entrepreneurs to turn science fiction into reality. It predicted mobile phones, internet, driverless cars and moving walkways.
Recently in Russia a 3D house was printed in only 24 hours. The 3D printer ‘printed’ self-bearing walls and partitions, allowing to save up to 70% on traditional construction techniques. By removing the need to bring in equipment to the site, oversee builders and risk of human error, the 38 m² house cost only $10k to build. This just shows what we can do when we embrace the technology we have.
We have this sort of technology at our fingertips to transform how we live, but we’re not thinking big or far enough, fundamentally held back by fear of changing our reality.
In the 20thCentury, visionary groups created transport solutions that would function for the next 150 years, the London tube (1863), the New York subway (1904) and the first high speed train (1903). Now we focus mostly on rail and road in transport projects, but they’re essentially obsolete; we need to focus on getting off roads and rail with the ultimate goal of teleportation. We need to be thinking now about what to create to meet our needs in another 150 years’ time.
Elon Musk, the mastermind behind Tesla, Paypal and SpaceX (the first commercial company offering travel to space) revealed plans for the Hyperloop in the US and in Australia, the vacuum tube transport system will shoot passenger pods in a tube at speeds up to 900km/h. It would carry passengers 615 km from Los Angeles to San Francisco, in about 35 minutes — less than half the time it takes to fly between the two cities – and from Sydney to Melbourne in less than 1 hour.
The UAE already has two hyperlink projects under development, one proposing a 12 minute-journey to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, rather than the usual 1.5 hours by car. Musk teases the Hyperloop will be a “cross between the Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table.”
London’s announcement last month to ban diesel and petrol cars by 2040 to combat air pollution, is also pioneering and aspires to the futurist mindset we need to adopt.
What are you willing to embrace to build a 150-year future?
About the author
Nick Deeks is the Managing Director WT Partnership, he is a regular corporate and industry speaker, aiming to help corporates understand what lies ahead and inspire a new way of thinking and investing.