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  • Tech Forecast Digest

Next World - A New Existence

The End of Ownership and Labor

Dominant societal trends, aided in large part by developing technologies, are pointing to a future that will bring fundamental change to human existence. The future will be autonomous, robotic, distributed, on-demand, customized, packetized, immersive and wireless.


Exceptions will exist, but the following could be the common situation in developed countries.


Most large physical items will be rented and shared, not owned, by the end user for his or her exclusive use. Precursors of this pay-per-use environment include the increase over the past 50 years in the U.S. from 20% to 40% in rental housing, the expansion of Uber-like car services, and on-demand cloud computer services. Ownership primarily will apply to collectibles and memorabilia.


Production of items use additive techniques (3D printing, etc.) and are customized and on-demand. Accessories, clothing, food, parts and other items will be produced on site in home or business.


Utility services for homes and building will be distributed and on-site as power generation and water collection and treatment become more compact and affordable. 10% of homes in the U.S. already are served by private wells and 20% by individual wastewater systems. This trend is coupled with the ongoing deterioration of aging municipal water, sewer, gas and electrical infrastructures that may not be affordable to rehabilitate, especially as government in the U.S. already has $200 trillion of liabilities.


Autonomous robots will conduct most labor-intensive activities in homes and businesses. Robots and other devices will be connected wirelessly to communications networks and to electric power.


Humans will live in an environment of continuous monitoring and augmented information provided proactively and controlled via all the human senses including brain-machine interactions. Individual health, as part of this continuous monitoring and information, will be diagnosed automatically and personal customized treatment provided. Individual human inquiry, learning and entertainment will be customized and available at a preferred location.


“Packetization” of all physical and information items will facilitate the transport and storage of those items via open global logistics and communications systems. Nested and continuously tracked standardized containers will provide streamlined automated delivery of physical items (similar to existing packet communications with today’s Internet).


Human Purpose in the New World

In a world where most labor is completed by autonomous robots, what is the purpose, what are the activities, of humans?


Will their time be used for more social interactions including time with friends and family? Will they engage in more self-directed interests including travel, learning, entertainment, social activities, sports, physical and mental challenges, and creative arts?


Will people manage the design, building and use of new systems by existing systems or create original art that even advanced systems cannot create? Will individuals own, and offer in exchange for other value, specialized robots and other machines to perform services?


In any event, humankind likely will use this new existence to further enhance its health, wealth and wisdom.

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