We accept what’s coming – drones, driverless cars, AI, AR, Hyperloop, commercial space travel et al – with a sense of inevitability rather than incredulity.
Last weekend I went to see Blade Runner 2049 but, as my husband pointed out, it seemed more like an academic exercise than R&R. You see I’ve been quietly preparing for this for the last few months, reading Philip K Dick’s Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? back in July and watching the Director’s Cut a fortnight ago. I was, as my husband pointed out, well prepped plus I have a penchant for a replicant.
I first saw the original film when it opened in ’82 and it set my inner vision of what a city of the future could look like. That’s one of the wonders of the new film, the look of tomorrow’s city is tantalising close to what we have now. It’s not a Johnny Ive version: clean lines, silver, white, reflective, luxo clinical but a messy claustrophobic mishmash of the past dissected and peppered with high tech offerings.
Plans, schemes, discussions about future cities are in sharp relief this week. Event-wise there’s the UK-centric Daily Telegraph Smart Cities that one of the team is at today and, in less than a month, we’ll be a media partner at the Smart City Expo in Barcelona.
A few hours ago, I was on the phone to Chordant (one of our featured news stories) talking about the debut of a new Benefits Index, which ranks US cities as to their readiness for smart city implementation. On Friday, I swooshed up to Oxford via a Hyperloop (I fantasise, I went on the GWR) to talk to a company that has created Blade Runner style dynamic building overlays (there’s a feature there that you’ll be able to read in the not too distant future).
And if that’s not enough to make you think the future is actually here, we’ve highlighted another story for you this week about a smart road crossing which automatically differentiates between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, adapting its markings and signals to the needs of these groups in real-time. It spans 22 metres of responsive road surface, uses computer vision technology to see exactly what’s going on in the vicinity and utilises an LED road surface to change its markings dynamically to keep users safe. Wow, all that just to cross a road!
We’re always looking to the future – not realising that we are absorbing it daily without even noticing. Back in 1982 when Blade Runner first appeared we were buying Commodore 64s and getting excited by mass-produced CDs. We were still single dimensional in that the cyberspace and virtualisation was yet to arrive. Thirty-five years on we take the Internet, wi-fi, Amazon, Google, your smart phone, social media with a pinch of salt. We accept what’s coming – drones, driverless cars, AI, AR, Hyperloop, commercial space travel et al – with a sense of inevitability rather than incredulity.
People. We. Are. Living. The. Dream