Below, you will find three speculative scenarios in which to draw inspiration from. These scenarios are starting points for you to step into this future technologized world.
As you read, ask yourself these questions:
It’s late on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re looking forward to having a relaxed evening before the start of the week. You’re sitting in your home which used to be the shoe section on the third floor of a major department store. It doesn’t feel like that anymore, though. It was recently converted into an apartment complex to accommodate the rising population in the city.
From the couch, you call out to your voice assistant on the other side of the room: “Hey, can I get some lab-grown tuna sushi?” It replies: “Yes, I will place your order… It should arrive in fifteen minutes.”
Two blocks away there is a warehouse filled with chefs preparing food for efficient delivery by drone. It is no longer possible to go out and buy things in-person anymore. Now, drones fill the sky, delivering food, clothing, medicine and other packages to homes all across the city.
Suddenly you feel a rush of cold air. The window in your home detected the drone outside and opened itself to let it in. You shout out, “Hey, I’m over here!” The drone zips through your entryway and into the living room. In a friendly voice, it asks how you’re doing today. You begin to explain how stressed you’ve been with work lately. As you talk, the drone expels a blue fingerprint pad and you place your right index finger on it without hesitation. After a few seconds, a green light appears, and the lock on your sushi releases with a click. The drone interrupts you mid-sentence by saying, “Enjoy your food.” You pause and reach for the box. “Thanks for your order. See you next time,” it says. The drone flies back through your home and out your window.
Now you are left with your sushi to eat on the couch by yourself. You think about calling a friend to enjoy the meal together by hologram.
Finally, it’s Wednesday! You get to go to your off-line analog meet-up with your three best friends. Every week, you four meet after work at the library to make use of their digital-detox social pods. Each local library has made a commitment with the city to preserve free space for human connection without electronic intervention. This is the only hour in the week where you can exist without technology. They are very popular and getting a spot can take a long time –you spent 4 months on a waitlist!
Back home, you wave to your colleagues in your VR workspace and say, “Bye, everyone! I’m heading out to my pod appointment at the library. See you tomorrow.” Your colleagues respond with jealousy and wish you a nice time. You take off your VR headset and swap it out for smart glasses as you run out the door. At a red light, you send a message to your friends through your glasses with your eye movements to say that you might be a few minutes late.
Finally, you arrive at the library. You stand at the entrance while the body scanner retrieves your identity. You hear a ‘ding’, indicating that the scan was successful. The sliding glass doors open and a voice says, “Welcome to the library. Please take a box from the table and place all of your electronic devices into it.” You take off your glasses first, then your smart watch, your phone, your heart monitor patch and then you reach behind your back to remove your posture corrector. When you are done, you place the box into a locker on the wall and take the metal key. The action of removing the key from the locker opens the next set of doors.
You have now entered the Re-Accessing Room. It is lit with calm, blue light. A voice comes on and says, “Welcome. Before you enter the library, you must take a moment to access yourself again. Please close your eyes… Take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold it for 1, 2, 3 seconds. And now, release out through your mouth. Great job. Repeat this three times… Now, you are ready. Please proceed into the library.”
It’s a nice sunny Saturday afternoon, and you have a long list of errands to run today. You step outside your apartment and go straight to your bike. Your first stop is the hardware store, then to the bakery and across the bridge to the outdoor market for fruit and vegetables. You decide to take the long way home through the park for some peaceful time to yourself. In the middle of your leisurely ride, you receive a government alert message on your phone. It reads:
“Hello. We are concerned about your next door neighbor. She has not left the house for three days. This is unusual for her. She is 83 years old and suffered a minor heart attack two years ago. We need your help to check on her. After all, that’s what neighbors are for. If you can help, please select ‘Accept’ below. Otherwise, click ‘Decline’.”
This message worries you. You immediately hit “Accept”, as you recall all of the friendly waves you have exchanged with this neighbor in the past. You turn your bike around and rush home as quickly as possible.
This alert about your neighbor was detected by a networked surveillance system around the city. All day and everyday, small cameras capture and track your whereabouts. These cameras are nearly indistinguishable from the surfaces they sit on. Facial recognition is used to identify you, and an AI algorithm learns your habits and alerts the city when there is unusual behavior. The data is typically only accessible to you and the city government, but it can be shared if a suspected health or safety threat arises.
You arrive home in 10 minutes and run up the stairs to your neighbor’s door. You ring the doorbell once. No answer. You ring again, this time calling out the name written on the white plack to the right. You hear a frail voice respond, “I’m coming…” You feel relieved when you hear her footsteps near the door.