sábado, 20 de julio de 2013

Smart Cities: The technological view - Sci-Fying our cities

Blade Runner city from the sky
Sci-Fi has shown us too many times apocalyptic visions of the future of our cities, as in Blade Runner, Neuromancer, The Matrix... Sustainability and Smart Cities want to erase that vision from our minds and inspire us with a clean-tech future.

Many new technologies will change the face of our cities in a slow pace. Change will never end. Never did. New materials are coming (graphene), supercomputing is very cheap (parallella) and it will be in no time (quantum computing), memory and storage will grow a lot (memristor / polymer memory), energy storage will improve (fuel cells), machines are reproducing themselves (3D printers), we are working on an artificial human brain...

"Smart City" concept, from the Technology point of view, will evolve from sensing to acting, by means of city computers and algorithms and robots. I want to illustrate that with the following examples.

For example, regarding city traffic, in the future, traffic lights will be only for pedestrians, and there will be very few. There will disappear all traffic signals and lightning in many roads, generating tons of scrap. Street direction will have no sense, as they will change automatically depending on users needs. All traffic will be managed automatically by the city, and vehicles will know where can they park, where can they move, at what speed, in what direction. The city will know where every vehicle is, public or private, where is it headed, and how to move it around the city in the most efficient way.

If we think in city maintenance, there will be ultra-light robots designed for specific tasks (cleaning, plumbing, carrying 3D printers for replacing parts...), with very low power consumption, that will leave their charging dock stations when we are sleeping to silently and collaboratively repair the problems and tide the city.

Our homes will be very energy efficient, they may eventually deliver more energy to the network than they consume (may the Smart Grids finally be a reality). They will be conscious of our needs, because of our routines, or our voice instructions. They will have robots at her service to help us in its maintenance and to satisfy our needs. Our homes will measure our biological parameters, our activity and our nutrition, and make recommendations to have a healthier life and to live longer.

I love the concept of storing people minds in pluggable ROM devices as described in  Neuromancer. In the far future, our big purpose and challenge will be to become Smart People again, hahaha! Just kidding...

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