Pizza drones, mad cyclists and Bitcoin-for-arms traders: A vision of LNDN 2023
We'll all be aging hipsters in 10 years' time, says tech quango
Tech quango Nesta and its chums have sketched out a vision of what London might look like in the year 2023.
Nesta, which used to be called the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, roped in blue-sky thinkers from the engineering firm Arup (which designed the Sydney Opera House's structure), as well as various urban think-tanks, to produce a crystal ball image of London in 2023.
So how does their future look? Well, to paraphrase George Orwell, if you imagine a hipster stamping on your face for all eternity, you might have a pretty good idea of what life's going to be like in LDN, where the busy denizens are far too cool and in demand to bother spelling out its full name.
The quango and its mates identified a series of trends which would guide the capital's development over the next ten years. By 2023, they claimed, London would be a city where people feel a greater affinity with distant world cities than each other, transact using Bitcoin, cycle about wearing second hand clothes and work jobs without proper contracts.
Weather permitting, these eco-conscious Londoners will generate power using solar cells and grow their own tomatoes. They will also use various tools to collect staggering amounts of data on their own lives or bodies, which is then beamed out to friends and neighbours who live in the same, massively polarised community where rich and poor barely meet.
Describing the project, Nesta said: "Planning for a future London is not just about big technology solutions or fancy gadgets. It is also about understanding the fears and desires of real Londoners, the constraints and opportunities they will face, and how people are likely to live in the future.
"Many of today's smart city technologies overlook the role of the citizen in favour of large-scale interventions and technology-led solutions. While this is important for solving some of the biggest challenges facing cities, the future of a liveable city is in the hands of its citizens - their experience of city life, and their willingness to adapt and experiment."
To illustrate London 2.0, the quango proposed 10 imaginary Londoners who would illustrate how we might be living in 10 years' time.
You might already know someone like Andre, a foreign student with a predilection for dodgy waistcoats. He's in town to take photos for his friends back in Mexico, whom he also talks to using a holographic "projection space". Andre is studying textiles at St Martin's College and one day hopes to earn a wage, although at the moment he's relying on "semi legal" Bitcoin to get ahead.
In LDN 2023, you might try to chat up suburban 19-year-old Nicky, who is working a zero hours contract at a cafe and swindling the dole. Show her a mobile phone that isn't pay as you go and she'll be putty in your hands.
Proof that the left-wing consensus will still be in full force comes in the shape of Paulette, 72, who has had to rent out a room to avoid the bedroom tax spare room subsidy. She spends her days building solar panels and contributing to "ASBOwiki", a website for tracking the behaviour of ne'er-do-wells on her estate.
Multicultural London will, of course, continue to attract characters from around the world including the charming Li Yong, 43, who splits his time between trading Bitcoin and selling arms. He lives in Battersea Power Station, a gated community where flats are preposterously expensive and naughty foreigners send their illegal communications through a Chinese dark net routed through Africa. He might buy the odd takeaway from 68-year-old Sohail, who delivers his meals using cheap drones bought from China.
Judging by the pictures used to illustrate Nesta's analysis, you may be reassured to see that in the future, the people of London are still interested in getting dreadful tattoos, cycling dangerously, eating crappy organic food and generally performing every sort of silly lifehack that will improve their day-to-day existence without ruining their CV.
Nesta added: "Being a Londoner is rewarding, challenging and frustrating; the experience differs from person to person, from day to day. So these profiles are not meant to be predictions for what it will really be like in a decade. Instead they are a tool to encourage conversation about the types of people we should consider when designing a smarter London. They are a way to help us debate the kind of future we want, and how we avoid the futures we fear."
You can tell Nesta what you think of the future of London by tweeting the hashtag #futurelondoners and filling in their feedback form. Or you could vent spleen in our comments section below. Whichever suits you best, innit? ®
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