Whenever I think about the future, I wonder “where is my dang flying car?” Back in the 1960s, didn’t they promise us we’d all be whizzing around in George Jetson cars without regard for roads and traffic jams?
I guess reality set in. Tony Stark’s hover car demo at the World’s Fair turned out to be a bust after all.
After finishing my New Year’s 2019 predictions, I began to think more long-term. What does the distant future hold based on our current state of affairs? Interesting thought.
Not too much mystery here. Baby Boomers (like me) love our cars and driving them. Remember when Mom and Dad forced us into the car for a “Sunday afternoon drive”? Yep. We always drove down to Long Beach to look at the boats. Sailboats.
Younger generations don’t venerate the car so much. In fact, they view it as a mere tool or even a nuisance. There is a high probability that car sales will plummet as ride-sharing systems like Uber and Lyft become more prevalent.
Many Millennials are beginning to add up the costs of owning a car and realize that an app on their phone is far less expensive. Add to this that self-driving cars are becoming a common sight, and transportation in the future may be completely automated and eliminate the need for self-owned transport.
With the elimination of drivers, costs will be driven further down, with some predicting the cost of a trip from L.A. to San Francisco to be as little as $25. Pretty much eliminates the need for a bullet train, eh?
We can already see the writing on the wall for this one. Malls will become a thing of the past. Most folks will do their shopping online with forays into the outside world for dining and recreation only.
Coupled with the changes in transportation described above, deliveries of online purchased goods will be by drone and/or automated delivery vehicles. The social impact here is obvious. Many folks who used to earn their living as professional drivers will find themselves out of work.
Large retailers such as Sears are already sliding beneath the waves. We will probably see J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and others follow in the same path.
Let’s face it. Shopping the old way was very inefficient. If you wanted something, you often had to go to several stores, hunt through their racks for the item, try it on, and then wait in a long line to buy it. My Mom loved doing that.
With a mere click or two, Amazon lets us look at hundreds of options, order it in several sizes, try it on in the comfort of our home, then return what we don’t want. That’s how my wife does it. The paradigm has already shifted.
With radical increases in minimum wage, it will be difficult for dining establishments to maintain a wait staff. Or, for that matter, a cook staff. It will simply be economically untenable to retain these folks.
We will order our food online or at a kiosk, then pick up the robotically prepared foods at a counter. Yes, there will still be high-end places to get manually prepared meals but the cost will limit most of us to only a couple visits per year. Mid-tier restaurants will disappear.
At home, the cooked meal will become even more rare. The 3-D printed meal will make us whatever we want, with whatever flavor/seasoning, “cooked” to our exact specification, and served in minutes. Will it be like Star Trek’s replicators where the meal instantly appears? Pretty much.
Remember when we first started getting microwave ovens? The change was radical and this will be, too.
Our basic functions will be cared for with our smart systems. I have to admit, I am enamored of our new Alexa system (Trish calls Alexa my second wife). Alexa can control nearly every critical system in the house and give me real-time updates.
Heck, most of us already have floor-cleaning robots (sweep and mop). And the pool is kept clean with another clever robot. I’ve also seen robotic grass cutting machines that trim the verge and retreat into their little domiciles.
Power will be generated by our own solar systems and stored for overnight use by a battery system (probably made by Tesla). Power companies will all but cease to exist, which will have the side benefit of wildfires being greatly reduced.
We will also be able to eliminate natural gas for heating and cooking. Homemade electricity will supplant this as well.
Next week, we’ll look at other areas such as government, politics, economy, education, and society. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts online at The Signal’s web page.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is willing to settle for Marty McFly’s hoverboard. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.