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“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Honda imagines “Mobility 2088”

I found the video below to be quite inspiring and humbling as a designer. What do you think mobility will look like 80 years from now?

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  • http://meld.com.au Steve Baty

    Dave,

    Great find! I’m a huge fan of companies undertaking this sort of visionary activity. Looking out beyond what’s conceivable today and drawing in the vaguely feasible from completely unrelated fields.

    I know you’re familiar with the concept Nokia did last year based on nano-technology, flexible screens, transformable materials etc, and combining that with concepts from ubiquitous computing. Similarly, although with a shorter horizon, was the browser concept produced by Adaptive Path, also last year. Different technology, similar idea: conceive the future; then set about figuring out ways to make it possible.

    80 years in the future? Society could have collapsed back to the Iron Age due to global warming and the break down of our economy, political structures, rule of law, and personal freedoms. Or, we could learn to harness the power of nuclear fusion and be in a possible to produce an abundance of energy – more than we could obtain through oil, coal, nuclear fission, solar, water, and geothermal combined.

    What would a development like that mean to our society? What enhancements could we make to our technology as a result. But we’re talking 80 years, so why not make that power small; small enough to fit safely into a bus, or a car, or a scooter, or a laptop. And if energy usage is no longer a concern, what might that do for the Third World? Electricity, clean water (efficient desalination and recycling), and cheap too. Could we be looking at a global population with literacy and numeracy levels like that we see today in the developed world?

    But now lets look at mobility. In reality, most of the travel we do is from home to work/college/school/shops. Less frequently we visit other people, traveling from our home to theirs; or perhaps meeting up at a mutually-convenient location. And let’s be honest, the car you drive around in today would impress Henry Ford, but it wouldn’t blow his mind. To paraphrase Arthur C Clarke: it wouldn’t seem like magic.

    Now, a car that drives itself, and uses a power source that wouldn’t be immediately recognisable to Mr Ford would seem like magic. Pin-point precision from our GPS; real-time traffic-routing; and that small fusion power source.

    Coming back to my earlier point, 80 years is well and truly enough time for a disruptive, hitherto unidentified technology to appear, and change the world. And in that category, I nominate the stable, directional worm-hole. Think what it would mean to have the ability to create a worm-hole to the SCAD campus and just step through. Or to Brooklyn to visit family. Or to Sydney, Australia… Now we’re talking mobility.

  • http://www.jamesmelzer.com James Melzer

    Apologies for the darkest comment ever.

    The video presents a deeply hopeful vision for the future. It is just as likely that in 80 years, things will be fairly grim. I guess I take a William Gibson stance on the future. It might suck.

    I predict that mobility for vast majority of humanity will be, as the one interviewee suggested, foot traffic (or bicycles, to extend his idea to an actual vehicle). For me that is the clear answer, although the least interesting for a car manufacturer. We haven’t made much progress on solving our ills: crushing poverty, population density, famine, war, and disease. In fact, the combined impact of population growth and climate change is going to make most of them far worse in the coming decades. There will be millions of uber-rich with their ultra-clean hydrogen powered stackable robot cars. But so what? More importantly, there will also be tens of billions of abject poor, walking or cycling to and fro. Buy a bike factory in Africa if you want to get out in front of the future.

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