Today's top 7 sci-fi cities & 4 technologies driving future productivity of cities
With AI & ChatGPT rolling out, & robots getting better propulsion + AI, the future is on the cusp of now. Will we see the Jetsons and Iron Man realised in our life time? Will this change cities?
As we enter an era of technological advancements and visionary urban planning, a few cities around the world are transforming into sci-fi advanced metropolises.
Whether this is more Blade Runner than Minority Report, or more Total Recall or Brave New World, who is to say? (these are all movies and/or books).
The reality is the future always arrives just like the impact of the telephone, motor car and airplane in the inter-war 1920s and 1930s. How that impacts humans varies by location and person, and thankfully it does.
The world would be far worse off with identical cities. And these cities, are different!
Of course, one of our common frames for future now is the Jetsons. The TV show that continues to be a much beloved cartoon depicting regular folks like George Jetson jetting around in flying saucers, and with robot maids…
Yet it seems despite video calling and flatscreen TVs, and robo-vacuums, the Jetsons promises like jet packs have not arrived at scale in the past few decades.
Is Sci-Fi happening in your city now?
As we stand on the cusp of the mid-2020s it seems with new high-tech scooters, walking robots, potentially flying taxis and semi-autonomous* vehicles that avoid crashes we are getting to the future slowly. Urban reality is catching up with hype.
*(Full autonomy in vehicles will take some time except on highways/Autobahns.)
Below is a summation of a much more detailed workshop (and longer lists) I plan to give on this topic of Sci-Fi future cities.
If you would like to commission me to give an exciting workshop or virtual workshop on realistic technological innovations for your group/conference, to better predict reality…. on this, or other related topics: please reach out here.
Or, reply to this email with details.
What are the most sci-fi cities right now?
From the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the architectural wonders of Dubai, and the sustainable landscapes of Singapore and London, these cities merge fiction with reality.
In this story, we explore these cutting-edge urban centers and their remarkable fusion of advanced technologies and forward-thinking design.
Differences between Sci-Fi and Innovation
Here, we are not looking at broader conditions for innovation, rather we are focussing solely on high-tech cities that deliver some of the promises made in Sci-Fi.
Innovation is far broader than science-fiction and considers broader conditions of potential progress. (Yes, Science can have up and down sides, and some argue we tend to over-estimate the short-term positives and underestimate long-term impacts.)
Tokyo, the epitome of Asian tradition and electronic innovation, captivates with its futuristic urban landscape. Neon-lit streets, high-speed trains, and towering skyscrapers define the cityscape. In movie Lost in Translation there was something both retro and futurist about Tokyo and the cities of Japan. It’s the same in manga.
Tokyo's districts, like Akihabara and Shibuya, immerse visitors in a world of virtual reality, robotics, and futuristic gadgets. This metropolis arguably harmoniously blends technological progress with cultural heritage, making it a beacon of sci-fi inspiration for a realistic urban future.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates:
Dubai, often hailed as the city of the future, stands as a testament to architectural ambition and technological innovation.
Home to awe-inspiring landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, Dubai pushes boundaries with projects like the Hyperloop and plans for flying taxis. The desert capital barely finishes one grand project before another grander project is built next door. Let alone the engineering challenges faced by the heat, climate, sun reflections and sand.
Its grand vision of the government, and relentless pursuit of practical innovation every day, have transformed Dubai into a symbol of futuristic living.
Singapore, a city-state renowned for its efficiency, has embraced the concept of a smart city from a pure tech view. Integrating technology and urban planning, Singapore has been long a case study.
With landmarks like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay, Singapore combines futuristic architecture with green spaces.
The city-state boasts smart transportation systems, automated services, and a comprehensive digital infrastructure. Singapore's commitment to urban sustainability and technological advancements positions it among the most visionary cities in the world.
A steady top 5 in our global city rankings for broader innovation, and #1 in ASEAN.
Seoul, the capital of South Korea, presents a captivating blend of tradition and innovation. With its futuristic skyscrapers, bustling markets, and thriving tech industry, and being home to leaders like Samsung, Seoul showcases the transformative power of technology in shaping a modern metropolis.
The city is known for its cutting-edge advancements in areas like robotics, smart infrastructure, and digital connectivity. The city was also an early adopter of automation and smart home /business technologies.
Embracing AI in various urban services, Seoul is a leader in tech application to real world challenges. Technology use interfaces with everyday urban life.
Steady in 8th position for broader innovation. And now third in Asia.
London, United Kingdom:
London, a city steeped in history, embraces a blend of tradition and technological progress. The iconic skyline features architectural marvels like the Shard and the Gherkin. London's transportation network includes the Crossrail project, integrating high-speed trains and cutting-edge technology.
The city leverages the Internet of Things (IoT) with smart devices, intelligent street lighting, and data-driven infrastructure management.
With its progressive mindset and commitment to innovation, London at its best represents a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity.
Previous winner, last several years, always in the top ten, and currently at #2 globally for innovation. # 1 in Europe.
Some folks may say - London?? But in the end cities like London (and Paris) integrate innovations into traditions. And therefore, such cities are arguably better guides to a realistic future than pure futuristic cities for the steel-eyed realists.
On a side note - Who can forget the avant-garde of Paris, the Salon des Refuses of art history, or the more modern Alpha Ville, Sartre and new wave? The capital of France is always somewhere near the edge of futurism and tradition.
An honourable mention as number 7 must go to San Francisco - San Jose, which as the hub of tech should rank higher. But funnily enough, U.S. cities in their day-to-day life currently don’t quite have the futuristic edge they enjoyed in the 1950s or 1960s.
The rise of sci-fi advanced cities and visionary urban planning marks a remarkable chapter in human civilization. As usual the new tech disrupts, and changes city lives and urban landscapes.
What new technologies will have huge impact on our city lives ?
4 Key Tech Changing Cities 2024-2033
From 2ThinkNows data sets of 500 cities, what our analysts see as the 4 key tech with the potential to change cities over 10 years.
Glad you asked.
(Yes, this excludes gene editing, cloning, bio tech, viruses, etc, which may have impacts but are likely to hit large human resistance and thus remain nascent. There are more we can list in the workshop, these 4 dovetail well.)
Natural Language Artificial Intelligence
AI engines like Chat GPT can transform cities by revolutionizing information access and interaction.
With natural language conversations (feels human), mostly in English, they offer personalized assistance and knowledge dissemination.
Integrated into urban services, AI can enhance customer support and decision-making. Considerations include privacy and ethical use. AI engines contribute to smarter cities, providing seamless information access and fostering possibly more efficient and potentially more inclusive urban environments.
(Of course, there are AI downsides as well.)
AI of course, is already on the cusp of infant revolution in workplaces and lives.
Robot servants (like Rosie on the Jetsons!) can revolutionize cities by streamlining household chores and improving quality of life.
They can automate tasks like cleaning, cooking, and organizing, freeing up time and enhancing productivity. With their efficiency, they can reduce energy consumption and waste. What has changed so neatly is the propulsion methods and AI of the robots, giving the long-heralded autonomy from human commands.
While affordability, privacy, and job displacement are considerations, the widespread adoption of robot servants holds the potential to make cities more efficient and enjoyable places to live, and free up more working time for families.
Jet packs city implications
Jetpacks have the potential to revolutionize urban mobility. They offer swift transportation above traffic, reducing travel times and congestion.
Compact and agile, they can take off and land vertically, making them suitable for cities. The tech is of course not quite Iron Man level yet.
While safety, privacy in apartments, regulations, and flight infrastructure integration remain huge challenges, jetpacks could bring an exciting prospect of enhancing urban connectivity and expanding transportation horizons.
Exo-skeletons change work
Exoskeletons can reshape cities by enhancing human capabilities and transforming physical labor. These wearable robotic devices augment strength and endurance, empowering workers in various industries. Iron Man, once again, is the best example.
They can be used to improve efficiency and reduce physical strain.
This also unlocks economic value by allowing previously difficult tasks such as cleaning, moving heavy objects or construction to be accomplished by one trained operator in an exo-skeleton, rather than a team of frail human using raw muscles.
This in turn allows our cities to be cleaner, faster and more miraculous in the architecture they build. It could also be used to reduce waste and increase sustainability.
Exoskeletons also enhance mobility for people with disabilities, fostering inclusivity. Considerations include cost and accessibility. Integrating exoskeleton technology creates safer, more productive, and inclusive cities, where individuals thrive and contribute effectively.
Examples like this can inspire us to imagine a future where science fiction becomes reality, where sustainability coexists with modernity, and where urban environments seamlessly integrate advanced technologies for the betterment of society.
These examples serve as brain food for the thinkers of tomorrow.
If you need help making the future practical, please reach out.
Jetsons image may be copyright - used for comment purposes. If you prefer removed let us know.
Errata - Note the reference to 7th city was edited out from the email version.