Suppose you wanted to build an entire country from the ground up. How would you start?
I’d start with the furniture.
When you design a home, you first figure out what furniture arrangements you like, and how the kitchen is laid out. That tells you what shape and size the rooms have to be. Next you imagine what tasks need to be accomplished in the house and you layer on the functionality. For example, you make sure there is storage in the garage, and that the laundry room is near the master bedroom. And you want the sun orientation to be a big part of the planning.
Once you have individual rooms designed, the next step is figuring out how they flow together. And from that you get a good idea what the outside of the house looks like. Once the house is done you can start doing some city planning. You’d want bike paths and dog parks and fun places for neighbors to gather. You might ban cars from the city entirely.
Now let’s assume your planned city has free Internet and everyone is connected. And let’s further imagine that a big player such as Apple or Google is behind the venture. Everything from your lights to your grocery shopping would be managed by smartphones. Every citizen over the age of 10 would have one.
The biggest potential of this planned city springs from universal Internet access. Once you have every citizen online, you can move all billing, voting, and government services online. And anyone could take any online class from home. There’s a lot you can do when you have 100% Internet penetration.
Now that you have the perfect city design you can duplicate it until you form a nation. You might need to put this nation on barges on the ocean, or perhaps you buy some land from a country that has extra. Perhaps you pay taxes to the host country in return for military protection.
You could design your government from scratch. The Internet probably makes some new forms of government feasible, such as a direct democracy, as opposed to a republic, for issues that aren’t especially complicated.
Pick any frustration from you current life and you can imagine how a planned country would make it better. Commute too long? Fixed. Cost of living too high? Fixed. Childcare too expensive and inconvenient? Fixed. Don’t have time to exercise? Fixed. Too much crime in the neighborhood? Fixed. Drunk drivers? None. Healthcare? Universal and inexpensive because your doctor consultations are via Internet.
At tax time, every adult gets an email that says “This is what you earned and this is what you paid.” Done. You never have to see an accountant.
It’s hard to imagine a problem that couldn’t be fixed or improved by a country that is planned from the furniture up and has universal Internet connectivity.
I could imagine an existing country authorizing these “start-up” cities within their own borders, as test beds. After twenty years, whatever is working in the test cities gets implemented countrywide.
Designing a country from the furniture up would have been impractical twenty years ago. To do this sort of thing right, you need high end CAD software and the ability to visualize everything from the furniture to the street layout in 3D. You need smartphones. And you need a fiber optic Internet connection to every home.
My larger point is that I think the future will include cities planned from the furniture up. And that era will see enormous economic activity. Living the old way, in legacy communities, will feel like camping compared to the cities of the future.
I would be surprised if planned cities are not being discussed somewhere within Google.
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