Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Biggest Change to Our Lives in the 21st Century

I'm going to go on record predicting that self-driving cars will cause the largest changes to modern life of any advancement in the next 50 years. My reason for that is this: everything that we do happens in physical space, and every aspect of physical space will change when we change how we access that space. Houses won't need driveways and garages, shops won't need parking, towns won't need street networks. We probably can't return to a village of pedestrian alleys, because people own a lot of crap and need ways of schlepping it about, but the dominant feature of my street can stop being the street itself.

"So why don't you make some money out of this, if you're so sure about it?" Well, I see opposing influences in play, and I don't know which will come to dominate. Towns could become denser, as all the former street space in the existing urban area is re-purposed, or towns could become less dense, as traffic and commuting times stop being concerns. So where's the money to be made, in buying the land on which the next exurb will be built, or in buying the land in the under-developed urban core?

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