Brave New World


The Future City Competition is a cool contest. Kids get to design a futuristic paradise. But man, who judged the thing, John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge?

This year's winner: "Candeo Glacia is powered by hydrogen. Its residents submit to regular iris scans for security purposes. And the leaves on its bioengineered trees turn purple at any sign of radiation."

I'd like to volunteer my services for next year's panel.

NEXT: He Ain't Working Here No More

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  1. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990’s, the winning city would probably have had something to do with its enabling of e-commerce for all facets of human life. The winner would have been a true virtual city.

    Today, unfortunately, the winning city is the one that best enables its government to monitor its citizens. I can’t decide whether to be depressed or frightened by that.

  2. I think you can be both! I don’t fault the kids for coming up with it though. I think at that age you’re pretty oblivious to privacy concerns since you have so little anyway. But did they really have to get first place?

  3. I remember doing a project like that in High School. The teacher was most unhappy when she saw that my friend and I had included a gun factory. 🙂

  4. I built a shopping-mall archology.

  5. Highway, what’s wrong with “limited-access downtown areas in cities”? Except that most American cities don’t have a downtown worth going to anymore, since many of the buildings were turned into parking lots after the advent of, uh… highways.

  6. I heard about this on NPR’s Morning Edition, the Central Planning Committee version. Listening to those kids describe all those ways that their cities made our lives better by telling the citizens what to do was amazing. And this was presented right before the feature on limited access downtown areas in cities, that you could only reach by ‘bus trains’ or something like that. They certainly seemed enamored, although I didn’t hear the whole thing. My 10 minute commute doesn’t allow for much listening.

  7. “And the leaves on its bioengineered trees turn purple at any sign of radiation.”

    As opposed to the green leaves we get from radiation today? Maybe they meant “bad” radiation.

    Since bioengineered plants will exist, I assume the future is not in Europe.

  8. The problem I see with only allowing these pre-approved or single-mode methods of travel into the city centers is that it will severely limit the convenience of going to any trip generator that happens to be within the restricted area, no matter its location within the restricted area. People will limit their trips, since they have to change modes, and will then limit what they do with them. It’s difficult to deal with large parcels, or handicapped persons, or unplanned trips with buses or trains. That’s the main problem, it limits flexibility, and while it may be a novelty for a while, I think it would severely limit both the uses and customer pools in the cities.

    I would tend to disagree with you about the reason for the decline of cities as well. The car may have had a lot to do with it, but the main reason I see is that people don’t need to go to the city to have their needs met, for jobs, entertainment, or goods and services. When those are available everywhere, people will spread out, as they have done. I’m not real interested in telling them they can’t, either.

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