City of the Future and Living Concrete

The future may seem grim right now, but there will be a future. And it may be brighter than you expect. As a science fiction writer, one of my favorite pastimes is following articles and predictions of future technology. Today we’ll look at reports of the city of the future and “living” concrete.

City of the Future

image of the city of the future: Toyota's Woven City with Mount Fuji in the background

In Cnet’s report on the CES (consumer Electronics Show) one of the coolest new things was Toyota’s city of the future. Until now, they have done city planning around automobiles. The prototype city Toyota will build has no human drivers. 

They plan to build the Woven City on 175 acres of a now-defunct factory near Mount Fuji. The plans feature self-driving vehicles run on hydrogen fuel cells, robots, smart homes, and new forms of personal mobility. Not only that, regular people will live in this city of tomorrow.

“Living” Concrete

Concrete is the second most-consumed material on Earth after water.

Using sand, gel and bacteria, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a self-healing concrete. They believe that someday the concrete could “heal their own cracks, suck up dangerous toxins from the air or even glow on command”.

They aren’t the only scientists working to create a self-healing concrete. In 2010, a graduate student and chemical engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island created a “self-healing” concrete embedded with tiny capsules of sodium silicate.

What I think

Who hasn’t dreamed of a city of the future? I’d love to have a robot doing the dishes and the laundry, wouldn’t you? And hopping into a self-driving car would make me feel a bit decadent. However, I think the Woven City will take time to become more than a novelty. There have been many advances in the technology, but for humans to use these technologies every single day—well, we humans have a tendency to push the limits. These robots and self-driving cars will have to be stupid-proof.

As for living, self-healing concrete—wow, what a boon that would be. No more potholes! And yet, I am skeptical. Remember the Chaos Theory? The earth will break free of this self-healing concrete. And if it doesn’t, earth may be in more trouble from concrete than from pollution.

Hmmm, I said the future might be brighter than you expect, didn’t I? I have faith that smart, innovative researchers will make these things work. But I see how stupid we humans can be, too. Unfortunately, we simply cannot predict the level of stupid that will occur. So I say, let’s go ahead. I can’t wait to tryout the cities of tomorrow and self-healing concrete. But then again, I’m a science fiction author. I enjoy thinking about these things. What do you think? Would you try out in an experimental city of the future and living concrete?

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