Friday, June 23, 2006

A Glimpse At The Future

I can't resist articles like this, because I think back to my childhood and the promises held out for us by things like the World's Fair in 1964 and 2001:A Space Odyssey. I'll jump in with comments along the way:
The (possible) future of New York City

By Justin Rocket Silverman
amNewYork Staff Writer
OK, stepping for a moment: who the FUCK gives their kid the middle name "Rocket"? Moving on:
[...]Through interviews with scientists, economists and city planners, amNewYork presents snapshots of a time that doesn't exist. Yet.
And probably never will.
Transportation - "Very tough restrictions on private car use will be the only way to avert complete gridlock," says Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives. "New technology will charge drivers a fee for every mile they travel on city roads, with the highest fees charged for driving on the most congested streets at the most congested times."
I thought that was what the potholes were know, the repair shops kick back a percentage of their revenues in bodywork and axle repairs to the city coffers? It's no surprise that both Midas and Meineke discount muffler shops got their starts in this region.
The cost of parking will lead many more New Yorkers to befriend the bicycle, while others will use the kinds of Bus Rapid Transit systems that have already transformed cities in South America. Some advocates envision a car-free 42nd Street, with a light-rail system rushing passengers across town.
HA! First off, while many New Yorkers own and ride bikes in town, most Manhattanites prefer walking to biking. Landlords usually have severe restrictions where you can leave your bike, usually you have to take it into your apartment, and space is already at a premium in most apartments. Further, too much tunnel traffic from the Lincoln Tunnel would make the 42nd Street mall concept a non-starter.
The subway system will be expanded and upgraded in the next quarter-century, but not by a lot. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign believes the Second Avenue Subway will be built, but says the MTA won't be able to afford much more than that.
Goodness knows they have to fund all those limos for the fat cats! The subways annually project (for five years' budget purposes) $17 billion (with a b) for maintenance and repair of the current trains, tracks, stations and tunnels. However, I don't hold Russianoff's deep skepticism. I think the #7 train extension will also occur, as well as the troubling LIRR terminal in Grand Central Station and the Lower Manhattan transport hub near the Trade Center..
The Economy - For a city to grow by a million people, it must provide new jobs for a million people, and that, say economists, is the biggest obstacle to any impending growth spurt.
True. Real estate prices being an enormous nut for most New Yorkers, jobs are critical to the city's survival, which means that a new dominating industry will have to take root here. As someone with some inside knowledge of the real estate industry, I can tell you that the Garment District has slowly seen the immigration of many high tech design houses for software and the Web. Centrally located, access to plenty of transportation and of course, right near the Theatre District and Times Square, the garment center has traditionally been a destination for businesses. It will remain so. The hope is that, with the development of the Trade Center site, including the transport hub, that downtown will see a refreshing move away from stodgy old law firms and investment houses (which have moved the lion's share of their employees out anyway) into something more vibrant and vital to the city's economy.
Culture and Living - Dr. Mehmet Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia University, sees a 2030 in which most New Yorkers have biomedical chips implanted in their arms. These chips make diagnosing illness a snap, and may also notify health care providers that it is time to raise premiums if a patient begins smoking or taking illegal drugs.
Kind of a no-brainer, Doc, seeing as those chips are being implanted now in the form of biomedical information and some limited scanning. All it really needs is packing the software onto the chip, techniques that are already showing promise in the computer industry (the most recent development, the PhysX chip, will start appearing in gaming systems soon, and will take a lot of the number crunching that realistic effects using the laws of physics require off the motherboard of your Dell)
Along with the biomedical revolution, advances in cosmetic surgery and what futurist Andrew Zolli calls, "wrinkle creams that really make your wrinkles go away," will legitimize a new era of inter-generational dating. "Nowadays, you occasionally see May-December romances," he says, "but by 2030 they will be far more common and more extreme. We're talking very early May to very late December romances."
Lemme see...I'll be in my 70s in 2030...I wonder if Angelina Jolie's great granddaughter will date me?