Greg Lindsay's Blog

April 18, 2021  |  permalink

“Nomadland” and Autonomous Everything

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In honor of the Oscars and Best Picture-frontrunner Nomadland – a fictionalized version of Jessica Bruder’s journalistic account of Amazon’s “CamperForce” of nomadic retirees and other workers – I’m reposting a vignette I developed for Intel back in 2017.

Accompanying a report on the “Passenger Economy” – the trillions of dollars unlocked by autonomous productivity – were several brief scenarios on how economy might look over the coming decades. By 2040, I imagined an aging generation of self-driving RVs being repurposed by the swelling ranks of those rendered superfluous by AI and automation:

Over time, some AVs less resemble cars than buildings. In 2040, caravans of solar-powered, autonomous RVs the size of McMansions lumber along America’s back roads carrying families of nomads and migrants workers. With a top speed of 20 miles per hour, these autonomous homes enable the full sweep of daily life to be lived on the road. It’s not uncommon for entire subdivisions to pick up and move to the next farm or factory, plugging into plumbing upon arrival. After several weeks of recharging, the town rumbles onward again.

Cheers to Intel for never flinching at dystopia, and fingers crossed for Nomadland.

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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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