Enough predictions. What kind of future do we want?

February 2017

In a milestone year such as Canada's 150th anniversary, it's tempting to try to foresee what the future will bring.

But predictions are risky. After all, weren't we supposed to be jetting around in flying cars, eating hi-tech "food" served by domestic robots, and taking vacations in space by now? Or suffering under a permanent cloud of polluted air and oppression, our streets lined not with trees but with towering buildings and giant digital screens, and segregated into either protected ultra-rich enclaves or semi-lawless workers' slums?

Those are the utopian and dystopian views that come to mind when I consult my mental library of books and films set in the near- to mid-future. How wrong and yet how right they were.

With drones hovering overhead and autonomous cars being tested, can flying cars and servant-robots be that far off? How about unbreathable air, a privatized water supply, treeless cityscapes, and rich vs. poor enclaves? Maybe not so much in Ottawa, but look at some of the mega-cities of Asia, Africa and South America for signs of dystopia.

Before we get too high and mighty in North America, though, consider real estate prices in Vancouver or San Francisco, the current state of inner Detroit, and the cyber-surveillance to which we willingly submit. If not signs of dystopia, these are troubling trends.