Have you ever been to the market?
Silly question, you say. But is it really?
Till now the domain of sci-fi movies and novels, the possibility that technology advances so far that we do not have to travel at all, is almost here. And by almost, I mean 10 years.
But don’t take my word for it, let us look at the evidence:
Travel to get to work or for education.
You still do that? Have you never heard of online platforms like Freelancer.com?
In 10 years, most of the traditional career fields, will no longer (unless they already do not) require your physical presence.
Whether it is Office Administration (Data Entry, Book Keeping/Accounting, Receptionist and Information clerks).
Or Sales (Social media marketing, online marketing).
Or Business and Finance (Internet Banking, Trading platforms for stocks/currencies or other investment vehicles, online realtors with virtual views of the properties).
Or Installation and Repairs (Online diagnostic tools – in fact, many of the best products come with their own error reporting software and remote access).
Or Education (Virtual classrooms).
Or even the traditional bastions of hard physical labor such as Construction (3D printers for construction), Farming (Robots), Manufacturing (Robots), Transportation (self-driven Artificially Intelligent car) will not require much human interference. Programs, parameters, designs and all else that the robots and equipment require can be relayed from the comfort of one’s home….. or the beach.
What about Health Care? Where one’s own physical body needs to be worked on? If one is sick? Or needs a replacement tooth?
Online diagnosis, medication prescription and online pharmacies are taking care of that too. And that tooth? 3D printed. Your dentist looks at a photo of your decayed tooth, sends it to a 3D scanner and printer, 3D prints it and has it couriered to you. Fixing it in place is still an issue…. but hey, we still have ten years to work on that.
And in this space, where everyone is going to be working from wherever they feel comfortable, not necessarily the office, online marketplaces like Freelancer.com become even more important.
Travelling for necessities
Seven words: Amazon + Whole Foods EBay AliExpress TaoBao FlipKart
Travelling for entertainment
I admit, I am stumped.
It’s not that I can’t make an argument that even for entertainment, one need not leave the four walls of the house.
Are we not already trending towards that? There is lower revenue at cinemas because of the 1000’s of television channels available for your 3D television. Original content is streamed to you online.
Missing the dance floor? PlayStation or Xbox with the dance pad.
Massive advances in virtual reality devices mean it’s not so far-fetched to imagine myself along with 20,000 other spectators in a stadium watching a basketball game, creating lots of noise whenever the opposing team is shooting free-throws, all from the comfort of my living room, watching my own holographic image at the stadium.
NB: If you are from one of the Commonwealth countries or the Indian sub-continent, please replace basketball with cricket.
But I am still stumped. What are people going to do with all that travel time saved?
Such questions, as well as others, need answering. Is it good that technology will be replacing many jobs? Is it ethical? But these are discussions for another day.
In the meanwhile, I’m excited and impatient for the new reality. I am like Alex in The Mummy Returns. “Are we there yet? No. Are we there yet? No…………How about now?”
And you may find my question silly, “Have you ever been to the market?” But the next generation might reply “No. Why would I go?”