Virtual World

The Virtual World scenario depicts a future in which technology has made leaps and bounds in becoming smarter and seamlessly integrated. This is the age of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the rise of individualism and advancement in technology meant that people were becoming less dependent on each other for work, information, and social engagements. In this scenario, Singaporeans have adopted individualistic lifestyles across the board. Many live in single-person homes or small households, surrounded by high-tech gadgets, working, shopping and engaging in social and recreational experiences through their personalised virtual reality gadgets, and even travelling in personal travel pods. Figure 4 shows an illustration of key aspects of the virtual world scenario.

Key features in this scenario are:

Government policies – In this scenario, market players dominate in driving innovation and systems while the government plays an assistive role. In the early 2020s, the regulatory environment encourages companies and start-ups to test-bed various new technologies and introduce new business models quickly in Singapore. As a result, Singapore quickly became one of the most tech-savvy countries in the world. Major technology giants started opening their research and innovation hubs in Singapore, and local companies benefited from increased investment by international venture firms and hedge funds. By the mid 2030s, Singapore was being called the ”Silicon Valley of the East”. This change in approach transformed Singapore’s status from being a technology importer to a net technology exporter. Technology exports became a significant portion of Singapore’s national GDP.

                  Mobility modes – The primary mode of transport in this scenario is the personal travel pod. These are hybrids of PMDs that first gained prominence in the late 2010s, and autonomous city cars that became dominant in 2020s.  These autonomous pods are fully enclosed capsules, with climate control features and work stations that can seat either one person or two people. The pods are much more than just mobility devices: they are equipped with artificial intelligence, enabling them to serve as robotic personal assistants and virtual presence devices. People can instruct them to carry out various tasks, such as going to stores and picking up groceries for them, or even travelling to offices and attending meetings on their owners’ behalf. A nation-wide infrastructure was developed for these pods in the 2020s. Pod lanes use state-of-the-art technology that allow pods to take in electricity from the road to recharge their batteries on the move. Since these pods are autonomous and small, their road space usage efficiency is significantly higher than conventional cars. The government embarks on an ambitious plan to “pod-everything” in the late 2030s. According to this plan, all personal vehicles on the road are autonomous pods. These individually-owned pods are complemented by government’s vast MRT network.

                  Life and work style – While personal travel pods have emerged the primary mode of transport, travel demand has been drastically reduced by the emergence and rapid adoption of virtual travel. Virtual travel – the use of technologies such as holography, augmented reality and virtual reality – has enabled people to communicate with each other and even engage in constructive meetings despite not being present at the same location. By late 2020s, every person owns at least one personalized virtual reality gadget. Just as everyone used to have a smartphone with them all the time in the decade of 2010, virtual reality gadgets became smartphones of 2020s. By the mid-2030s, virtual reality technology is capable of replicating real-life environments, enabling people to work from home, and allowing students to attend schools and people to shop without leaving the comfort of their homes.

                  Urban freight – E-commerce technology has made leaps and bounds, and is widely adopted as a preferred mode of shopping after 2020. By late 2030s, E-commerce technology has advanced significantly. For instance, artificial intelligence can now predict individual buying behaviour by analysing people’s consumption and buying behavior. Goods are delivered even before the purchases have been made, aided by anticipatory logistics. In this age of technology, urban freight is being moved primarily by autonomous freight robots and delivery drones. As soon as purchases are predicted or made, the goods are picked up by autonomous robots in warehouses and carried to the buyer’s doorstep. In the food sector, drones are now the primary mode of delivery.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this future. Please comment below.

One thought

  1. Dear colleagues,
    Our team represents International Research and Educational Foresight Centre at Higher School of Economics in Russia. Now we implement Foresight for Russian Cities towards 2050.  For this purpose we`ve analysed best Foresight studies from all over the world. Now we are in the process of preparing a casebook with Foresight best practices for further publication. The
    casebook will be placed on our web-site in PDF.
    Your approach to the scenario creation and visualisation was very impressive, and we would like to describe it shortly in our book.
    hat`s why we kindly ask you to allow us to use your scenario pictures in the case book (of course, with references and links to your web-site).
    Best wishes from Moscow,
    Natalia

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