You are right on the brink. 2015 marked the beginning of what we now call the Creative Revolution. It took place in cities around the globe and catalyzed a brand new political consciousness. Imagine that 2050 will be something you can’t imagine: everything will open up in unexpected ways.
In the coming decades, exponential advancement in technology will create true abundance. Not only will you be able to make new things with astonishing speed and quality, but you’ll also develop ways to conserve and regenerate natural resources.
The future is all about holistic progress. You’ll no longer need to categorize innovation as you live through the Creative Revolution. Human progress will accelerate as industrial boundaries melt away. You will be empowered to move from fear to caring — a shift in mindset that will celebrate openness and diversity instead of protectiveness and unification. Within these optimal conditions, a new form of city-state will emerge.
At the center of this rapidly evolving movement is a more enlightened view on identity. In 2050, gender, race, and nationality will no longer define who you are. Individuals will choose their community by passion and value, and willingly contribute to collective well-being for a better, more prosperous social and natural environment.
Cities provide the perfect setup to breed these multi-faceted identity networks. Geoffrey West, theoretical physicist of your time, discovered the magic of cities long before we recognized the opportunity imperative to city-state formation. He turned a study of the cosmology of elementary particles into a quantitative understanding of the structure and dynamics of cities. He called it scaling phenomena, and used it to examine growth, innovation, wealth creation, and long-term sustainability. West said:
“The thing that is amazing about cities is that as they grow, their dimensionality increases. The space of opportunity, functions, and jobs continually opens up.”
There’s something else that West noted as even more important as you enter this phase of exponential advancement: the way that cities support ‘crazy’ elements — unexpected people and ideas.
“If you walk down Fifth Avenue, you see crazy people,” he said. “Cities are tolerant of extraordinary diversity. If you go to General Motors or American Airlines or Goldman Sachs, you don’t see crazy people. Crazy people are fired. Mavericks are fired.”
When bureaucracy owns creativity, meaningful growth gets stifled. Furthermore, when you organize human activities at a national level, you end up with a different problem: an immobile, hereditary loyalty that creates conflict.
Our capacity to overcome these limitations is a big part of West’s predictive framework. The ideal city contributes to a thriving global community, one that is both inherently intelligent and infinitely more sustainable.
By 2050, the vast majority of sovereign powers will have shifted to cities. For the first time in human history, these newly minted city-states form an intricate global network that favors cooperation over competition. We still grapple with the same issues you face in your time — we have not eradicated poverty and disease, and plenty of people are unhappy about one thing or another. But because we are capable of contextualizing problems within the sensible confines of cities, we can prototype and perfect solutions more swiftly. Our willingness and ability to share learning across city-states give us a foundation to act on global issues. In a way, we treat our city-states like the apps of your days: we constantly debug, optimize, and upgrade to improve our play in the larger eco-system. Competition is fertilizer to collective progress.