When our warehouses, factories, lodgings, resorts, mines, mills, and ports are staffed by robots. When our intelligentsia; our engineers, clergy and academics all work remotely. What then, will be left for us in the cities?
Urbanites are 39% more likely to suffer mood disorders, and 21% more likely to have anxiety. Whether your beliefs for our origin lay in Eden or Evolution, you cannot deny that these human hives of millions, or even tens of millions, are places alien and uncomfortable to our psyche. Tokyo, Rome, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, and NYC are exciting and vibrant places, but they are contrary to human nature. Humans aren’t meant to handle groups of more than a few hundred at most. Dunbar’s number, the ideal number of people for a cohesive group, is 153, even if some social psychologists suggest up to around 200.
We could edit the genetics of the human psyche, to be more at home in the city, and that’s a valid choice in my transhumanist mind, but for once, I’d like to be more realistic.
I think that, starting in the developed world, remote workers, as well as the new unemployable class supported by Universal Basic Income or Negative Income Tax, will move out to the countryside.
At first, this will likely take the form of a redevelopment and repopulation of villages, towns, and smaller cities.
I was raised in a tiny section of eastern Pennsylvania, called the “Slate Belt”. So called, because slate was quarried there. The modern age has rendered my hometown and the surrounding area, rather poor and somewhat dilapidated. I was lucky enough that my family had the means to move elsewhere; but if I ever get the opportunity to work online, I will return to my home at the foot of the Appalachians. I can only imagine what rural America will look like, infused with new blood, new ideas, and new wealth
However, this return to rural life will obviously not entail a return to the peasant shacks of 500 years ago, or even the more charming farmhouses of 150 years ago. Our great great grandchildren will live in high-tech manors and mansions, surrounded by elaborate gardens of genetically modified plants, all maintained and attended to by robotic labor. They will live lives like the old world nobility, only a thousand times better, as unlike the old landed aristocrats, they will have advanced technology.
Of course, cities will not disappear, or even return to preindustrial sizes, but they will shrink in size. There will always be those who like the atmosphere of the city, and who like to have an abundance of entertainment nearby. I’m just saying, you’ll be surprised at how many will return to rural grounds.