By 2050, traveling would be the past time of dinosaurs

The last time you got in a car, or endured a 10-hour transatlantic flight cooped up in a tiny seat, why did you do it? Why did you get up at foolish o’clock on a Monday morning to go and camp out in rush-hour traffic? It’s the same reason that a nomad gets on his camel to start his journey across a desert and that the executive in his Armani suit hops on his private jet: to get from one place to the other; to leave their present location and be in a new place; to experience a new place and all it holds. What if you didn’t have to get out of bed to get that intense workout, complete with the increased heart rate and adrenaline rush through your muscles? What if you could get to savor the taste of freshly baked Inuit bannock bread and French Macarons right from your kitchen on the other side of the world? What if you could feel the salty sting of the ocean on your face while looking down on the breath-taking view of the Shetland Islands from the top of Broch of Mousa without even taking a single step out of your house?

If we were to look at the history of transportation, we would conclude that it has traveled (every pun intended) a parallel path to that of industrialization and innovation. As technology got more advanced, man was able to go farther, go faster, see more, and do more. The novelty being somewhere else or seeing what is out there has driven man for as long as he’s been on the planet. The same reason Columbus built a boat and went in search of America is what pushes scientists to research and develop space travel. It is the same reason why writers and movie makers are still making a killing from selling time travel and teleportation.

I’m sure the first caveman who managed to figure out that he could get on the back of a donkey must have been considered a god. From that first bumpy ride to the jet age and then to conquering space, it’s always been about more: see more, experience more, explore more, discover more, have more influence, dominate more. All man seems to have ever wanted (like a greedy, needy baby who always wants more) is to get into the next new place, see what’s there and then move on to the next newer, shinier thing. It’s a classic case of curiosity that killed the cat, or better put, the greed that drove business. All we’ve ever wanted is more, to see what’s out there, to experience all there is. It’s the worst case of FOMO there ever was, and we’ve just been hopping from one invention to the next, all in a bid to satisfy this deep-seated hunger.

The question now is this: is travel really what man wants, or is it just a means to an end? Is the craze for building faster, cheaper, more efficient means of transportation just a matter of form over function? If man had somehow managed to unravel the mysteries of the universe, no one would have spent a red cent on researching space travel. Man’s best friend, technology (not his other best friend), in an ironic twist, is going to be the one to render travel extinct. 5G network technology is starting to roll out, virtual reality is being perfected, and IoT is getting cheaper: human existence as we know it is about to be turned on its head. Forget the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, these three are the ones to watch out for.

Just imagine for a moment that we come up with some sophisticated, super-cheap IoT cameras that can be strung all over the place. Cheap and cheerful. Tack that to a 7g network technology, and you have an immersive system that gives us a real-time Google Street View. To put the cherry on top, put a tech that does synthetic smell and taste, full-body haptic feedback suite; you could be literally anywhere you choose, doing whatever you wish, at the snap of a finger, or the press of a button. One minute, you could be swimming with hammerhead sharks in the Pacific Ocean and the next, be exploring the sun’s core (without getting roasted).

You could go practically anywhere and do anything you wished without the risks of accidents, plane crashes or becoming an inter-galactic barbecue. Say goodbye to speeding tickets, exhaust gases, long uncomfortable flights, the complications of atmospheric re-entry, the whole nine yards. With near-zero latency video, immersion and telepresence, your virtual experience could even be better than the real thing. So why bother getting in a car? Before you know it cars, planes, trains, and even spaceships will become relics of the lost age and talking about them will be like asking a teenager today if they know what a Walkman is.

By 2050, when nobody borders to travel anymore, our kids would wonder why we subjected ourselves to such cruel things like Keke Marwa and GoKada bikes. Jokes apart, immersive technology has a serious chance of reducing the need for travel because it would offer a better experience, subsequently reducing the negative impacts that cars and planes have on the planet.

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