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Introducing 2520, our look 500 years into the future brought to you by Tech Futures Lab

2520, our look 500 years into the future

It’s easy to imagine what the world might look like in five, ten or even fifty years time, but what will New Zealand’s biggest sectors look like in 500 years’ time? Thanks to our friends at Tech Futures Lab, we went out to some of New Zealand’s most inspiring business leaders and asked them to imagine a far, far away future in their sector. Here is what they had to say about the future of business in Aotearoa. 

If you went back in time 500 years, earth would look slightly different to the one we’re living in now. You’d discover the newly painted Mona Lisa portrait in Renaissance Europe and a thriving Aztec empire in Mexico. New Zealand’s landscape would be untouched by people, with the first documented Polynesian settlers only arriving by waka on our shores somewhere between 1320 and 1350.

At Semipermanent Auckland 2019, designer and founder of Massive Change Network Bruce Mau talked about his firm being handed the mammoth task of redesigning the Mecca in Saudi Arabia. More than two million people travel there to make the pilgrimage to Mecca annually to visit Islam’s holiest city, as it is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and the faith itself. However, it has been plagued by trouble with, such as a stampede killing more than 700 people in 2015.

“They [the government] wanted to a do a 20-year plan because it’s so badly designed, people literally get killed by the rush. I said, ‘Look, lets not do a 20-year plan, lets do a 1000-year plan because if you do a 1000-year plan, you can’t possibly know what is going to happen, so you design an open platform, which is really the solution, If you do a 20-year plan, we’ll base it all on the car, and the car’s just about over,’” Bruce Mau said.

This got us wondering, how would we want New Zealand’s major industries to look 500 years from now? It’s easy to imagine the future five, ten or even fifty years from now, because we base it on the technology we have today. But as Mau says, if you look this far into the future, cars become obsolete.

So as part of our Reimagination Issue, we reached out to friends of the Idealog family in a range of sectors and asked them to reimagine their industry 500 years from now, as well as what wider New Zealand looks like. How will their role in society have changed when compared to present day? What kind of bold predictions can they make? Did they think we’ll still have the same problems, or a set of different ones?

The key was to be as audacious as possible and lose the shackles of what’s possible in present day with society and technology, as 500 years is a wide enough berth that literally anything can happen.

But as seemed to be a common thread emerging, while everything changes, the fundamentals stay the same.

Check back over the coming weeks for their columns. 

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