2037: The debut of the rolling office cubicle

In the 1960s, the creators of the television cartoon series The Jetsons envisioned in the 21st century, we’d be jetting daily to the office, whooshing through the stratosphere in personal aircraft between residential and office buildings in a mere few minutes.

Another vision of the future 37 years into the century is decidedly different. There are no personal flying vehicles to speed the commute. Instead, people are still commuting by car to offices distant from their homes just as they did in the latter half of the 20th century when automobiles, highways and cheap fuel made it possible to live far from one’s place of employment, giving rise to the suburban and exurban boom.

In 2037, the suburbs are still booming and moving farther away from centralized metro commuter offices than at the start of the new century. But the commute vehicles are automated and self-driving. They have essentially become personal, employee financed rolling office cubicles — an extension of the cubicle of the centralized, commute in office building where knowledge workers spend two or more hours each workday getting to and from more distant work and home locations. But are they truly necessary? Especially as information and communications technology available now and likely to advance rapidly in the near term makes it possible to perform knowledge work from anywhere as predicted by science fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke soon after The Jetsons first television season aired?

2 thoughts on “2037: The debut of the rolling office cubicle

  1. It seems to me that autonomous vehicles can bring a lot of products and services directly to the consumer vs. the other way around. Have your Starbucks delivered to your door, or wherever you are. Your hair stylist can travel to your home with all the necessary equipment. (Pet groomers already do this, why not use driverless vehicles to get around?) Instead of going to the grocery store, shop on line and have the goods delivered to your door. Why drive all arond town to do mundane tasks, even if the autonous vehicle does all the driving? Seems even simpler, and creates less traffic, if the service or product can be delivered to the consumer. People will still travel, but more for social activities and recreation destinations.

  2. “People will still travel, but more for social activities and recreation destinations.”
    This is similar to what Arthur C. Clarke predicted in 1968 (see video link in post):
    “Almost any executive skill, any administrative skill even any physical skill could be made independent of distance….The traditional role of the city as a meeting place for man would have ceased to make any sense. In fact, men will no longer commute. They will communicate. They won’t have to travel for business anymore. They’d only travel for pleasure.”

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