Comment by Max Read on one of many articles about the hyperloop idea promoted by Elon Musk (apparently [edit: somewhat] similar ideas have been around for awhile, including the descriptively named vactrain):

Why would we build a “hyperloop” instead of just moving everyone in America to one huge city?

We could fit basically the entire U.S. population into an area around 9,000 square miles (think New Hampshire) at the population density of Brooklyn (35,000 people per square mile), which is more than enough space for public parks and small (and even, for some, single-family) houses.

A good, comprehensive public rapid-transit system could get you from one end of the city to the other in a couple hours at most.

The rest of the country could be turned into national public wilderness and some large-scale industrialized agriculture. We could also eat bugs for protein and grow vegetable gardens.

I don’t know how serious Read is, but why not, and why only “America”? All ought have access to the opportunity and wonder of The City — the opportunity and wonder of all humans.

Though a serious part of me is serious about this, I know that only small progress is possible for now, perhaps until the em era.

Thanks to Max Read for the fun comment, however intended.


6 Responses

  1. Didn’t we just talk about this? :) This is my (scifi predicted!) dystopia!

    Unless I can simultaneously spend a >>> 2weeks/year outside of The City in The Wilderness, I couldn’t do it.

    But, at the same time, my VHEMT side says “awesome!” to the idea of a vastly huge The Wilderness.

    But but, I’m not convinced large-scale industrial agriculture, especially in this extreme example, will be sufficient for everyone. Yes, some enjoy the idea of Soylent. Others (with equally sound science, such is the world of nutrition), think it’s crazy and only eat unprocessed foods. I could just be projecting there.

  2. I’m surprised you say only at least 2weeks/year. I don’t see why not, or much more.

    The future of large scale agriculture: un-processed by robots.

    Kragen wrote “@mlinksva Hyperloop’s plenty cheaper”. Pound foolish I say. Humans in cities are more productive, humans in bigger cities more still, and in The City, most. A wealthier world can afford more.

    But as I think I actually did recently say to Greg, the future will be far weirder and more mundane than any of that (I don’t remember which “that”, but surely this), eg, VR plenty cheaper than moving humans around permanently or quickly.

  3. The “>>>” was meant to be “way freaking more than” the standard 2 weeks a working stiff gets in the US.

    And yes, I dream of VR (for lack of a better term) powered future where I *don’t* have to live in The City to be productive on a similar scale as though I were.

  4. Personally, I look forward to the day when my productivity is measured by whether I’m hungry or not. “A wealthier world can afford more”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

  5. Nathan, The City/Hypercity is an allegory for a world without borders, going some way to reducing worldwide inequality, wealth and otherwise.

    It is possible that a wealthier world is necessarily a more unequal world, to the extent that more wealth (ie more productivity; I mean more wealth generically, not more Xillionaires) directly causes hunger. I suspect the contrary, that more productivity usually decreases the proportion of humanity that is hungry.

    Re more wealth and cities, if I recall correctly The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States is good background reading.

  6. […] advocating for apartheid “because it’s the law”. I hinted at a subtheme about the role of cities, to be filled out […]

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