Details transcript:

Subject: Future

Participants: Ondo and me 

Date, time and place: May 14, 2020, 7:46 - 8:18 p.m. at Home

Ondo, there are a few other things I wanted to ask. You may recall what happened during spring 2020, the coronavirus that came into existence. Many people are thinking about the implications of this all. Can you give some clarity on the subject, will it change the way we live? 

Well, I was born in January 2021, which means that I didn't experience it myself. But my parents told me about it, and it was part of my history class. 

Right, I forgot that you weren't born yet. What did people tell you about it?

Well, for starters, yes, it will change the way people live. But the introduction of the internet did as well, many things too. Change is not something rare in the time you and I are living in. But I understand your concerns. I think it might be interesting to discuss some of the implications on both societal level and a more practical level. At least, what I understand from it.

The threat of the coronavirus will stop not long from now, but in the end, corona will make people rethink about the concept of freedom. Many western people are used to a “modern” idea of freedom, the freedom of the individual. It’s about the ability to express yourself, your beliefs, your thoughts, and is also linked to a private and individual existence. Many of the people in your generation are used to this kind of freedom and you think very highly of it. In my time, it became known as, 'small freedom.' Let me explain why.

At some point, people will find that the restrictions that are forced upon you awaken the strength of a more ancient concept of freedom. A type of freedom that is connected to the group, the society. If the society you live in is not free, mentally or physically, then neither can you be free as an individual. The common enemy that is standing in front of you, which symbolises the vulnerability of mankind, will awaken a stream of thoughts that remind you of the fact that to be free in a modern perspective, you need to live in a free society. The freedom of the society is what we call, 'big freedom.' It’s not big and small in the way that one is more important than the other. Both of them can not exist without the other really.

In the case of the coronavirus, this means that the easiest way to deal with it is solving it as a society, doing things together even if it doesn’t benefit you directly. Try to be creative with the given circumstance, instead of defending your ideal situation. An individual approach is very much understandable, but will only solve things for in the short term. 

Well, I'm glad that this corona thing comes to a stop at some point. This small freedom that you are talking about is indeed valuable to us. I do think that many people in my time realise that it makes humanity a bit shallow. 

I think it does as well. For many people, mostly minorities, economically weak or sick, the strength of a group is nothing new. These common threats, like the coronavirus, will be a reminder of the importance of the group for people that, let's say, forgot. My father always says that you can only be free because of the other people and other people only because of you.

That’s nice. And is this change in perspective considered to be a positive thing?

It is hard for me to say personally because again, I was never part of this thinking. My parents say it is and many people say so as well. In general, I think that it reminded us of the fact that humans can be fantastically resilient and creative. The future is a good place most of the time. I just think th...

[Phone drops]

I'm sorry, my phone fell on the ground.  

Your phone? Those big devices that you used to bring everywhere, right? 

Yes, those devices indeed haha...

I've seen an iPhone once, it just looks really funny to me. Anyway, what was I saying… I think for too long people have been thinking that the only thing humanity needed was "good" people and "good" leaders. All throughout history people have been antagonising different groups of people because there had to be a reason that the world wasn't perfect. With common enemies like corona, the focus will shift towards things that lay outside the narrow perspective of our prejudiced minds. We didn't need a strong leader; the only thing we needed was a strong common enemy to remind us that small freedom is not all that there is. If one thing proves itself time after time, then that must be the strength of camaraderie and cooperation. 

That does make a lot of sense. 

That is considered to be the weakest part of people in your time; you were competing all the time and not focused on getting the most out of everyone.

The individualism, and the competition that goes with it, is dreadful indeed...

I can imagine that it is still a bit vague, but clarity will come once you experience it yourself. Just think about it the coming time. I wanted to say something about the practical side as well, I’m sure it will be very interesting to you and at the same time better to visualise.

Cities will change in the way they are used. What the distancing rules will do in the end has not so much to do with creating distance, but making more space. In the beginning more and more streets will be turned into public domain. Lives of people will increasingly change from an indoor experience to an outdoor experience, from a private experience to a public experience. Corona is not the reason for all of this to happen, but among other events, it will start a new way of thinking which will lead to many creative ideas like the Transas. 

The what?

Transas, you see them everywhere in the city, they are liquid, transparent bubbles that are just as easy to set up as a pop-up tent. You can shape them in any size and form you like and some of them even have patterns and colours. People do all sort of things in these rooms, which they basically are, from selling food to doing sports. It’s just the extra space that is needed sometimes, but the reason they are used so often is mainly that people really like the connection with outside. Watching the rain is amazing, it feels like an invisible shield protecting you. They're not replacements for buildings, people still very much value the privacy that our standard homes provide. 

Besides that, technologies of underground and above ground transportation will expand and improve tremendously. Most roads in cities are underground, although most people use the ball. A mode of transport which is a spin-off of the hyperloop, all vacuum, but even smaller and more flexible. It is a one-person device in the shape of a ball, that literally rolls you to certain points in town via an underground system. It resembles the marbles kids play with. In my time they already have 15 times more stops than of the public transport modes combined in 2020. It also makes it possible to expand cities, and boy they really will in the future. It probably doesn't come as a surprise, but even Rotterdam expands to 2,4 million inhabitants.  

The development of cities will not only occur on land but towards the ocean as well. Since oceans are more resistant to weather conditions, whole cities will be built on the water. Some of them can even go underwater during extreme weather conditions. In the North Sea, a city called Cinta will be built. It's one of the bigger water cities that is going to be realised. Approximately 20 million people live there and it functions fully independently. They have really anything you can imagine, from forests to libraries. Some people call these water cities 'The Arks,' since they are home to many animals that went extinct on the mainland. 

They are trying to build way more water cities because unlike on the mainland, these cities can move. Weather systems are very advanced and they can make incredibly precise predictions about where the most ideal location would be for the city. This means that the island is constantly on the move. It makes a more general shift the whole year to make sure the temperatures don't get too high or low and smaller movements to make sure there is the right balance between rain and sun. The latter is important because although they can make saltwater drinkable, it’s still a slow process. If they move the city to the right location, they are able to capture enough water to maintain everything. 

That's sounds unbelievably cool, Ondo. I'm actually wondering if you would be ok with me sharing this information with people? I think it might inspire and comfort people. 

Well, I’m not sure if that's allowed actually. But whatever, I'm in a good mood. If you want you can give them my email address, that's They probably have many questions.

That's awesome and don't worry, probably no one will believe you even exist.