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A futurist and a skeptic teleport into a bar: Forecasting the future of transportation and personal mobility

by AirTalk®

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Billionaire entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX Elon Musk speaks in below a computer generated illustration of his new rocket at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide on September 29, 2017. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Over the last several decades, pop culture has taken innumerable shots at depicting what the future of transportation looked like, whether it’s the pneumatic tubes that move people around as depicted in The Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s TV satire ‘Futurama,’ hovering skateboards like the ones in Back To The Future 2, flying cars from The Jetsons, or even teleportation as depicted in shows like Star Trek.

But how does getting from point A to point B realistically look in 50 or 100 years?

During a recent presentation at the International Aeronautical Congress in Australia, tech magnate Elon Musk shared his plans for one futuristic mode of transportation – a rocket transport system, currently dubbed ‘BFR,’ that would launch passengers into space and drop them gently at their desired location. Musk says the rocket could go about 16,000 mph, which would make a trip from New York City to Shanghai, China take 39 minutes. Whether Musk’s vision is one day realized or not remains to be seen, as several questions about logistics and target market remain, but Musk and others at the cutting edge of transportation and tech are forcing the rest of us to think seriously about how we get around a century from now.

How do you think humans will be getting around in 50 years? 100 years? Taking off your realist cap and using a bit of imagination, what innovations would you ideally like to see in transportation and personal mobility? Are flying cars an actual possibility or just pie in the sky? What about a tube-based people mover like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop?


John W. Martin, futurist and CEO and managing partner at SIR, a market research consultancy based in Richmond, Virginia; he is also founder and CEO of SIR’s Institute for Tomorrow, a think-tank looking at demographic and cultural trends shaping America’s future

Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American and a presidential fellow at Chapman University

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