Insurance: Pay As You Drive

Tom Marcinko @ 12-08-2008

flying-carA fact of life underused in sf is vehicle insurance. Your characters will thank you if you insure them on a pay-as-you-go basis, which should provide a disincentive to rack up the mileage. Good for the environment, good for safety. (Your characters are rational economic actors, aren’t they?)

[“The Future?” by Randy Read; updated to add story tip: Atrios]


Two miles high, one mile wide, and housing a million people

Edward Willett @ 30-01-2008

Cover of The World Inside In Robert Silverberg’s 1971 novel The World Inside (a book I remember fondly for having contributed a great deal to my early sex education), the bulk of the 75 billion people on a future Earth live inside Urban Monads, or Urbmons, each of which is three kilometres tall and houses 800,000 people. (Via io9.)

Architect Eugene Tsui has a proposal on his website for something similar: the two-mile high “Ultima” Tower, intended to be home to a million people:

There are 120 levels to the structure with great heights at each level. The scale of this stucture is such that the entire central district of Beijing could fit into its base. One must not think in terms of floors but, instead, imagine entire landscaped neighborhood districts with “skies” that are 30 to 50 meters high. Lakes, streams, rivers, hills and ravines comprise the soil landscape on which residential, office, commercial, retail and entertainment buildings can be built…the structure itself acts like a living organism with its wind and atmospheric energy conversion systems, photovoltaic exterior sheathing, and opening/closing cowl-vent windows that allow natural air into the interior without mechanical intervention….ecological efficiency is a rule and all areas of the structure feature resource conserving technolgy such as recycled building materials, compost toilets, nature-based water cleansing systems for all buildings, plentiful amounts of forrest, plant life and water-based ecosystems.

Even the setting would be beautiful:

The tower is surrounded on all sides by a lake. Sandy beaches, stone cliffs, water inlets, grass, trees and rocky islands create a beautiful and majestic setting…

Could such a thing ever be built? Well, Tsui’s concept dates back to 1991, and nobody’s breaking ground for it yet, or for similar projects like Tokyo’s SkyCity. (The projected $150 billion price tag might have something to do with that.) But the problems of urban sprawl and overpopulation aren’t going away, and structures like this could be part of the solution.

And to me, at least, it actually sounds like a pretty cool place to live…unlike Silverberg’s rather nightmarish (plentiful–mandatory, in fact–sex notwithstanding) Urbmons.

(Image: Amazon.)

[tags]cities, urban sprawl, overpopulation, architecture, skyscrapers[/tags]