Playing God: Building with Robots, 3D Printers and Augmented Reality
No fewer than three major U.S. magazines last year, including The Economist and Wired, featured robots on their covers. The age of machine-assisted labor is here. But robotics is just one of many advancing technologies that are likely to change our lives dramatically. Converging technologies, including virtual reality, 3D printing, augmented reality, robotics and nanotechnology will combine to alter the way we construct buildings and products, and how we define work. What will occur is nothing less than a transference of power, where our technology will allow us to manipulate and control our environment as never before in human history.
And it's a good thing. Because the next generation has been weaned on digital technology. The Millennials, who by 2030 will constitute 75 percent of the workforce in the U.S., will shun careers in construction or manufacturing—unless those careers become an extension of their techno-centric, eco-conscious world view. And the need for highly skilled construction experts is about to explode, as flight from the suburbs into urban areas accelerates. In Houston, for example, more than 5,000 units of residential apartments are breaking ground right now—and Houston is a city with only 3,500 full-time residents in its downtown core. To get a better sense of how this transference will play out over the next century, let’s focus on the construction industry. Get ready for a wild ride.