Season 5, Post 39: Welcome to 2071
Imagine what the world might be like in 48 years’ time. This is the premise behind the Museum of the Future. Described by our guide as “unlike any other museum” and housed “in the most beautiful building in the world,” visitors to Dubai – particularly those interested in future trends – should take a tour. Fortunately for your author, he had other business in the region last week but made time to visit.
Opened last year and funded by the Dubai Future Foundation (a state entity), the Museum of the Future was conceived of a landmark designed not to make predictions but to consider challenges. Its aim is to help both Dubai and the wider world to think more intelligently about the future. This is pertinent given the well-documented challenges the world faces in terms of resource scarcity, climate change, ageing populations and the impacts – both positive and negative – of digital transformation.
2071 is not an arbitrary choice of year. It marks the centenary of the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Visitors begin their journey at the museum by imagining a teleportation to space. Perhaps this will be commonplace within the next fifty years. It doesn’t sound so inconceivable to us – we discussed the topic in our own work in 2018. For the venue’s curators, the idea is less about being able to view the earth, and more about how to save it. The scenario envisaged in the museum is one where the world could receive its power from solar energy harvested in a ‘photovoltaic belt’ stretched around the moon. Some 10,000 reflective absorbers would transmit to earth.
There’s no doubting the ambition of such a project. For those who think it may sound too far-fetched, the museum tour concludes on a floor called “Tomorrow Today.” Here, nearer-term technologies are displayed. On the topic of renewable energy, we were impressed with the “windcatcher.” Think of it as a floating structure containing more than one hundred wind turbines stacked vertically within a 300-metre-high framework. It could represent one future for offshore wind. Concentrated solar power towers were another interesting idea.
On show elsewhere were jetpacks, bionic robots, implantable payment chips, virus-resistant jackets and more. We were intrigued (and perhaps a little scared) by the idea of a “smart plate” that can track and analyse via sensors what we eat. It may be another solution (beyond currently fashionable drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy) that could help mitigate the obesity epidemic. More practical perhaps, were the displays of sustainable materials for new buildings, a topic on which we will be writing more shortly.
17 October 2023
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Photos taken by the author.
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Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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