Question: What will the world look like in 2050?
Richard Florida: What would the world look like in 2050? It’s a question I think about a lot and I think the last part of "The Great Reset" tries to envision, from not a crystal ball perspective, but by looking at real emergent trends, what a world, an urban world, a new economic landscape, a new spatial fix, a new reset will look like. I think back to my dad, born in 1921, eight years old when the stock market crashed, living in a tenement, Italian ghetto neighborhood in north New Jersey, surrounded by all the Italian relatives and friends and family, densely packed in there. And I think about him, you know, obviously taking that job at age 13 in a factory, looking at even from the perspective of 1934, what was he going to be like in the future. Could he have even imagined that in 1960 when he was married, back from World War II, that he would be buying a house on what was a farm when he was a boy. It’s unfathomable.
So I think that kind of shift from city to farm, you know, suburb, that my dad... he couldn’t even, he would always say this, like, “Rich, it was a farm. We would come here, you know, in the car or some neighbor had a car, this was a farm place.” I think the change is going to be bigger than that by 2050. I think we are going to be dealing with much more massive cities, much more massive urban agglomerations, I think the world’s going to be better. I couldn’t get up at... I’m a glass half full guy. I couldn’t get up in the morning if I thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket. But I think the changes we will see will make the change from a farm to city, from city to suburbanization, will dwarf it, we will reinvent our education system. Our whole economy will be less real estate driven, people will be more flexible. The divisions between home and work and life will all fade away. I think we’ll still have inequality, I hope we’ll be able to address more of it. I certainly hope we can build on our diversity and can continue to engage the people from around the world. But I think, I think density, I think we’ll be moving faster. I think our problems will become less physical, you know, and in a sense more mental, more psychological. But I think in the world in 2050, I hope, the world will be a heck of a lot better than it is today. I don’t know if I’ll be around to see it; boy, I’ll be pretty old. But I think by 2050, we’ll have a much more urban, a faster-paced world, a hopefully a more diverse world, and a world that I think at the bottom not only treats the natural resources and natural environment better, but really for the first time in history, really values human creativity and human beings. And, you know, if we can leave that kind of world for our kids and grandkids, we’ll all be better off.
Recorded April 27, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman