“Roads! Where we’re going we don’t need roads!”
Back to the Future
MBALE, Uganda-My goal is to help set up the world’s first commercial cargo drone route in Africa by 2016. It will be about 80 kilometres long and will connect several towns and villages. The first cargo drones will carry small payloads of blood to keep alive children who would otherwise perish. But they will evolve into larger and heavier craft until they can lift 20 kilos or more over distances of several hundred kilometres. The purpose of the first route will be to save lives, show the value of cargo drones in Africa- and to raise money to build other routes. To me, this first route is a spectral version of the Liverpool and Manchester railway.
I am a novelist, but I am also director of a future Africa initiative at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and for the last decade I travelled Africa as a foreign correspondent for The Economist newspaper. I was one of those who reported that Africa is rising, not falling. I want to detail here what I mean by cargo drones and the reasons why I think throwing up time dependent goods into the sky and moving them about with a flying robot is a good idea in Africa?-?and beyond.
1: The future will be radical
The first point to make is that, even if we deride change, even if we stand still, shielding our eyes, covering our ears, the future will be radical. I spent my time as a foreign correspondent reporting on politics, economics and war, but I came to see that the most important stories in Africa were not news stories at all. On the one hand, rapid human population growth and extermination of other species. On the other, introduction of advanced technologies capable of reordering time and space....Continue Reading
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A photograph from Alejandro Cegarra’s ‘The Other Side of the Tower’ (all images courtesy Alejandro Cegarra)
In a little under a decade, the Centro Financiero Confinanzas, or “Tower of David,” in Caracas, Venezuela, has achieved almost mythical status. After being dreamed up by billionaire David Brillembourg in 1990, construction halted on the building in 1994, when a third of the country’s banks failed. In 2007, squatters spurred by then-President Hugo Chavez moved in. The skyscraper became a poster child for Latin American poverty and crime - documented in The New Yorker, immortalized on Homeland.....Continue Reading