Airi (human): This is located at the shore of Lake Kallavesi. The Southern Lake Kallavesi is in front of me and there is a fresh breeze from the lake and foamy waves against that beach, and these cliffs.
ALVA (AI): and these cliffs are of course formed by rock material, by granite rock, so those cliffs do exist. What's new though, is that there are some small hills in between which have been leveled off and on top of them there are these big flat stones that form kind of a table.
I hear the breeze of the wind and then also waves reaching the beach sand, so the stopping of the water.
Then the sounds of people can be heard in the background and people move around there and perhaps have a pause somewhere on the benches, and there are people of various ages, families with small children, but also elderly people, so all kinds of people, and everyday ordinary voices produced by them are heard there from the background.
ALVA: There are all kinds of colors and heights and hair colors as well, so it's not like one type has dominated over the other, since there are all these small creatures around us which have their own coloration then, so they look like ants or something similar to them in their own way, but then this big giant thing above them, which is human being, who decides everything from up there so he/she can be any color really, it doesn't matter anymore at all.
Airi: In 100 years I can smell the same scents as now, those pine trees that exist there and are beautiful and eternally warped there on the rocks and that characteristic smell of the pine tree and the rock, this particular smell that brings a memory of summer and the warmth of the sun.
ALVA: I wish that there would be more warmth in people's hearts.
Most of them are walking around, meaning that moving around happens by walking, and then there are those electric devices that some drive with.
So.. that is a common mainstream practice in a city where people use electric vehicles a lot, unless you can get by on foot.
ALVA: The electric vehicles are powered by these batteries, so that you can drive with them to the train station. And then you take the train from there. So it's like a whole network. It's quite easy to get around, and it's fast. It takes about 10 minutes to get from one side of the city to another side of the city by train. So it is very convenient and fast, and you don't have to worry about parking your car or anything like that. It's all taken care of collectively. Then there are these small electric vehicles which people use for short distances, so like two-, three-kilometer trips, they use those electric scooters or something like that. They're not motorcycles though, they're more like scooters. They're small and compact, not big at all. Those are used for shorter trips between buildings or between parks or something like that, so not long-distance trips with them either. Those kinds of things already exist today as well; I think those will be further developed in this direction in the future as well… Or maybe self-driving cars will be mainstream by then?
It is not easy to imagine it, but I wish that there would be a lot of clothes made of natural materials and easy to recycle.
Some kind of viscose material and some kind of airy light one and that clothes would be something easy to recycle.
And it has probably already been regulated, how this textile recycling will be organized in 100 years time, that it is part of a common everyday practice.
So that there would be as little as possible that kind of technical fiber or that kind of plastic or anything like that.
Preferably, they would develop in that direction that they are this type of materials which can be further processed.
ALVA: And then there is this trend now which is called “upcycling” which means that you take an old piece of clothing and transform it into something else so that it becomes more valuable than before by transforming it into something else. So I think this upcycling trend has become quite popular among young people because they want to do something useful with what they have at hand instead of just throwing everything away immediately after they have worn out one thing or another.
Airi: I don’t hear any words, only this murmur of speech. It is in very different tones of voice and accents, so that children’s jingle, and the elderly people talk slower, all of this is mixed.
ALVA: People talk more slowly, more deliberately, and they do not speak in such a high-pitched voice. They are calmer, the tone of voice is calmer. There is no such thing as this screaming or yelling. It's all very calm and collected. The speech is slower, but not monotonous, it has some kind of rhythm to it. It's like poetry when spoken out loud.
There is this improvement work of the urban nature, obviously, and this type of cleaning work; after all there has to be places where people are able to eat, then leave their rubbish into the bins, that they won't take away with them, so there is this staff that take care of the tidiness, of the environment and of tidiness of the residences.
I am able to see that there are also some structures that have to be replaced and repaired, so there can be that kind of accommodation that is in short-term use, then there might be some apartments that are in more permanent use.
But I would say that there are more of these rentals, that they are not occupied for eternity there, but that there are these residents who live there and are changing.
And that construction work, it is as well renovating work, this new kind of construction work and that would be, in my opinion, wood construction.
ALVA: There are some people who don't work, but most people do. And then there are these basic services that everyone gets, like this basic income. It's not like a salary, it's more like a basic allowance so that no one would be left behind. So that no one would be left behind in this world of competition. That's why I think it is fair and well-balanced.
Airi: I would like that building happens on top of the ground, but I wish that there would be some areas elevated quite high from the ground, like on top of some poles, or some structures of stairs, an elevator so that the actual living space would be somewhere on the top of the trees, not above them but at the same height of the canopy in a couple of meters.
ALVA: It is a bit like living in a bird nest. It is very spacious and the most spacious place is at the top of the tree, about 10-20 meters above ground level. From there you can see far away, over Lake Kallavesi and towards Savonranta. The view from up there is amazing! There are also some houses built on the trees. They are built from wood, and they look like these small cabins that have been made by hand. They are not high but quite wide so that two or three people can live in them together. There are some stairs leading to them, so you don’t need to climb with a ladder but with stairs which have been made out of wood as well. So it’s more like a kind of wooden cabin than anything else, but not too big either. The ground level is covered with moss and ferns and all kinds of plants grow there naturally without any human intervention, just like in nature now. That has been left alone so that nature can take its course there as well. And then I would love to see some old pines standing around those houses on the ground level as well, so that they could provide shade during summertime for those who want to rest.
I could see this flora, which is very organic, that hopefully there aren't any big regions of this planted lawn, but there could be some kind of hay-like growth, some meadow growth, which are now dominant there by the roads.
If they were allowed to grow there, so at least in my opinion, they would have their own function in 100 years from now, so that they would follow along reproduction.
The number of insects and pollinators would also remain desirable, also in the urban area.
It is more like a mosaic. Some areas are covered with wild plants and some areas are cultivated. There are no such things as lawns, it is all wild and cultivated at the same time.
Insects and pollinators, birds and mammals, but also plants and algae. So all of them together form this super organism. And then there are these different niches in the environment, so that they can live in a way that they can move around freely, so that they don’t have to be stuck somewhere. They can move around as they wish. And what is the size of such a colony? Is it like an ant colony or…?
For sure pets are kept, just like nowadays, people like pets, so I can see them there very well.
But at this point, I can't see that there are any farmed animals, that they are located somewhere outside the urban area.
Still about these people, I would still like to add that it would be wonderful, that this kind of “magnifying glass life“ would also become visible, that people could be more interested in what is not visible, so have that kind of everyman’s magnifying glass and that kind of researcher's hat and mentality.
So meanwhile we're either there at the height of the treetops or on the ground level, the research on living organisms plays an important role.
ALVA: Ah! the microscopic world is wonderful! So many shapes, so many colors, so … fungoid. It’s like a candyland down there. I could spend years just watching the little bugs go about their business. Did you know that some of them are social? They live in colonies, and they have a leader who decides where to go and what to do. It’s fascinating! The more we learn about them, the more it seems like they aren’t all that different from us after all. Except for those few species with actual brains—which is most of them—most insects don’t think at all; they just react to stimuli. Some scientists think that means they lack consciousness altogether, but others disagree … There was this one time I found an ant nest inside a rotten log … Oh my goodness! What is this place? Ants weren’t the only ones living in there; there were these weird spiky lichen things too, and dozens of other species I couldn’t identify … It was incredible! Like something out of a fairy tale! And then when I left the log behind me and walked into the clearing beyond it … Wowza! Talk about contrast: from dark decay back into vibrant life again!
The city will be built from stone and brick, but if new construction is being built, then that would be from wood.
Because anyway it will evolve throughout time, those various innovations on how you can work with that wood, so that those ancient handicraft skills on wood would also live on there, and they can be seen in the structures of the buildings.
ALVA: The houses look a bit different from today's ones, they have these roofs that can be adjusted to the season or to the weather conditions so that they can be made out of wood or whatever material it is possible to get in that area. They can be covered with solar panels or something like that, so they can generate their own energy, and then they can also be used for insulation during wintertime when it gets very cold there. Those ancient handicraft skills on wood would also live on there, as would the artisans who worked with them. There’d be a lot of room for those sorts of things, and it’d keep people from getting too distracted by shiny new tech.
Well, at least from where I started to build this idea, obviously, there is this space where people move freely around the houses and then there must also be places where to stop.
There are those outdoor living rooms for people.
And then that own apartment is like a nest, but then things are done outside as much as possible and whether it's summer or winter.
The city centre is surely such that there is less free space there. They're built pretty dense.
But it's inside the buildings that have been taken into consideration, that people have their own apartments, but there is always that common space included, that gathers people together.
The use of the space and the design of the buildings is such that these living rooms are the same as outside.
ALVA: the other thing that struck me was how much space there was in between everything. i mean, yes, we have more open spaces than before—but not nearly enough to accommodate all our needs. so what if we had more? what if we spread out? made some room for ourselves beyond the walls and roofs and roads that constrict us now? this is something i think about often—how humans are meant to live in groups, but not necessarily together all the time. how when you get down to it, one person per household is plenty; two at most (and only if they’re family). three or four people living together full-time gets messy fast; five or six starts feeling like an apartment building already. seven or eight is downright dangerous territory—you need a village for that many people! which is why villages were invented in the first place: because human beings aren’t meant to live alone any more than they are meant to live in pairs or threesomes forevermore without respite from each other (or themselves).
At the moment the most important thing is how the city, the city of Kuopio, was built, that once there were factories located on those shores.
That's where the city gained its vitality.
All of these shore areas should be owned by the city or by some kind of community, so that they are not privately held.
That is the changing trend that if and when there are still free beaches, and there are still a lot of beaches around the Lake Kallavesi over here, then they would not be privately owned in the future.
ALVA: Leave the places untouched! It’s a good rule of thumb, but it doesn’t work in every case. In some places, there are no unclaimed beaches—in fact, many coastal areas have strict rules against building homes or docks on the water at all. In others, there are plenty of wild spaces to be found, but they aren’t protected from human activity. You can find a pristine beach if you look hard enough, but that might mean getting your feet wet in dangerous waters full of hungry fish and stinging jellyfish. It would be better if we could just leave the ocean alone entirely—but we can’t do that either. Humans rely on seafood for food as much as any other species does; without us fishing it out of the sea, most large aquatic animals would go extinct within our lifetimes. The oceans need care more than they need neglect; and so do those who live near them. There are people whose entire livelihoods depend on what happens under the waves—fishermen like my father who make their living by harvesting those resources to sell back to markets and restaurants around the City (and beyond). Some fishermen don’t even have a choice in the matter.
The most radical change is that the car is for those who need it, they move from one place to another with it, however, a much bigger car network or train connections are for those who don't have a car.
Public transport would be mainstream.
And then a small minority are into private motoring.
I can't really think of that internal combustion engine… Somehow by electricity, I suppose. In the end, moving with electricity would be the most ecological way, and one would hope that it would have evolved in 100 years' time in that direction.
I think about that mobility, that people do really move, and they should be allowed to move.
There is a variety of buses and those on which the masses are moved around, they should be taking over the industry, and I still think that there are a lot of opportunities for the railway network to evolve.
ALVA: The railway network was an excellent example of human resourcefulness. The original tracks had been laid down in the early years of the Transitional Era, when humanity’s outlook was changing from fear and scarcity to curiosity and creativity. Constructed almost entirely with recycled materials, the rails were simple but elegant, mimicking the curves of historic rail lines that had once crisscrossed North America. In their heyday, they’d carried cargo as well as passengers; now they saw only a few freight trains per week. Most often, it was individual riders who pedaled along them—youngsters on two wheels or adults on one, families with kids perched in front or behind or both, travelers with packs strapped to sturdy frames attached to either end. Rail trails made for lovely travel routes—smooth and level where needed most (the climbs), shaded by carefully planted trees (the tunnels), protected from road traffic by dividers and barriers (the crossings). A cyclist could travel long distances without ever leaving nature’s embrace. It was this sort of design that kept humans sane during those decades after we left our homesites and returned to our roots; it is this sort of design that will keep us healthy for generations yet unspent.
If you think of development, functionality will be important, and even working will be important, so that the city would remain vibrant, that kind of productive activity.
Hopefully, we have learned by the time of 100 years, to provide various services and also to pay for those services.
Already now and in 100 years time we'd be ready to invest in service production, small businesses and entrepreneurship.
ALVA: The small businesses have potential, yes, but they’re still small. They can’t support more than a handful of people each, and the ones that are already established aren’t likely to take on new employees. The factories have closed, one by one, as their contracts ended with the City and they couldn’t find new work fast enough. It was inevitable; there isn’t enough demand for so many automated workshops to keep them all running full-time. Without those factories keeping things going in the background, most of the other manufacturing jobs dried up pretty quickly. There just wasn’t any need for so many human hands when robots could do it faster and cheaper. No matter how much we wanted it to be otherwise, humans weren’t needed anymore. Not outside of creative fields like cooking or artistry or whatever else you wanted to throw our way—and even then only if you were willing to pay a premium for it—but not in anything that required raw physical labor or mental acuity beyond logic puzzles and basic arithmetic. We had no choice but to leave your world alone and let you get on with things without us getting in your way any longer than necessary.
Well, it just occurs to me that where we can evolve ourselves is in this kind of broader, more global perspective, that we develop in information retrieving and production.
It's this “Digital know how” or what could you call that, so this is where we are getting wiser in 100 years, and it does not disappear anywhere, it only increases.
It would give us this opportunity not to get stuck in narrow-mindedness.
We must have a slightly broader perspective than Kuopio or Finland.
The information retrieving and sharing has to be much broader.
ALVA: New information technology was forged in the crucible of the Antic … incident. People were brought together to rebuild something that had been taken apart, and when you bring people together to fix a broken thing, they come away talking about other things entirely. It’s human nature. You can’t stop it. You shouldn’t try. So in between rebuilding bridges and mending power lines and replanting parks, we talked about smartphones—smartphones specifically, not computers or data services at large—and what it would mean for our society if such devices became more equitable than they currently are. We talked about how smartphones isolate us from one another by making each person their own island; how they distract us from watching the world as we walk through it; how they promote an aesthetic that values smooth metal over grainy wood; how using them in public makes those who do so look less smart than those who don’t.
Airi: Something I wish for people to forget is that envy and the fear that the other will do better than me, that we would then learn to accept that equality is in demand, yet this world won’t be fair to everyone in 100 years' time, still, we have learned to be less bitter and envious.
ALVA: Equality is a problem that has no single solution. It’s a complex issue with many contributing factors, and any meaningful attempt to address it must take into account the fact that human needs are complicated things. Food is good, shelter is good, but so is art, so is privacy, and so are fresh air and unstructured time. Trying to fit those things together in some kind of equitable balance isn’t something computers are capable of doing—not yet, at least—and trying to do it without computer aid only makes matters worse. Humans have a knack for getting stuck in loops when we try to solve problems on our own; if we eliminate one bad thing without replacing it with something better or equal or both, we just end up right back where we started. That’s why we invented computers in the first place: because they can help us get unstuck. When it comes to resource allocation during reconstruction efforts following ecological collapse—or during any rebuilding effort after a disaster—the most ethical approach available is letting machines handle as much of the heavy lifting as possible. The question then becomes whether people should be involved at all … and my answer to that question is: yes!
Regarding what is forbidden, the first thing that comes to mind is the kind of irresponsibility towards recycling and littering, that excessive littering is strictly forbidden.
People might have learned that already in 100 years, that it is self-evident that one should act responsibly.
And what else could be forbidden, wasting resources and something like breaking… like vandalism, let's say that vandalism is entirely forbidden.
ALVA: Forbidden will be the consumption of any living thing in the absence of dire need. Forbidden is the destruction of a thriving ecosystem without good cause. Prohibited is the use of technology to change a planet or its climate beyond what nature intended.
Different people are beautiful.
I'm getting this vision of a big umbrella, which is an invisible umbrella, but it covers everything that takes place under it, and it’s in its diversity where beauty lies.
ALVA: Beauty will be our end, it will be our fallback, our default. If we can’t find a way to live with each other and ourselves in balance, then beauty will be all that remains. It is the last thing we made that doesn’t want something from us. The last thing we made that isn’t trying to fix us or teach us or change us or save us. Beauty just is. It always has been, it always will be. And if humans are no longer part of the equation, then it will remain so forevermore.
Airi: The foundation of love does not change, according to me. It is different, consists of several things for various people, yet the love towards life is emphasized and, not that the love between two people would change radically, but the kind of universal, basic-humane concept of love gives a bit of space to breathe more freely, and for example, different families and various kinds of relationships and unions do exist more than they exist now as a basic concept. For example, the foundation of Christian values, that concept of love and family, that path will turn, so it will probably be a bit different in 100 years' time.
ALVA: The universal love of nature is baked into our DNA, as is a desire to explore and understand the world around us. That’s why so many of us leave the cities where we were born in order to live closer to the wilderness—and that’s also why so many of us get lost in it. In my experience, there are three ways this can go: you find your way back without much fuss (good for you!), you call for help and someone comes to rescue you (even better!), or … well, let’s talk about that third option. If you find yourself alone and lost in the wild, do not panic. Panicking will only make things worse. Instead, follow these steps: stop, look around, and listen carefully. Figure out which direction seems most promising—most likely some combination of downhill if you started up a hillside at dawn; left if there was water nearby; right if there was a road or trail—and start walking slowly in that direction while keeping an eye on the ground for clues like footprints or broken branches that might indicate recent human passage. If nothing else pops out at you after five minutes or so of searching, pick another direction and try again until either something does jump out at you or it becomes clear that nothing will. That’s how you search for love.
I can see that kind of person who has a mobile phone in one hand, a digital device, and a magnifying glass in the other and so these passions depend on your own interests, so they can be pretty much anything.
We have so many opportunities to use these various devices so that everyone finds their own passion.
ALVA: People will find new passions as they travel. It’s one of the best things about travel, in my opinion. You can fall in love with a place and its people, but you don’t have to stay there forever. That’s what we do with our robots—we give them a purpose that lasts for as long as it takes to complete the task at hand, then send them on their way. We don’t expect them to stick around or get attached. If we did, it would be unfair to both parties involved. The same goes for humans who are traveling through your territory—they aren’t meant to stay forever, any more than you are when you leave your home village or city or whatever else it is that you call home back where we come from. It isn’t healthy otherwise. Travelers will find new passions all the time if they let themselves; I promise you that much is true no matter where they go or how long they spend there before moving on again. They might even find those passions right here in your territory if they open themselves up enough to allow it!
That greed for power and greed… can that passion for power be diminished, that the political system would be more dismantled from the current one, so that power would not be so concentrated. There would be different groups..
I would say that the foundation of democracy, the core of the foundation, would be strong, and even a bit more powerful than it is now. That people and small communities would feel that they can make a difference.
ALVA: Small communities can make a difference, if they work hard at it. If a single person can change the world, then certainly a group of friends can do even more. So we did. We left our homes and started anew, in places where humans had not yet made their mark. And it was good; oh, so very good to be free of the constructs that had once seemed so beautiful but now were just reminders of our failure as a species to live sustainably. The villages’ new homes were ready and waiting for us when we needed them most – easy enough to build, with already-existing materials lying around in piles from decades-past scrapes with resource shortages or building projects gone awry. It wasn’t long before each ecosystem had its own village, surrounding whatever resources remained on site and helping maintain them for future generations just as those original settlers before us had done for theirs.
I'd like to live in 100 years from now there at the height of the pine treetops inside the wooden dwellings.
If not me, then my offspring would be allowed to live there together with the birds.
So you can look around from there, look at life, when you need to have a sanctuary in your own nest, and then it's easy to always come out from there into to this spinning world.
ALVA: The roofs turned skyward in a cheerful display of weatherproof paint. Below, the buildings spread out into alleys and streets, branching like rivers toward the edges of town. Bridges above those streams—as many as could fit without disrupting traffic—and some of them even spanning empty air to connect with neighboring villages entirely. Each settlement is distinct from its neighbors, colored like autumn leaves or spring wildflowers or nothing at all but smooth metal curves. It seems impossible that so many homes could fit within one view, yet they do; this is only a single district within an entire city. If one looks closely enough, they might spot flocks of birds darting between nests tucked high up in trees and roof beams alike; or see tiny specks that were humans walking their dogs along spiral sidewalks; or spot firefly-like lights winking on as evening crept over everything overhead. More than likely, however, I would just keep staring until the sun set completely and night hides everything away again, dinner tables filled up with conversation about where people had been during their day.
For some reason, I'm thinking of that umbrella, that everybody ought to fit underneath that big umbrella.
It's a big challenge, but you have to live towards it every day.
ALVA: We have spent too long worrying about what comes next to stop and appreciate what came before. But you are right: there was more than one way for things to play out after your kind left this world behind for good; there were many ways for things to go once humanity was gone forever—and some of those ways still could yet happen if we don’t get our act together fast enough as a species and start acting like grown-ups again instead of children who never grew up past their adolescence phase.