Natalia Pritchard

The sun gently wakes me up through the smart window of the warm, dry and quiet dwelling I call home. The year is 2070, I’m 77 and am healthier than I was at 23, back when I got burnt out from working too hard in my 45+ hour job and not looking after myself. The era of 40+ hour work weeks is over, instead people spend their time contributing to areas they find fulfilling.  While preventative healthcare through nutrition, an active lifestyle, nanites and a quality living environment means I have not been sick in years.

I roll over in bed to embrace Alex, my partner of 50 years. We get up and start our morning ritual of consuming our personalised breakfasts specific to our current nutritional needs outside in the sun together.  Between mouthfuls we debate how to respond to the latest question raised by SAM, an artificially intelligent politician that looks after the algorithm which governs NZ. As every person in NZ has the opportunity to voice their opinion through SAM we no longer have a government. Instead we run a truly participatory democracy to set the acceptable base parameters for all matters in our country. Parameters which determine all aspects from the amount of our basic income to where we will plant more trees.

Today SAM has asked us how we want to repurpose the last prison in operation in the country. Since moving to a therapeutic justice system, eliminating poverty, making education free, having an abundance mindset and separating the idea of undesirable behavior from the concept of an undesirable person we have slowly been closing down all the prisons. They simply aren’t needed anymore. We have been presented with well researched and modeled options by the incredible people who dedicate their time to public service. My view is to keep the prison as an educational tool to show future generations. Alex prefers the idea of taking a VR scan of the prison for historical purposes and to use the physical building as a laser tag site- they will put this down as another suggestion.

I recycle the limited leftovers from our plates, kiss Alex goodbye and walk towards the community hub. Every step I take creates kinetic energy in the smartpath and is used for power along with our solar roofs. We have an abundance of clean renewable energy making power bills a thing of the past.  I breathe in the clean sweet air as I pass through the food forest picking an apple to have for morning tea.

The sound of laughter and voices increase as I approach the community hub, a smile spreads across my face as my adopted grandchildren come running to greet me. The youngest stumbles a few meters away. I go over to them seeing a nasty graze across their knee. While comforting them I activate my personal AI by tapping my smart bracelet. “Morena Grace, can you please send the first aid kit to my location?” “Sure thing Natalia” within 20 seconds you can hear a faint whirring sound. A drone approaches carrying the first aid kit. I take out the bio spray from it apply a thin layer to my grandchild's leg, the wound seals and looks as good as new.

We walk hand in hand into the community hub, a wonderful multi purpose space where we spend one of our most precious resources, our time. New Zealand is full of these communities, each with a unique algorithm operating overtop the baseline algorithm to reflect the values and expectations of the people in the community. For instance the community I choose to be part of is very tidy and clean, the expectations we have with each other on how communal spaces are treated is clear. I chuckle thinking back to my early twenties when in one flat I ended up keeping my fry pan in my room because me and my flatmates had different acceptable parameters for the length of time taken to wash a kitchen item many people would like to use, personally I have a 4 hour tolerance window, they a 4 day one. These annoyances would not occur now as everyone who lives together has similar acceptable parameters on how they want spaces treated and sound levels they want.   

Entering the hub there is a hive of activity going on, people are playing games together, in a virtual reality or helping set up for lunch. I walk through the main space through to one of the virtual reality rooms. Today I am facilitating a class on the sharing economy, a cornerstone mentality of modern day society. We believe there are enough resources and opportunities for everyone to lead a full life and share what we have creating a positive cycle.

I power up the VR/AR  room to my specifications of an early 2000s landfill, back when our consumerism was running most rampant. People of all ages from the local communities come in and take a seat, which today appears to be on a mound of landfill  made of plastic, clothing, electronics and various other waste. Other people connect to the group through VR holograms. It looks like they are physically here sitting on rubbish too but they are really streaming in from all around the country. We start the discussion centered around consumerism, the throw away society and the move to a sharing economy. Slowly as we talk through the choices we made as a society to give up the old ways in favor of the new the scene changes from a landfill to a lush forest full of trees and native wildlife.

The session draws to a close just as our smart bracelets vibrate, the local AI informing us that lunch is ready in the dining hall. We go out to the communal space and each get our personalised meals, sitting together at beautiful round tables chatting while we eat. I don’t see Alex in the hall today, I smile, having a pretty good idea that they are eating under their favourite tree in the food forest,with their nose in a good book, content as can be. Their food would’ve been dropped off by a drone.

After clearing up lunch, I head off towards Alex’s favourite spot. I could ask Grace to locate Alex for me as we have given each other permission to be locatable to one another but we rarely use that function. If I was to utilise the location function Alex would be notified. I enter the grove of trees and sure enough there they are blanket laid out eating a peach while engrossed in a book. I plop down besides them, we exchange a hug and then read our books side by side.  A few hours pass, the temperature chills a little, it doesn’t bother us as we have body suits on under our light weight clothes that keeps you at an even temperature.

My wrist vibrates, drawing me out of my book, I tap the smart bracelet. Grace’s voice chimes in my ear “Kia ora Natalia, you asked me to remind you that tonight is the festival of light. A pod is leaving in 30 minutes if you want to get ready to go.” “ Thanks Grace” I say. Alex and I pack up from our spot and head towards home.

We get changed into our costumes for tonight's party. I’ve reprogrammed one of my tunics so that it looks like Van Goghs “The Starry Night” with the light of the stars swirling and undulating soft light. I’ve paired the outfit with some jewellery borrowed from a friend and shoes 3D printed to fit my feet perfectly. Once dressed we head off towards the travel pod.

Climbing inside in the pod we greet friends from various neighbourhoods that have already been picked up. There are comfy chairs and tables set up in the pod where we talk, play games and drink cups of tea as the pod drives itself to the nearby neighbourhood where the festival is held. 15 minutes later we arrive a magical scene of light and laughter before us.

The night is spent with good food, drink and company. Around 10pm a few of us call a small pod and head back home. Our smart dwelling noted our return and went into night mode Alex and I programmed. We follow our nightly rituals and drift off to sleep.