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The futurist: Dream house of the future

Introducing the Maslow Self-Actualization House


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For the past several months, I’ve become enamored with the idea of creating a self-sufficient, connectionless home. Not only is the home off-grid, creating it’s own power, heat, and air-conditioning, but also it’s own water supply, compost, and sewage system in a smart home environment.

I’ve even imagined how a house like this could be constructed with a form of 3D printing called contour crafting. The entire house could be designed and built one drop at a time, with everything from windows, wiring and plumbing meticulously “printed” into place.

Going even further, every surface could have sensors, solar cells and smart devices with unusual capabilities and functionality embedded into the wall, floors and ceilings. Micro LEDs, audio systems, and air handlers could even anticipate your mood and adjust themselves according to your changing whims.

In fact, this ultimate off-grid smart home would be so intelligent that it would circumvent every paid service plan to provide all these services. That’s right – everything would be totally free.

Free power, free water, free security systems, free heating and air-conditioning. I had become so captivated by the disruptive notion of “free,” that I was missing the bigger picture.

Only in the past couple days have I come to realize that what I was thinking about this all wrong.

Each of us has formed an adversarial relationship with our homes. Our homes are not operating in our best interests. They’re “dumb” structures, needing cleaning and repair, unable to think on their own, and every feature we wish to add costs us more money.

Over the years, we’ve all become complacent in our thinking, resigned to accept “that’s just the way it is.” None of us has imagined that there could actually be a better option, but there truly is.

The Maslow Self Actualization home is one that forms a symbiotic relationship with each of its residents, and over time, begins to climb the famed pyramid to imbue the power of self-actualization onto those who inhabit it.

Here’s how I see the stages of this higher order living begin to unfold.

The Advent of Artificial Intelligence in the Home

Even though most people have little to no understanding of what a “smart home” actually is, companies have been actively creating a wide range of smart home technologies ranging from smart thermostats, to smart security systems, to smart pet doors, to smart entertainment systems.

The Internet of Things is alive and well and already taking up residence in our homes.

These devices not only communicate with the residents of the homes, they also communicate with each other. As these smart devices grow in sensory capability as well as in their ability to respond to each new condition, an entirely new kind of home begins to emerge.

Eight Stages Approaching the Maslow Self-Actualization House

Many people are enamored with the idea of creating an off-grid living space, erroneously thinking that if we remove the power lines and grow a few plants, that we will somehow have instant utopia.

To set the record straight, we will never reach the point of creating a complete utopia. As flawed humans, what we think we want is always different than what we need, and all humans need to struggle.

At the same time, if we struggle far less with our homes, it frees us up to dedicate time and energy to struggle with problems far more deserving of our time and energy.

With that in mind, here is a crude sketch of the eight stages, both where we’ve come from and where we’re likely to go with the increasingly intimate relationship we form with our homes.

Stage 1 – Shelter

In the beginning, every home was a shelter and little more. It protected people from wind and rain, but not much else.

Stage 2 – Safety and Shelter

Most of us today have a home that provides both safety and shelter. Not only are we protected from the elements, but we also feel safe from intruders and any other dangers that lurk in the night.

Homes today are a lot of work. We still need to do our own cleaning and repair, insuring it against disaster, and pay for every service we wish to add.

Stage 3 – Smart Home

With all of the buzz surrounding smart homes and smart home technology, it’s amazing that so few people actually know what it is.

In much the same way doors at our local grocery stores automatically open as we approach, today’s smart homes are designed to grow one feature at a time, using sensors to detect people, pets, and weather conditions, each connected to devices that automatically adjust to the situation.

Tomorrow: The last five stages

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Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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