There is a lot of talk these days about the economic power that seems to derive from the movement toward urban population density. There are also many theories attempting to explain the reasons for this benefit.
Let’s say the benefit isn’t because of some statistical selection process in which those who choose the urban life are somehow more productive because the sort of person who chooses urban life is simply a more productive animal. Let’s say it derives from something like the excitement of urban living, the variety of cultural stimuli and the nearness of people to fall into random opportunistic conversations.
If we could achieve these same good things without the attendant disadvantages of density, wouldn’t that be an even better outcome? We could all live in some sort of Asimovian Utopia diffused throughout the countryside while still benefitting from the density dividend – at least from the intellectual part of it.
To get this we need quick and easy access to each other, fast delivery or creation of arbitrarily diverse cuisine, and random opportunities to engage people of unique background in conversation.
How can a resident of this parkland paradise get these things? One good way is instant cheap transportation anywhere in the world as Larry Niven’s Known Space universe presumes.
Are there communications media or enhancements that might give most of this? The cuisine requirement, while maybe a bit capricious, is actually a serious example of something that enriches a person’s perspective.
Maybe superb virtual reality with the addition of quick nano-assembly to make food would work. People could feel like they were in a busy and rich urban setting without the pain.
This is the basis of at least a short story. Hmm…