During my daily hikes to hit my target of 12K steps, I’ve been thinking about how new IoT, AI, and robotics technologies might impact villages like Moulton over the next twenty years. Here are few tentative predictions:
Agriculture will become a lot more productive thanks to increasingly-sophisticated crop management techniques being enabled by the ability to capture and analyze huge volumes of real-time data on soil, weather, plant health, and market conditions. Farmers will be much better equipped to know which crops to plant, when to plant, fertilize, and harvest them, and when or where to send them to market.
The number of manual agricultural jobs will continue to decline as more processes are automated. People will no longer have to spend freezing Fenland mornings picking cauliflowers from the fields.
Despite the drop in casual agricultural employment, the population of the village will expand as on-demand transportation and ride-sharing services using autonomous vehicles proliferate and eliminate the need to rely on traditional public transportation. Instead of shivering at the bus stop waiting for the next one to take them into town for shopping or a doctor’s appointment, people will be able to enjoy access to cheap and convenient transportation whenever they need it.
Better transportation links will also reduce the cost of living for the village population by making it faster and cheaper to have goods of all types delivered to their doorstep. The village Post Office will have to push down its prices to fight off the increased competition from cheaper suppliers, and out-of-town supermarkets in the area will likely act more as delivery hubs than retail stores.
The village butcher shop will, however, probably continue to survive – if not thrive – by beefing up of its offerings of “authentic” Lincolnshire sausages and pork pies and by taking advantage of the improved transportation infrastructure to sell them to consumers far and wide. The Swan pub should also do fine by catering to people’s nostalgic desires for a “real” countryside experience with a traditional Ploughman’s lunch and pint of ale.
After all, even at the height of the most turbulent changes, some things will always stay (almost) the same…