The Center Pompidou organized three days of debates last week to examine the links between ecological transition and cultural transition. Find forums, interviews and surveys in the thematic file dedicated to the event. As well as articles by student journalists from the IPJ-Dauphine /PSL who came to cover the forum to Release.
The first thing Noa sees when she opens her eyes is the screen in front of her bed, whose luminous numbers suddenly come to a standstill. Sleep time: 8h17. The ceiling of her bedroom, lined with connected LEDs, lights up automatically and follows the young woman to the main room of her small apartment.
Yawning, Noa grabs her cup of coffee. To take the drink out to her balcony on the 24th floor, she asks the building’s central system for permission. In the basements, servers hum and compile the day’s thermoclimatic data. Atmospheric CO2 level, fine particle level, humidity level, temperature… Finally, a green light comes on and the glass door unlocks. Noa steps outside and sets her eyes on the landscape that stretches out under a pale sky.
A few streets away, a construction site is working to bring new steel and cement towers out of the ground. Despite this frantic construction, the promoters have a “quiet” conscience: via the global market for carbon credits, an offset project is planned in a Malaysian forest. A mechanism that leaves some doubtful: the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe) even speaking of headlong rush: “We are trying to repair the damage caused by exacerbated developments, even if it means dedicating an entire infrastructure to it.”
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It is perhaps in these towers that Noa will be able to move once her studies are finished: her own building, built in the 2040s, is already obsolete. Not to mention that it would be closer to the Artery, a twelve-lane highway that runs towards the horizon. Along the road interchanges, it crosses entire areas devoted to logistics buildings and warehouses. This is what artist Catherine Radosa described in 2022 as “soulless hectares in which it is difficult to find one’s way”.
No matter: we cross them in comfortable autonomous cars. In these new “rolling offices”, everyone can follow their favorite series or take part in a company meeting. This digital miracle has a price: the surrounding plains are covered with data centers, which consume fifteen times more energy than in 2020. Noa slowly swallows the last sip of her coffee. She tries to look further still, in vain.
Giant walls of fans bar the plains of the Paris region. They are constantly rotating to extract CO2 from the air, a sine qua non for maintaining “turn-of-the-century” lifestyles. The pilot sensors of the 2020s, deployed in Iceland and Canada, have become essential infrastructures present on all continents. “The carbon dioxide is collected, compressed until it becomes liquid, then buried in deep rocks” according to the work of Jean-Louis Bergey, Prospective coordinator at Ademe. In all, this capture and storage industry requires up to 7% of the energy consumed in France. A colossal technological gamble, “but also a social bet”. Not always won. Inequalities are still pervasive.
It’s already noon and Noa is hungry. A voracious hunger that she only has to satisfy with her fingertips. She grabs her smartphone, scroll, swipe, zoom. One click is enough to be delivered in half an hour thanks to the all the rage new delivery application, “Synthet-X”. The promise of the brand: you “send and carry” synthetic food by drone in record time.
A commotion startles Noa. She is able to recognize this noise among a thousand: the crash of an exploding drone. Environmental activists regularly target them to denounce these new consumption patterns.
Tender, juicy and smoky. The meat that Noa tastes melts in his mouth. And yet, there, nothing carnivorous. 2072 tastes ultra-processed. Monsanto and Bayard, the two agrifood giants have joined forces. The mega company is the leader of a new market: agropharmaceuticals. The firm is everywhere, from the mouthwash, to the magnesium stamp, to the manufactured dishes. Fifty years earlier, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights at the United Nations Olivier de Schutter in vain alerted public opinion to the growing weight of food multinationals. Already, at the time, these companies opposed to all downsizing scenarios belonged to a “inert system, made up of increasingly concentrated actors”.
Not satiated by her portion of meat, Noa thinks to end her lunch on a sweet note. But, on these shelves, no more cookbooks. No more cooking either. Since everything is delivered, nothing is simmered. Anyway, the supermarkets have disappeared in favor of giant synthetic food storage warehouses. “I don’t know if mixing industrialization and food is a good thing”worried starred chef Claire Vallée in 2022 in an archive document now available on the INA metaverse. Missed !
“BOOM”. A commotion startles Noa. She is able to recognize this noise among a thousand: the crash of an exploding drone. Environmental activists regularly target them to denounce these new consumption patterns. No matter for Noa, who is already thinking about what she will order for her evening meal.
virtual reality and metaverse
It is now 2 p.m. Outside, connected Christmas trees adorn the streets and children enjoy the artificial snow. Christmas is coming. For the young woman, the time has come to order gifts and food. But no more time to move to “Central 2100”, the giant shopping center entirely governed by energy-intensive data centers where her little neighbor Emilie likes to get lost in slides and 3D attractions.
After ordering her “smart home” to adjust the interior temperature, Noa puts on her virtual reality glasses and logs into the store’s application. Here it is projected into the heart of the shopping mall: here, there are no queues or cash registers. Between the rays crisscrossing the huge hangar, the few passers-by make their way through the horde of robots busy satisfying the desires of customers. Equipped with a webcam, they allow Noa to circulate remotely in the aisles of the center, invaded by advertising. It now weighs 15% of GDP.
Before ordering, Noa takes the time to consult the origin and composition of each item. And when it comes to clothes, nothing could be simpler: she can try them on on her life-size avatar… Perfect for updating her wardrobe from one week to the next! But the priority is to find for his brother a state-of-the-art computer, suitable for virtual reality and able to roll up like a carpet to be more easily transported.
Regarding the Christmas meal, the puzzle is also solved in two clicks. Advances in artificial intelligence allow Noa to choose between several menus: healthy, gourmet, frugal… ready-made dishes, promoted by enticing photos. His choice is the traditional version 2.0 turkey, entirely concocted from synthetic proteins. But on Noa’s screen, this “Premium Christmas” menu turns red. Unable to select menus with the best nutritional values. Noa does not have a sufficient pot on “Monnaie Central 2 100” the digital currency of the shopping center application. As many economists predicted, economic growth, in its dynamics, widens inequalities. And again, it is a privilege. More than half of the population still lives in extremely precarious conditions.
As soon as Noa’s basket has been validated, the purchases are already ready for delivery. At the end of this chain with millimeter organization, a drone is about to take off from the warehouse, to deliver to the young woman her turnkey Christmas.
18 hours. In an hour, Noa has an appointment. Lately, she has the heart to meet people. His virtual reality headset is about to be fully charged. You never know, the date could last a little while. The beep indicates that the charge is complete. Noa is nervous. She equips herself and logs into her space in the metaverse. The appointment is fixed “at her place”. Comfortably installed in her sofa, she starts. As already imagined by Pauline Rousseau, artist and photographer invited to studio 1316, the collaborative space of the Pompidou center fifty years ago, Noa created the composite portrait of her partner or her ideal partner a few days before… Hair color , eyes, height, face shape, hairiness: nothing is left to chance. Thanks to facial recognition, the software has identified several people who match its criteria. It will be a one-night meeting; single love based on the monogamous couple is no longer the norm in 2072. For centuries, monogamy has privileged the interests of men and capitalism. Exclusivity, possessiveness and jealousy being the main mechanisms. In this hyperconnected society, multiplying encounters and romantic conquests is the norm. Loyalty is a transcended concept. Polyamory is the norm.
It is 7 p.m., night has set in. In the streets, the snow cannons start up. A few artificial snowflakes begin to swirl in the air.
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