Tulsa: 2047

Over the last year, as we “digital bricklayers” of IT have set a good solid foundation here at the Tulsa Area United Way, it’s been fun to get back into the higher functions of technology planning and being the unofficial R&D of the organization.  Part of that planning happened last week when a bunch of us took part in a weeklong drop-in whiteboard exercise on the topic of:

What will Tulsa look like once Self-Driving Cars Arrive?

In addition to my garage becoming either my workout room/Man Cave/art studio (once those pesky cars belong to Uber or Google and merely come when we call), a lot of what we wrote and talked about is covered here in this Medium article.

As the headline says, mind-blowing stuff.  But being that we’re an organization who depends on the philanthropy of others, here are some local takes:

If, as the article says, gas stations become fewer or go away entirely, it explains why certain large convenience store chains have been bulking up their food preparation and sales in recent years.  Continue to build their brand in new avenues…

Along with private cars, parking lots will go away — the tide of 1970s Urban Renewal that made downtown Tulsa one of the biggest “parking lot deserts” will reverse, and perhaps urban condos and park spaces will take their place….

What happens to all the energy extraction related companies who give generously?  If oil demand slips any further, we in Oklahoma will have wasted our last opportunity to get tax revenue from these companies…

I’ve heard folks say that coal, in spite of the words of our President, will go away even more once the current crop of coal-fired generating plants are fully depreciated after 2050.  They don’t feel that new plants will pass regulatory muster, no matter who’s in office…

Natural gas will still have a place in home heating and in medium-distance truck shipping and delivery, at least in the short term.  As the electric grid and recharging capabilities become more ubiquitous, and battery capacity gets better, this will fade also.

We who have large roofs will be more self-contained; or at least able to generate more than half of our energy requirement, as solar systems offer a true, distributed smart energy grid.

On the bright side, if consumers have more disposable cash as transportation and auto insurance trend towards zero, will they volunteer and donate more?

William Gibson, the author who coined the term “cyberspace,” once said that “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”  I think what you’ll see is a future that will arrive much earlier in bigger cities, with mass transit infrastructure which will have people trained to give up their autos.  Here in Oklahoma, you’ll probably see resistance to the bitter end:  You can take my Range Rover when you pry it from my cold dead fingers…

2 comments on “Tulsa: 2047

Here’s another web link, with more detail embedded in the musings:


[…] that change might be pushed onto us by changing forces, like some of those I outlined in my earlier “Tulsa: 2047” […]

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