Luke’s Log- Infrastructure in the 21st Century
I have covered various proposals concerning infrastructure, but it seems to me that there are four main areas where Americans will have to focus their efforts in the coming decades. As legacy systems decay, they must be replaced with state-of-the-art electronically-networked and physically durable and adjustable systems capable of meeting the needs of the information economy. In order of least to most important at a national level, these areas would be-
In each of these areas, it is imperative that multi-sector authorities be formed, composed of businessmen, policymakers, community representatives, foundation representatives, think tankers, and other interested parties capable of bringing sound ideas to the table. These hubs of thinkers can then conduct studies and provide analysis and proposals for the reform and improvement of infrastructure at all levels. But moreover, these need not be only at the local, state, and regional levels- if we are to have a fully integrated, fully computerized, fully responsive, and fully adaptable infrastructure at a nationwide scale, then we require nothing less than a permanent national infrastructure board capable of conducting studies and making proposals for the entirety of our sturdy, networked infrastructure moving forward. Some proposals for each of the areas follow-
Water- Greater investment in local storage, capture, and recycling; optimized use options, particularly in the southwestern states where scarcity and competition between sectors becomes problematic; research into prospects for desalination plants in California to provide water to the parched Southwest.
Power- Investment of revenues from shale oil boom into hi-tech clean energy, particularly advanced nuclear. Investment in hi-tech nuclear power and the establishment of a hi-tech nuclear grid, composed of small, safe, mobile reactors planted at strategic locations in urban locales. Investment in greater connectivity between urban and rural locales and more effective power storage. Moreover, funding of the nuclear power industry en masse to drive down the cost of energy and make electricity essentially free for every American.
Transportation- Acknowledgment of the American infatuation with the car culture and ultra modernization of that trait of our national culture, including but not limited to-1) Investment in making high-quality electric cars cheap, in conjunction with efforts to nuclearize the energy economy and make electricity as close to free as possible; 2) investment in centrally-networked self-driving car systems, wherein traffic flows can be optimized and accidents avoided by various algorithms made available by advances in computing and cybertechnology; 3) investment in flying car technology, still within the context of networked cars and centrally-computer-driven cars; and 4) restructuring of nation’s industries dependent upon drivers, such as trucking and taxis, to be newly dependent on publicly-owned self-driving car systems. These reforms should also include ways to integrate the self-driving electric car system with the airline systems, and do what they can to drive down the cost of ownership and tickets in both.
Wireless- Given that the huge majority of commerce and communication has for years now taken place over the internet, and that in coming years that trend will only continue, it is imperative that future governments do what they can to make strong, secure, and lightning-quick wifi free for every American. This will involve both restructuring current wifi law and building a new infrastructure of omnipresent nodes capable of supplying service to every corner of the United States. And given that this is the most important part of the new infrastructure, it also happens to be the least understood. More research, more investment, and more reform should follow.
Granted, there are other areas of infrastructure and semi-infrastructure that need paid attention to. In particular, housing is one of those borderline infrastructure areas which is currently undergoing crisis, and one which will have to be addressed by upcoming generations of statesmen. But for now, let us be content with working on the current list of networks which will be necessary for the efficient transportation and delivery of water, power, goods, services, people, and information in the near future and likely further than that. Let us strive to push our leaders to reform these critical infrastructure sectors, for the more fluid and dynamic development of the American economy and a society as we push forward into the century.