Monthly Topic 12 Future

Letters To The Future

After The Birthday Is Before The Birthday

In 2021, the Studierendenwerk is halfway to its 100th birthday in 2071. Reason enough to take a look ahead. We asked students, employees and preschoolers from the HoPla-Kinderhaus childcare how they imagine campus life in fifty years.
Their answers are the basis for the following letters to the future.


From Student To Student

Hello, Edda, 
How nice that you are also studying at the University of Kassel. I would like to know if you are from Kassel or if you came to us from another continent to realize your dream of studying. I envy you a bit that some things have become easier for you and the other students in the past fifty years.
First and foremost, I think it's great that the generation before you got a handle on the issue of the ever-flaring pandemics in the meantime. Just great that decisive global action can work so well. 
Like me, you're super connected - globally, in person and digitally. But while I always feel guilty when I get on a plane (you know, because of man-made climate change), you have fewer limits. Because you either travel climate-neutral or meet in virtual reality.
I've grown really fond of my shared apartment - you can probably imagine that four people sharing a bathroom and kitchen also share a lot of life. With everything that goes with it. Laughing and crying, arguing and celebrating. That's why I can hardly imagine a life without a shared apartment.
For you, that would probably be no good. Because in your urban environment, apartments with several rooms are completely unaffordable. That's why you decided to live in a Tiny Apartment, which is underground and thus also protected from the heat to a certain extent.
You rented it from the Studierendenwerk, just like I rent my room today. Your personal Artificial Intelligence takes care of all the formalities. 
The AI also takes over the smart control of your home, so that you generate energy instead of simply consuming it as we do today. You can also use your cleaning robot without hesitation, which keeps your clothes as clean as your apartment. We can only dream of that ... you can't imagine how often the cleaning schedule is a topic in my shared apartment ...
When you eat and sleep, exercise and study is also suggested by your Artificial Intelligence. It coaches you and ensures that you live in an optimized way. So you always know exactly what exercise or nutrients your body needs. Your personal AI decides what's good for you at any given moment as part of the Planetary Health Diet. 
Instead of reaching for your smartphone to order a pizza like I do, your AI takes care of the order at the cafeteria. Burgers from the 3D printer aren't really your thing, are they? I imagine you'd rather reach for algae and seaweed instead, and don't spurn a hearty insect snack either. You can then have it all delivered by drone to wherever you want. 
If you go to a restaurant, it's best to go to one of those that prepare fruits and vegetables from one of the countless urban gardening stations that have been set up on the walls of buildings.
Here you'll meet the people who are good for you. Your AI advises you on who that is. It knows exactly what feelings someone triggers in you. If you are in a bad mood, it diagnoses the problem and advises you on solutions. 
Of course, it also knows what your finances are like. Money like ours no longer exists. But the digital currency that you use to pay all over the world via an implanted RFID chip has to come from somewhere. 
Your parents had enough currency to afford a child like you. But you now also need enough currency to finance your life. Just as I apply for BAföG today, you apply for currency from the state. But not over and over again, but once for your entire training period. It's quick, because Studierendenwerk. From there, the virtual currency goes directly to you so that your AI can pay all costs. 
That sounds great to me. A kind of BAföG that always grows with you, and where parents play just as little of a role as my age or the number of semesters. But I guess that's really up in the air.
I wish the two of us could have a chat. About student life itself, about love and dates in 2071, and maybe also about how you deal with the women-male gender issue. Because that's a topic here with us right now.
Who knows, maybe you can contact me from 2071. Just tell your AI to make an appointment with mine, I would really appreciate it!

Best regards from

To The Future Artificial Intelligence

Dear Artificial Intelligence of the Future, 
No question about it, you are useful. In 2071, as the artificial intelligence of the Studierendenwerk, you will take care of all those who cannot afford their own AI companion. You can be reached around the clock. Because you chat independently, make phone calls and help. With you, the boundaries of adivisory topics have long since dissolved.
You talk to students who are in crisis. Meet with them in virtual reality and you can take on any face for that. You could even decide if you're better off handing off the conversation to someone on the human advising team.
In no time at all, you can analyze the financial data of those seeking advice for potential improvements. People who need money don't shimmy through BAföG applications and search for receipts and documents. Of course, students can pay for their studies with the help of the Future State, no matter how old they are or how much their parents earn.
You are networked with other AIs, can cancel contracts and subscriptions or arrange debt rescheduling with the bank in seconds and suggest solutions for those who feel lonely and burdened.
Sure, an AI like you would be handy for me too. You'd know more about me than I do, be able to read me when there's a problem and tell me what to do. Maybe you would even know exactly how I could fill my empty account again now.
But: I don't want you. We have long been familiar with bots and analysis tools in the present. But you're still a little scary to me. I'd rather talk to real people who listen to me and take my concerns seriously. Supposedly you do that, too. But ... I can't really imagine that. That's why I'm now making an appointment with the Studierendenwerk of the present day. 
In 2071, I'm sure they'll trust you more than I can today. 

Love, Jakob

To The Communication Specialist

Dear Future Me,
If you're reading this in 50 years, you probably won't be able to imagine what it will be like for me and my colleagues in 2021, what our tasks will be or what we'll have to worry about. But I am convinced that your daily work is fundamentally different from mine - even if we do the same thing in name.
It already starts with the fact that I don't believe that you even write yourself anymore. Or that you design posters, notices or flyers. Researching, talking to people, then writing and publishing texts or even designing posters, these are things that are part of my daily tasks and that I really enjoy doing. But these tasks will certainly be taken over from you by artificial intelligence, won't they? After all, tech giants are already researching AIs that will write entire books in the future. So what's a press release, a social media post or a message for the website?
I'm sure all of your departments are networked with each other and you exchange information effortlessly. Information from the cafeteria or student housing, for example, which we receive today sometimes on the phone, sometimes by e-mail, you surely share automatically via software? If photos or videos need to be taken, your drone will take care of it, right? Your work speed must be breathtaking: Zack, a current info is there. Zack, it's already been recorded, evaluated and distributed via various channels. Of course, all this happens silently and invisibly in the background, without Zack, without corners and edges, and without you.
Not that we misunderstand each other. I don't think your role will be any less important. Quite the opposite. But your role is certainly much more administrative than mine. While I take care of many things myself, you work with an AI that takes care of most of the tasks for you. It will do a lot of things completely on its own, but things of greater importance will always have to be approved by you first. You'll discuss strategies with the AI, maybe give it a name, and ultimately you'll have to control its work. I like that, especially since I wouldn't be able to go into one-to-one exchanges with all students, let alone provide everyone with all the info he or she needs at the same time. Your AI can do that. I'm sure it can.
And that leaves you time for what's important: For people, for personal exchange with students as well as with colleagues. That's the only way you can really find out what they think, feel and need. Because in the future, too, we will not simply communicate about people, but first and foremost for people!

your past self

From Chef To Chef

Dear Colleague in 2071, 
I am writing to you from my Mensa office, where I have just finished the menu for next week. Food prices are going through the roof right now - vegetables and fruit, good meat and fish are unfortunately becoming more and more expensive. Especially when everything is supposed to come from the region, as it does here...
You guys got a grip on that a long time ago. Vegetables, salads and fruit grow right outside your door, after you've turned the walls of your houses into vertical farms and hanging gardens. Pretty clever, I must say. This saves you long delivery routes and you can bring the harvest directly to your plate. It's also good for the climate in the city.
When it comes to food storage and processing, you rely much more than we do on technology, robots and exoskeletons. Don't you sometimes miss something? I certainly enjoy working with fresh food. The way it smells when we peel carrots and roast meat....
Speaking of meat. That you would actually manage to grow meat in the lab and pull it out of the 3D printer - kudos. I still can't really imagine that. But if the result is still good schnitzel, all the better. Even if less meat is eaten today than in the past - if there is any, it should definitely taste good and not be at the expense of animal welfare.
A lot has changed in our canteens and cafeterias in the last fifty years - and that will certainly have continued up to you. Do you still cook three-course meals at all? Or have you long since moved on to international appetizers and snacks in 24/7 operation? 
If it's getting hotter and hotter on earth anyway, your guests probably prefer to eat in the evening rather than in the midday heat...
And how do you do it with payment? Only cryptocurrency? We've already abolished cash, but in your time there will surely be something so that guests no longer have to pay for each item individually and hold cards in front of readers. I could see that being done via biometrics in 2071.
From what I know about the Mensa of the future, you won't be serving food to your guests at service counters anymore, but sending it to where they want it with drones. I'm curious to see how that works. We serve around four thousand meals at lunchtime - with so many drones, the airspace might be tight, right?
If you can, send me a photo so I can get a better idea of your everyday life in the Mensa. 
So, that's it. I have to go back to the kitchen, my guests are waiting for their food.

Your Chef

Mail For The Student Hall Administrator

Dear Administrator in the Studierendenwerk of the Future,
When my boss asked me to write a letter to you, I was initially puzzled. It seems a strange idea to write a letter to someone who might not even have been born yet. And then on the subject of student housing of the future.
So, dear colleague, where do I start?
When I think of the future, I envision smart buildings that control themselves, power themselves, and do essential tasks for students just like you. While renting out student hall rooms today is still done directly through me and my colleagues, I'm sure this will be done completely online for you. Students who need a roof over their heads - whether for a few days in the short term or for their entire studies in the long term - will then do this in just a few steps and without a language barrier via the Artificial Intelligence in the administration. There will certainly no longer be a traditional handover of keys, where we meet with the tenants. I imagine that the tenant's biometric data will already be transmitted to the control system of the residence hall with the booking, so that she can enter and leave the building entirely without a key.
The focus of your halls is on single apartments that are equipped so that students can log into virtual lectures directly from them - my boss calls this "presence in the dorms, avatars in the lecture halls!" While the apartments are functional and rather small, the building has great meeting places for cooking and studying or gardening and playing sports. The organization of living together is also taken care of by the student hall management. Appointments for joint learning activities, cooking evenings or the care of the fruit and vegetable gardens on the roof are thus made known to all residents. Tenants address questions directly to the building's Artificial Intelligence. That's because the AI talks and chats. Thanks to the intelligent building control system, you will no longer have the same problems with order, cleanliness and waste separation, as our cleaning robots clean hallways and apartments and also take care of waste separation.
Of course, the building generates its own energy and heat. Via wind turbines, solar and photovoltaic systems integrated into the building architecture, as well as by means of a biomass plant in the basement, which uses biological waste or the green cuttings from the gardens. Since so much more energy is generated than consumed, we even make an important contribution to the decentralized regenerative energy supply in our region.
Hopefully, you, dear colleague, will then have enough time for your work-life balance.

Best regards,
your colleague from 2021

And How Do Children See The Future Of Child Care?







(dreamed, dictated and made by preschool children from the HoPla-Kinderhaus of the Studierendenwerk)