We've programmed an AI model to design for us - just for fun - what the cities of the UK - well, more like England - might look like 100 years into the future.
AI is everywhere at the moment, with film actors concerned by the implications for their future image rights, defence specialists worrying about the future of warfare, and even the most powerful tech-minds of the world concerned that there might be a chance that we’re creating something that could one day destroy us.
Still, we asked the AI program Midjourney to consider what the cities of England might look like in 100 years, and – perhaps unsurprisingly – it has a much rosier-looking view on what the future of Britain is.
No, we’re not toiling in underground data mines, nor are we submerged beneath the rising seas – which actually feels like a bit of an oversight – instead, we’re marvelling at futuristic architecture in cities that still manage to retain their old-world charm well into the 2120s.
The first thing you’ll notice about the AI’s interpretation of futuristic Birmingham is that the older buildings have been retained, but there are a lot of futuristic silver buildings - imagine the Bullring, but even more extra - dotted around the place for good measure.
Sure, there’s some added skyscrapers and flying walkways, but this is still recognisably Birmingham.
Brummies can rest easy, because their beloved city might be augmented slightly in the future, but – if the AI has the measure, anyway – it will retain most of the character that exists now.
‘The Toon’ might be set for a much larger change, with the AI retaining the historic and iconic Tyne Bridge, but – as you can see – extending it in one image and changing it fairly radically in another.
What’s more, the top right image appears to have some seriously tall but old-school buildings that you’d associate more with Copenhagen or Amsterdam than Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Still, maybe there is a future for Newcastle as a Scandinavian exclave or hedonistic tourism epicentre.
Hell, it’s one of those things already.
The futuristic rounded buildings are becoming a bit of a theme, aren't they?
Across the other side of Northern England, Liverpool also retains quite a bit of its old-world charm.
Sure, we can disagree and bear in mind the source of the money that built Liverpool’s massive buildings, but few could argue that they’re not very nice buildings.
Liverpool already has the futuristic – sort of – Radio City Tower, but they’re not getting much more than that, according to the future-predicting robot.
In fact, Liverpool is probably the most recognisable of all the cities we ran through this particular simulation.
That is, apart from some incredible futuristic boats and flying cars that apparently exist in this world.
Down the M62 a bit we’ve got Manchester, and this is a bit of a weird one.
One side of the image seems to show Manchester as having regressed to the Victorian era, with huge chimneys and old-style cars dominating the scene.
However, on the other, there’s sparkling bridges and some huge neo-gothic – or should that be neo-neo-gothic? – cathedral style-buildings.
All in all, it's a bit like if LS Lowry was the artist hired to create a science fiction graphic novel.
The Manchester of the future still has a bleak and foreboding charm, because presumably it still p***es it down all the time.
If Manchester ends up looking like this, it’ll be an improvement on the seemingly endless uniform skyscrapers that are popping up at the moment.
The capital city is a bit more like it, when it comes to usual interpretations of the future.
There appears to be a few flying vehicles, and lots more of those towering bulbous spheres.
Big Ben remains - in fact, there's two in the bottom left image - as you would imagine, and the Thames doesn’t seem to changed, but the buildings surrounding it are a bit more abstract and – in some cases – ornate than they currently are.
If this is genuinely how the future turns out, we'll have done a good job and we can all be very satisfied with ourselves.
But - let's be honest - it's more than likely that we'll absolutely knacker the job and ruin the world, rather than augmenting it with incredible shiny buildings and flying cars.
Maybe we should just let the AI take over, after all?