It is 2050. From the top of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh spreads out like a Lego city, small in size but big in views and in ideas and innovation.
In the distance, you can just about see the three bridges spanning the Firth of Forth, testimony to Scotland’s long tradition of innovation, invention and discovery. A reminder of nearly four centuries of enlightened thinking that have helped make Edinburgh the city it is today.
The sun shines off arrays of solar panels that, with the turbines in the Firth and on the Fife horizon, and the tidal arrays off the east coast, provide all of the city’s power.
Edinburgh has always been verdant, but green routes now link parks and green spaces across the city. Driverless electric cars and integrated technology have made traffic jams a thing of the past. Car parks have become green spaces, many of them turned over to urban farms, while the ‘homegrown’ movement has turned private rooftops into personal farms, gardens and social spaces. Edinburgh in 2050 is a playful city, in which public spaces are designed with people in mind.
The city is connected by more than just pathways. The Manufacturing Age has long since given way to the Information Age and the evolution of technology in daily life has made it the driving force of social change. Edinburgh is home to an incredible number of digital technology companies, both established global heavyweights and innovative start-ups, that have enabled exciting opportunities for creativity, society and the economy in Scotland and around the world.
Edinburgh has always been an enlightened city - seat of the Scottish Enlightenment - and it, and indeed Scotland as a whole, has always punched well above its weight in terms of research. Now it is again one of the world’s most successful, progressive and entrepreneurial cities. It has reclaimed its place as a beacon of enlightenment - a global hub for creative, scientific and cultural excellence, internationalism and innovation - and remains the world’s leading Festival city.
Science and technology connect us - as individuals, disciplines and societies - more than ever before and the Science Festival (the world’s first and still going strong) remains a node in a global network of like-minded organisations. It provides opportunities to come together and connect, not only with inspirational speakers, artists and performers but with each other to explore global science and its impacts on society. It allows us to dream, reflect, invent and imagine the world we want to live in, and cements Edinburgh’s role in shaping a collaborative, creative and sustainable future.
n Amanda Tyndall is Creative Director of the Edinburgh International Science Festival