The Race

What Does the Future Hold for the Construction Industry?

What does the future of technology hold for construction? Will construction eventually become autonomous, too?

It’s safe to say there will be major changes in the construction field as artificial intelligence and IoT technologies advance. Manual brick-and-mortar building will be a thing of the past. Instead, advanced automation technologies will offload tasks that used to require hundreds of hours of dangerous, back-breaking labor.

Self-Repairing Concrete

Concrete that fixes itself? Yes, it’s already in the works! This “smart” concrete would be able to seal its own cracks and prolong the life of the concrete. Why would this be useful? Concrete is the most used construction material in the world as well as the second most consumed substance on the planet, next to water. Though it’s cheap and can be used for a variety of purposes, concrete is prone to cracking under extreme heat or extreme cold. Having the technology available for the concrete to simply heal itself would keep structures stable for longer and have huge environmental benefits.

How would the concrete “heal” itself? The concrete would be embedded with tiny capsules that, upon sensing damage, would rupture and release a substance that would fill in the crack and harden. Do you think this would be a useful technology in construction?

Pollution-Filtering Bricks

Bricks have been fundamental in construction since the Industrial Revolution, a time when pollution first started to become serious. How could bricks help combat pollution? A new type of brick is in development—it would function as an air filter of sorts for the home or building. As the air filters through the brick, the brick would capture and deposit pollutants in the wall’s frame. As a result, the brick would deliver cleaner air inside the structure.

3-D Printed Houses

It seems like just about anything can be 3-D printed these days. From organs to artificial limbs, the possibilities of 3-D printing are seemingly endless. And now, the future of home building is also heading toward a 3-D printing revolution. Is 3-D printing the future of sustainable housing?

A 3-D printer would be able to build the walls and foundation of a house in a few days rather than the weeks and months it would take to build manually. It would create and print the materials off-site and then assemble the house on-site at a later date. 3-D printing not only dramatically speeds up the construction of a house, but it limits construction waste, reduces scraps, and reduces the costs associated with the transport of materials. Technology could also be developed, so 3-D printers could make houses out of sustainable, renewable materials.

3-D printing is already being used to complete full-scale construction projects.

Robotic Swarm Construction

Robotic swarm construction was inspired by the humble termite. Termites are able to work together with hundreds of other termites to build huge mud structures. However, these termites aren’t receiving instructions from anyone. They are working according to their unique, genetically programmed behavior that is imprinted upon their DNA.

This inspired robotic swarm construction, in which small robots “swarm” and work together to build a structure. As with termites, each robot would be programmed to complete a specific task and each robot would be equipped with sensors to stay out of each other’s way. Robotic swarm construction has the ability to combat labor shortages and housing shortages, perform construction quickly and safely, and prevent construction-related injuries.


What do you think about these innovative materials and new technologies? Which do you think would work best in a circular city? Comment below!


Tune into the next episode of the Prefecture Podcast to hear these topics discussed in-depth!

Driving Toward the Future: What Will Autonomous Transportation Be Like in a Circular City?

In order to become to truly low-impact to the environment, our independent attitude toward travel will have to change. What does that mean exactly? Well, on average, we all want to own our own car and go where we want to go when we want to go. Our current individualistic culture supports this desire, while a circular city’s collectivism would not.

Transportation would become less about individual ownership and more about accessibility for all. For the health of the environment, it’s not feasible for every individual of the populous to own a car. Fully accessible public transport, on the other hand, would lower environmental impact, unclog roads, and overall improve the efficiency of travel for all.

In our fictional circular city, Prefecture imagines autonomous public transport taking form as driverless, color-coded pods that are well-attuned to each individual of the populous’ travel needs. The color-coded pods would provide visually recognizable signals to the entire populous. Red pods could signal emergency travel to a medical center, green pods could signal the delivery or transport of goods, blue pods could signal the transport of people, etc.

The pods that travel on electric grids controlled by KAILE would know people’s basic schedules and when they need to travel to work, scheduled activities, and more. KAILE would collect this data on each individual and input it. Presumably, there would also be options to request travel for when transportation is required unexpectedly like for medical emergencies or for spontaneous activities.

These autonomous pods work well for inner-city travel, but what happens when you want to travel outside of your city. Prefecture suggests drones that magnetize to the pods and can simply carry the pods over large distances of rough terrain. While flying cars are often the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the future, are they really necessary or sustainable? The drones could also function as security, perform surveillance, deliver packages, drop off first aid kits, water crops, and more.

When self-driving, autonomous vehicles are mentioned, many people express trepidation at their own loss of control, but perhaps that is just what we need. Over 90% of collisions on the road are caused by human error alone. Once the technology is tested and perfected, autonomous vehicles would dramatically reduce accidents and allow people to get more things accomplished while traveling.

However, one thing some people can’t quite resolve with autonomous vehicles is the loss of the driving experience itself. Would you miss the feeling of driving? Some say this desire to drive could be satisfied with virtual reality games that simulate driving, racing, or mudding without the associated risk. What do you think about this?

What questions or ideas do you have about futuristic transport? Is the desire to drive something that can be mimicked and replaced in the form of a game?

We want to hear from you! Join the discussion and drop a comment below.

How Could Advanced Technology Change Our Work and Our Lives?

“AI should maximize the freedom of action for humans.”

This popular quote from Elon Musk sounds great, but what does it mean? Essentially, it means that the greatest thing humans can invent for themselves is increased freedom. Technology should maximize our benefits, not detract from them.

For example, as technology advances, it is more likely that robots, software, or sensors will be able to automate laborious, tedious work for us. Automating manual labor such as warehouse work, agricultural work, assembly line work, or cash register positions would increase the freedom of choice for workers.

No longer would people have to spend arduous hours lifting packages or performing repetitive tasks. Instead, they would have the opportunity to fill more creative positions or work in technical fields created because of this technology, such as data analysts or software developers. As a result, this could dramatically improve human health, quality of life, and human work-life balance for many.

Without a doubt, robotics and machine learning technologies will continue to reduce human workloads inside and outside factories in assembly and packaging tasks all the way to customer service. This inevitably stokes the fear that robots will steal our jobs. But we may also see the rise of humans working alongside robots rather than being fully replaced be them.

In addition to job fears, there are the privacy concerns of being “watched” and there is unease about the erosion of free will. What are your thoughts? How do you feel about this? Are we so blindsided by worry that we are unable to see the possibilities that this technology could offer us? How do you think automation could change the average person’s life?

Our fear and trepidation often casts advanced technology as inherently sinister, but there is plenty of technology out there doing the exact opposite by keeping us safe and improving our quality of living. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been able to leverage digital landscapes for improved safety, operations, and efficiency.

These diagnostic tools have monitored and gathered data from everyday appliances like refrigerators or smartwatches to aircraft engines to supervise safety and maintenance. Now, instead of merely estimating when an airplane engine is due for maintenance, IoT has allowed us to know precisely when the engine is due for care or repairs. In instances such as these, technology provides the data that allows us to reduce errors, increase safety, and overall optimize processes.

Robotics, machine learning, IoT, and other advanced technology offer us major possibilities to live more efficient, safe lives, reduce hard labor, and improve our living conditions. What challenges and opportunities do you foresee? Do you think these advanced technologies will increase our freedom?

What problems do you want to solve with technology? What do you want to create? How can we balance caution and concern with innovation?

We want to hear from you! Join the conversation and drop a comment below!


Modern Demands: How Do Teaching Styles Need to Change?

The textbook reading assignment, teacher-student lectures, and hand-written notes are quickly becoming a thing of the past in modern classrooms. These traditional teaching and learning methods are not working for a majority of students in the twenty-first century. What’s changed?

Rapid technological changes over generations have presented new challenges and demands in our society, workforce, and, consequently, our education system. Analytical thinking, innovation, creative problem-solving, and technological proficiency are now skills that are needed in our future workforce. Likewise, students who have grown up in a technological landscape now crave those visual, auditory, and sensory experiences in their learning styles.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent to many that our current “one shoe fits all” teaching styles are outdated. Teachers need to be able to adapt and accommodate diverse learning styles, and students too will need to have more control over their personal learning journey.

Are we setting our future workforce up for failure if teaching styles don’t change? What are skill sets our students need to learn in the classroom now to prepare to be productive members of society later?

One of the most difficult problems faced in today’s education system is teaching effectiveness. Students are absorbing large amounts of surface-level information—that is often quickly disposed of— without interacting with it in a useful way. Differentiated teaching styles as well as the flexibility to adapt are both needed in modern educators.

VARK is an acronym that stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic sensory modes of learning. The VARK model suggests these are the four main types of learners. Students may feel drawn to one particular learning style or enjoy a mix. Every student has a unique, personally-preferred learning style.

Individualizing learning plans for students allows each student to learn and engage with the content in a way that is most beneficial to them. Personalized learning in the classroom tailors itself to each student’s individual needs, strengths, and interests in order for that student to learn at a deeper level.

How can teachers adapt to these different learning styles in the classroom? How can VARK learning styles be incorporated to change different teaching styles? What challenges or obstacles do you foresee?

The goal of transmitting knowledge without rote memorization being the sole focus has started to become more accepted and common. In addition, experts in the education field are asking, “What are we testing for?” Students at all levels are still heavily focused on end results—their score on the test, their rank in the class, or their final grade in the class. As we have seen with many entrepreneurs and innovators, test results do not define you.

Are exams really doing anything beneficial in preparing future members of society? What are your thoughts on the future of student testing? Will it become obsolete or remain in curriculum?

Learning environments focused on experiential learning rather than final test scores encourage students to take that knowledge, interact with it, and think critically about it. Students are becoming partners or “co-creators” of their learning journey.

They are able to partake in experiences that allow collaboration, communication, and teamwork on projects that allow the application of knowledge to real-life scenarios. These learning environments encourage students to be innovative, take risks, and simulate real-life problem-solving. Those in the education field hope this type of learning will help students find their passions, find potential career paths, and learn the ability to persevere and find solutions.

Many experts are pushing for learning to be more focused on experience and collaboration.

What do you think of this new learning environment? What obstacles do you think need to be overcome in order to transition to this type of education system?

Join the conversation! Drop a comment below.

Robotics, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things

The term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a large network of physical objects, or “things,” that are embedded with sensors, software, or other technology that can exchange data or otherwise communicate with other devices or systems over the Internet. A pervasive example of IoT in our current culture can be seen in wearables, such as smart watches and other fitness trackers. These devices continuously sense movement, communicate the data to another device, and provide fitness insights based on the information it tracks.

Robotics is similar to IoT because it also interacts with sensors, processes data, and responds to requests. However, the main difference is IoT works within a virtual environment while the robotics field works within a physical environment through robots that usually participate in production activities.

Machine learning (ML) is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software to become more accurate at predicting certain outcomes without being specifically programmed to do so. Machine learning algorithms use statistics to find patterns in large amounts of data. It is used in filtering search engine results, filtering email spam, or websites making personalized recommendations.

Robotics, machine learning, and IoT are all evolving and working together. Since IoT generates massive amounts of data from millions of devices and machine learning is powered by data and generates insight from it, combining the two has the possibility to deliver insights that have otherwise been hidden in data. Machine learning for IoT could be used to project trends, detect irregularities, and more.  The development of the Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT) could lead to autonomous networks capable of carrying out tasks in the physical world. The combination of IoT, machine learning, and robotics offers great potential to carry out complex physical tasks over smart networks.

What possibilities do you see when combining these technologies? Tune in to Prefecture’s next podcast for a more in-depth discussion.

Why Storytelling is Important in Building a Brand

Storytelling has been an innate part of the human experience since the beginning of time. Stories have long captivated us and left long-lasting impressions. Communication and stories are a basic part of who we—humans are driven to tell stories and to listen to them. It makes all the more sense that storytelling has evolved tremendously over time and still persists today not only for entertainment purposes but also in business marketing and brand building.

At its core, a brand is essentially the story of a business. Storytelling is a timeless way to emotionally engage audiences, create personal connections, and to overall expand engagement. Unlike any other marketing technique, storytelling invokes the power of human emotion and connection, creating a deep sense of trust and shared experience.

While many businesses use storytelling to build their brands, the opposite can true as well: many stories have unintentionally become multi-million dollar brands with cult followings. Blockbuster movies, books, video games, and TV shows have essentially created entire cultures in which loyal fan bases allow the world of the story to live on.

How can simple stories become powerful platforms to launch mega-brands?

Authenticity and Emotional Connections

Nothing connects a business to their audience better than stories. Storytelling innately allows people to connect on a deeper level because it focuses on shared human experience. When people see authentic characters and real-life conflict—even in fantasy settings—it is difficult not to form a personal connection. Characters and conflict an audience can truly relate to create lasting emotional connections, sometimes as deep as real-life relationships. This type of storytelling allows brands to mean something more to the audience beyond what they are selling, essentially humanizing the brand.

Trust and Loyalty

Brands simply cannot grow without trust or loyalty. If an audience finds the characters, conflict, or resolutions to be disingenuous, chances are they will remember your brand but not for the right reasons. If the audience finds the people and struggles in your story to be authentic and perhaps even reflective of their own experience, they will immediately feel a deep personal connection to the brand. If an audience can rely on a brand for genuine portrayals of the human experience, they feel they can trust their entire brand. Building this trust and credibility through accurate storytelling is the beginning of building enduring loyalty and strong customer or fan bases that will last a lifetime.

Long-Lasting Relationships and Endless Engagement

Great stories create deep bonds between the characters and the audience, ones people often visit again and again. The audience’s feeling that they have been through the same struggles allows the story resonate deeply with them. Even when a story ends, it still lives on through the audience. Stories are a timeless medium that allow endless engagement and interaction. We see this continually in our current culture in cosplaying, conventions, fanfiction, and more. The ability for the audience to place themselves within the story is what truly can make a story and brand last forever.

Where is Artificial Intelligence Today and Where is it Going?

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a broad term used to describe a machine’s ability to replicate human intelligence. While human and animal intelligence is considered “natural,” computer intelligence is “artificially” created through a series of specially designed algorithms. Actions like learning, reasoning, logic, perception, or creativity—once thought to be exclusive to humans— are now being simulated by technology and used in nearly every industry.

The goal of AI is to mimic human thinking in order to complete both simple and complex tasks. Our current AI is “narrow” and “noncognizant,” meaning that the machines perform objective tasks using data. There is no conscious thinking on the machines’ parts, and they are not driven by emotion like humans. Current narrow AI operates within its pre-determined range of functions.

Where is AI used today?

The future is now—there’s virtually no industry AI hasn’t already affected and changed. Whether we realize it or not, AI is all around us, and it is increasingly playing a more active role in our lives.

When people hear Artificial Intelligence, they almost always think of robots. That’s because mainstream media and big-budget movies tell us thrilling tales of human-like machines slowly becoming self-aware and wrecking havoc. Though this narrative of murderous machines is certainly an entertaining plot line in movies and books, experts don’t expect robotic domination to be a reality.

We use voice-powered assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Microsoft’s Cortana without blinking an eye. Asking Siri a question, telling Alexa to add milk to your grocery list, or using a customer service live chat bot is not otherworldly technology to us, but rather commonplace in our everyday lives. This type of narrow, data-based AI has seamlessly integrated itself into the human experience.

AI takes the burden of repetitive action and instant response away from humans, increasing efficiency, performance, and safety. In manufacturing facilities, machines are replacing the tedious tasks on assembly lines. As a result, it is increasingly normal to see humans working alongside machines in manufacturing facilities. The machine’s sensors keep equipment running smoothly, increasing efficiency and productivity while ensuring safety standards are still met.

In the education field, AI has saved teachers tons of time through automated document reading, automated grading, and automated plagiarism checking. Freed from these time-consuming and repetitive tasks, educators now have more time to focus on lesson planning or educational projects that would benefit students.

AI also creates more precise analytics and data, creating the potential to become powerful diagnostic tools. For example, the AI technology in today’s smart watches and fitness trackers gather important data points about the user’s health. These data points can then be analyzed at doctor appointments to gauge the individual’s health.

Perhaps one of the most exciting examples of AI technology in the works is the self-driving car. Equipped with myriads of sensors that capture thousands of data points every millisecond—such as speed, road conditions, and traffic—the autonomous car uses AI to interpret these data points and to act accordingly.

While people readily accept virtual assistants, live chat bots, and robotic manufacturing, many people shrink from the idea of self-driving cars and autonomous airplanes. The idea of glitches and problems in self-driving cars and planes is terrifying, even though humans are equally flawed and capable of creating disaster. There is an expectation ingrained into us that AI is flawless—however, it has flaws just like its creators. It simply must be improved and worked on over time.

Why do you think of the current AI in our society? Does this type of AI remove human control to the point of trepidation? What are your thoughts?

How will AI shape the future of industry?

Regardless of individual industries, AI is everywhere, and it will affect the way we do business across all sectors. It is already used in transportation, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, education, city planning, and much more.

Though media headlines often warn us that AI technology is stealing jobs, experts are optimistic and expect AI to be a vehicle for job creation. Once skilled laborers are freed from repetitive and routine tasks that machines can do—such as, separating things into bins, picking fruit, washing dishes, answering calls—they can then work in new areas and fields that AI technology creates. However, experts do warn that it is essential to retrain and educate displaced workers in these new fields.

Does AI really improve our human experience overall? Or does it complicate it somehow? Is there such a thing as too much AI?

Looking to the future: where is AI going?

Though our current AI is non-cognizant—meaning machines draw conclusions based on inputted data or algorithms—the future does hold the possibility of cognizant AI. Our current AI may not seem narrow or weak, but it lacks human self-awareness, consciousness, and the ability to think for itself.

Machines can certainly process data much faster than we can, but they can’t think abstractly or make decisions informed by memory or experience. There is the possibility that this type of AI could arrive in the future.

What are your thoughts on the future of AI? Are you hopeful, concerned, or worried?

Join the conversation below!  

The Circular City

What is a Circular City?

A circular city is a re-imagined architectural and self-sustaining societal structure. It primarily focuses on maintaining the world’s natural resources to ensure a higher standard of living for all human inhabitants. Instead of our current linear system, in which materials are often thrown away after use, circular systems put raw materials back into use to maintain their value, cut down waste, conserve resources, and improve efficiency.

In order to provide equal access to these resources, circular cities become resource-based economies, meaning the planet’s resources are common heritage to all—no one privately owns the natural resources, but every human deserves equal access to them without the expectation of monetary payment. Housing, transportation, renewable energy sources, clean water, and organic food would be available to all in this community-based living structure.

Circular cities propose a circular city plan divided into radial sectors and circular belts, which creates about 8 different sections inching closer to the central dome. Essentially, one sector is repeated 8 times until a circle forms. This design approach would use far less energy and resources in the construction process. The circular design itself is also far more efficient in terms of travel because, unlike linear cities, people will be able to easily return to their destinations without taking the same route back. In addition, the uniform geometric design allows for city plans to be easily scaled up or down, depending on the population size.

The goal of a circular city design is to achieve an efficient, long-lasting harmony between man and nature. The geometric arrangement incorporates lush greenery and vibrant landscapes, such as parks and gardens, to balance out the residential districts and city buildings and to avoid our modern “concrete jungles.” Circular cities aim to coexist with nature and maintain natural ecosystems.

The grid structure allows each belt to have a specific function, such as a recreational or residential belt. However, each belt is also multi-functional in order to harmonize with nature. For example, a recreational belt may have exercise facilities or a concert arena, but it also intentionally preserves natural ecosystems, such as aquatic spaces or permaculture land.

The end goal of a circular city design is to create a self-reliant, resilient city that elevates the quality of living for all. As a result, these cities would not have to rely on a constant influx of resources from other regions. Their sustainable agricultural practices and renewable energy resources would completely sustain the community.

What do you think of the circular structure? Do you think a change in cities is needed for the future?


Exploring a Circular City Layout

  • The typical circular city design generally features a central dome, in which core educational buildings, research centers, health or childcare facilities, or communications and networking systems could be equally accessed by all in the heart of the city.
  • The next circular band around the central dome is a recreational belt meant to provide the community engaging activities, such as art, theater, concerns, exercise facilities, dining, and other amenities and forms of entertainment.
  • The next circular band is divided into 8 different residential districts. The flexibility in the circular city’s residential designs allows each person to adapt the architecture to their personal preferences and needs. In addition, each home enjoys flourishing landscapes and gardens, which allows some separation and relative isolation. Residential districts could also feature skyscrapers with apartments, in-house restaurants, educational facilities, and more. Given the nature of the geometric design, everyone living in the residential district will be in equal proximity to the recreational belt and central dome.
  • The next circular belt features agricultural spaces to grow organic produce without the need for pesticides or chemicals. It also provides space for indoor hydroponic farming, aeroponic farming, and aquaponic farming facilities. These alternative farming methods involve growing plants without the need for soil.
  • A circular waterway surrounds the above-mentioned agricultural belt, which can be conveniently used for irrigation and filtration.
  • The outermost belt of the circular city can be used for exploratory recreational activities like hiking, biking, golfing, and more. In addition, sections can be set aside for renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind generators, geothermal energy, and more.

What do you think of this layout? Is there anything you would add, remove, or rearrange? Why?



In circular cities, flexible architecture and design would allow homes to be customized according to individual preferences and be built into any type of landscape. Just like the circular city itself is meant to be a self-sustaining structure, so too are the homes meant to be reliant on their own energy. Each home would be equipped with some form of renewable energy, whether it be thermal generators or heat concentrators, to completely operate their entire household.

Individual homes would be prefabricated or manufactured in an automated facility and then assembled on-site, which would reduce waste. These modular homes would not only be easy and efficient to mass produce, but with ceramic coatings and reinforced concrete, they would also be resistant to fires, relatively maintenance-free, and able to survive harsh weather conditions like hurricanes, tornadoes, and other strong storms.

What do you think of these self-contained homes?


How Would New Technology Affect Work, Recreation, and Living?

Circular cities and technology will go hand-in-hand. It depends upon advanced technology and science to restructure the current social system to create a higher standard of living for everyone. By using automated technology humanely and responsibly, circular cities would decrease work hours and increase time for recreation and intentional living. For example, fully-robotic factories, automated agriculture and harvesting systems, and even automated building systems would dramatically cut down the need for a large workforce. As a result, each individual would have ample time to discover and experience the world in a fulfilling way.

What kinds of technology do you think circular cities would need to achieve this?


Energy and Agriculture

In circular cities, agricultural practices and energy sources both have the potential to cut down on industrial waste and emissions, better preserve natural resources, become more self-reliant and sustainable overall. Clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal power are often suggested for circular cities. As a result, energy reserves could be built up and responsibly used.

Alternative indoor farming methods like hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquponics skip soil entirely. Instead, farmers replace soil with nutrient-rich water to support the roots of the plants. But why grow without soil in the first place? This agricultural practice may seem strange, but it is quite revolutionary because: it allows people to farm anywhere in the world, to farm anytime of the year without risks of inclement weather, and to harvest higher yields using far fewer resources. This type of farming is specifically advantageous in a circular city system because it solves the problem of having to import food from different areas. As a result, cities can have hyper-local food systems.

What do you think of these solutions?  


What Problems Could Circular Cities Solve?

It is now considered to be far more efficient to build completely new cities rather than updating them to fix their current problems. The major issues cities today face include: poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate air and water, environmental concerns, corruption, crime, housing shortages, crowding, a shortage of employment, clogged infrastructure, imbalanced access to public services and education, and many more. Circular cities have the potential to bring enormous economic, social, and environmental changes in all of these areas.

Circular cities are meant to be semi-natural urban community-living spaces that are safer and healthier for all individuals. They are strategically designed to reduce energy consumption, maintain equal access to natural resources, and create a more livable environment for everyone.

Cities are hubs for innovation and change, after all. Do you see circular cities in our future? What do you think of them?