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31.10.2017 Travel : Auto : Wellness

In today’s daily digest: Toyota opens car rental showroom, democratising divorce, the growing spending power of Millennial Muslims and other top stories.

1. Saudi Arabia to build smart mega-city in the desert

Neom promotional film, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has revealed plans to build a new city to end the country’s reliance on its oil reserves. Deriving all its power from renewable sources, the futuristic city of Neom will be home to both humans and robots, including Saudi Arabia’s first robotic citizen Sophia.

All mundane and repetitive tasks will be automated to enable the city’s human population to undertake more skills-based projects. The £379bn ($500bn, €430bn) initiative will be entirely self-sufficient, using vertical farms and solar-powered greenhouses to grow crops. Look out for our forthcoming Saudi Arabia Market for more on innovations in the Middle East.

2. Toyota offers showroom-based car-sharing service

Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo
Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo
Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo Drive to Go by Toyota, Tokyo

Tokyo – Tapping into the post-ownership economy, car manufacturer Toyota has opened a showroom concept where people rent rather than buy a vehicle. Drive to Go aims to create a relaxing environment with food and drink offerings, and its car rental prices start from £6.69 ($8.83, €7.59) an hour. While car rental services are nothing new, Toyota’s model goes beyond the service provided by car rental apps that connect people to nearby vehicles to offer a destination retail space in which people experience the products in a physical environment rather than through a digital app.

‘In the case of showcasing cars, and given this location where there are a lot of young people who aren’t quite ready to buy cars yet, we thought of creating a space that supports the kind of activities they enjoy,’ Atsushi Muroi, project architect at Archicept City, explained to The Drum.

3. Chatbot provides free legal help to democratise divorce

US/UK – A new chatbot collates legal documents relating to divorce for free and only requires a signature from both parties to initiate the process. DoNotPay, which was originally designed to help people challenge parking fines, uses artificial intelligence (AI) system IBM Watson’s natural language processing capabilities to produce more than 1,000 simple legal documents that can be presented in court.

Developed by 19-year-old technology entrepreneur Joshua Browder, the AI assistant aims to help users mitigate the high cost of divorce. Some 95% of divorces are uncontested, yet can still cost up to £7,573 ($10,000, €8,596) in legal fees, according to the Wall Street Journal. The rise of automation is driving new family structures as consumers increasingly turn to technology to help shape their relationships. Read our Neo-kinship macrotrend for more.

DoNotPay DoNotPay

4. Costco food kit responds to a rise in natural disasters

Nutristore one-year emergency food kit by Costco, US Nutristore one-year emergency food kit by Costco, US

US – The number of weather-related disasters is increasing, according to Munich Re, and low-cost food retailer Costco has moved to sell Nutristore’s emergency food kits on its website in response.

Starting from £756 ($999, €859) for a one-year supply of tinned food products such as rice, dried fruit and canned meat, Nutristore’s kits provide a person with around 1,200 calories per day, while its premium kits, which cost £4,543 ($6,000, €5,158), provide around 2,000 calories per day. In a dislocated world driven by fear and uncertainty, consumers are looking for ways to protect themselves against the effects of climate change.

5. Millennial Muslims a lucrative market for travel brands

By 2030, around one-third of the world’s population aged 15–29 will be Muslim, according to a report by MasterCard and Halaltrip, presenting a huge growth market for brands. At present, the most popular destinations for young Muslim tourists are Malaysia and Indonesia, followed by Japan, Thailand and Australia. For more, see Halal Travel in our Future Forecast 2017.

6. Thought-starter: How will tech change democratic engagement?

As people continue to lose faith in established democratic systems, senior journalist Peter Maxwell examines how technology is offering alternative forms of political engagement.

The continuing intransigence of world governments in the face of climate change, the surprise election of Donald Trump, and the UK’s decision to leave the EU have all left a large demographic of voters feeling disenfranchised. Tired of systems debilitated by atavistic party politics and the self-interest of career politicians, digital-first consumers are starting to look for new pathways to political efficacy.

Blockchain-powered platforms such as MiVote and Parti.vote are moving the concept of direct or liquid democracy out of the seminar room and into the real world. They enable citizens to influence politicians’ decisions in real time, rather than once every electoral cycle. But will the rise of AI remove the need for elected representatives altogether?

For more on the future of political engagement, read the full Opinion piece.

Inside the Black Box (Supervised Learning) by Tom Pearson, London Inside the Black Box (Supervised Learning) by Tom Pearson, London