The Smart City Within the Marvel Universe

Annie Paquette
May 29, 2019

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In the late 1970’s, Marvel Comics started a series called What If…?  that explored what life would be like within the Marvel Universe had certain events not happened or happened differently.  They had titles like “What If Spider-Man had Joined the Fantastic Four?,” What If Gwen Stacy had Lived?,” and heaven forbid, “What If Iron Man Had Been a Traitor?”

This series allowed staff writers to explore alternate story lines and to challenge their readers to rethink what they knew about the Marvel Universe.  In a similar way, Server Tech’s Marc Cram poses a series of questions as an appendix in the recently released whitepaper “Smart Cities Run on Smart Power.”  

Often, the burden of the writer is to manage the many ideas that occur to him during the creative process.  If unchecked, all of those ideas can lead the writer to the point of distraction.  One strategy is to make a note of the idea so that you can come back to it later.  Mr. Cram employs such a strategy, and has shared these alternate ideas, each of which could be its own What If…?story.

This blog takes our three favorite ideas and provides a proposed story line for each:

“What If Smart Phones are Used as Access Credentials?”

In New York City, Deadpool is tasked with rounding up a syndicate that has shut down access to public buildings and stalls in public restrooms, all of which are accessed through a public services smartphone app.  The city has ground to a halt because the app also controls access to public transportation.  During his rough-and-tumble investigation, Deadpool publicly supports the syndicate for shutting down the government in exchange for their opening the subway.

“What If Robots are Used for Food Production?”

Oscorp and Von Doom Industries attempt to merge their agricultural divisions to form a food monopoly.  90% of all farm land is controlled by these entities and worked by a fleet of robotic farmers.  These robots perform planting and harvesting tasks based on feedback from geo-sensors that provide data on optimal conditions.  Humans are enslaved to work in the data centers that run the farms.  Peter Parker investigates conditions in these data center camps for the Daily Bugle, which ultimately brings Spider-Man face to face with the Green Goblin. 

“What If Programs are Run Like the Matrix?”

While this notion crosses the boundaries of separate comic universes, so does this blog cross the boundaries of worthy pursuits.  In the future, the idea of the citizen sensor is taken to the extreme, and gives rise to a new villain: the Urban Cyborg.  Urban Cyborg becomes the genetic template for a new form of genetically modified humans.  He builds an army of soldiers that act as data collection tools, who then turn their sights on the population of New York.  The X-Men are called in to use their mutant powers to defeat Urban Cyborg, and Professor Xavier reverses the genetic modifications returning the humans to their natural state.

While this blog is for fun, many of the ‘Unanswered Questions’ posed in the appendix to “Smart Cities Run on Smart Power” will make you think about the ramifications of the Smart City.  It also poses questions about the future these technologies bring.  While our data center PDUs will keep the network powered, we at Server Technology also want to pose the questions that make you think, and possibly give you pause.

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