Forget the brave new world of science fiction movies. In so many ways, the future is already here.
From social media, online shopping and banking to the mass streaming of music and movies, the internet not only continues to revolutionise the way we do business, but increasingly the way in which we simply "be".
Still, there's more to come. One thing futurists agree on is that the next wave of artificial intelligence and increased automation in the workplace and home is going to transform life as we know it.
With all this in mind, what is the future of retail? And can we stop our regional malls and shopping strips from going the way of the CD retailers and video stores that used to be among their staple tenants?
As has been the case with so many technological advances, the widespread take-up of online shopping has been something of a two-edged sword.
The Amazons, Alibabas and Wish.coms of this world have succeeded in offering unrivalled convenience to shoppers around the globe. Prices, too, have also come down.
However, the flow-on effect has not been great for bricks and mortar stores, which in many cases have simply found it harder to compete, with profit margins roughly half that of online retailers.
In the US, where online shopping is more entrenched, malls are closing at an incredible rate. In late 2017, analysis by Credit Suisse predicted that up to a quarter of all malls would close over the next five years, primarily on the back of store closures. More than 6000 shops closed there in 2017, with another 3600 tipped to disappear in 2018.
The flow-on effect has not been great for bricks and mortar stores, which in many cases have simply found it harder to compete.
Here in Australia, one-time giants of suburban and regional shopping malls like Myer are struggling. Others like Fletcher Jones have shut up shop altogether. Even the Lowy family has tapped out of its Westfield shopping centre empire, and ABS figures show about 60,000 retail jobs were lost across Australia in 2017-18.
While the business reasons are complex, a fundamental change in people's shopping habits has certainly been at play.
Strips and standalone retailers have also been doing it tough, and in many cities vacancy rates are rising.
On the Victorian-NSW border, Wodonga Council has just taken the wraps off a major redevelopment of its main shopping strip, in large part aimed at reducing the number of empty stores dotted around the precinct.
In Tasmania, with an increasing number of empty shops also a topic of conversation, Launceston's The Examiner reported earlier this year that its council had commissioned a report to provide an evidence-based discussion on the future of retail in the CBD.
And in Wollongong, a report from property valuation company Herron Todd White predicted consumers were set to tighten their purse strings, ultimately leading to store closures. The jury is out on the effectiveness of legislative measures designed to help Australian retailers, such as the federal government's decision last year to apply the GST on low-value goods bought from stores based overseas.
But at a local level, it's worth investigating how the massive drift to online shopping could also present opportunities.
As people become more and more engaged with the digital world, physical retailers might explore ways to take advantage of the tactile and experiential aspect of the goods and services they provide. It's something which, at this point in time, online retailers are unable to provide.
Adding value through expanded loyalty programs, VIP nights, exclusive products, night markets and other special events are among ways being used to increase foot traffic in shopping strips and centres.
Blending in-store services with online booking, ordering or return systems can also play a part - and free up time for staff to provide even better assistance. Stores, business associations and councils must also continue to identify and promote the "specialness" of their offerings - selling shoppers and tourists on the unique nature of their town's retail experience.
As shoppers, we should continue to support our local retailers where we can.
Before punching your credit card details into that shopping app, check if the same (or a similar) product is available for a comparable price locally. Then, ask yourself if a few bucks extra is a reasonable price to pay to help ensure the productivity of a local business, not to mention the future of the people it employs.
The landscape of retail is undoubtedly changing, and the margin for error is perhaps thinner than ever. But with a bit of finesse from retailers, business groups, town planners and councils, the future doesn't have to be all bad and could in fact make shopping a better experience for us all.
Matt Crossman is an ACM journalist