The City of the Future

Sunday’s New York Times (Sept. 25) includes a column in the Sunday Review titled “Not-So-Smart Cities.”  Author Greg Lindsay has written about the city of the future — or perhaps not. Since that site may be behind a paywall, I’ll post the first three paragraphs:

“THE Southwest is famously fertile territory for ghost towns. They didn’t start out depopulated, of course — which is what makes the latest addition to their rolls so strange. Starting next year, Pegasus Holdings, a Washington-based technology company, will build a medium-size town on 20 square miles of New Mexico desert, populated entirely by robots.

Scheduled to open in 2014, the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, as the town is officially known, will come complete with roads, buildings, water lines and power grids, enough to support 35,000 people — even though no one will ever live there. It will be a life-size laboratory for companies, universities and government agencies to test smart power grids, cyber security and intelligent traffic and surveillance systems — technologies commonly lumped together under the heading of “smart cities.”

The only humans present will be several hundred engineers and programmers huddled underground in a Disneyland-like warren of control rooms. They’ll be playing SimCity for real.?

Another group, Living PlanIT, is building a similar facility in Portugal.

The author if this column, Greg Lindsay, “is a visiting scholar at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University and the co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.”  Mr. Lindsay does not believe either of these efforts will succeed.  Apparently he firmly believes that computer modeling and robots can never emulate human irrationality.

Or perhaps he’s just trying to sell his book.  This is from page 5: “It [aerotropolis] isn’t his [Stan Gale’s] word. … John Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina, … has made a name for himself with his radical (and some might say bone-chilling) vision of the future: rather than banish airports to the edge of town and then do our best to avoid them, we will build this ce3ntury’s cities around them. …”  (Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next by John D. Kasarda and Greg Lindsay. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 2011).

Aha!  Lindsay is simply pushing his vision of the future (and his book) at the expense of our non-human robotic brethren.  Here at pfpfp.org, we fully support the work of Pegasus and Living PlanIT in eliminating people from cities.

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