Danish architecture firm BIG and Chinese tech firm Terminus present plans to build an AI-managed city in Chongqing
From robots delivering coffee to office chairs rearranging themselves after a meeting, a Smart City project in China aims to put artificial intelligence in command. This is the content of the Cloud Valley project, which at first raised some perplexity.
The Danish architecture firm BIG and Chinese technology company Terminus discussed plans to build an AI-managed campus-style development in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing during an online panel at the Web Summit, a global technology conference. The project, called Cloud Valley, plans to use sensors and devices connected via Wi-Fi to collect data on everything from weather and pollution to people's eating habits to automatically meet the needs of residents.
I like this “neoclassical” idea of a village where when you arrive, even if it's your first time there, the bartender knows your favorite drink. When our environment becomes sensitive and sentient a place can truly recognize the people who arrive. Citizens too. For example, in a smart city like this, houses can directly open the door when their owner arrives, so that he does not have to look for keys.
Le cities around the world they run to embrace technology in an effort to improve urban life by collecting data and by changing spaces to tackle problems such as pollution and crime. China seems to be on top of this trend, and is aiming to build 500 cities built on a technological basis. Since last April (the date of its conception), the Cloud Valley project has evolved to include a smart city of 4 million square meters (200 football fields) where technology allows people to live more comfortably by anticipating their needs. Of course, one must feel observed and listened to.
How does Cloud Valley work, the smart city where artificial intelligence commands?
A check, I'm sorry to use the term but I can't find others, so totalitarian AI leads to sensational results. In a riot of hanging gardens and quiet avenues, when the light hits the houses in the morning, the windows open by themselves. And they do so by adjusting to allow the light to wake the residents at the times that each of them prefers.
When the house makes sure the guest is awake, a virtual housekeeper called Titan arrives. A sort of Iron Man's “Jarvis” who selects breakfast, matches your clothes with the weather and presents you with the plan for the day. Ready, go, it seems to be in an episode of the Jetsons.
The smart city, which includes offices, homes, public spaces and self-driving cars, is expected to be completed in about three years, according to Terminus.
Doubts about privacy are inevitable
As with other smart cities, Cloud Valley's approach also raised privacy concerns. Eva Blum-Dumontet, senior researcher with the UK defense group Privacy International, said smart cities risk becoming a threat to human rights if companies and governments do not take steps to limit surveillance and ensure inclusiveness.
He's right. Until there is a serious legal framework that limits the abuse of data collected by private companies, the risk is to move from a technological paradise to Black Mirror. Coffee?
Gianluca Riccio, born in 1975, is the creative director of an advertising agency, copywriter and journalist. He is affiliated with Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists. Since 2006 he directs Futuroprossimo.it, the Italian resource of Futurology.
Futuroprossimo.it is an Italian resource of futurology opened since 2006: every day news about the near future. Scientific discoveries, medical research, prototypes, concepts and predictions about the future for free.
Gianluca Riccio, copywriter and journalist - Born in 1975, he is the creative director of an advertising agency, he is affiliated with the Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists.