Technology has always been a key factor in urban development and for many reasons.
Technological advancements determine how we live our lives and where we chose to locate. We have seen the demise of the monocentric city due to innovations in transportation, and the invention of the intracity truck. Today we experience heavy urban sprawl. Individuals and manufacturers form a hub and spoke type pattern due to innovation, particularly in transportation. (See graph 1)
Technological innovations like air conditioning and reliable automobiles have made us able to venture out of the city to inhabit cheaper land. The modern vehicle uses sophisticated computer systems, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to perform tasks that have previously always required human intelligence. Artificial intelligence is not only used in vehicles but throughout many sectors in the urban area in ingenious ways.
However, it turns out that no too many people are familiar with the concept of artificial intelligence.
In the year 2017, 1″,500 senior business leaders in the United States where asked about artificial intelligence and only 17% were familiar with it. A number of them were not sure what it was or how it would affect their particular companies. The business leaders did understand that there was potential for business process alternation, but now exactly sure how artificial intelligence could be deployed within their own organizations
So how is artificial intelligence affecting urban development?
Artificial intelligence has been integrated to improve many aspects of the urban area like transportation, resource allocation, crime reduction, smart cities, and healthcare.
Data analytics and artificial intelligence have proven themselves successful and have the ability to improve processes and make them more efficient.
A perfect example of this is the Cincinnati Fire Department who has been using data analytics to optimize medical emergency responses. The analytics system recommends the dispatcher an appropriate response to an emergency call, taking into account factors like weather, location and similar calls. This technology attempts to prioritize and optimize responses with large volumes of data. Many other cities and countries are using similar technology and adopting smart city applications in anything from delivery service, environmental planning, resource management, energy utilization, and crime prevention. Artificial intelligence is becoming all more common as it can be applied to specific processes increasing efficiency.
So where is this technology coming from? Much of groundbreaking consumer technology, digital software, and artificial intelligence spurs from tech hubs or innovation cities. Where large numbers of educated individuals locate closely together, there are great benefits to reap for everyone involved. When high levels of the human capital cluster there are new firms created, leading to more jobs and a more prosperous economy. Both local and export jobs are created making the city and its residents better off. As the area where the tech hub or innovation city is located becomes more prosperous the least skilled workers in this area experience the greatest positive effects as wage increases. Silicon Valley is a great example of where many firms in the technology sector have located in a cluster forming a tech hub.
A common trait for tech hubs and innovation cities is that they are often located next to universities, the birthplace of advanced human capital and ideas. In a given radius around the tech hub or innovation city ideas and innovation spread more rapidly. This is due to the densely clustered high levels of human capital. However, after a while, the cost of living, and the returns to innovation will reach an equilibrium point. At this point, there is no new incentive to move to the city. (See graph2)
What does the urban future look like with artificial intelligence having a bigger role in the urban area? Today artificial intelligence has the ability to adapt as they make decisions.
Semi-autonomous vehicles have the power to inform the driver of potential road hazards and experience other vehicles on the road. Advanced algorithms, cameras, and sensors are incorporated into the vehicle and relevant information gets displayed through the dashboard.
Fully autonomous vehicles have complete control over themselves when it comes to navigating and making all the driving decisions. Fully autonomous delivery vehicles could potentially be dispatched around the clock, never having to take a single break. This will lower the cost of transportation and production because there will be no need for a human driver anymore. The technology is currently expensive but there is no question we are not heading towards a future with fully autonomous vehicles on
our every street. With cheaper transportation comes greater freedom of location. Industries, firms, and individuals all benefit from lower transportation costs granting them the ability to relocate to new areas which suit them better economically. As transportation costs become lower and lower the need for agglomeration becomes secondary and urban sprawl will only continue to spread freely as we strive to find our point of locational equilibrium.
There is no doubt that the urban area will continue to progress at rapid rates due to technological advancements, but what problems and potential consequences can artificial intelligence come with? If we look at the effect the intracity truck had on the monocentric city there is no doubt that technology drastically alters the urban area. Just like past technological advancement, artificial intelligence has the potential of killing firms and industries, making people jobless. As technology develops it naturally makes processes simpler and cheaper, resulting in technology replacing human labor. Fully automated machinery can run around the clock every day of the year and can easily replace the need for basic human labor in a vast variaty of industries. We are all in danger of increased emissions, noise pollution, and congestion if automated vehicles are free to drive around the clock on our streets.
With new technology comes a need for new laws and regulations. If a fully automated vehicle were to harm a pedestrian, who would be responsible? Will a fully automated car require a drivers license? Should this technology be freely available for anyone to buy and use? Should there be a limit to deploying automated vehicles from firms and individuals?
We must find answers to many of the questions artificial intelligence brings about if we want to ensure a safe and healthy future for the urban area. Machinery replacing human labor is nothing new but solely relying on automated technology to complete advanced tasks is a big step and must be done with great caution and care.
In conclusion, artificial intelegence is not a futuristic vision, in fact, it is already here and incorporated in a great variety of urban sectors like transportation, resource allocation, crime reduction, smart cities, and healthcare. Artificial intelligence is making a global impact and has augmented human capabilities beyond our physical limitations and is a rapidly growing field. With technology lowering transportation costs comes the ability for relocation to better economically suited locations
as we all strive to reach our locational equilibrium point.
However, negative externalities are often overshadowed by new technology. The environment takes a heavy toll from daily lives and decisions. Fully automotive vehicles will most certainly increase emissions, noise pollution, and congestion if left unregulated.
All these negative externalities will become big issues if artificial intelligence is not used wisely.
Only time will tell what longterm effects artificial intelligence will have on the urban sector and human life as we know it.