TED Conversations

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    Jun 27 2012: We've just finished a lunch discussion at TEDGlobal about 'mobility for an urbanised world', involving folks from architects, tech labs, idea foundations, a range of industries, new business ventures, to name a few. The group discussed 3 things - the challenges, potential solutions, and what it would take to make these happen.

    It would be impossible to do justice to everything that was discussed...but here's a quick summary of the ideas that came out:

    a) individual behaviour is deeply ingrained and we need to understand this better

    b) understanding individual freedom of choice is key, amd especially how this fits with delivering an overall social benefit

    c) urban planning is a big subject and one consideration is the development of smaller self contained cities within cities

    d) in designing solutions we need to learn from how the Internet developed - creat the platform/standards to create Peer-to-peer connections/collaborations

    e) we need to take advantage of the rapid growth In neuropsychology and behavioural economics to help better understand how people make choices in city transportation

    f) cities are diverse and their needs/requirements are so contextually driven that the combination of solutions will be unique to each city (the needs of developing/developed markets are very different)

    g) electric vehicles will play a role in some cities along with other solutions - need to be pragmatic in designing the infrastructure

    h) the role of data and information technology to transform what's possible is potentially immense

    I) players need to be open for collaborations - because collaboration will be critical to successful solutions

    J) a radical idea of governments designing a system that lives within identified limits (ie: resources) then working out how we live/operate within that

    h) moving goods can be redesigned/optimised...

    Clearly, there are conflicts/contradictions here...but there sits the challenge...and the opportunity...
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      R H 30+

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      Jun 27 2012: Thank you for the update. What a great start! I get the sense that it's understood that people 'management' would be insufficient, but that new research regarding essential human dynamics, both individually and collectively, need to be part of the consideration. This seems to lead to an atmsophere of 'enhancement' rather than just utility and crisis avoidance. Bravo! Let's see where it goes.
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      Jun 28 2012: Nick - that is really interesting. Clearly a lot of work needs to be done to better understand the human dimensions of cities. The question is who will pay for this work to be done? If left to academic institutions who are strapped for cash, the work will take a long time. Governments are also watching their budgets and this seems less of a priority than (although closely related to) health and education. Not for profit organisations I also fear do not have the money to arrive at solutions quickly. Will big business pay? I know Shell has done some good work in this area in the past - but generally other big companies have done little. So perhaps it is left to startup entrepreneurs, a source of much of the innovation of the last couple of decades, but I worry that they do not have the time or breadth of knowledge to tackle such big issues.

      Is the problem just too big and broad to be funded?
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        Jun 28 2012: Greg, clearly more research is required. We undertook a piece of work in 2010 to look at all of the studies around the world on how to change behaviour around the use of transportation. We learnt some interesting insights that allowed us to draw initial conclusions - conflicting individual goals hold back change, change is most achievable when individuals have a change in life stage - move house, move job, have children, and look for complimentary goals. We also learnt that in this small area of human behaviour in cities, there is limited amount of imperial evidence.

        My learning is that advancement will come through collaboration between the groups you mention - and a 'market place'/platform will help with this.
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        Jun 30 2012: Who will pay for this work to be done ? Well, who paid for what we already use now ?

        We (the people) are slowly understanding that no one really pays..

        All buildings, from big infrastructure to the small tool are paid with the complex-looking financial system, which is just a simple virtual-cash machine :

        World dept was $216 billion in 2011, but world GDP was only $79 billions...
        World growth was 3.6%, but deficit 4.2%..

        This is no magic : the banking system is allowed to create money, not the actual coins and bills (the M1 monetary mass is just $26 billions), but any virtual money you want if they trust you will pay them back. In fact they don't even need you to pay back, because if you can't, they can resell what you've bought/create with that "money".

        The same system drive the business system, where the only thing that is relevant is IP (intellectual property). It doesn't mater if you have a good or stupid idea, until it do produce "money". And because 90% of money is dept, any idea that could make dept obsolete has very few support from institutions.

        And this system, which is an insult to the human genious, is what drive the industry.. If we continue to trust that system, we're doomed.

        But we can be very optimistic because that system is producing en exponential dept, and this is impossible because it means dept will soon be infinite ;-)

        I don't know what system is emerging now, but ressource based economy looks promising, only if it is truely open to anyone, anywhere, at anytime..

        The only thing that made it impossible is until now is imaginary. This thing has very ancient root, in religions mostly, and it is, I think, the belief that believing is mandatory for something to be true.

        Somehow, humanity as a whole is just like someone plague with neurosis, doing all life long something that makes him suffer, without have a single clue of WHY.. Is sad or comical ?

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