TED Conversations

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    Jun 26 2012: A couple of very interesting TEDGlobal talks this afternoon that triggered some ideas/inspirations related to the cities challenge.

    First, Catarina Mota's talk on 'open materials' - considering the importance of buildings and infrastructure for city development, where are the untapped opportunities for 'smart materials', and specifically Inks that conduct electricity and Walls that change colour as they heat up.

    Second, Massimo Banzi's talk on radical openness, the 'makers forum/community', and specifically the power of the Arduino micro controller to enable more intelligent and intuitive cities.

    For both, it begs the question, how do different stakeholders collaborate to understand the potential of these technologies?
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      R H 20+

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      Jun 28 2012: I'm sorry Nick, but regarding the 'potential of these technologies', I will refer to your original question. You mention there are 7B people now, soon to be 9B. Of the 7B now, nearly 3B live on $75 per month and cannot participate in the world economy. Simple math shows that remaining on the current economic allocation model, 9B people will have nearly 4B living on roughly $100 per month. Since by your estimate 1/2 of the population live in cities, how will these new technologies address this burgeoning issue of such a significant number of people unable to participate in the support of cities? How will the resulting increases in welfare, and related, costs be distributed? Will we raise taxes on those who can and do participate in the economy? Or is 'urban blight' inevitable, even in our shiny new cities of the future? Will we 'accept' this inevitability for our new cities? I'm not trying to be pessimistic. I believe in the power of our technological abilities and applaud your efforts. But this is a facet of this discussion that I would request you, or any of the other respondents, please comment on because I don't see how it can be ignored.
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        Jun 28 2012: R H, good question. I fully agree that a real challenge is/will be the urban base of the pyramid, that technologies/solutions are required to address these social challenges, and that policies will be critical for success.

        I don't have a clever answer to the question, but here's a thought which came out of a lunchtime TED discussion on Monday on the integrated challenge of food-water-energy.

        A potential starting point is for society/individuals to agree a sense of "...what is a good life". Sounds like a nebulous concept but it has the potential to give governments (local, national etc) the necessary permission to redistribute value and hence implement some of the rebalancing that you raise. I'm not saying that this is a pre-requisite but it may certainly help.

        Other views?
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          R H 20+

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          Jun 29 2012: First of all, I can't tell you how grateful I am that the No. 2 company in the world has come to a forum like TED for discussion regarding its impact on society. This is very significant to me and idicative of a 'new beginning for the future'. Results, of course, will show its true value. Regarding 'other views', I had a lengthy offering, but deleted it. I considered that a change in the view of ourselves as a group was necessary, but upon reflection determined the approach I suggested unattainable. Thank you for asking, but I have no further comment.

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