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The TED Community Should Build a City for the Future.

This community is made up some the most wonderful people this planet has to offer and I think we need to leverage this better. What I am proposing is taking all this community has to offer and building the future with it. No country, No city is perfect nor could even this community achieve such a illusory concept, but by comparison to what currently exists I know we can do better. We discuss the changes that need to be made to government, education, healthcare, infrastructure as well as the difficulties in making them, all the time. So why not start fresh and build it better from the start. With such an enormous pool of talented designers, educators, investors and leaders all focused on the common good we could create a city in which people want to live and work. We could also use it as a testing ground for new ideas that require the complexity of a city allowing us to try things others can't or won't. With the ability to govern ourselves we could really analyze what works and what doesn't without bureaucracy and closed minds holding us back. One of the most powerful and diverse tools our species has created is the vary internet which has allowed this and many other communities to flourish. I think it is time we use it to overcome some of our greatest failures as a species and it starts with a real world physical hub of progress. A sanctuary for rational people in an often violently irrational world. This is a daunting project, but far from impossible. Once the city is build, is when it gets really complicated. I trust we can handle it together. There will certainly be no shortage of people seeking citizenship. With the knowledge I gained from two years of architectural school and many more spent on observation and research, I dare say I could design the bones of such a city myself, but what the TED community could build would surely make "My City" pale in comparison to "Our City". Lets claim the future of cities for those who will live in them.

  • Jan 24 2014: So how would the" wonderful people" be chosen? IQ? You have to consider that no human being is worthless. If you create a city of super geniuses, you still need the mail men and the trash men and all of those people we still need. Tell me, have you seen the show eureka?
    • Jan 24 2014: Of course I have seen Eureka and miss it, even the cheez factor. The question you pose is the one I had in my head when I wrote "Once the city is build, is when it gets really complicated." This is a question I actually ask myself a lot because I have been designing a city for a movie/game concept and this is a key plot point. In real life it is important to try and be as fair as possible while being pragmatic. As far as trash men ect. I have actually figured out multiple ways utilizing tech that already exists to automate most of the less cerebral/fun jobs. This would be extremely hard to do in a preexisting city but could be build into the design of a newly constructed one. The tough part is the human element. The selection process will require testing and out of those that pass a lottery and waiting list could be implemented. An IQ test? No, I would be more concerned about creativity, compassion, and a willingness to collaborate and cooperate. So, what kind of a test? It would have to be a hybridized test in stages and be more interesting and telling than a fill in the blank or bubble quiz. I would start with an essay of sorts. Who are you? What would you want to and likely do if you lived here? Is this a time and place in your life where you are able to uproot and commit to a new kind of community? Where do your weaknesses and strengths lie? Why do you deserve to be a part of this bold new vision for the future? How will you contribute if selected? Then from those who are selected give tests to try and feel out their moral/ethical compass as well as propensity for deceit and trustworthiness. There should also be a referral type of a system for those who prove their value to the community and have shown to be a good judge of character. I am sure some of the TEDsters could come up with something a little more specific and scientific.
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        Jan 24 2014: This sounds like the way many elite clubs screen for members- clubs that want as members only the "special" people and to keep out what they see as the riff-raff. For an actual city there may be legal constraints on the criteria you can use for excluding people, depending on the country in which you live.
        • Jan 24 2014: I don't like to discriminate however the reality is when you are hiring for one available position you can't give it to a hundred people and any city has its limitations on population density for the sake of sustainability and functionality. This city wouldn't be very big at first and would have few available positions which would fill up fast so the ability to grow it is a factor as well. Inevitably there will be those that have to be turned away even if they are "special". The city can be build in a location which allows for self governance aka not part of any existing country unless that government is willing to sell the land and the right to govern it. The first is more easily achieved. There are many spots on the globe which would fit the bill. Personally I think an unclaimed or man made island in international waters or an isolated spot belonging to no government that is suitable for excavation for subterranean structures are two obvious choices, but there are more. Self reliance and sustainability would be a major focus in the design of this city, close proximity to others is not a requirement. Ultimately though it would be private not public land. If we decided to build it closer to civilization it could be built within the borders of any of the countries with strong laws protecting land owners rights to use the land how they see fit within reason of course. This would limit the ability to self govern however and therefore is a less desirable proposition, at least in my mind. Ideally I would say build the type of city from my fiction project but I don't think our technology is quite there yet. How great would it be to live on a mobile submersible floating island city that was entirely grown and 3D printed making man made objects blend seamlessly with an alien landscape. Maybe one day, but that is another project. Thanks for contributing.
  • Jan 27 2014: No.
    It would descend into a bloodbath or simple chaos. That's what usually happens to utopian communities. The best of them merely just fade away and are forgotten (cf. New Harmony, Indiana)
    • Jan 27 2014: Utopia: an imaginary place in which the government, laws, and social conditions are perfect. How did you get that from what I said, "No country, No city is perfect nor could even this community achieve such a illusory concept, but by comparison to what currently exists I know we can do better."? I am proposing pushing for progress and innovation not standing idly by claiming to have it all figured out. This will be a place were people are celebrated for their differences and not persecuted, because we need outstanding people. There are many ways to analyze and solve problems not to mention how difficult it can be to even recognize that there is a problem or at least room for improvement at times. True perfection is the ability to instantly adapt to best fit any given situation taking into account all factors, which is not possible. Nothing is an absolute nor is perfection. It is in this spirit I have built this concept of flexibility both in the cities structure and operation.
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    Jan 26 2014: Great idea Sklar! Welcome to TED conversations:>)
    Where is our city going to be located?
    • Jan 27 2014: Thank you for your kind welcome Collen. I was thinking a site that meets at least these three criteria. First and foremost somewhere relatively safe/stable ie. not a hostile region by the measure of both it's political and geological environment. Next the location also needs to allow for growth of the city aka not tightly surrounded on all sides by our neighbors at all times or at least the ability to build both toward the sky as well as underground. Lastly the ability to self govern enough to to be able to try out new concepts, make adjustments and get rid of laws etc. that don't work for us. A remote island claimed by no man perhaps or inside a mountain. Maybe, in the tree tops of a lush forest. Possibly even under the ice of an arctic wonderland. Selecting the site will be a group project and require research. I am not the decision maker. This project will require many minds working together.
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        Jan 29 2014: Sklar,
        Have you ever read the book "Walden", by Henry David Thoreau? Your idea reminds me of it, even though you are speaking of a city, while Walden was about living separately, simply, sustainably. I think some of the same characteristics might apply for members of the type of community you speak of.

        Honestly, right now I am not in favor of an icy arctic wonderland, because it feels like that right here and now, with extreme cold and ice storms. Although I am content, because I know I cannot change the weather patterns, it is not my preference:>)
        • Jan 29 2014: Thanks for your recommendation. Do you know of a natural sounding text to speech program? I really don't read as much as I should. I actually have an aversion to reading more than little chunks at a time. I have mild dyslexia and astigmatism the combination of these have it so I can't speed read because my eyes don't want to focus fast enough but that's alright because I can still read while they are fuzzy but throw in the dyslexia and I end up either reading very slowly or having to reread sections. Not to mention the headaches. I have however started to get into audiobooks a little in recent years. I am not a fan of the cold either but it wouldn't be cold in the city itself just above it on the surface. It's not my first pick but think it has merit.
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        Jan 30 2014: My pleasure Sklar....hope they are helpful:>)
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    Jan 26 2014: There is merit to this idea. It could be used as a template for other communities. Jamestown was once the template.
    • Jan 27 2014: Thank you Wade, for the encouraging words, but I prefer to think of it as inspiring other communities not to be used as a template because variety and adaptability are essential aspects of a progressive community. What works in one location may not work as well or at all in another due to either it's people or geography.
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        Jan 27 2014: Yes templates have edges and lines. I must agree with you. I think the one common theme required for a successful community is trust. If the members of the community (city) shared a somewhat generalized common value then they would all function to maintain that stabilizing value. Without trust, as you see in the world today, thing de-stabilize rather quickly.
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    Jan 26 2014: This is a great idea. I am sure that the TED community could pull it off!
    • Jan 27 2014: Thanks Timothy, I think so too. It will require more people contributing to the conversation though. I encourage telling others and growing this conversation into something more than just a nice thought and into a real world possibility.
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    Jan 26 2014: Yes, maybe a sim city.:)
    • Jan 27 2014: Honestly, it has taken me sometime to think about how to respond to your comment. More than likely it was meant jokingly, but there is actually something inspirational there. I am incredibly excited by the possibility of creating a city that can be experienced through many lenses allowing it's citizens to customize and share their worlds within a world. Shape shifting smart materials, 3D printed food and clothing, augmented reality overlays and so many more possibilities await a city built along the cutting edge of human knowledge and creativity.
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        Jan 30 2014: I played games: Sim city 2000, Theme Park and Theme hospital. So if you can develop a new game called Theme TED city, it's great fun for me. But I don't know how you could run it into a city in our reality, I think they're different. If it's possible in the future, I'd like to be the first citizen in the city and please kindly offer me a free ticket to come to your city. :)
  • Jan 26 2014: Hi Sklar,I think human is the most changeable species in this world,that's why the world is so colorful...I don't think build our city is a good attitude to build a better world.I think we human evolution is going step by step slowly,the society is developing in ZigZag road,what we can do is trying every chance to do whatever we can do,seeing ups and downs in turning,treasure everyday we live...enbrace the world we have now
    • Jan 26 2014: Life is similar in many ways to a game of resource management and right now our cities suck at it. I am simply proposing moving forward with what we have learned in recent years in a manner that is most cost effective which often means starting on a blank canvas. I am utterly depressed by the city I currently reside and while there are better options for me (ones I can't afford) there are 0 options I have found that I can really get excited about. Among the many sides of me is a libertarian of sorts and while I understand the need for laws I am appalled be the human suffering caused by the bad ones that try and tell everyone what they can and can't do with their personal lives, unless of course you have enough money. Cities like laws are built on top of and/or integrated with existing components and if these support structures are faulty or simply poorly designed and/or implemented it will have a negative impact on the whole system throughout its lifespan until removed or replaced. It is incredibly costly to tare down a city block not to mention an entire city which is what would be required to substantially change it's infrastructure like the layout of the roads, water works and thousands of other components. Then once it is built you are beholden to whatever government has control of the surrounding area which means now our newly build city has potential that can only be realized if said government allows it. We will one day travel amongst the stars and populate the cosmos provided we live long enough and I think we had better figure some things before we even attempt such a thing. Government is a relatively new invention and because there is little land that is unclaimed by an existing one how can we really hone it if every single government on the planet has built in mechanisms that hold back change and innovation in the progress.
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      Jan 26 2014: Allow the individual to flourish and the society will reap the residual's really that simple.
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    • Jan 25 2014: Well Lilly, I don't wish to upset you, but I am going to rip your ramblings apart piece by piece leaving little room debate because I don't wish this to turn into argument and it is painfully obvious you haven't put any research what so ever into your statement. First off Humans are not all the same. Not by a long shot. So, Hitler and Einstein those guys were like twins right. If fact humans vary so greatly that the same dosage of medicine may help one individual while making another seriously ill even if they are approximately the same age and weight. So that's physiology what about psychology. A sociopath, which is extreme example granted, is not going to behave like a person with chronic depression. As for the capacity of good and evil people are wired differently if I didn't already make that clear. I worked in a prison for two years, which resulted in an emotional break, and if you want to see just how mean and cruel some people can be while at the same time in this depressing often violent environment others show such compassion it makes you want to weep with joy I suggest you try it. Of course it is hard to get people to come together it's because they are individuals aka different from one another with different desires, interests and yes abilities. You kind of contradicted yourself with that one. As far as insignificant well that too is relative and if someone perceives something as such of course they are going to resist involving themselves by definition it is meaningless, at least to them. As far as emotion based evolution you flipped it on it's head. We have evolved to better control our actions. There are inhibitors in most peoples brains that you won't find in their distant ancestors that aid in this. The ability to think before you act is thanks to evolution. Our species and please look this up to educate yourself has evolved to be more social. In fact, despite the media this is the most peaceful time our species has ever known, there is a TED talk.
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        • Jan 25 2014: First off please be aware even though I don't know you and we obviously don't see eye to eye on this I have much love you as a fellow traveler. I am not here trying to change your mind just stimulate it. I do however, want to say wow just wow, really. So we should all give up? Mankind is doomed, doomed I tell you. We are going to die can't you see (statement of fact). Lol, you go right ahead a lie down. Without conflict there is no growth. Something must be destroyed in order to give breath to another. This is life. This is evolution. The reality of causality. It is this kind of pessimistic paradigm of absolutes that leads many of us (admittedly myself included, at times) with good hearts to stand idly by as the world passes them by missing there chance to make a difference. Einstein may not have put and end to war but he has saved countless lives with the knowledge and insight he shared. Einstein didn't fail he is just a small piece in a very large puzzle. There will always be fighting yes, but I do believe that increasingly more and more of those fights are taking place with words and not bombs, look at the Arab Spring as just one example. There are statistics that support this and if you watch more of the TED talks you might start to see how malleable the human race can be. It seems you are selling all of us short including yourself. Confrontation is essential to our survival and continued progress. Don't demonize it just because of those who have categorized it as being bad. If that were the case women would still be at home in the kitchen doing as they're told and if not getting sold as the global norm as it used to be not so long ago. I know bad things still happen everyday all around the world but that is no reason to give up or close your eyes to all of the good things that happen everyday all around the world. I hope you find something worth fighting for. Change is the only constant in the universe.
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      Jan 26 2014: History is history and is by no means a way to justify absolutes. Arguably, I'm a member of the human race. The only absolute I can wrap my head around with any confidence is my life span. All the in betweens is my quest for truth and beauty. yes today I'm wired that way... I reserve the right to change my mind.

      Things can be "unlearned", it's just a bit more difficult.
      • Jan 27 2014: Nicely stated Wade. I have actually spent the last three plus years on an introspective journey of unlearning. Even managed to consciously alter a few memories. I don't hear this concept talked about all that much and am very pleased to see it brought up in my thread. Thank you.
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      Jan 27 2014: Lilly, if your view is correct. Could you explain why , in a track meet, all the runner's don't finish at the same time?
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