How ironic that in the near future non-humans will help to humanise our environment. Businesses and academics are already actively exploring ways to create smart city technology by using AI (Artificial Intelligence). Living in an era of disruption, modern technology have evidently transformed the way we live, learn and work. We are easily connected with the world through smart devices and the internet, while our every move and transaction are traced by billions of street cameras and sensors in our cities. In today’s world, we are all sharing data and developing models to charter the course for our cities to become more efficient, sustainable and convenient.
AI is Reshaping the Art of Urban Design
AI machine learning algorithms will certainly be an effective tool to help humans better understand our cities. Deciphering this unlimited amounts of information that previously no human was able to comprehend, new insights and opportunities will emerge on how we design urban spaces. Urbanists will be armed with data-driven knowledge because machines do not lie, however can AI beat humans in creating an ideal urban design? The answer is “No, humans cannot be replaced by robots”. Only urbanists can creatively craft our cities, as urban design is still an “art” which can be influenced by artistic value, cultural value and moral value, as well as context, community and a desire for a sense of place and identity. This in turn will balance out the algorithmic bias. The best urban design in the future will be a synthesis of man and machine of art and AI. Creating an urban design masterplan will always need human assessment and cannot be performed independently by AI.
Architecture for the Human Experience
Human experience is the future of design. It is important for architects and urban planners to create innovative design solutions and experiences that combine an understanding of trends and human values. Operating for over a decade, Google Street View has been collecting data along many streets in the world. Documenting the transformation of our neighbourhoods and streets, this technology has enabled the world to discover how architecture has improved or weakened our experience of streets over time. In China, Baidu and Tencent have adopted a similar approach by taking street views using AI to reveal how our urban environments have evolved.
Academic institutions such as Harvard, MIT and many of the world’s leading learning centres have led research studies on our built environment through the big data. On a similar vein, a combination of street views and AI can be fed into a machine-learning algorithm that can calculate the factor of human experience walking through our selected city streets.
AI Today & Tomorrow
Although AI and robotics can simulate human behavior, it remains debatable whether it will surpass human intelligence and help us build future smart sustainable cities. Before this technological breakthrough happens, the co-existence of humans and robotics will continue to be the way forward, with the limitless support of human intelligence to train AI to function, learn and get ‘smart’!