The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence group has come up with their very first report, and it is focussing on the impact AI can have on cities by 2030 (specifically on North American cities but most of the conclusions can apply worldwide).
At the very beginning of their report they dispute the concern sometimes making headlines of an AI threat, a taking over by machine. There are no signs, they point out, that a machine with its own volition and agenda is on sight. AI is, and will remain, a powerful tool in our hand and any concern, if any should be directed to what we are going to do with it, not in it taking a life of its own.
Having stated that the group goes on pointing out that AI has made progresses over these last 60 years in a patchy and unpredictable way, sometimes accelerating, sometimes slowing down. We are presently at a stage where progress is fast paced, mostly because of the abundance of data and processing capacity. Nevertheless, AI is still operating in silos, with good results obtained by focussing in a specific area.
Looking at cities in 2030 they felt that AI will play a significant role in eight areas: Transportation, Home/service robots, health care, Education, Low resources communities, Public Safety and Security, Employment and Workplace, Entertainment.
Reading the report one thing that came to my mind is that AI is focusing on areas that are so simple to us, human beings, and so tough to computer so far: image recognition, speech recognition and natural language understanding. At the same time these are areas that make human computer interaction seamless and basically lead to meet the Turing challenge. Hence, this report implicitly points to a seamless fabric where human players live hand in hand with a responsive human like environment.
At city level AI is the tool to enable, within the next 15 years a massive substitution of today’s manned transportation vehicles with unmanned ones. This is going to change our cityscape in various ways along with our perception of a vehicle value and of a transportation infrastructure. The number of cars will decrease significantly (a recent MIT study indicates that 40% of cars would be sufficient to meet the need of private transportation in NYC) and the easiness of commuting will likely see more people dwelling outside of the city (they will be picked up by a car with guarantee they can be at the office on time and the travel time will be minimized by the assigned “slot” for that vehicle).
The difference we place today between goods and people transport is bound to fade out, as unmanned vehicles will serve both purposes (although we will still have vehicles tailored to goods and others tailored to people). The topology of a city will continuously change, in real time, based on “transportation” needs (today’s it is based on traffic distribution and evolves slowly).
Take a look at the report to see the expected impact in the other seven areas addressed by the AI100 group.