Bill Gates Re-Invents The City, But Is This Best For Families?

A futuristic metropolis is something we thought could only be seen in movies. I think of the film The Fifth Element, with the hovering cars, eccentric outfits, and computer interactive homes.

Turns out many progressive thinkers are working on making technology an intimate part of domestic life.

We aren’t talking only about the common use of smartphones and digital alarm systems, but using autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.

Fox News reported:

Arizona-based Belmont Partners, one of Gates’ investment firms, purchased close to 25,000 acres of land in Tonopah, around 50 miles west of Phoenix, to create a “smart city” called Belmont, KPNX reported.”

The large plot of land cost Gates a mere $80 million, which is a great deal for the multi-billionaire.

Belmont is a seemingly common name, but the city will be nothing short of revolutionary.

In a press release Belmont Partners explained the digital expectations for the city, according to KPNX:

Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs.”

The possibilities of this becoming a reality would be something interesting to witness. It is truly admirable how far the mind has been broadened to foresee such technological implications.

On the other hand, what are the practicalities of these “smart city” features playing out in our everyday lives?

Cutting edge technology as we see it already is minimizing quality time with individuals. There is the texting with your friends, video chatting with family, and doing a quick email to keep in touch.

With our noses in a device, we miss the interactions with others that are the make-up of our species. Human contact and connection are being taken for granted.

It was reported that Belmont would have “autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistic hubs.”

What this means is that the human factor is going to be eliminated. Logistic hubs that aren’t manned could mean you are being delivered packages by machines, having a robot make your latte, or getting a prescription refilled by an intricate system of 1’s and 0’s.

Fox News reported:

Ninety-five percent of traffic accident fatalities are the result of human error,” says Doug Marsden, former chief technology officer at Transportation Research Center Inc..the Smart City Challenge proposed implementing dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), which uses a special frequency that allows vehicles to communicate directly with one another..”

So, the goal here is to eliminate human drivers. There is a flaw in this concept in that programs are limited to the data you put in them unless an artificial intelligence system is designed; which would pose a different conversation of concern.

Just recently, an autonomous shuttle crashed in Las Vegas only hours after it set off, according to Fox News.

There were many people in line to board the shuttle prior to the crash, where it collided into a semi-truck.

Navaya is the company that built the shuttle. It has another one that is fully operational on the University of Michigan campus.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time an autonomous vehicle has crashed. The statistics may be in favor of the futuristic ride for now, but only time will tell its true safety parameters.

The human mind is capable of abstract thinking, and planning with new data sets. This allows us to quickly process new data sets and plan for events that couldn’t be foreseen.

Fox News reported on the vast infrastructure Gates plans on making:

It’ll reportedly include space for 80,000 residential units, in addition to 470 acres for public schools and 3,800 acres designated for offices, commercial buildings and retail outlets.”

The transition from more rural life to city living can have a negative impact on your future.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reported:

People who live in rural areas are more likely to own their own homes, live in their state of birth and have served in the military than their urban counterparts, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.”

Is the aim to create a civilization where the machine gives us a higher quality of life or one in which the machine is our way of life?

A “smart city” has the potential to distinguish the intimacy between human beings, which would have us resembling the mechanisms we became so intertwined with.

Please let us know in the comments section if you see any issue with moving forward with a smart city, and why.


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