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  • Welcome to the city of the future.

  • A smart city that knows everything about you.

  • From how you like your coffee, to whether you've broken the law.

  • Or even if you've grown a beard.

  • Sound far-fetched?

  • While the smart city we're about to tour doesn't exist yet,

  • all of the parts do.

  • They're all components of real projects

  • happening all over the world.

  • Put them together and this is what life may well be like

  • in the not-too-distant future.

  • You go to work, your office building knows exactly who's coming and going

  • and what they need, thanks to thousands of inbuilt sensors

  • collecting data.

  • The energy efficient building is designed for your comfort,

  • reacting to changes in the weather and the number of people

  • in the building and adjusting its climate accordingly.

  • Wherever you sit, the lighting will adjust to suit your preferences.

  • The building will even recall your regular coffee order

  • and there's no chance of it getting your name wrong.

  • On your way home, you pass lamp posts laden with sensors and HD cameras

  • that monitor and record the world around them 24/7.

  • Air quality and traffic flow data tell you the quickest

  • and cleanest route and alert emergency services to accidents.

  • You arrive home, to a nutritious meal made from locally grown avocados

  • using hydroponics, so no need for soil.

  • Sensors allow urban farmers to make constant adjustments to temperature,

  • light and water and monitor the plant's responses,

  • so it's easier and cheaper to grow fresh food in cities.

  • The level of control smart technology gives can also be used

  • to make food tastier.

  • In Singapore, they've already found a way to make kale sweeter and softer,

  • so even the fussiest of eaters will enjoy their greens.

  • Your health is flourishing, thanks to your perfectly balanced diet

  • but you also regularly update your doctors using data sent directly

  • from your smartwatch.

  • They analyse it and prescribe personalised drugs and supplements

  • that are quickly 3D printed just for you.

  • Your baby stirs and you're alerted by its smart blanket.

  • Reassured that all is well, child mortality rates are at an

  • all time low, you go to bed but the sensors in the street never sleep.

  • They're busy policing antisocial behaviour, identifying people smoking

  • in unauthorised zones or throwing rubbish from high-rise buildings -

  • crime rates are negligible.

  • While much of this might sound pretty idyllic, it is not without issues.

  • Smart cities go hand-in-hand with gathering and storing huge amounts

  • of personal data and using it to control city life.

  • For governments keen to control certain populations,

  • this is an incredibly powerful tool.

  • Every moment of your daily routine can be tracked, anyone with access

  • to this data can find out where you live, where you go every day,

  • the places you visit at night and who you're with.

  • This data can be used by people with far more nefarious aims

  • than making you the perfect soya latte.

  • You could leave your phone at home, with an advanced facial recognition

  • CCTV in the mix, authorities can easily keep tabs on you.

  • In places like Xinjiang in China, where growing a beard can already

  • get you reported, this is a frightening prospect.

  • So are the benefits of a smart city worth giving up privacy

  • and freedom for?

  • Can governments and corporations be trusted with such huge data sets

  • on all of us? What happens if there's a mistake in the system

  • or you want to overthrow the system itself?

  • Whether you think smart technology means we're sleepwalking

  • into a dystopian future or enabling us to live a vastly more convenient

  • and sustainable lifestyle, it's coming soon to a city near you.

Welcome to the city of the future.

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B1 smart data building beard monitor grown

How will artificial intelligence change the cities we live in? | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/01
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