In a rare in-person episode, Tim and Joe speculate about how technological trends will shape the future of cities.

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  • Joe’s report from the future: Living in Australia is like living 15 years ago in the US
    • Actually, Amazon Australia Launched 3 weeks after we recorded this episode. WE MAKE THE FUTURE HAPPEN
    • Australia’s NBN: National Boondoggle Network
    • By the time it’s installed, it’s obsolete
    • Crowding out private investment
    • A perfect example of why governments shouldn’t build infrastructure
    • Status quo thinking
    • Grandiose infrastructure projects vs. necessary maintenance
    • The Strong Towns approach
  • Smart Cities
    • Sensors and centralized management
    • Algorithms and AI
    • Informing future development
    • Roads and complexity – Can AI optimize traffic?
    • Smart grids – balancing demand
    • Hayekian knowledge problem
    • How useful is all of this information?
    • What’s the real benefit?
    • Incremental development vs. political grandstanding
    • Joe’s market solution for traffic light priority
    • To optimize road systems, privatize them
  • Automated Vehicles
    • A giant leap, or incremental adoption?
    • Communication, reaction time, and automatic re-routing
    • Vast improvements in vehicle safety
    • Induced demand
    • Expanding the suburban catchment area: an exponential relationship
  • Urbanization, Suburbanization and Exurbanization
    • Telecommuting
    • Robots building robots to build other things
    • Benefits of face to face meetings
    • Milton Keynes – No relation to defunct economists
    • Patrik Schumacher’s EXTREME view: a 15 minute commute is too far
    • Economies of agglomeration
    • “Cities are the brains that direct the rural muscle”
    • Ed Glaeser – Triumph of the City
    • Skyscrapers and Universities
    • “We could be the new Pittsburgh!”
    • Another Adelaide boondoggle – the new medical precinct
    • Adelaide’s coming rental market crash
    • Foreign buyers will lose their shirts
    • A paucity of safe investment opportunities – because CENTRAL BANKS
    • Job opportunities draw people to cities
    • Slums and favelas – a symptom of opportunity
    • Resourcefulness of slum dwellers to compensate for lack of capital
    • Property rights for slums
    • The Long Now Foundation
    • Demographics – Human population as an “S” curve
  • Feeding the Cities
    • Vertical Farms – might make sense if they’re horizontal
    • A long way from crowding out the land
    • Permaculture – pigs are high tech
    • Monoculture – the result of subsidies
  • Logistics
    • Automated Delivery
    • Online grocery shopping – more energy efficient
    • Night time deliveries
    • Fedex’s parking ticket manager
  • Automated Vehicles, Congestion, and Parking
    • Drop you off, go park itself
    • Changing multimodal transit
    • Dynamic routes – adapting to needs in real time
    • Doubling peak hour congestion?
    • Eliminating on street parking?
    • Induced demand strikes again
    • Peter Thiel – “We wanted flying cars, and we got 140 characters”
    • Jetsons? Rin tin tin? Flubber? Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
    • Automated vehicles are a necessary prerequisite to flying cars
    • Flipping the city upside down
    • Streets become streets again – more public spaces
    • Don’t park – Hover!
    • Helicopter taxis in Sao Paulo
    • Energy density is essential
    • Micro nukes flying around the city driven by self-aware AI’s – what could possibly go
    • wrong?
  • Other Advances in Energy
    • Thorium reactors
    • Virtual power plants – aggregating decentralized power sources
    • “Behind the meter” schemes
    • Solar farm shares rather than roof-mounted
    • Photovoltaic roof shingles
    • Solar roads – a non-starter
    • Batteries
    • Your car can power your house
    • Quick charging stations
  • Construction Industry Technology
    • Modular construction
    • Bricklaying robots
    • Tim loves watching masons work
    • 3D printed buildings
    • Drone cranes – what could possibly go wrong?
    • Japanese demolition – No more working at heights
    • VR Drone site visits
    • Holographic design
    • Augmented Reality
  • Virtual Reality
    • Will we still build real places?
    • Authenticity matters
    • Cities provide authentic experiences
    • VR allows people to live where they want
    • Virtual 20th High School Reunion is better than the real thing
    • Are haptic hugs creepy?
  • The Future of Politics
    • A path to privatization?
    • The trend towards decentralization favors free markets and deregulation
    • Technology – tool for liberation or control?
    • Liberty Minecraft – The Virtual Built Environment of a Stateless Society
    • Two trends: individualization and voluntary socialization
    • Two more trends: Technology disrupting jobs and technology creating ultra-abundance
    • Low skilled workers becoming more entrepreneurial
    • Passive income opportunities
    • Reason to be optimistic


"Auto-Plane" car with wings attached and cats driving

Richard Scarry put this on page 1 of “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” because he could see the future.

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