AI expert Dr Ayesha Khanna unpacked just some of the smart solutions for human-centric cities. Readying ourselves for an AI-enabled future demands greater accountability and transparency, because “with great power comes with great responsibility,” she said.
Khanna is co-founder and director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory group focused on emerging technologies and their policy and economic consequences. She is also a strategic advisor to corporations and governments on artificial intelligence, smart cities and fintech.
“Ten years ago, we believed the only way to improve cities was through large technical systems,” Khanna said. This didn’t “turn out so well” because a city is a “messy entity with a lot of players”.
Enter Smart City 2.0, where an “ecosystem” of public and private partners collaborate to enhance the citizen’s journey. In this model, the city is a platform and the “economic wheels” are the data exchange, she said.
A smart city does not begin with technology, Khanna said, but with a problem. “You don’t need to be an AI specialist to know the problem. Human-centred cities are personalised to resident needs, not dictated by technical engineering,” she added.
But AI is coming to our cities whether we like it or not. The secret is a “safety-first” approach – Khanna compared a smart city without data and privacy protections as a “souped up” Lamborghini with no airbags.
“No city will escape this pressure to be smart because of the competitive nature of cities. As the world grows into cities instead of nation states, cities will compete for economic gains, talent, capital – because that’s what makes cities grow.
“The smart city starts with you. Empower yourself. Start your AI journey today.”