March 29, 2023  |  permalink

“The Big Rethink” with the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors™ was kind enough to invite me to speak at their monthly Webinar series in March. Past president Chris Beadling grilled me for an hour on the post-pandemic future of cities, work, retail, climate change-driven migration, “ghost kitchens,” AVs, and much, much more. Needless to say, I had a lot of thoughts:

Exciting is how Lindsey described the future of the office space. “One of the ideas that has been lying around since before the pandemic is of co-working spaces closer to home, having this palette or portfolio of workplaces to go to vs. a singular office. We’re starting to think about these remote work centers. I think there’s a whole new wave of opportunities that we could see that people as employers follow talent closer to home in the suburbs or exurbs, or wherever people choose to leave and live. But again, we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface,” he said.

Lindsey thinks small cities will benefit the most from COVID-19 changes. He said that most people prize smaller, walkable cities, that have an urban feel and character to them, but don’t have the downsides that comes with city living. He noted that as millennials age, they are looking for places to raise their children, leading them to places like Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, though he did point out that he thinks “Philly is the most underrated city in America” when it comes to cost of living vs. amenities.

“A lot of that urban life is was hit hard during the pandemic,” he said. “It became very evident that if you were a millennial, you wanted to stay in cities, but there’s very little housing stock geared towards you. You have to pay an incredible premium for that and many cities were content to simply push you out into the exurban periphery. Cities need to think about.”

Mixed-use buildings may also be the way of the future. Combining office space with retail and restaurant spaces can be successful, Lindsey said. “Design big indoor and outdoor bars and barbecue restaurants and then put in flex workspaces around it. I love the idea you bring your kids there. You’d have a pint of a micro brew and then maybe you’ll write some emails while you’re there and I think that points to some interesting ideas about like socializing comes first. Then you stay in the area and do these other things, so it’ll be interesting.”

You can read the entire recap here.

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March 16, 2023  |  permalink

Meet the “Industrial Metaverse”

Fast Company recently invited me to host the first of three virtual panel discussions on digital twins and the “industrial metaverse” (a subject near-and-dear to my heart). From the recap:

“With a digital twin, we don’t have to build prototypes to see how things will work,” said Barbara Humpton, president and CEO of Siemens USA. “We can experiment using the laws of physics before making decisions about what we want to build—which for an auto manufacturer can mean designing a vehicle 50% faster.” Humpton’s remarks were made as part of a panel on the industrial metaverse hosted by Fast Company in partnership with Siemens. She was joined by Richard Kerris, head of developer relations at Nvidia — which offers its “Omniverse” development platform to partners such as Siemens — and Michael Campbell, chief product officer at Bentley Systems. Their session was introduced with a fireside chat with Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer at Journey and author of Into the Metaverse.

Watch the panel here or read the entire recap.

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March 05, 2023  |  permalink

Design & Solidarity Book Launch

Design & Solidarity is the new book by my friends and Venice Architecture Biennale colleagues Rafi Segal and Marisa Moran Jahn exploring the power of design, art, and architecture in shaping mutualistic initiatives, fulfilling their promise of solidarity, and ensuring those values endure.

Consisting mostly of interviews with visionaries such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Ai-Jen Poo; Platform Cooperativism Consortium founding director Trebor Schulz; political philosopher and Empire co-author Michael Hardt, among many others, the book also includes my short oral history of pandemic-era mutual aid efforts.

Join us at The New School for the official launch on March 7 — register here! — or at MIT on April 20. More events to come!

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February 28, 2023  |  permalink

Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution and the Future of Los Angeles

California, once the epitome of car culture, is again on the front lines of the American mobility revolution, and I’m thrilled to have contributed a chapter to the extraordinary new book Renewing the Dream: The Mobility Revolution and the Future of Los Angeles, edited by my friend James Sanders and published by Rizzoli on September 19.

He invited me to join a murderer’s row of contributors including UCLA’s Donald Shoup, Michael Manville, and Eric Avila, along with Woods Bagot CEO Nik Karalis, policy expert Mark Valliantos, and the renowned architecture- and design critic Frances Anderton. Description below; preorder here!

Drawing together original research, design studies, and cultural essays, Renewing the Dream offers the first comprehensive look at the changes remaking the mobility landscape of Southern California—and the opportunities to reappropriate vast tracts of the city for new uses. Edited by James Sanders and produced with the global architecture studio Woods Bagot, this book explores the forces propelling this shift as well as its controversial impact on Los Angeles, as a city once famed for its car-oriented, low-rise landscape is transformed into a more diverse, more dense, more complex place.

This many-sided portrait offers essays by a distinguished group of writers, designs for the city’s future, and studies of how the new mobility might allow areas now dedicated to parking and gas stations to be reimagined. Rounding out its portrait are historic photographs, maps, Hollywood images, and the artwork of David Hockney, Catherine Opie, Ed Ruscha, Wayne Thiebaud, Carlos Almaraz, and stills from La La Land to Chinatown. The book is a thought piece on the future of American cities, with lessons that will carry resonance all around the globe.

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February 28, 2023  |  permalink

frog: The Road Ahead

I’m thrilled and delighted to be among the roster of voices consulted for frog’s new report on the future of urban mobility, The Road Ahead. From the introduction:

Learn how mobility leaders are driving customer experiences forward. Creating a position in this new frontier of personalized in-car interactions, immersive buying experiences and wholly new mobility-enabled services will mean putting customers in the driver’s seat. In a new frog report, we ask experts to dig into the conversation around connected mobility, autonomy paradigms and electric vehicles of all types—as well as the new customer experiences and business ecosystems these modalities will inspire.

You can download the entire report here. Listen — or read — my extended interview with frog’s executive creative director Sean Rhodes on frog’s “Design Mind” podcast supporting the report. Here’s a brief excerpt:

I guess the theme for me with urban mobility is what makes a good or functioning city? There’s a great description by Luis Bettencourt, a physicist by training now at the Mansueto Institute, who says that a city is like a star. It’s a giant reactor where you can compress people in space and time to get fusion. Instead of light and heat like a sun, you get ideas and innovation and wages and people.

Transportation is the key to that compression. Mobility is our ability to compress ever greater numbers of people in space and time. The New York City Subway is probably the greatest machine in the United States for compressing people—it’s the keystone urban system that makes everything else possible.

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February 25, 2023  |  permalink

Elon University & Pew: The Future of Human Agency

I’m thrilled and honored to be among the dozens of visionaries and critics quoted in Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and the Pew Research Center’s new report on the future of human agency in a world of ubiquitous AI. Considering the rapid advances — and all-too-obvious lack of oversight — when it comes to large language models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, this report could not have arrived at a better time.

I’m batting ninth in a murderer’s row including Douglas Rushkoff, Devin Fidler, danah boyd, Jamais Cascio, Paul Saffo, and Ben Waber — and those are just the people I happen to know! — but I’m happy to share my contributions nonetheless:

“Humans will be out of the loop of many important decisions by 2035, but they shouldn’t be. And the reasons will have less to do with the evolution of the technology than politics, both big and small. For example, given current technological trajectories, we see a bias toward large, unsupervised models such as GPT-3 or DALL-E 2 trained on datasets riddled with cognitive and discriminatory biases using largely unsupervised methods. This produces results that can sometimes feel like magic (or ‘sapience,’ as one Google engineer has insisted) but will more often than not produce results that can’t be queried or audited.

“I expect to see an acceleration of automated decision-making in any area where the politics of such a decision are contentious – areas where hard-coding and obscuring the apparatus are useful to those with power and deployed on those who do not.

“In the face of seemingly superior results and magical outcomes – e.g., an algorithm trained on historical crime rates to ‘predict’ future crimes – will be unthinkingly embraced by the powers that be. Why? First, because the results of automated decision-making along these lines will preserve the current priorities and prerogatives of institutions and the elites who benefit from them. A ‘pre-crime’ system built on the algorithm described above and employed by police departments will not only post outcomes ad infinitum, it will be useful for police to do so. Second, removing decisions from human hands and placing them under the authority of ‘the algorithm,’ it will only make it that much more difficult to question and challenge the underlying premises of the decisions being made.”

Read the whole report here.

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February 21, 2023  |  permalink

The Metaverse Metropolis & Open House New York

On February 21, our partners at Open House New York hosted a special public programming session for The Metaverse Metropolis titled The Augmented City: Technologies for Civic Engagement starring inCitu founder and CEO Dana Chermesh and SHoP Architects founding principal Chris Sharples. Watch the video above! Session description and panelist bios are below.

Have you stepped into the Metaverse yet? You may not need to as the Metaverse is coming to you. Emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) promise to untether the internet from our phones and computers and virtually layer it over the city itself. This offers us opportunities to access New York, and what it can be, in innovative—and more inclusive—ways. From virtually experiencing New Year’s Eve in Times Square to visualizing possibilities for a relocated Madison Square Garden, augmented reality provides new tools to help New Yorkers “see” and engage with a constantly changing urban landscape. Join Open House New York and the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech for a probing conversation about how AR and VR can be harnessed for good.

Dana Chermesh-Reshef (Founder & CEO, inCitu) is an architect, a former F15 flight simulator trainer from the Israeli Air Force turned urban data scientist (NYU CUSP ’18). In 2020, Dana was selected to become an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Schmidt Futures, the public benefit arm of Eric Schmidt, under which she founded inCitu: a startup on the mission to bring future cities to life via augmented reality to foster greater collaboration around the process of urban change. Prior to becoming an EIR Dana worked at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), her research on the feasibility of Tel-Aviv’s city center rezoning was published in “Haaretz” newspaper and she is a frequent lecturer on Smart Cities’ next frontier.

Christopher Sharples, AIA is a founding principal of SHoP. He is an advocate for new practices that advance sustainability, equity and inclusion with more than 30 years of industry leadership in design and master planning, working in complex urban contexts. Christopher has led many definitive SHoP projects, including Essex Crossing in New York, the recently completed Uber Headquarters in San Francisco, Uber Air in Los Angeles, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and several U.S. Embassies through the Design Excellence contract with the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. His priority in SHoP tech development and process innovation is to accelerate workflow and elevate opportunities for efficiency, resilience and collaboration. In 2018 he cofounded Assembly OSM, delivering world-class architecture through an advanced process of digital design, manufacturing, assembly and onsite installation. He has taught, lectured, exhibited and been published frequently and internationally.


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February 17, 2023  |  permalink

Augmented World Expo: The Augmented City

As part of The Metaverse Metropolis initiative at Cornell Tech, I’m moderating a session at this year’s Augmented World Expo on “The Augmented City,” starring inCitu founder and CEO Dana Chermesh, Snap’s public policy manager Jasson Crockett, and Washington D.C.‘s interim Department of Buildings chief Ernest Chrappah. Here’s what you can expect:

As American cities struggle to build housing, improve transit, and otherwise convince a skeptical public that change is good - and necessary! — how can AR help win over their critics? This panel will bring together a startup (inCitu) and platform (Snap) engaging the public at massive scale through offering passerby a glimpse of new projects in their actual context. They’ll be joined by a city official to discuss the potential of AR to deliver services, fast-track development, and re-imagine our relationship with the built environment at large.

Register here to join us!

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February 07, 2023  |  permalink

My First Fiction: “El Libertador”

The International Republican Institute — founded in 1983 to “link people with their governments, guide politicians to be responsive to citizens, and motivate people to engage in the political process” outside the United States — recently published an “Anthology for a Future of Tech-Enabled Democracy” in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

As part of this effort, I was commissioned along with Arizona State University futurist Brian David Johnson and acclaimed science-fiction author Madeline Ashby to contribute short stories inspired by the former’s “threatcasting” methodology. My fledgling attempt at fiction, “El Libertador” is published below, along with a short introduction by IRI. I hope you enjoy.


Across Latin America, “colectivos truchos” refer to the informal buses that are both a nuisance for elected officials and a necessity for millions of inhabitants who cannot afford a private car or access public transportation. They are a symbol for the ordinary people made outlaws for the crime of being stuck outside the official system. This story tells the tale of two different realities: one where technology is used to oppress and marginalize vulnerable refugees, to the benefit of the state, and another where the same technology is applied to lift refugees up, to provide public services and legal status. As you read the story, remember that technology itself can be neutral. How it’s applied is the real determinate of its harm or help. Consider the below as you read the story:

• What systems or applications of technology have you seen that have been implemented in a way that oppresses or harms marginalized groups? What norms need to change to encourage a different application of that technology?

• How can different groups – civil society, the private sector, government officials, citizens – lobby for environments where guardrails are set in place to promote the democratic use of technology?

• When you look at the future of democracy, what technologies give you hope and what technologies raise concerns? Why?

• What responsibility do the creators of these technologies have to build tools that strengthen democracy?

Esperanza wakes with a start. Dead stop. Simply being motionless is enough to shock her awake, given how rare it is. By now, she’s used to being lulled to sleep by Javier, her neighbor, their driver, their leader, and the gentle lurch of their colectivo trucho through Buenos Aires’ gridlock, which had been terrible even before the Eye and had only grown worse. The steady tug on her consciousness until passing out reliably shortened the hours-long commute to something more manageable — from her standpoint, at least, if not her family’s. But that shortcut has just been cut short.
She clambers to her feet, half-expecting the worst, but Javier is still at the wheel, looking over from the driver’s seat. “Are you alright?”

“I’m getting there. What is it?” she asks, taking in their surroundings or, at least, their surroundings beyond the bus. The street is dark, lit only by their headlights, the next-closest vehicles, and emergency lights reflected in the sky.

“A checkpoint,” he warily replies.

This is a first. She knows from her neighbors that the southern outskirts are no-go, but she’s been able to avoid them on this route. Are the Nuevo Monteneros even real? she wonders, and not for the first time. Growing up, if it were late enough, her grandfather would scare her with stories of the Monteneros, kidnappers and bank robbers lurking in the barrios of Asunción, first fighting for, and then against Romero, who was an Argentine army general and politician. But nothing makes sense now that the lie is circulating that she and her neighbors, fellow refugees, supposedly want to overthrow the government. We’re here because the Cerrado burned. But the checkpoint was real enough.

The bus starts to shake and sway, breaking her out of her reverie. Javier curses, pounding on the steering wheel. “We’re stuck,” she says, but Javier’s already turned off the bus’s ignition, and the vehicle is silent for the first time in hours.

As she climbs down from the back, she can hear the hum of traffic all around them, and a din from up the street. She listens closer. Something more than that — shouting, chanting.

She pushes her way to the front of the bus, and Javier sees her coming. “They’re not letting us through,” she says.

“How do you know it’s us?” he asks. “Just listen,” she replies. He falls silent, squinting down the darkened street.

The shouting becomes clearer: “¡No pasarán! ¡No pasarán!” “They shall not pass!”

The rifles and armored vehicles don’t scare her, but the scanners do. Her face. The Eye. El ojo que ve a través de ti, “the eye that sees through you,” the facial recognition necessary to root out the Nuevo Monteneros, or so they’d been told.

She has no reason to be afraid, but she also has no standing to not be afraid. The column of colectivos truchos waits, boxed in, while cars creep forward on both sides.

“Stay behind me,” Javier says. “If anyone asks about your status, give them this,” he adds, adjusting his mirrored sunglasses. “I’ll tell them we’re a team.”

“You seem prepared,” she says.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve been stopped,” he replies.

“No, but never like this. You’re acting like you’ve done this before,” she says.

Javier hesitates. “I have,” he finally says.

Of course. It wasn’t the first time. The government, with its scanners, its checkpoints, and its guns, must have stopped the bus before. She shouldn’t be surprised, but she is. “Who’s driving when they do?” she asks. “Do you stop the bus?”

“I do,” Javier says.

“So you’ve already gone through this.”

“More times than I can count,” he replies.

“What happens then?”


» Continue reading...

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January 29, 2023  |  permalink

The Metaverse Metropolis: Placemaking Across Realities

The Metaverse Metropolis project continues March 21st with a free, in-person event at the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York. “Placemaking Across Realities” will explore how immersive and mixed reality technologies are shaping the future of cities. The event kicks off with a fireside chat between our partners for the event — Spectra Cities and JUMP founder Ryan Rzepecki and Numena CEO Andreea Ion Cojocaru — followed by a panel discussion exploring what urban peacemakers and digital world builders might learn from each other.

Whether you’re in the XR community or just a curious bystander, I hope you’ll join us. Click here to register.

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About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a 2022-2023 urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where he leads The Metaverse Metropolis — a new initiative exploring the implications of augmented reality at urban scale. He is also a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, a senior advisor to Climate Alpha, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

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Why Companies Are Creating Their Own Coworking Spaces

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Now Arriving: A Connected Mobility Roadmap for Public Transport

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