Smart Cities • Autonomous Vehicles
Melba Kurman writes and speaks about emerging technologies with a particular focus on autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and 3D printing. Her recent book, Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead, was published by MIT Press and has been translated into eight languages. Her work has been featured in academic and popular publications and venues, including Popular Mechanics, Forbes (Middle East), LA Times, and National Public Radio. Melba is a veteran of Microsoft and a graduate of Cornell University, the University of Illinois and the U.S. Peace Corps.
Driverless cars are becoming a reality. Thanks to the recent and rapid maturation of machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence), self-driving cars can finally “see” and “understand” what’s near them on the road. When human drivers become a thing of the past, the result will be pedestrian-friendly cities, pleasant commutes, and safer, cleaner, and more convenient modes of transportation. Despite the advantages of self-driving vehicles, not everyone will benefit. Car companies, city governments, and insurance companies — to name but a few — will be forced to evolve to survive. Melba Kurman explains why businesses that thrive will be those that embrace the notion that cars will no longer be just cars, but intelligent transportation robots.
City dwellers need efficient transportation and waste management systems, a vibrant business district, humane law enforcement, and appealing schools and neighborhoods. As urban areas continue to grow, city planners have tried to use information technology to meet these needs. Too frequently, these software solutions have been centrally-planned, reflecting the desires of their builders rather than their users. As exponential technologies develop and mature, successful smart cities will be built from the bottom up. The smart cities of the future will be based on open software platforms that use data, networks and AI programs to run user-driven apps. The effect will be a new commercial ecosystem, personal mobility, greater transparency in city governance, and more equitable distribution of precious municipal resources. Remaining challenges include data integrity and the ethics of capturing and monetizing the everyday activities of private citizens.