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Discussion: When traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

Over the next two weeks four specialists will respond to the question, When city authorities, policy-makers, markets or traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

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Discussion: When traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

Over the next two weeks four specialists will respond to the question, When city authorities, policy-makers, markets or traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

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Over the next two weeks four specialists will respond to the question, When city authorities, policy-makers, markets or traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

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Discussion: When traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?

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Quilian color l1010812.1sq ello

The question posed here is a bit daunting. It could be re-written to say: what can artists, architects and designers do in the face of full-scale institutional failure(s)?

There are so many potential answers to this question; including Nothing.

In fact, it seems that this is more often than not the answer to the question of institutional failure. This view clearly, and by now infamously, came into view when Zaha Hadid responded to questions about the deaths of hundred construction workers as Qatar prepares for the world cup. Hadid’s responded to the Guardian [1] by saying, “I have nothing to do with the workers, I think that’s an issue the government–if there’s a problem–should pick up.” I guess that I should note that the deaths she was questioned about did not happen while working on the construction of her stadium design, if that makes a difference.

IMAGE 1 Image of Al Wakrah Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects

The uproar that followed was as much a reaction to the callused response, as to the total lack of political agency expressed. Many thought, if one of the practitioners close to celebrity status within architecture cannot have an opinion on such an important subject, or advocate for change, who can? Many responded to the backlash by pointing out that Hadid’s hands were contractually tied and if she answered in any other way her firm could become liable or even lose the project. This view seems particularly cynical and potentially leading to a very particular kind of autonomous practice. One that erects high professionalized walls around what it can and cannot deal with. One that disarms any discussion of politics and conflict before it can even be had.

Now, let’s say we do want to trigger effective change.

We should begin by looking at a new crop of practices that are beginning to embrace the political potential of art, architecture and design to change urban contexts. I use urban here as a way to talk about systematic complexity that includes political, economic, social and spatial concerns. Through conversations, teaching and practice I have noticed three specific interrelated issues and questions that emerging practices are dealing with that may give us a clue about how to trigger effective change. First, many practices are repositioning what the relationship with established institutions could be. Second, although many emerging practices spouse political and social ideals many projects still happen at a smaller scale, often leading to questions of overall impact. Finally, those cultural producers that seek larger changes are also actively rethinking models of practice, authorship and autonomy.

IMAGE 2 Image of Occupy Sandy on Daily Kos

After surges caused by Hurricane Sandy flooded many vulnerable neighborhoods in New York City, Occupy Sandy [2], a new disaster relief organization was formed. Occupy Sandy was lead by artists and activists that met and worked together during the Occupy Wall Street actions of 2011. The group helped provide essentials, aid and information to those affected by the storm. Interestingly, a group that had a few months before protested federal and local institutions became a key player in helping organize and coordinate between those same groups. The relationship was never easy, often with mutual mistrust especially with then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration [3]. The discomfort did not only come from official sources but also from allied activists and artists. Occupy Sandy, they argued, changed the focus of the movement from institutional critique to become something closer to a nonprofit service provider [4].

This is perhaps one of the biggest anxieties around politically-engaged practices face. How do you retain a critical stance while understanding that for projects to have impact they need to interface with established institutions? Art theorist Gregory Sholette wrote about these anxieties by dubbing certain new practices as mockstitutions. Sholette reviews critiques, including the fear that by acting as pseudo-service providers for the neoliberal institutions, artists will not be able to mount a strong critique of the larger conditions that have lead to the mockstitution being necessary in the first place. In the end, however, he argues that there may be possibility in the flirtation with institutional norms. Sholette argues that:

"Although Adorno once railed against the intellectual and artistic banalities of administered culture in the post-war era, perhaps it has become necessary now to occupy the ruins of that former society, or more accurately to wear its wreckage like a carapace in the way certain sea creatures camouflage themselves from predators using discarded materials. After all, this accumulated cultural detritus is our shared history, our dark archive of fragmented knowledge and potential liberation."[5]

Could the same be said of larger social institutions -- are they of shells, waiting to be worn, waiting to be rethought and reconfigured? This analogy leaves room that some of the shells of institutional failure may be partially or totally filled and only through coordinated action can they be vacated and filled with new possibilities.

Furthermore, the institutional question can also be thought to be one of scale and scope. Let’s take Tactical Urbanism as an example. Tactical Urbanism is a term used to encompass a variety of small-scale urban actions often taken without explicit permission from an official authority. Perhaps the best-known example of such a tactic is the parklet - a park created in a parking lot that begins as a temporary action but may become semi-permanent as official structures are created. The most common current critique of such smaller-scale projects and Tactical Urbanism, generally, is that when tactics lack a strategy they will just fulfill whatever strategy those in power have already set forth. As an example, researcher Oli Mould says that Tactical Urbanism “represents the latest cycle of the urban ‘ strategy ’ to co-opt moments of creativity and alternative urban practices to the urban hegemony – it is the new Creative City.” [6]

IMAGE 3 The original 2010 parklet. Credit: Rebar

It is not to say that a small project does not have a place, but rather that without a larger strategy or intention that small project will likely be co-opted. In other words, the intentions to create a parklet may be a justifiable response to institutional failure. But, the question remains whether parklets can move beyond localism. Can they be designed to have larger political and scalar intentions? Can they be the mediators to help groups organize and create larger political and social agendas?

However, if these type of smaller projects are to take on a larger strategic nature the role of the artist and/or designer may have to also change. It may not be enough to work on things back in the studio and put them out in the city. Practices are becoming broader and more transdisciplinary, using skills from design, art and social sciences to act on the city. Collectives rather than individual practices are gaining traction among artists and designers as a way to practice and form projects. The collectives are usually broad and incorporate members of the communities in which projects take place. One such example is the collective created for Theatre Evolutif, a project by OOZE architects (Eva Pfannes & Sylvain Hartenberg), Marjetica Potrč, Bureau d’études (Xavier Fourt & Léonore Bonaccini) and residents of the Saint-Michel neighborhood in Bordeaux. [7]

IMAGE 4 Theatre Evolutif by OOZE architects (Eva Pfannes & Sylvain Hartenberg), Marjetica Potrč, Bureau d’études (Xavier Fourt & Léonore Bonaccini) and residents of the Saint-Michel neighborhood in Bordeaux. Image Credit: OOZE.

This project in a neighborhood under threat of gentrification began with the designers and the community agreeing on a charter that would define the goals for the project. The designers used these principles to design the project that include a garden, tools and public areas to meet. The roof was co-created with local residents and is flexible so that it can be changed as necessary. In many ways this project has been co-created by designers with some expertise in ecological systems and structures and a community who understands what it wants and needs. The project has the promise to give local residents not only agency over the structure but a place to gather and discuss if changes in the neighborhood happen in accordance to the charter signed with values and goals for the area. This kind of local and ongoing organizing may help prevent further institutional failures as the neighborhood changes.

So, artists, architect and designers - how can we create change? This is a very difficult question given that even the best of intentions can be co-opted and rendered powerless. Perhaps the first step is to realize that it is not about us. We are the tools for ideas, knowledge and perhaps even the unexpected (dis)connections. Regardless, here is a working proposal to increase the impact of our work: be ambitious and communicate larger political agendas and how you hope to change existing power dynamics even if (especially when) all you can do is act at a small local scale; existing social institutions may not be perfect but engage with them regardless while retaining a critical voice; co-create projects with those that will actually do the long-term work of organizing and acting on larger agendas, specific issues, neighborhoods, etc. Triggering.

[1] Zaha Hadid defends Qatar World Cup role following migrant worker deaths.

[2] Occupy Sandy

[3] Occupy Sandy: A Movement Moves to Relief.

[4] STORM TROOPERS: The Legacy of Occupy Sandy

[5] Sholette, Gregory. "Mockstitutions." Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture. London: Pluto, 2011. Page 185.

[6] Tactical Urbanism: The New Vernacular of the Creative City. Oli Mould. Geography Compass. Volume 8, Issue 8, pages 529–539, August 2014.

[7] Theatre Evolutif by OOZE Architects, Bureau d’études & Marjetica Potrč in Landezine

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The question posed here is a bit daunting. It could be re-written to say: what can artists, architects and designers do in the face of full-scale institutional failure(s)?

There are so many potential answers to this question; including Nothing.

... Show more »

By addressing this question, the ongoing exhibition can join a discussion. Please see attached.

Making Border: Afterimages and Projections

February 13 - March 31, 2015

Curated by Seoyoung Kim, in collaboration with Dongsei Kim

Borders are ubiquitous. Their instrumentality and regulatory forces are embedded in our daily lives. Embedded in the expansive and dispersed trajectories of border manifestations, there exist multiple representations thus multivalent understanding of borders. However, one fundamental idea that could weave these drastically different manifestations of borders is their relationship to time.

The DNA Berlin exhibition, “Making Border: Afterimages and Projections” presents works of Mariam Ghani, Dongsei Kim and Yuichiro Tamura that highlight how the expansive contemporary borders are understood through fluctuations over time. The exhibition explicitly engages animation techniques “afterimages and projections” to explore how flow of time frames dynamic understanding of contemporary borders, and how it accentuates the contingent and fluctuating contemporary border discourses as instruments of exclusion and inclusion.

Under the umbrella of animations, afterimages and projections of borders reveal memories, histories, turning points of social changes which become the main focus of this exhibition.This kind of reflection can be regarded as representing both implicit and explicit nature of social meanings in contemporary borders within Going Gone Gone (2009)and Permanent Transit (2001/2) of Mariam Ghani, A Construct The Koreas (Never) Made Together Deconstructing the DMZ For The Imaginary (2014) and Uncovering the Agency of Unknown Armistice Maps: The First Iteration (2015) of Dongsei Kim as well as Two Shadows (2015) and Nightless Vol. 11 (2015) of Yuichiro Tamura.

The exhibition is part of a long-term project, “The Attached Map: Uncovering the Unknown Armistice Maps” a collaboration between Dongsei Kim (architect and educator) and Seoyoung Kim (curator and art historian). It intends to explore the fundamental implications of borders in contested social spaces through uncovering, and making it accessible to the public, the less-known illustrated maps of the Armistice Agreement. This Armistice Agreement of 1953 is the founding document that forms the current Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea today.

Dongsei Kim is an architect, urbanist, and educator. He currently teaches at Korea University, Seoul, Korea and at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He holds degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University, and Victoria University of Wellington. His ongoing research on the Demilitarized Zone in Korea was recently exhibited in the Golden Lion Award winning “Crow's Eye View: The Korean Peninsula” at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. He has published numerous articles in international journals, books and presented his work in multiple international conferences. He is a registered architect with NZRAB and member of the NZIA since 2007. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne.

Seoyoung Kim is curator and art historian based in Berlin, Germany. She received degrees of History and Cultural Studies from Freie Universität Berlin. Her present research focuses on understanding concepts and strategies of open spaces within the Demilitarized Zone that could transform sections of it to be publicly accessible. Her recent curatorial works include “Topological Constellation: Art and Architecture” at the DNA Berlin (2014) and “Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage on the Korean Peninsula” at the Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin (2013). She also participated in the curatorial workshop jointly organized by Tate London and Mori Art Museum Tokyo (2014).

Mariam Ghani is an artist, filmmaker, writer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NYC. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, New York and a Bachelor of Art from New York University. In her work, she deals with place, memory and language, that reconstruct spatial history across time frames. Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, such as at the New Museum (2014), dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), Museum of Modern Art in New York (2011), Sharjah Biennials 10 and 8 (2011, 2009), National Gallery in Washington D.C (2008), Tate Modern in London (2007), Liverpool Biennial (2004), Transmediale in Berlin (2003).

Yuichiro Tamura is an artist, based in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a Master of Film and Media from Tokyo University of the Arts, a Bachelor of Photograhy from Nihon University. He was guest researcher of the Institut für Raumexperiment, Olafur Eliasson class at the Berlin University of Arts, according to the Artist Overseas Training Program promoted by Agency for Cultural Affairs. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, such as at the Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin (2014), Mediacity Seoul (2014), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2014, 2010), Art Basel Hongkong (2013), Tokyo Wonder Site (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2012, 2011), Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (2011), BankArt Studio Yokohama (2009).

Link to homepage: http://www.dna-galerie.de/en/exhibition/exhibition-current.php

View of opening at: https://www.facebook.com/staffatdnagalerie?pnref=story_text_

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By addressing this question, the ongoing exhibition can join a discussion. Please see attached.

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Elke krasny portrait 2014 grst

It is commonly held that crisis is central to the reproduction of capitalism. Therefore, crisis and capitalism can in fact be understood to be inseparable from each other. Or, in other words, capitalism can be understood as a temporal sequence of crises. It is also commonly held that urbanization is central to capitalism. If crisis is central to capitalism and if urbanization is central to capitalism, then it is safe to assume that crisis and urbanization have to be understood as equally inseparable from each other.

In his 1970 book _The Urban Revolution _Henri Lefebvre arrives at the concise diagnosis of the “generalization“ of world capitalism. For that reason, we have to come to the conclusion that this generalization encompasses the very inseparability of crisis, capitalism, and urbanization. As a consequence, both the impact of architecture and the role of architects have to be examined within the complexities of this ongoing, and in fact accelerated, process of generalization.

The historical period of generalization is marked by the emergence of starchitecture from the 1970s onwards. This strategy of dropping pieces of architecture on a global scale deploys and delivers architectural iconocity. This makes cities ready for their mobilization through the circulation of spectacular urban images. These iconic architectures can be understood as the very symptoms of the unbroken and ever more accelerated competition between global cities. At the same time, these starchitectures can in fact be perceived as telling about not only themselves and their logics of production and consumption, but also about the generalization of crisis, capitalism, and urbanization they are in fact a constitutive part of. In analytical terms, these starchitectures are an expressive and impressive symptomatology of uneven growth. They are the physically built manifestations of rising urban inequality and increasing uneven growth. Even though these starchitectures are commonly held as the signs of progress and futurity, one can actually read them as depressing signs ad symptoms of building at the expense of a possible future.

In her introduction to the 2014 edited volume _Architecture and Capitalism 1845 to the Present _Peggy Deamer makes the succinct argument “that the history of architecture is the history of capital”. For that reason, seen in historical terms, architecture proves to be an outstanding and long-term witness to the processes between crisis, capital(ism), and urbanization. Seen from the dual perspective of architecture's design and architecture's production one can, in hindsight, arrive at an analysis of the historical and economic conditions in their respective local specificities. If there is indeed a way of learning from such historical analysis, it is necessary to think of ways of combining contemporary architectural and urban analysis and contemporary architectural and urban practices in order to counteract within the given.

It is precisely within these conditions of urban inequality and uneven growth that architects can aim to make their contribution towards spatial justice and urban redistribution. There is no longer the thought of a utopian outside. There is no utopia to be conceived of outside of the cyclical conditions of crises periods and intercrisis periods. Yet, architectural business as usual or resignation can and must not be the answers to these grave, and in fact most depressing conditions. In face of all the above described, I want to argue for margins of architectural utopian practice from within. It is exactly along the margins that hope based upon a different practice of architecture can arise. These margins can come in form of an array of projects: engaged or activist architectural practices, locally involved architectures, university-based research and realizations, or curated exhibitions. All too easily dismissed as just another project that won't make much of a difference at the end of the day, I want to argue for the differences made within the ever-growing generalization of crisis and urbanization. As a curatorial project _Uneven Growth. Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities _can be understood to to operate within the margins of utopia and hope where architecture creates urban engagement, despite all odds. Therefore, there is a critical difference between architecture understood as business as usual and architecture as unusual business. It is the capacity of troubling and of resistance coming from the unusual business that inspires hope despite of the prevailing sense of economic crisis, spatial injustice, and the feelings of resignation or depression. Even though uneven growth's inescapability persists, the margins allow for architecture as unusual business acting on the scale of projects. Rather than dismissing projects for being small or temporary or all to easily co-opted, it is of importance to think of projects as a moving utopian margin. One that brings connectivity. One that allows for hope. A moving utopian margin does not privilege one time over the other time when it comes to the question when to act. A moving utopian margin clearly demonstrates that it is always time to act. Thinking with moving utopian margin can thus become a way to imagine that the future of architecture is not (inevitably) going to be the future of capital.

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It is commonly held that crisis is central to the reproduction of capitalism. Therefore, crisis and capitalism can in fact be understood to be inseparable from each other. Or, in other words, capitalism can be understood as a temporal sequence of...

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Oakland photo b w

Demographic projections reveal that earth’s fast-growing urban population will not taper anytime soon. This unprecedented demographic shift has created tremendous economic and social opportunity for some, but also inequality, environmental degradation, and negative social impacts for too many others. The results are inscribed physically on our cities, including right here in the United States where a surprisingly fertile garden of inequality continues to be nurtured.

Most of these outcomes can be traced to a raft of government policies, programs, and project delivery systems that are failing to keep up with societal needs. Using the technology-laden rhetoric of the day, one might say we’re using outdated software (government policy) that seems incapable of meeting the demand for new hardware (affordable housing, transport options, safe public space etc.). While this fissure plays out differently in London, Kigali, or Los Angeles, it’s become increasingly obvious that conventional planning efforts leave large gaps exposed and can’t be counted on to fill them in.

So, what’s to be done?

An increasingly popular approach is to abandon the notion that top-down “solutions” are the only way for government to manage urban growth. Of course, lessening government’s role is often critiqued as an abdication of its most basic responsibility. Yet, one might also argue that promoting more agile, networked, and peer-to-peer project delivery frameworks at the neighborhood scale is another way cities may address urgent challenges today, not...maybe sometime in the future when the political and economic capital might align.

Leading the way is a new breed of architect, planner, and designer that no longer separates the creation of the plan from its actual implementation. In other words, the narrow and well-worn path of “design-present-defend” is being replaced by an ethos Eric Ries calls “build-measure-learn.” 'Design' in this sense is not a noun but a verb that requires physical collaboration with neighborhood residents, social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and yes, even other government employees. This approach draws upon the best talents of design professionals by asking them to work with communities to test short-term projects before designing them for the long-term.

This approach, which I observed in a variety of unrelated city and citizen-led activities and began calling Tactical Urbanism in 2010, has coalesced into a much larger global movement that professor Nabeel Hamdi might call “planning without the preponderance of plans.”

As we’ve defined it, Tactical Urbanism is an approach to neighborhood building using short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions intended to catalyze long-term change. Such projects feature the following five characteristics:

• a deliberate, phased approach to instigating physical and/or social change; • an offering of local ideas for local planning challenges; • short-term commitment and realistic expectations; • low risks, with possible high reward; and • the development of social capital between citizens, and building organizational capacity between public-private institutions, nonprofits, and their many constituents.

Despite its initial reputation as a movement of guerilla activists, Tactical Urbanism is gaining currency inside of local governments where frustration with the pace of change may be as high inside city hall as it is outside of it. That said, Tactical Urbanism remains a young movement and it does has very real limitations. It won’t solve the largest challenges facing your city or mine. And its movement into the halls of government does deserve scrutiny, like some of those offered in Quilian Riano’s previous post because it’s too easily misunderstood.

Yet, Tactical Urbanism also leaves plenty of room for invention and allows space for artists, architects, designers to play a more proactive role in city-making by creating what I call “renderings in real-time.” Tactical Urbanism also offers a growing number of tools for city agencies who view their role not as the progenitor of all changemaking activities, but as stewards capable of a framework where the above actors produce projects that might be scaled and applied citywide with a focus on reducing inequality.

But don't take my word for it. Identify a need in your neighborhood and try it out for yourself!

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Demographic projections reveal that earth’s fast-growing urban population will not taper anytime soon. This unprecedented demographic shift has created tremendous economic and social opportunity for some, but also inequality, environmental...

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Hugo ball

With my co-commenters, I want to embrace the begged question here: can artists, architects, and designers contribute? In answering yes, let’s not forget those who might say no, and who might come with examples! In answering yes, let’s affirm a shared commitment to translating our art, architecture, and design work into the terms, and hopefully onto the agendas, of others based on their own perceived interests. Let’s commit to civic engagement as an experimentally verifiable endeavor and the sober self-assessments it requires, to studying BATNAs, to arguing along with NOVUS for a “bigger here and a longer now.”

Onto the pregnant question of how: "When traditional planning approaches reveal their shortcomings, how can artists, architects, and designers contribute to trigger effective change?" Some thoughts organized by phrase:

“traditional planning approaches”: Is there a tradition of planning, and if so, who defines it? In the United States, it is not difficult to argue that planning as dramatized by Daniel Burnham, even at peak success, never made much headway in popular or real estate imaginations focused on the dramas of the free market in land. Contrast hard-to-find planning heroes with romantic representations of architects like Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, who demolishes the public housing development he designed in rage at government meddling, or activists like Jane Jacobs, tearing up a planning board transcript to prevent neighborhood destruction.

In terms of legal power, the spread of democratic planning mechanisms such as zoning, planning boards, community boards, and public hearings was spotty and driven under the influence of local property owners rather than democratic mass participation. Today, public power, rhetorically aimed at corporate consolidation 100 years ago under trust-busters like Louis Brandeis, has found millions of ways to entangle in partnerships with less public powers and adopt their privacy rights, putting pressure on people seeking democratic control of their environment.

Maybe our relation to “traditional planning approaches” can be a bit more fertilely imaginative. Recalling Robert Fitch’s slightly hysterico-paranoid account of how the Rockefellers used the first Regional Plan of New York to manipulate the Manhattan real estate market, we might conclude that the very essence of our tradition of planning is for putatively public planning to be subverting and directed by private powers.

More optimistically, rather than Quilian’s “full-scale institutional failure(s)” and fretting Zaha’s effect on architecture’s general political agency, we can go beyond Good and Bad Guys to understand multiple traditions of planning in conflict. Fifty years after Paul Davidson’s “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning,” one tradition sees planning not as something that “works” or “fails,” but as the conflictual, hard-knocks space that was opened to deliberate democratically how we create places to supplement the calculations of market power. So it could be that any “shortcomings” are external obstacles to planning rather than a technical failure of planning itself, and that diminishing the tradition of planning only serves the enemies of “effective change.” By breaking down the monolith of planning tradition, we also move away from the celebration of marginality, as I worry that stories that begin with affirmations like Ms Krasny’s “It is exactly along the margins that hope based upon a different practice of architecture can arise” often end in deceptive claims for marginality from the center. Let’s find something less fleeting than marginality on which to base our solidarity.

“reveal their shortcomings”: “Shortcomings” sounds strangely polite for Uneven Growth’s scenario of “a staggering eight billion people” hoping “to avoid major social and economic catastrophes,” not to mention slow-burn catastrophes of exploitative housing and work conditions, environmental toxins, and serial displacement. Instead of “shortcomings,” let's speak of the revelation of “power differentials” or “domination.” We don’t necessarily need more responsive design, but a clearer understanding of to whom design responds. Contestation is a good barometer here, struggles found in most local media about housing, environmental justice, gentrification, preservation, public space, etc. One way for us to try to contribute is by seeking a relationship with what Myles Horton called “conflict situations.”) Here, we must rely on old-fashioned technologies of community organizing: introducing ourselves, calling people up, hanging out, as Dr. Mindy Fullilove recommends, “talking to people like they’re people.” Let’s not allow our techno-optimism to obscure the nuts and bolts of people power. While I guess his aims are different, my colleague Mr. Lydon’s assertion that “one might say we’re using outdated software (government policy) that seems incapable of meeting the demand for new hardware (affordable housing, transport options, safe public space etc.)” veers close to Ronald Reagan’s (and Bill Clinton’s) mantra of “government is the problem” instead of putting people power (and the government it is of, by, and for) in the driver’s seat.

“artists, architects, and designers”: We inherit mighty gifts and sharp tools from our traditions for both getting things done and for nourishing ethical civics towards justice, but we can’t do it alone.

“contribute to trigger effective change”: How change happens vexes and humbles heroic visionaries and their self-promotional disciplines. The concept of change as the result of a “trigger” rather than a “long haul)” can support dramatically false self-conceptions and “Mission Accomplished” banners. The fact that successful public design in a democracy must become seen as without author or as authored by a multitude threatens our tidy stories of “interventions” and “social impact.” As for how we recognize “effective” change from its less-accomplished also-rans, my only suggestion is to substitute it for “accountable.”

With the organizers of Uneven Growth, I welcome Tactical Urbanism (while grimacing at its military tone) to the lexicon, to be filed near Temporary Services' studies of improvisatory public constructions, “placemaking” as advocated by the Project for Public Spaces (which has just sent me one of their relentless emails as I write this), Adventure Playgrounds, the wonderful Pratt Institute DIY urbanism publication Street, and other beloved things.

As the Planning Director & Chief Urban Designer in Newark, New Jersey, I've been blessed to have my jacket pulled by many, resulting in locally-made bike racks, better sidewalks, large-scale outdoor paintings, an orange boardwalk and new zoning among other monuments to the practice of environmental democracy. Here’s to finding all sorts of agendas articulated by others to fuel our planning, art, and design.

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With my co-commenters, I want to embrace the begged question here: can artists, architects, and designers contribute? In answering yes, let’s not forget those who might say no, and who might come with examples! In answering yes, let’s affirm a...

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Posted on 23 Feb

Six ways AI will make your life better

The last few years have seen huge advancements in the world of artificial intelligence. As the technology continues to improve, we’ll see more and more real world applications of artificial intelligence. That means artificial intelligence is going to start playing a more obvious role in our lives. Here are six ways that AI will be making our lives better in the coming years.

Your personal concierge

Already our smartphones come equipped with personal assistants that can follow basic commands and do certain tasks for us. But in the next few years, you can expect to see huge advancements in what these personal assistants are able to do. They will be able to do more than just follow simple commands. They will be able to make recommendations based on our preferences and even help us with decision making.

Crisis management

One major advantage to artificial intelligence is that it’s able to process vast amounts of data very quickly. During a crisis, this will be crucial as artificial intelligence can help us in sorting through incoming data and devising the best plan to deal with the disaster as it unfolds.

Search and rescue

Something relatively new in the world of artificial intelligence is the ability for artificial intelligence systems to work together to solve problems or perform tasks. Already there is a RoboCup World Championship where robots have to learn to work together in order to win. This ability for robots to work together can allow them to assist us with situational problems like search and rescue that require collaboration.

Public health

Public health is a major concern. At any time, there could be a major outbreak of a deadly illness. Health professionals are always on the lookout for these kinds of outbreaks by watching for patterns of symptoms. But artificial intelligence will be able to sort through medical data and identify worrying patterns much sooner than people alerting us to public health concerns before an outbreak.

Driverless cars

Not too long ago, the idea of a driverless car would have seemed like science fiction. Today they’re already a reality with numerous companies perfecting the technology. In the near future, you can expect to see driverless cars become available to the public. These cars will allow us to make more efficient use of our time since we will be able to focus on other tasks while our cars drive for us. They’ll also be a lot safer resulting in fewer accidents and traffic fatalities.

No terminator robots

One thing we don’t have to worry about, at least in the near future, is a robot uprising. We’re still a long ways off from creating artificial intelligence that can replicate the way the human brain works. At least for the time being, artificial intelligence will be completely at the mercy of human programming which means they can’t harm us, unless we program them to.

Artificial Intelligence News brought to you by artificialbrilliance.com Source: techinsider.io/predictions-about-artificial-intelligence-from-former-google-vp-andrew-moore-2015-12

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Six ways AI will make your life better

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After receiving widespread criticism for their Teen Talk Barbie that lamented, “Math class is tough,” Mattel is stepping up their game by releasing Hello Barbie, full name Barbara Millicent Roberts, the first Barbie with artificial intelligence. Their goal is to create a toy that seems more lifelike because of its ability to carry on a conversation with kids. Whereas Teen Talk Barbie, and other previous talking Barbies, simply selected a phrase at random from a small database of possible phrases, Hello Barbie knows 8,000 lines of dialogue. Even more impressive, she selects certain phrases based on what kids are saying to her or asking her.

How it works

The secret is in Barbie’s belt buckle which actually doubles as a button that can activate speech recognition software. When a child holds down the belt buckle button and speaks to Barbie, the doll records the audio and transmits it to a ToyTalk server (ToyTalk is a third party service not owned by Mattel that manages the databases of phrases for various toys). The ToyTalk server runs something called a decision engine to select an appropriate response to what the child said. Oren Jacob, the CEO of ToyTalk describes ToyTalk’s decision engine as a kind of map with forks in the road. It uses natural language processing to analyze what the child is saying or asking and arrives at an optimal response which is transmitted back to the Barbie Doll. This entire process takes only seconds.

It keeps getting better

One of the best things about Hello Barbie is that it has the ability to keep on improving when it comes to speech recognition and response selection. Because Hello Barbie’s 8,000 lines of dialogue are stored on ToyTalk’s servers and not on a chip within the doll itself, a team of ToyTalk employees have access to that database of dialogue and can continually improve it. As more children talk to Hello Barbie, ToyTalk can study patterns, tweak their decision engine to be more accurate, and add or remove lines of dialogue as needed.

Because the audio recordings are stored on ToyTalk servers, the child’s parents can go online and listen to or delete audio recordings. They also have the option to share recordings of their child interacting with Barbie.

According to Mattel, Hello Barbie will hit the shelves in November just in time for the holidays.

Artificial Intelligence News brought to you by artificialbrilliance.com Source: popsci.com/hello-barbie-learns-to-chat-using-artificial-intelligence

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After receiving widespread criticism for their Teen Talk Barbie that lamented, “Math class is tough,” Mattel is stepping up their game by releasing Hello Barbie, full name Barbara Millicent Roberts, the first Barbie with artificial intelligence....

Show more »

After receiving widespread criticism for their Teen Talk Barbie that lamented, “Math class is tough,” Mattel is stepping up their game by releasing Hello Barbie, full name Barbara Millicent Roberts, the first Barbie with artificial intelligence. Their goal is to create a toy that seems more lifelike because of its ability to carry on a conversation with kids. Whereas Teen Talk Barbie, and other previous talking Barbies, simply selected a phrase at random from a small database of possible phrases, Hello Barbie knows 8,000 lines of dialogue. Even more impressive, she selects certain phrases based on what kids are saying to her or asking her.

How it works

The secret is in Barbie’s belt buckle which actually doubles as a button that can activate speech recognition software. When a child holds down the belt buckle button and speaks to Barbie, the doll records the audio and transmits it to a ToyTalk server (ToyTalk is a third party service not owned by Mattel that manages the databases of phrases for various toys). The ToyTalk server runs something called a decision engine to select an appropriate response to what the child said. Oren Jacob, the CEO of ToyTalk describes ToyTalk’s decision engine as a kind of map with forks in the road. It uses natural language processing to analyze what the child is saying or asking and arrives at an optimal response which is transmitted back to the Barbie Doll. This entire process takes only seconds.

It keeps getting better

One of the best things about Hello Barbie is that it has the ability to keep on improving when it comes to speech recognition and response selection. Because Hello Barbie’s 8,000 lines of dialogue are stored on ToyTalk’s servers and not on a chip within the doll itself, a team of ToyTalk employees have access to that database of dialogue and can continually improve it. As more children talk to Hello Barbie, ToyTalk can study patterns, tweak their decision engine to be more accurate, and add or remove lines of dialogue as needed.

Because the audio recordings are stored on ToyTalk servers, the child’s parents can go online and listen to or delete audio recordings. They also have the option to share recordings of their child interacting with Barbie.

According to Mattel, Hello Barbie will hit the shelves in November just in time for the holidays.

Artificial Intelligence News brought to you by artificialbrilliance.com Source: popsci.com/hello-barbie-learns-to-chat-using-artificial-intelligence

Show less »

After receiving widespread criticism for their Teen Talk Barbie that lamented, “Math class is tough,” Mattel is stepping up their game by releasing Hello Barbie, full name Barbara Millicent Roberts, the first Barbie with artificial intelligence....

Show more »

The last several years have been huge for the artificial intelligence field. There have been huge leaps in artificial intelligence technology and it’s generating more and more attention for the field. As artificial intelligence begins to seem more like a reality and becomes a part of our day-to-day life, more companies are joining in the race to be the first to create true artificial intelligence. Google and IBM are two of the most notable companies working on artificial intelligence. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have been developing their AI personal assistants, Siri, and Cortana, respectively. But behind the curtains and unknown to most, Facebook has also recently joined the artificial intelligence race and they’re becoming a serious contender.

While most think of Facebook as a social media company, Facebook has actually grown to become one of the most advanced technology research companies in the world. They’ve turned their attention to creating computers that are less like linear, logical machines and more like humans.

How it all started

When Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, got together with Facebook leadership to discuss what they could do to stay relevant for the next 10-20 years, the idea of artificial intelligence came up. Facebook already uses some simplified artificial intelligence to predict what people will want to see in their News Feeds. They decided to consult Yann LeCun, a notable AI researcher to help them step up their game. They’ve since asked Yann to build the best artificial intelligence lab in the world.

Currently, Yann has put together a team of 30 AI research scientists and 15 engineers though that number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years.

The Goal

According to LeCun, even the most advanced artificial intelligence systems in existence today are dumb compared to humans. Granted, they have access to unlimited stores of knowledge, but they lack the common sense that humans come by naturally. One of Yann’s primary goals, and perhaps his biggest obstacle is creating an artificial intelligence system that can learn unsupervised. Currently, the only way artificial intelligence systems learn is by humans giving them input. But humans learn simply by existing in the world and going about their day. To create true artificial intelligence, Facebook’s AI system will have to learn like humans learn.

Facebook M

In addition to working towards creating true artificial intelligence, Facebook is also working on a personal assistant much like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. It’s called Facebook M. The idea is to start implementing more practical uses of artificial intelligence as they work on true artificial intelligence. According to Yann and his team, Facebook M will be able to do far more than Siri or Cortana. They hope that within a couple of years, Facebook M will be able to make calls, and stay on hold for people until a person comes on the line. Practical indeed.

Artificial Intelligence News brought to you by artificialbrilliance.com Source: popsci.com/facebook-ai

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The last several years have been huge for the artificial intelligence field. There have been huge leaps in artificial intelligence technology and it’s generating more and more attention for the field. As artificial intelligence begins to seem more...

Show more »

The last several years have been huge for the artificial intelligence field. There have been huge leaps in artificial intelligence technology and it’s generating more and more attention for the field. As artificial intelligence begins to seem more like a reality and becomes a part of our day-to-day life, more companies are joining in the race to be the first to create true artificial intelligence. Google and IBM are two of the most notable companies working on artificial intelligence. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have been developing their AI personal assistants, Siri, and Cortana, respectively. But behind the curtains and unknown to most, Facebook has also recently joined the artificial intelligence race and they’re becoming a serious contender.

While most think of Facebook as a social media company, Facebook has actually grown to become one of the most advanced technology research companies in the world. They’ve turned their attention to creating computers that are less like linear, logical machines and more like humans.

How it all started

When Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, got together with Facebook leadership to discuss what they could do to stay relevant for the next 10-20 years, the idea of artificial intelligence came up. Facebook already uses some simplified artificial intelligence to predict what people will want to see in their News Feeds. They decided to consult Yann LeCun, a notable AI researcher to help them step up their game. They’ve since asked Yann to build the best artificial intelligence lab in the world.

Currently, Yann has put together a team of 30 AI research scientists and 15 engineers though that number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years.

The Goal

According to LeCun, even the most advanced artificial intelligence systems in existence today are dumb compared to humans. Granted, they have access to unlimited stores of knowledge, but they lack the common sense that humans come by naturally. One of Yann’s primary goals, and perhaps his biggest obstacle is creating an artificial intelligence system that can learn unsupervised. Currently, the only way artificial intelligence systems learn is by humans giving them input. But humans learn simply by existing in the world and going about their day. To create true artificial intelligence, Facebook’s AI system will have to learn like humans learn.

Facebook M

In addition to working towards creating true artificial intelligence, Facebook is also working on a personal assistant much like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. It’s called Facebook M. The idea is to start implementing more practical uses of artificial intelligence as they work on true artificial intelligence. According to Yann and his team, Facebook M will be able to do far more than Siri or Cortana. They hope that within a couple of years, Facebook M will be able to make calls, and stay on hold for people until a person comes on the line. Practical indeed.

Artificial Intelligence News brought to you by artificialbrilliance.com Source: popsci.com/facebook-ai

Show less »

The last several years have been huge for the artificial intelligence field. There have been huge leaps in artificial intelligence technology and it’s generating more and more attention for the field. As artificial intelligence begins to seem more...

Show more »