The city of the future must not only be smart, but it must also be social

Smart cities. A future in which issues such as urban planning, management, power supply, and grid mobility are interconnected. With smart lighting poles that respond to movement and smart buildings that help save energy. A community in which car sharing is a daily routine. Durable and environmentally friendly. With a clear role for artificial intelligence to coordinate all of these systems as smoothly as possible. But where is the human being?

These fundamental social and ethical questions are discussed in WHO’s Initiative Volkswagen Corporation Entitled “Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Tomorrow’s Society”. Answers to these questions must be found in eight interdisciplinary projects.

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One of these projects was developed with scholars from University of Mannheim In cooperation with College of Media In Stuttgart and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU).

The multidisciplinary project is headed by Prof. Heiner Stuckenschmidt, holds the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chair. Together with his colleagues (Professor Frake Kreuter, Sociologist and Co-Director of the Mannheim Center for Data Science, who will take over the Head of Statistics and Data Science at LMU on April 1, and Prof. Dr. Kay Eckert from Media University), he is researching the opportunities and risks of using smart systems in Traffic planning in the urban area around the cities of Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen.

Equal opportunities

Scientists want to investigate two practical applications in cooperation with business partners in this region. For example, they want to know what IoT sensors can mean to regulate traffic. For example, the use of parking spaces can be optimized in an intelligent way.

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Another important point is the impact of AI systems on social and economic inequality in the city. According to them, this applies, for example, to dynamic pricing for city parking. Too tired to make a better use. It is also encouraging more people to leave their cars behind.

Such systems are already being planned to regulate the flow of city traffic in several places. The benefits are clear here. If the traffic flows better and the congestion is less, then the exhaust fumes will be reduced and the air quality will improve. On the other hand, parking can easily become more expensive, which may be particularly detrimental to lower-income groups. In addition, the scientists in the project want to investigate “how social AI systems can create equal opportunities for all income groups to participate in urban life.”

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