FTP032: Aric Dromi – Smart Cities of The Future

Our cities are changing. Sometimes it looks like we are already living in the future. Some of the changes are more outwardly visible – you may see a driverless car on the street or a solar panel on a neighbour’s roof. But the biggest changes are happening behind the scenes. Technologies like AI and Blockchain are positioned to transform how our cities function on a meta-level. This is not some science fiction fantasy for the distant future, it’s already happening.

The future of society is written in code. Click To Tweet

Smart Cities of Today

The Prince of Dubai has announced that Dubai is aiming to be the first government in the world to run on the blockchain by 2020. And Singapore plans to become the world’s first smart nation, using a network of interconnected data-capturing sensors to optimize everything from street lights and garbage collection to traffic flow, and even how the elderly access medical services.

Dubai aims to be the first government in the world to run on the #blockchain Click To Tweet

The model for a city of the future will not be the megalopolis. As old behemoth cities struggle to upgrade aging infrastructure, agile small cities may rise to become global players. Others will compete by building cities from the ground up. One Chinese electric car manufacturer is doing just that. Wanxiang has invested $30 Billion into building a brand new smart city which will run on – you guessed it – the blockchain.

Cities of the future may look more like international businesses than local government structures. Singapore has opened up 8,000 government data sets so that entrepreneurs from around the world can help invent solutions that the country can later test and implement. And Estonia has started offering fully digital business services for entrepreneurs around the world through its e-residency program.

If cities like London are not careful, they may end up 3rd world cities in 10 years Click To Tweet

Cities of The Future

Cities of the future may not even look like cities. Meta-layers of connectivity through blockchains, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality could make cities less and less geographically defined. Your body could be physically in one location, while you are at a conference in another location in Virtual Reality, meeting with people who are each in a different location around the world.

These are some of the ideas we talk about in this podcast interview with Aric Dromi. Aric is a digital philosopher, speaker at Tempus Motu, and Futurologist at Volvo Cars. In this conversation, we discuss many fascinating topics from smart cities of the future, to how artificial intelligence and virtual reality will shape our perception of the world around us, to the way blockchain technology and digital nomads are influencing our society.

“Technologies such as AI and VR will enable cities to create digital citizenship models, which by default will recreate GDP structures.” – Aric Dromi

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast

  • What smart cities of the future will look and feel like
  • Creating digital representations of ourselves in VR
  • Autonomous cars, drones, and new infrastructure
  • Why AI will be an extension of ourselves
  • What kids needs to learn to be future-proof
  • How digital nomads will affect cities of the future
  • The potential of small cities like Plovdiv

Mentions and Resources

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  1. Khannea Suntzu 1 year ago

    Interesting presentation, but extremely elitist. Many people loathe this particular economic and infrastructural system and will resist it for decades to come. This presentation describes a reality that will be utterly unpalatable to the vast majority of voters, and as we have seen with Brexit and Trump they are organizing to put up a fight. My objection is this way of looking at things is zero sum – it rewards the winners exponentially more, and simply discards everyone else.

    • Khannea Suntzu 1 year ago

      And it is even worse than that – in a few years, at most a few decades there will be life extension and rejuvenation technologies. This will make established generations even more reactionary towards their own established way of life. The change has to make sense to them, or they will abort it, any way possible.

    • Euvie Ivanova 1 year ago

      Khannea, do you mean that in relation to the digital-reputation-based systems discussed in the podcast?

      Last night I watched S03E01 of Black Mirror, which painted a picture of where digital-reputation-based society can go wrong. I can definitely see how it would create and encourage elitism.

  2. AndreasS 1 year ago


    Tank you for making this podcast, it was very informative and also positive.
    You already give a good summary here and some links mentioned in the podcast. But I think it would be a very nice addition to that to supply a full text transcript.

    I wanted to comment on your discussion regarding leadership for the digital transformation in smart cities and in general. (if we had the transcript i could put you here in quotes now :) )

    I think it is a bit like Aric said you should look at Blockchain technology more from a philosophical point of view. This talk gives a hint in the right direction:


    Blockchains are a technology yes, but it is REALLY about us humans. With trust ( careful about the definition here) you can enable a conversation about consensus. This is interesting on a technical level Blockchains use a consensus algorithm to ensure correctness across the chain. Once you have “technical correctnes” or as other would call it: (technical) trust (see TED talk).

    You can start have a conversation with all blockchain participants about what is right or desired. And _that_ is the very important thing.

    So I think it is not about asking “who” will take the leadership. That is just a proxy for asking: Can please make someone other , someone “supermart” make all the difficult decisions and we *just* get by?

    No it doesn’t work that way. You need the Blockchain as a Medium to enable a discussion on a Level which currently simply does not exist. You want to discuss and find a consensus on what people really want. The Blockchain for the first time in history enables us to have that discussion because of the technical trust. The Blockchain enables you to find a consensus on a human-social level which is (otherwise) today simply not possible.

    Now on to Aric mentioning the AI. If you have all the data all the desires and opinions of all people in the city on the blockchain. You need to analyze it and react accordingly and here come programs and other machines ( Internet of things) into play.

    This may sound very abstract but projects like ehtereum and IPFS are on the best way into making this a reality. It will be very exiting to see the first smart cities around the world.

    • Euvie Ivanova 1 year ago

      We are planning to add transcripts to our podcasts in the future, when we have the budget for it.

      • AndreasS 1 year ago

        What do you think about think about the shared leadership/consensus thing regarding blockchains?

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