“Humans will no longer be centre stage” in future cities says Suzanne Livingston

Suzanne Livingston Dezeen Day

Humans will be replaced by artificial intelligence at the centre of our future cities, curator and brand consultant Suzanne Livingston told Dezeen Day.

“We will no longer be centre stage. We will no longer be kingpin,” said Livingston during a panel on future cities during Dezeen Day.

Instead of being at the centre of cities humans will have to accept being “surrounded by a diversity of intelligence, and a diversity of species”, she said.

According to Livingston, who curated AI: More than Human at the Barbican Centre, this will be difficult for people living in western countries to accept as they are used to thinking of themselves as the most important thing in the city.

“In the west we will find this difficult,” she explained. “We have a model of the self that is top down, in control, autonomous, rational and the highest form of evolutionary life.”

Suzanne Livingston to speak at Dezeen Day
Suzanne Livingston spoke about AI at Dezeen Day

People in western cultures can learn from eastern ideals like Shinto to develop a relationship with technology that is less hierarchical she said.

“According to eastern belief systems that we studied in the show there are some very interesting other ways at looking at the relationship between humans and technology,” said Livingston.

“Shinto is an animist religion and it has an idea of kami or spirit, or interconnecting energy, that puts humans, nature and technology all on the same plain, so humans are one bit part of a bigger interconnected system.”

Within future cities humans will also need to develop new relationships with artificial intelligence and digital systems she explained.

“We are not going to feel in control as we have done in times gone by and we will need to show some kind of affinity and friendliness to all these systems around us that are actually going to be improving things in fundamental ways,” she said.

Dezeen Day took place on 30 October 2019. Speakers included MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, who said that anger can be more useful than angst in the fight to make a better future for the planet and Liam Young, who argued that architects would be better equipped for the future if they applied their skills to video-game design.

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