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Naïve AI for Livable Cities

Thursday, December 6, 13:00-15:00h

In this design research workshop a joining of forces is sought between critical design practices around smart cities, the practice of IoT driven precision farming and unexplored potential of machine learning systems (framed by the ‘responsible AI’ discourse).

The central question of the workshop is: (how) can the ecological development of cities be supported by machine learning systems?

Whether they label themselves as smart or not, cities around the world process more and more data, relating to mobility, housing prices, waste streams, air quality, crime, shopping behaviors et cetera. Most of this increased data processing is geared towards improving public (and private) safety, hygiene and traffic conditions, in general: to improve the economic and living conditions for human citizens.  

Climate change with its rising temperatures, increased rainfall and increased atmospheric dynamism calls for a rapid adaptation of cities. ‘Greening’ is often mentioned in this context- increasing the number of trees. This would reduce temperatures, clean the air and would make cities more water resilient. But planting extra trees at a few busy and picturesque squares is not enough. The issues cannot be met with cosmetics only.  

Cities need to be understood and developed in all their new and artificial ecologic richness and complexity.  Urban ecology consists of interdependent events ranging from quick exchanges on the microscopic scale to the slow developments over large areas that take decades and include actors as diverse as microbiological soil life, humans and their pets, rodents, birds, trees, gardens, parks, pests, cars, warm water concrete, tarmac and different machines.  

Policies that take a wider ecological understanding of cities as starting point for development project are all but absent. Also, the data that would be needed to develop such policies is not gathered sufficiently. If the data would be there, machine learning systems would come in useful to find patterns and correlations in the very diverse measurements on the artificial ecologies that are cities.

In this workshop participants focus on data gathering and data processing around the ecological characteristics of a city, and figure out how machine learning can assist in making cities more livable for the whole cocktail of 21st century society.  What datasets and or sensor inputs can be used to tune machine learning systems towards favourable conditions for different urban ecology on different spatial and temporal scales? What interventions should the systems be able to make? How can they collaborate with the public services and the citizens?

This workshop is part of the Terraforming Earth project of Het Nieuwe Instituut


Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

Expert New Media / Digital Culture at Het Nieuwe Instituut

Program Day 1

Our program on Thursday the 12th

Day 1 of Thingscon 2019 we will shape the future narratives of the responsible IoT and beyond together. You can dive deep with peers, thought leaders, innovators, and researchers from the ThingsCon community and beyond:

Full program

Program Day 2

Our program on Friday the 13th

Day 2 of Thingscon 2019 is about the current state of the responsible IoT. You can get inspiration from thought leaders and practitioners from the field, get hands-on with the latest tools & insights and be part of the leading discours. To end Thingscon will present a State of the Responsible IoT in 2019:

Full program

Tickets & info

12 / 13 December, Rotterdam | Get your tickets now!

Date and time

Thursday, 12 dec. 2019, 09:00 – 19:00 (CET)
Friday, 13 dec. 2019, 09:00 – 20:00 (CET)


Het Nieuwe Instituut
25 Museumpark, 3015 CB Rotterdam (map)


Get your ticket!

Speakers & hosts

Our speakers & hosts

We are happy to announce our keynote speakers and hosts for sessions and workshops. These include:

Marleen Stikker
Tracy Rolling
Heather Wiltse
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino
Klasien van de Zandschulp
Mirena Papadimitriou
Davide Gomba
Wouter Reeskamp

But wait, there are many more:

All our Speakers & hosts