12 Singularity

Director/Producer: Tom COZENS
Music: Tom COZENS
Script: Tom COZENS and Professor Chris WEBSTER

Executive Producers: Professor Chris WEBSTER and Dr Eric SCHULDENFREI
Assistant Producer: Alex TAIT
Production Assistant: Winnie YEUNG
Editor: Nick BRIER

Academic Contributors: Donn HOLOHAN, Dr Cole ROSKAM and Professor Chris WEBSTER
Actors: Professor Shenjing HE and daughter, Donn HOLOHAN and Dr Xiaoxuan LU

Some predict a man-machine ‘singularity’ by the end of the current century, when machines will ubiquitously enhance human productivity, health, happiness and longevity and replace humans as labourers, managers and perhaps even as creative minds. Another ‘singularity moment’ is also predicted within a hundred years: complete urbanisation of the planet, meaning that all but a small percentage of humanity will live in towns and cities and be freed from the necessity of digging the soil. The rural and the urban will be fused. But will they? If technology reduces the costs of travelling and communicating to virtually zero, will Chinese or Americans be evenly scattered across their respective countries? Or will the reverse happen: will most people choose to live together in cities? During the 20th century, transport and communication costs shrunk to unimaginable levels. The result was bigger cities. When Europe’s first high-speed train linked Paris with the Mediterranean Sea, more people flowed north than south. Because single centred cities can get too large, poly-centric city regions connected by high-speed trains seem likely to be the equilibrium urban morphology of advanced capitalist economies and societies of the future. But will this be so if humans principally cooperate for consumption, rather than production? Might the less regular regimes of consumption-based cooperation and exchange, mean that humans scatter according to their preferences for leisure? All the more so if the Pandemic-triggered move to home-working sticks. What kinds of settlement patterns might emerge – reversions to the timeless hierarchy of smallholdings, villages, towns of various sizes and cities? Or something quite new?

Chris Webster, HKU, 2021

Featured Designs: Wind and Rain Bridge and Sun Room by Donn HOLOHAN

Featured HKUrbanLabs:

Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Initiative (urban history)
Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning and Ronald Coase Centre for Property Rights Research (economic theory of cities)
Rural Urban Framework (designs for rural sustainability)
Centre for Chinese Architecture and Urbanism (traditional architecture and modern Chinese planning)


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