12 Singularity

Director/Producer/Composer: Tom COZENS
Executive Producers: Professor Chris WEBSTER & Dr. Eric SCHULDENFREI
Assistant Producer: Alex TAIT
Production Assistant: Winnie YEUNG
Editor: Nick BRIER

Academic contributors: Dr. Cole ROSKAM, Professor Chris WEBSTER
Actresses: Professor Shenjing HE and daughter, Dr. Xiaoxuan LU
Actor: Donn HOLOHAN

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 urbanization 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 urban fuse. 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 revers 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 centered 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 society. But will this be so if humans principally cooperate for consumption not for production? Might the less regular regimes of consumption-based cooperation and exchange, mean that humans scatter according to their preferences for leisure? What kinds of settlement patterns might emerge – reversions to the timeless hierarchy of smallholding, village, towns of various sizes and cities? Or something quite new?

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