Client: IEEE
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Project timeline: 2014
Services provided: Keynote
Technology is the answer, but what is the question? And how does this apply to smart urban design?

Andrew Wisdom was invited to present a paper to IEEE’s 8th International Conference on Intelligent Sensors, Sensor Networks and Information Processing. Presenting to a room full of systems analysts and electrical engineers on smart urban design was a challenge. This was a group who clearly knew more than Andrew about technology and its trends and constraints.

Andrew decided that he could bring to the discussion how advances in technology have changed the way we live, what changes technology might enable, and why we would want to change, specifically in an area of interest: Smart Urban Design. The topic, Technology is the answer. But what is the question?

Andrew discussed ways in which technology has shaped the way we live. Just reflect for a moment on how the development of modern timber-framed building techniques allowed more rapid building construction that no longer relies on painstaking craftsmanship, and reflect further on how this allowed cities to grow.

Andrew spoke on how technology offers promise and how that promise drives innovation and research. America’s focus on getting men to the moon and back is an outstanding example of this. In a later decade, President Reagan’s Star Wars ambition drove research programmes. And now DARPA is offering prizes for autonomous vehicles that can negotiate routes over long distances.

Given this, Andrew invited the audience to reflect on the kind of future that they want. To help their thinking, he outlined the idea of the Ecological Age, addressed comprehensively by Peter Head in his Brunel Lecture series. Finally, Andrew used this to invite the audience to think about their research directions.