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This is a new field of place management. Edward Paice, Director, Africa Research Institute In Africa, very rapid urban growth — spatial and demographic — is occurring without adequate planning or, in many locations, any planning at all.

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Urbanisation in Africa is occurring in its own distinctive fashion and there are significant variations within and between countries. But one common feature is that the economies of nearly all towns and cities are predominantly informal. The creation of long-term, decent jobs by the state and private enterprise is woefully inadequate; industrialisation remains for the most part absent.

For African urbanisation to become a positive economic and social development, as opposed to a ticking time-bomb, urban planning needs to incorporate total populations, not simply the rich and middle classes; this is the only way that the economic potential of the majority can be harnessed for the national good. How can this be done? Firstly, citizens have to be involved. Community participation in slum redevelopment initiatives has proven to be a far more productive and cheaper way of going about things than imposing ill-conceived, expensive schemes from above.

Secondly, the technology exists to facilitate the rapid planning required — for example, data collection with mobile phones and satellite imagery have already been beneficial.

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Thirdly, urban-dwellers everywhere — voters — can mobilise even more effectively to ensure that their elected representatives deliver more. We are seeing this occurring in more and more towns and cities and it is a very positive development for cities, for infrastructure development and for democracy. Even in autocracies there is always room for citizens to organise and thereby secure services or rights that they have been denied. The final, essential, component is political will. This has been conspicuously lacking, but more determined and competent mayors and city leaders are emerging and the power of example is considerable.

The majority of Africans will live in towns and cities by Management consultancies and international financiers routinely claim that rapid urbanisation is one of the great pluses in the investment case for Africa. As things stand, this is hyperbolic nonsense. For towns and cities to drive economic growth and livelihood improvement, more imaginative and effective urban planning and management are imperative; and the provision of public goods must replace a narrow focus on the wellbeing of elites. Automation — as we move towards automated, electric vehicles, need to consider the effect on employment and wider implications of how we access mobility.

Travelling on busy roads at peak hours could become the preserve of those who can afford to pay — how does that affect commuting etc; how will this change urban planning etc. AI — automated vehicles are one application of AI but what are the wider implications for employment need for universal basic income?

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Many extoll the potential of technology to overcome that problem. Whatever technology may accomplish, we will still need to think about how space is used: automated and ride-sharing vehicles take up as much room as regular cars, whether they're on the road or parked off the street.

Going into the future, urban space still needs to be designed to maximize places for people to congregate, which are key to building social connections, fostering a sense of belonging, and encouraging community efficacy. Space for human connection is often not considered at all against technological solutions in cities. Without the design of places to support a social dimension, cities will not thrive regardless of how much technology we attempt to integrate, design for, and adopt. Public health outcomes increase when isolation diminishes and people connect. We save billions in environmental costs if we plan for places that encourage people to spend time outside.

We even reduce economic limitations in labor markets when we plan for places that allow people to shorten their commute distances and have access to stores, schools, and other daily services. It's always fun to consider panaceas that can theoretically solve age-old problems in this case, growing populations with increasing travel needs.

Planning, Education and Design in Mid-20th Century Britain, 1st Edition

However, not nearly enough attention is given to the social impacts of these new solutions. We must carefully consider how they may change the physical shape and design of our cities in the future. Most importantly, we must be aware of how they might isolate us. After all, by limiting our ability to socialize, technology may only generate new problems to replace the ones it "solved.

Nicholas Agar, professor of ethics at the Victoria University of Wellington Recent advances in gene editing suggest a future in which we can radically upgrade human genomes. But a rush to enhance ourselves may erase aspects of our humanity that proper reflection reveals as valuable.

Proper reflection on what about us we might want to preserve takes time — it should draw on a wide range of perspectives about what it means to be human. Luke Alphey, visiting professor, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford Agricultural pest insects, and mosquitoes transmitting diseases, are long-standing problems for which we still have no satisfactory solution, indeed the problems are becoming more pressing.

Modern genetics can potentially provide powerful new means for controlling these ancient enemies with greater effectiveness and precision — for example minimal off-target effects on the environment — than currently-used methods. Gene drives are just one aspect of this, but perhaps encapsulate some of the issues. One gene drive system, involving inserting into mosquito cells a large amount of foreign to the mosquito DNA in the form of an intracellular bacterium Wolbachia , has entered field trials in several countries. Potential applications of genetic methods in public health and conservation biology, for example, have very little in common with GM crops; lumping them together risks poor debate, poor policy and — in my view — potential delay or loss of huge human and environmental benefits.

Genetics and health care play a role, but social, environmental, and behavioral factors have far greater impact on the whole health of a population. Some examples of social service investments include job training, supportive housing, and nutritional support — all of which have traditionally had an underestimated focus of attention.

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Health and social services should be better integrated toward the achievement of common metrics, like lower rates of smoking, obesity, and depression. More research is needed, to measure the health care cost savings of early childhood education or income support programs, and to identify the most sustainable integrated models. A challenge moving forward is how to best engage the public with this fundamental science that really can positively impact human life and the world we live in.

The GRIN technologies — the genetics, robotics, information and nano revolutions — are advancing on a curve. Meanwhile, we humans are trying to process this exponential change with our good old v. With precious little help at all from those creating this upheaval. Folk are not stupid. They can clearly detect the ground moving beneath their feet, and that of their children and jobs and futures. When the ground moves beneath her feet, any sane primate looks for something apparently solid to hold onto. So what are we doing? These guys are not stupid. Humans require meaning as surely as food.

The days when scientists could not [care] about the impact of their work on cultural, values and society are over. Are you intentionally trying to create supermen?


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Fix it. Get out of your silo.


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  6. And then invite the most interesting ones into your lab with the goal of them becoming partners. One example of this was the scientist who was spending her life finding the biomarkers for a disease for which there was no cure. Mercifully, her lab was among the first to start systematically bringing in partners from entirely outside. Might it be possible for you to find it interesting to search for a biomarker for a disease to which there is a cure? Culture moves slower than does innovation. Deal with it, or watch the collapse of the Enlightenment as they ever increasingly come at you with torches and pitchforks — and correctly so.

    Mary Shelley knew her humans. My wife and I used to raise border collies. Border collies make terrible pets.

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    You can not give an intelligent species nothing to do. And you may not like it. Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations 1.