BeyondTech: Prof. Derek Woodgate Part 2 – Future Tech, Smart Cities, BCI, Accessibility & Security
Mahyar: welcome to the second part of this episode of Beyond Tech with our guest, Dr. Professor Derek Woodgate. In case you missed the first part of the discussion, you can find it by clicking the link in the top right corner. The different discussion points are all timestamped throughout the episode.
So you can freely move around as you see fit. We discussed the current developments and state of technological advancement as it stands in quite a bit of detail. But now I'd like to go further ahead. What I would love to do is for everyone to basically put on their futurist hats, if you will. You mentioned that you often look 15 to 20 years ahead.
So when we're talking about the currently emerging technologies, and as you said, even the ones that are no longer emerging they're the past that stage, the growing stage. What are the technologies that you are most intrigued by that you think have the most potential for growth or for making an impact in the not so distant future? Derek: From an interest perspective I mentioned earlier that, you know, I, I believe in these parallel developments, so I'm never really looking at a technology simply, , I need to understand it, but simply from the technological perspective, I'm looking at what it does for society. I suppose that's my role, and I think within that, some of the areas I'm particularly, and let's talk about areas first because they help understand the technologies. But without any question, human augmentation is a big one for me. So yes, I'm very interested in that in every area, whether it's looking at from cyborgs or Transhumans or Posthuman or even the augmented learner. And what does that mean, , from the perspective of assisted technologies or assisted environments or, BCI particularly, and brain implants and all those outside.
And a lot, I look at a lot of things around multi-agent machine cognition. And things like that because I don't, I can't see the augmented learner without these areas, of operation, these areas of augmentation. I look at what are augmented and embodied agents and all the work that's happening in that area and the way it's , , springing up as, , adaptable, autonomous hybridized and situational and and social and so on, so forth and what they've meant, and one of the aspects of my interest in this is what actually, I want to actually shift our concepts and contexts.
So what's the , reconceptualization, and recontextualization of our world? So when I look at something like social, I'm not just thinking of it from the social network perspective or some social communication or whatever it happens to be, I'm looking at what that actually does, so how does that shift our everyday lives? How we interrelate with one another. What communication systems do we use? , how does that impact our ability to work? How does that impact our ability to gain knowledge and information and so on and so forth? And, , you take something like social cause it's a very good platform in that sense when you begin to understand it. , our dating right has shifted. I'm not mine personally, but most people I know accumulation of news . Our ability to communicate directly with famous people. obviously I do a lot with gaming and gamification, some of these areas. So when I analyze these types of things, I begin to understand, , what is a transactional space, not just from, whether that's a financial transactional space.
What does it mean in friendship. What does it mean in communication? What does it mean in identity? Which is a massive area going forward. multiple identities, how we see ourselves. You think about the metaverse, how we project ourselves through avatars. Do they shift? This type of areas.
So the, to me, the technology per se is interesting. So when I talk about collective open intelligence, it's a massive area, cuz I believe it is. But it's more about what we do with the intelligence and how we apply it and where we apply it and, who are the beneficiaries of it and how it improves our wellbeing, societal wellbeing than actually I wanna know the rules around it because they will have an impact on the benefits and otherwise And I need to know the tipping points, what are the key things? What are the must haves to drive this? But some of the things I'm looking at around, , I talked about transdisciplinary, but that brings with it a whole load of. Areas. And that's, , maybe part of this whole thing, , neuro robotics, , things that we don't normally talk about, bioengineering, what's happening there. Massive things, which, again, AI is critical to that, , it's bioengineering molecular nanotech.
I things like, , mind to mind. Life extension, brain implants. All these areas are critical to what I first mentioned, which was human augmentation, and these will all have an impact on identity When we talk about re-engineering the human and regen genetic engineering of the human designer babies and stuff like that. How does that impact basic, Jungian thought on our structures, these are all critical aspects and I don't think we can see any of this in a singular point. This is all integrated. So I'm always looking for these overarching themes.
I suppose you'd call 'em, I said I mentioned smart city cause it was an easy one, but, there are things like urban development. , things like s spatial intelligence and information or urbanism and stuff like that, that have a whole new role to play in our lives that we need to understand because that's where the changes occur. The technology are a driver for that. But when I can adopt a designer baby, that shifts what a family is. So it's those changes, those I call them reconceptualization and recontextualization, of the way we live. These are the things that matter to me because ultimately, whether we like it or not, over a period of time, we maybe have not noticed a lot of the time.
But those things are the things that happen, so it's easier to talk about something like how banking's changed. How cyber, currencies and all the structures around that and what that meant and how it's operating and not operating, how it's working, how we use them, where it came from second life and how Bitcoin grew out of all that. And yeah, we can talk about all that, but ultimately at the end of the day, what has that done for the way we transact? Is it shifted transaction more towards bartering? So that's the type of thing that I want to see, because if I talk about emerging issues, they're the things that I want to follow. And all these technologies somehow fit into that or drive those new ways of thinking about it on new structures. That's my, my way of looking at it.
, obviously at the end of the day people are developing emotional machines, which I think is phenomenal by the way. And yeah, I think that would change our lives. And the way we think about machines and the way we deal with mutual intelligibility, our ability to understand one another and, communicate our ability to co-produce overanalyze. So yes, all these things add, I can't not talk about the metaverse because any question is happening and it really depends on how it's gonna happen and what it means, or, , from a basic level of, is it a game or a multiverses of games, which I don't think so.
Or is it just multiverses of the basic internet in terms of shopping and or concerts, , live concerts or whatever. I mean,, yes it is, but there's a lot more going on beyond all of that, which is critical. And I'll touch on one of them because I know it's an area that is of interest to everybody and that goes back. To the whole thing of social engineering that we talked about deep fakes, so there's not a better place when you're dealing with identities that aren't necessarily real or otherwise.
there's different areas we're seeing at the moment and that side of things like counterfeiting and, , total organizations that don't exist, all that stuff's easy, but here I'm talking about identity assassination and murder in the metaverse here I'm talking about the ability of generative modeling and generative AI that can reconstruct our verses our universes across time all the time, and lead to completely revamped areas, , at any given time. And that's sort of interesting what's happening with evidence tampering, what's happening with literally social engineering, that we've seen as totally different types of people in, a lot of it when we talk about identities is not necessarily taken on a human avatars. A human identity can be any identity, can be a pigeon for that matter, doesn't really matter, so these things are complex. And I want to understand how we're gonna interrelate all these things and play with them. Gamers are gonna do better cuz they're more used to it.
Non-gamers are gonna be lost for time, but when they believe they can get their shopping cheaper, I'm sure they go there. , if you look at the level of ability for simulation, for training, for everything else in 3D environments is unbelievable. And living in a 3D environment the level of immersion, the level of sense of belongingness, the sense of what we call personal ambience.
This ability of what we feel in any given, , situation or our ability to be engaged and interact is gonna be incredible. Yeah, I dunno whether by 2025 we can be spending one hour a day there or five hours a day. But you can take any projection you want.
I think it will be by 2035 the new internet because there's no reason why you wouldn't actually transition. it's just different structure 3D rather than 2D structure. If you look at the 3D games, like roadblocks and there are hundreds of them, the other day I was playing with some of them playing in Neon City, , playing with avatars that are completely different types of things, thinking about how meta punks and Metas are gonna be in the future, and what that's all gonna look like.
And, it's really fun if you've been into Decentral Land or , Fortnite or in Sandbox or any of these , but they're fun to see what, how far we've got, cause it's all in development. There are thousands and thousands of developments going on and somehow that will be aggregated and something will come from it. And will it be exactly as we think? Probably not. But that's a technology that affects all of us and is critical. Some of these other technologies I mentioned, , I talked about earlier like cognitive machinery and stuff, we'll all use it.
We'll all be using it. We'll, all cybernetic organisms, these things are being developed. They're all happening, molecular machines are happening. They're very low level usage at the moment. Cause we're trying to understand them still.
They will happen. We won't necessarily always, unless they become a household name like AI or as important, we won't necessarily think about them. They're things that happen in the background. Nano-manufacturing will absolutely shift our whole field of manufacturing and create new industries and new products and so on and so forth. No question. And that's happening, and so we're seeing this already.
Some of these , robotic processes and automated nano manufacturing processes that are creating things. Quantums coming in Exa computing, which is happening this year or should happen this year. If Sand Labs complete their process is shifting.
Our whole ability of computing. Massively. I don't need to go into all the details cause it's meaningless, but, , and I think that these, , new intelligent tools that we're working with, cognitive machinery and stuff, they are fundamentally shifting how we're gonna go in the future. Of course, I'll pay attention to all of them. Some of those are things that happen just happen, , some people use 'em for art and suddenly we think, oh my God, we can do that with it.
So read my next book. Yeah, so a lot of important stuff, but put it into context. Mahyar: You touched on so many different technologies. Some of it I'm not very familiar with to be honest.
Some of it is obviously very much in development and some of it I think could go in, in any given direction. The Metaverse is the perfect example of that. I think. I've spoken to quite a few people who are very much involved in this field and it's obviously the "3D-ification" of the internet, if you will.
Instead of reading it, we would be in a virtual environment to some degree or the other, but I think a lot of other potential side effects would come out of this specifically. So you mentioned deep fakes, you mentioned visual avatars, but if you think about these visual interaction, it's going to be very difficult for us to fully authenticate a person because our models of authentication at the moment are completely different, right? The authentication technology really needs to adapt. Face ID would need to be completely changed. There's already filters that you can use to basically fool face id. And so many of the other ones are already definet.
I know that anytime a new type of cryptography or authentication comes about, there will be someone who comes up with a way to go behind it. But I think that's where the metaverse, to me becomes problematic, at least where with the current authentication technologies. Derek: Yeah. Neuro forensics, having a big will have a big impact on that, and that's why we're seeing things like brain prints. Now, a lot of this is a matter for legislation as well, so can we use certain things, because, , this can go in another direction that we can start to believe that, , criminal intent, someone we've been talking about for many years, is it inbred? Is it, a social development? Is it, , predominant in certain groups of people? and so yeah, we've got to be careful how we deal and work with this type of new authentication processes.
Mind reading's one of those, Mahyar: So that's a perfect segue for first to talk about Neurolink and bci. And how that relates to mind reading. This is one of the technologies I'm personally most fascinated with. Essentially the Neurolink project that is co-founded by Elon Musk and aims to develop an implantable brain chip brain computer interface or brain machine interface that basically allows us to speak to machines and to probably AI to some degree. And then connect us to other digital devices.
I suppose sort of like what a wearable would do right now. What are your thoughts on this type of advancement? How realistic do you think it is? How difficult would it be to create machine interface with our minds and to essentially allow a machine to read our minds Derek: so mind reading to me it's very difficult. I'll tell you why it's difficult. I'm very keen on Neuralink succeeding.
Because it's an area I'm exceptionally interested in. I've done a lot of work with wearables and BCI and stuff like that over the years and, so Neuralink the mind-to-mind Really is about a chip that monitors the moving really of thousands of neurons, and supposedly, it will be able to read our mind or allow us to communicate from mind to mind. And it has something like, I don't know 3000 electrodes that are attached through these. I think they're wires, they call them flexible threads. They're wires. It's a bit like the Matrix, this is the matrix in real.
We are seeing the metaverse, , in real. So, , our Stevenson and Gibson er and , all these things like ready Player One and Snow Crash, and Philip k Dick and Electric Sheep we're all coming to reality, and it's fantastic, isn't it? It's fantastic. , minority Report, which is much later than that report.
It was in 2000, I think the movie particularly. It's already there, we don't even think about it anymore. It's more or less there. But on the mind-to-mind stuff, there's a problem with that.
Well, in BCI in general, and that's that we don't necessarily know sufficiently about our neurological and cognitive systems in our, i in real world. So the question is, do you have to create the same, which is a big argument, or can you bypass our true neurological processes? I work with a guy called Rex Young who's a neurologist, one of the most famous neurologist actually. I work with him because he's the, probably one of the greatest experts in creativity and understanding the neurological aspects of personal creativity and creative development and creative thinking, so on. He worries that. So what the mind-to- mind is about, is really collecting those memories and thoughts. That are deep inside of us, because that's how we work, , our consciousness is our present.
It's what's happening now between you and I. Okay? It has relevance because it's part of what we're doing in the present and it's critical that we understand one another. And, but much of the feeding of that is our subconsciousness, cuz there's a history. We're plug things in.
I'm talking to you about snow crash and, and to remember, you know, Philip k well,, so it all comes from our, our subconscious, and then there's our unconscious. Our unconscious stuff that we don't really know. We know, but we know, there are some of the big things and some of the underlying issues that we all have, but the critical thing is that to be able to get into that subconscious and unconscious, which is part of our memories, it's a big part of our memories is complicated. And so I think the verdict's out currently, on mind-to-mind, but it'll happen.
Okay. The verdict's out because in parallel we're working, , with neurology and we're understanding more and more, and these things I mentioned earlier, they work in parallel, they drive one another. So I'm very hopeful because forgetting the pure mind-to-mind there are some incredible things with BCI that we've done with blindness, we've done with paralysis already we are helping people with, sensory stimulation that they didn't have.
These are wonderful things. So yes, I'm very hopeful that it all comes together and we can take that medical aspect to it to a totally different level. Mahyar: how do you foresee this coming to be? Is it going to be literally an interface, an auditory or visual interface? So there's basically a voice in your head or a heads up display like Jarvis from Ironman something you see or is it even a thought, maybe like, If you're a visual or auditory person, you would get it in the same way.
That's, I think what I struggle with the most , Not so much how the machine would read our mind, but how we would get the input from the machine, if you will. Derek: Well, the question really is, is how do we partial this off, Does an implant, the question you were asking, does an implant have a, the equivalent of a screen, I don't mean a screen, but a , , a visual reading of what we're seeing an audio reading on what we're seeing. Does AI provide that analysis from a cognitive, emotional perspective, at the same time, which is what you're asking, right? How do we, how do we get that? one thing is the production, the source, and the production of that.
And the other thing is the distribution. What you're asking me is how will this be distributed to other parts of our brain? That read in microseconds or rather nanoseconds what we're seeing or hearing. And you're right to ask the question.
Cuz what we're seeing predominantly is the source and manufacturing part of it. Mahyar: Right. Derek: I feel like what we're not yet sufficiently familiar with is the interface, and I don't mean the production interface, the distribution interface. It's a bit like we spend our whole life talking about alternative energy.
We never talk about electricity, They're obviously integrated, but they're separate things. And one, when I think about BCI a lot of the time, which why I'm really happy with the, , this whole area around stimulated sensory things is because there you, it is very concrete, I can see, I can hear. I can feel my leg. So you what to answer your question on that one you know what the actual output is, the output's vision and so on, but when it's about the consciousness or cognitive aspects, seems complicated, but it's only complicated because we don't yet fully understand how an implant looks or works. We talk about it from the operational perspective or how it can be linked into the brain, what it needs to connect to, which part of the cortex, which part of the HyperC, whatever, , it has to work with, . But we don't talk about ultimately the end of the day how we're gonna receive and do we receive it through the same but an augmented version of the same way we receive that data now.
But you don't want it juggling with your own consciousness. , is it integrated? This is a little bit of top of. Head thinking as we go through this. So, , bear with me, but it is an issue. Simple. It's simple with communications.
Okay? A hand implant, I'm sure you've seen the Swedish ones all they are literally hand implant. What are they giving you? The same as your watch, , wearable can give you, or phone could give you. There's no cognitive data in that.
Now we're shifting to something very different and then you start getting into whole conversations around the soul and what's acceptable and what isn't acceptable and what we should be able to even consider in that context or talk about or whatever, these are big stories. They're not that simple to deal with. So yeah, I agree with you. This is not there yet, but will we get there? Yeah, I think so. Mahyar: I'm sure you're aware of the theory that intuition is basically pattern recognition that our brains, that our unconscious mind uses to translate the exabytes of information that it gathers. That doesn't necessarily go into the conscious mind and then giving us this sort of gut feeling or intuition that tells us something that our conscious mind can actually accept.
But basically that it's less spiritual, if you will, and it's more just very quick nanosecond response of information that is captured that our conscious mind can't understand because of our Latent Inhibition. That's a whole topic for a whole different discussion, I'm sure but I think it. Makes me think about when you're connecting your mind, essentially to a technology like bci, which is going to potentially have access to your unconscious mind and the data that it gathers, which it can do things to, right? Now the ideal scenario, of course, is that this is a, positive thing. And I think what Neurolink is at least aiming to do is to give you information that you can access in a positive way. , but what if this AI can have access to this information on its own, that it can basically fully capture this data in a sense and do whatever it wants with it, Maybe it has negative aims or maybe it just corrupts this data so you can't access it and I'm not talking about, people hacking it or something. But basically it does something for itself using your brain data, especially if this potentially connects to other ai right? That has access to this as well.
Again, that's a whole different discussion for a whole different time. But I'm just curious your thoughts on this. How should we account for this? Should we think about this as we are creating these AI technologies like G P T four and five and whatever else? When we're going more towards agi, should we keep things narrow maybe and not give them that kind of computing power? Derek: This is all the ethical debate on there. I mentioned a black box earlier. You know,, I wasn't joking when I said that. And what I meant by it was, , what? What should we allow and what shouldn't we allow it to do? But it's funny you talk about this from the intuition perspective, because that's sort of right.
I have to determine even coming to this interview, do you like me? So can I be open with you? Can I trust what you're doing with the information? Can I trust how you interpret the information? Or is this all about destroying my whole. Mahyar: Right, Derek: I'm exaggerating, but you know, , we use it for everything all the time, , not maybe as robustly as that, but you imagine, I get invited to speak on all sorts of stuff and I'm thinking, who is this? , You know, you know,, why me? What have I done? But, , we are always using, we do it for everything. And I think we feel, , that's who we are, right? as humans, with time, growing confidence, rightly or wrongly, because clearly at sometimes we are wrong, , whether it's about relationships, whether it's, you know,, all sorts of things, But we, are dependent on our, I don't like the word judgment, but in this context, judgment, our ability to consider all the, , facts and points of view and different perspectives good and bad and risks all that in seconds, this isn't in, like, this is easy if I'm writing a strategic plan, if I meet someone in the street, Or an airport who introduced himself and then says, by the way, yeah, it'd be really good to meet you, to discuss blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In that split second, I've gotta make a decision. Do I actually receive a WhatsApp message from that guy or block him? Well, I think the AI is perfectly capable of making that decision, but do we want it to, but w why would it not have a blocking tip? Do we want to know everything that someone else thinks? Do we wanna do we want time for our own thoughts? Do we wanna feel, , in some ways, is that good thing, so when you put into the health context, it's a really good thing. Blind people will see, wow, that's crazy, but I'm just telling you what a great guy you are and I hate you.
Is that a good thing? Our whole cognitive communication right. Is at, Is at stake here. That's the reality of it. Mahyar: You said it perfectly. I think we still don't have the full understanding of the sheer computing, the sheer quantum computing capabilities of the human brain. Because what our brains can do it's, not understood at the moment . Derek: We're miles away. We're miles away.
Mahyar: Exactly. It's a developing field. So looking at it objectively, we know that this information is definitely gathered by our brain.
The intuition information, if you wanna call it that's a fact. There's probably more information that our brains gathers that we don't actually know about or understand yet, or have theories hypothesizing. But even the amount we know about if an AI would have access to this information, if it could transcribe this data, if you will, to some degree that our conscious might can't then. So that's maybe more my question. Should we block that part of our brain? Is this something that can even be done given that we don't know about the brain? Can we really only have this real discussion about BCI once we're past this stage of understanding the human brain? Once we fully understood the brain? Is BCI even realistic based on everything I just said? Derek: Yeah. No, , I don't, certainly in my lifetime, I'm not sure we will, but you are younger, maybe in yours.
Um, no I fully understand. I think it's really complicated, but there may be a breakthrough. That's what I always see with this, it was like the genome, there was a breakthrough, and I think in all of these things, it seems to me think about the cell, understanding the cell.
I was talking with a colleague of mine who've been working on this for years, actually at Georgia Tech. And he said, well, so one thing we've never been on. About three days later, they had a breakthrough.
That changed everything. The genome changed everything. I think within this, there'll be something, there'll be the eureka moment, and once you break that, it's very, it's much easier to move it on. I just don't think we've found that eureka moment. I think we're still in the hard slog, , bit by bit.
, we do get them, I'm sure. I don't know enough about all of the neurological brain research have been done. , I know that which I need from my own work, right. I mentioned earlier about this thing about AGI are not, and I think I said there were like there'd been these 84 cognitive architectures over the past 40 years or whatever, and that there were now projects going on. 60, 60 odd of these were being still used, but there's over a thousand, I'm not going think what I said at the time, but there's over a thousand projects on AGI going on at the moment. Something will happen.
Mahyar: Right. , Derek: it's so I think you have to see it all. I'm a positivist, right.
So I always see in that framework because that's what life's taught me and then it slows cuz suddenly we have an answer to something and then it takes forever to move it to the next level. Mahyar: That's very true. It's a very non-linear, just as a Derek: Yeah, absolutely.
Absolutely. Yeah. Mahyar: Okay, so while we wait for that information to come, we can step away from the micro and I think go more towards the macro. A topic you and I have discussed in great detail many times is smart cities. I think it's something that we could literally do a whole episode on and we should for the future. But I wanna bring all of this in a sense together with smart cities and smart city technologies especially as it relates to the future.
As things stand, most of what we consider as smart cities at the moment are really smart city technologies where they take uh, a technology or type of technology or sector of technologies, if you will, for a specific need and use that to excellence. So different cities do this differently based on their different needs. I think Amsterdam is a great example, for example, for smart mobility and transportation. London is one of the most C T V covered cities in the world. So I suppose you would call it a leader in security.
India is a global leader in smart waste management because that's the key need that the country has. And of course there's some examples where, you have countries and cities that have multiple sectors and use cases. I think Singapore is always the best example that's always given for multi-sectorial use cases of smart city technologies. But how do you think this is going to go forward? Do you foresee different groups of cities moving along these lines and continuing to improve and excelling in their areas, and then essentially sharing that knowledge with other cities who use it and implement it? Does this mean that, for example, Amsterdam should teach everyone else on transportation and London should teach everyone else on security? And we should have this sort of global cross collaboration of different key metropolitan leaders. Or is there a different model for this Derek: I thought London already had taught everyone about C CTT cameras. I can't go anywhere.
My Amsterdam mobility is a bit odd because actually the systems they got, which are fantastic by the way are integrated systems and it's cuz of the locks and all the other elements around that, parking problems and so on. So it's an interesting idea though. But yeah, , overall my start point for all of this is the human, a city, I don't care if it's smart or not smart, but any city ultimately is for us, and it's for our wellbeing. And if it's not for our wellbeing and progress, then there's something wrong with it. Mahyar: Right. Derek: Okay? Now that's driven predominantly by two things.
One. What is the city per se that's made up of all the stakeholders in the city? What do they think? First of all, is the spirit, the soul of the city? What do they think actually is? So, and this is a big start point for any, whether it's a, , a big current city or a new city, and, , what's its essence, what's its functionality? And somewhere like Austin, which the perfect city, it wasn't here came Silicon Hills, you can't afford to live there anymore. It was perfect in that way, because it had an essence that I suppose you could say was, , keep Austin weird.
There was a, a story, right, which is remained, And you could build around that by going weird in all different areas. So I worked on this. So as a member of the original 2020 committee for the development, Austin, I'm also part of the cultural division of the government to, to move forward. And so what we looked at was exactly that, so we wanted to keep Austin weird in some way or other, how do we do that? So we were lucky, we.
Tech arts, okay. Because they're really strong in the film, the music and everything else. And we were strong in tech and we were able to say how do we do this? So what part of the way of doing it is you have to get investment and you always have to get investment of the headquarters. , no point in having mo Motorola, , a little Motorola factory cuz you're nothing from that employing a few people.
Cause the money always go back to the headquarters. So you have to make this really somehow have a spirit that fits the city. There's some es essential baseline already there if it's an existence city.
And that enables growth, economic growth. And that enables the people of the city to feel a sense of belongingness and a buy-in to whatever that spirit or soul is. If you don't have that, you can just add bits on like every city has been doing, not very successfully. But that's why we don't really get very integrated smart cities. But some of the ones you're mentioning actually in a way, they're not fully integrated smart cities, but they have elements of it. But when you talk about real smart city, you've got to start with what you're trying to achieve with that city, right? , and then you start to talk about this is a problem to me.
You look at analogies and you go, it's a computer city. , it's a software city. It's a, , you have all these weird names for what it, how it's structured, what those really mean as the structure of the city.
What do we want, do you want a tech city? Do you want a culture city? Do you want a art city? Do you want a financial city? What do we want? Right? And we have to sort of work out how we fit that in. And that is a predeterminate to what smartness means, because , if I wanna be at Atlanta and I want to have the, I wanna be the second largest financial hub in the whole of the United States, which means I'm not just fighting with New York, but I'm fighting with LA and Dallas and some wherever, ? And therefore I gotta have certain conditions that make that happen. So my smartness, which the average person may not know, is in all the technology that drives the financial sector, and you are gonna say, wasn't a very smart city, you still do the same. Mobility is exactly the same as it was, but it's highly smart and it has the smartest people in finance working in it. And this is what's happening with cities, because we're not, we haven't really seen, well, maybe in China because they're building new cities, but in most places we don't really have that many new cities. If you look in UAE with a new city, Masdar for example, it's not very exciting.
Why? Cause I have no idea what it's supposed to be. So there's nothing I can have my hat on to even say where it's smart. I can say there's little bits of it that are smart, they're clever, but not honestly, not very smart, particularly.
And so I think there is this value, as you pointed out at the beginning, to having sections that are smart to build from. Okay, now you live in the city that actually isn't particularly smart. But what it is, is it has a really clear spirit. So when it begins to build its smartness, which would be around communications and so on and so forth, it'll be really smart, right? Because IoT and things like that, which are the key, some of the key of and though, you know,, situation awareness, right? call that in a city like Dubai, that's perfect because that city is perceived already as an intercommunication city, the buildings are all tied between themselves a way the city's are structured. What are they called? Sports City, video. City, media, city.
I, whatever the names they're right. So there's a like a, if you were drawing it, you'd have a hub, wouldn't you? And have all these, well I'm sure they did put all these bits around it. And you can see this like the perfect setup for a smart communications hub. Which brings me back to something I talked about earlier, which was this issue of social cop cultural optimization.
So what I think Dubai has done, even though I probably didn't call it that, has actually found a system that's moving towards social cultural optimization. And it's made the human, in many ways, pretty center to that. But it's done something that makes the human, so when I say puts the human at the center, the human at the center can mean many things. It can mean convenience and ease of movement, and all the things that can be feeling safe, a sense of luxury, a sense of belongingness, all these things, but that sense of belongingness can come from not just the facilities, but that social cultural optimization. So I can say, "I can't even understand why you're gonna build the next biggest building in the world, why? , what's it mean?" But it means everything, okay? It means everything.
When you create a city that the soul of the city is that we are, or we're gonna be the world's best at everything. Gives you an incredible sense of belongingness. It's intrinsic.
And people start saying what they do in Austin. Oh, I live in the best city on the planet cuz it's diverse. , it's this friendly, it's that friendly. It's, these are ease of movement. We now have urban density, which we didn't have.
I mean,, it's fantastic. We have everything and we have fun cuz we have music and film and everything else. What more can a human being want? I feel it. I'm allowed to feel weird and different. That's my sense of belongingness, right?. I think the problem with most cities is they haven't been able to achieve that.
And that's why we, even if they are smart in certain ways, you've picked up on mobility for example because they're one of the things we talk about, but, you know,, I said Atlanta. Cause I think Atlanta's an incredibly smart city, like relatively, but it wouldn't be on anyone's list because no one's analyzing what the smartness is. They're waiting for the autonomous cars. We've made that ourselves. If it doesn't have autonomous cars then it's not a smart city, if there are no robots greeting us, it's not a, it's not a smart city. Right.
But believe me, having the best medical system in the world that's incredibly smart would be a pretty good first take for me as to, well as smart city is. And what happened is we're looking at the sort of icing without actually looking at the cake, that's part of the issue in discussing a smart city. , it's like, Mahyar: That's so true. That's a really apt analogy, I think. Yeah.
Derek: So where do you wanna put your investment? Do I wanna put it in something that's gonna make it look nice? Or do I literally want to have the best medical system in the world that's actually saving lives? Now we're talking about human-centric. So we have to think of these things really differently and we have to think of them in the relationship to the place. Now that's different if you're building something new, fully new, should shall in China or somewhere. But the ones that I've seen are lacking all that first bit, and that's why no one wants to move there. Mahyar: That makes perfect sense. I think you can have the most flashy technologies, but without a, so behind cities the body doesn't really work, does it? Derek: No, it wasn't.
I don't think of the smartest thing that London ever did was stop cars driving into the center Because it was, hell now it's not. , Mahyar: it's still not great, but it's getting better Derek: Yeah. But you know what I mean? It's like, maybe cuz we've overused the word, , maybe the intelligence part of it has got lost somewhere. Mahyar: I think so, because smart cities is such a subjective thing, maybe we should have actually defined that as well. To some degree at least.
But it's true because people can think of it as very different things. I've had discussions where people consider it to be more about sustainability and how it improves the environment and our overall living, but I think you're certainly right that you need to keep the user journey at the heart, at the core of any aspect of. Would be considered to be smart cities. Derek: What's the most critical thing of a city? Livability, right? Why do you, why do you move to, well, I mean,, you move to a city cuz of a job maybe, but still gotta be livable.
Mahyar: I think London's a great example of this because so many people work in Central London, but actually live in Strawberry Hill or Kingston. Or Richmond or wherever else in the boroughs of London. Because I suppose they don't want to live in central.
Derek: No. Cuz the livability is pretty poor. Sociability is really good, Mahyar: Yeah, Derek: so livability basically is about agency growth, opportunities, contribution, am I contribute, contributing. What else? Choice. Freedom of choice of how I live, and health and wellness and safety. But , that's, that was always to me, a massive Plus. I live in Reka.
It's one of the safest places on the planet. How nice it is just to walk around, not think about being mugged Mahyar: Okay. That's fair. I think you want to continuously step on the technology today. I think it's almost a theme for this episode. But no, I agree with the premise.
I think we almost get lost in how flashy and sexy a technology is. But it's really about what are you going to do with it? It's about how are we going to leverage this to improve something, improve our lives and processes , that we currently have Derek: Don't misunderstand me. I love technology. , I'm not, Mahyar: so on that note, I think this brings to my mind another important question, which is accessibility of technology.
We talked about AI in smart cities and all these things, but some cities don't even have basic fundamentals like clean running water and accessible roads, right? We can call this developing and developed nations, the global, north and south, whatever the political terminology might be. But when you look at the gap, the divide, technologically it's very prevalent and very obvious. And it's always been the case that the most affluent and the most fortunate people are the first to use these technologies and the most affluent and the most prosperous cities are the first to be able to implement them as well. There's some argument of course, to be made that, especially when it comes to, new technologies like solar panels and desalination, the cost of installing them and the knowledge required for, enabling their implementation has dropped significantly.
So maybe it costs one-tenth of what it did at its inception to, to install solar panels now But I would argue that's for current technologies and we don't know what the future technologies like AI and smart cities are going to do. If anything, they're going to at least initially further that, divide further that gap before things come together. Overall, what are your thoughts on this? When you're talking about, technological advancement, moving cities from where they are now to the future, whatever it is? Derek: Well, it's not, it is not always about the technology, it's about the investment costs of that technology, it's about the actual, the other aspects of it.
, what's the infrastructure that has to fit into, if you have no existing infrastructure, the cost of, on the other hand, this is a perfect example of Mahyar: Is that an iPhone or a Samsung? That's my first question. So I disagree with your premise altogether. Derek: No, but , I didn't mean it from that perspective, but you know, the, the i the, the phone, the mobile device. But everybody has one. Mahyar: Everybody maybe has a mobile communication device, Derek: A mobile communication device.
Mahyar: But they don't have an iPhone, for example. Right? This device that has massive computing power compared to what old computers used to do, right? A smartphone, like an Android, Samsung, iPhone, whatever, can do much more than an old school flip phone could right? Derek: And they're very cool at the moment. Be careful they're trendy. Flip Mahyar: the old No. An old school flip phone, right? Like the ones with the numbers on them and not the touchscreen.
Let's put it a different way. You can invest and buy the most advanced drone. That has ever existed to do all your work that you want with it. If you don't have 5G or even 4g, really.
But if you don't have good telecommunication capabilities this device is almost useless outside of a very small range, so you're limiting what it can actually do. Derek: but you are asking me to resolve all the SDGs in Mongo Mahyar: Just as it relates to your field, which is the future? Derek: education and everything else. Yeah. Mahyar: Fix it, Derek.
Fix it. Would Derek: Exactly. Exactly.
Well, certain sector technologies are obviously being easier to migrate across. Different economic environments or what everyone wants to call them. Right. And the mobile device, despite most things, it's a bit like the television, of course there are people without television, but the household devices because of the number of them and the simplicity of in a way of them, the.
Mena technical simplicity of a washing machine, which is why only costs about $300 or something , has enabled them to be across all. And these are critical, cuz these are for daily functional use technologies. Now, I agree with you, if , you wanna do something a little more ultimately i do take vr this is a good example. We can all talk about vr, but most of us don't have a VR set, even though it's an everyday thing we talk about. So it's not that poorer people don't have it. No one has it.
Obviously a lot of the sort of, um, lower level technologies, which didn't seem like they were at the time like a washing machine or TV or whatever. , with time, have become so cheap. They're available in most places. I know of course there are places are not available, but relatively speaking, they're available. Right. And obviously with time, this is a good thing.
Yes. More and more people, I do meet more and more people. I, by the way, who do have phones, I would never expect them to. And that's to do with the way that credit systems work. That's to do with the way that promotions work within organiz, ? So none of this is necessarily just about the technology, this is about, again, the ecosystem in which that technology thrives or doesn't thrive. We still do not have VR systems in our homes.
, We know that you need to harmonize three or four of the steep things for it to happen. Because technology on its own doesn't, , it's great, but doesn't mean much if the price is completely off the, you know,, or it's too clunky or the law says you can't use it. So a lot of the time there are a whole variety of reasons why there's inequality of distribution of technologies.
And of course one of them is economic development. As I mentioned earlier, we've actually done relatively well with smartphones. Why? Because in most countries now I didn't, this is something I've learned, at least i do say I work a lot with Uganda, Rwanda, and um, Kenya is, they buy a secondhand version of this. So they actually are not, so someone said to me, I just bought a new phone and I said, oh, that's good.
That's what you buy. And they said, an iPhone. I went, what? And I was thinking, how could you as a student, how could you find hundred said? I said, I paid $150. I said, oh, that's cool.
She said, yeah, well I bought a secondhand one, So, you know,, there's a lot, there are a lot of systems, then there are more credit systems than there used to be. what I'd call the household goods or consumer goods in general, we have very good structures to, to modify or remedy that particular type of equality inequalities. Of course, we still have them, but they're far less than they could be. The problem is much more on real tech. Right on.
Non-consumer tech where either there are reasons why we won't sell it or there's no, as I mentioned earlier, no architecture for its introduction, which is a very common thing, or there are no there's no desire from the government of the day. To introduce that at this point in time because it's either detri detrimental to their own authority or their other general public desires that are greater than that. So a lot of reasons and to be fair, , accessibility ability is always gonna be unbalanced. But it's changing a little bit because the spread of development and patterning and invention has shifted and that has allowed countries even that are looking, offer a geopolitical advantage in certain regions to be able to introduce technologies to that region cuz it gives them a different advantage. Maybe they don't need the political clout in that region based on politics or systems, but if they can leverage technologies and investment.
In factories and so on to produce things in the, which is what China's been doing in Africa, and so there are other ways there. We're seeing shifts cuz of globalization. We have seen shifts in this particular issue as well. Mahyar: Okay.
You brought up China. You we touched on this a bit earlier as well, and. I think especially when we're talking about. What AI can have access to, Security of these types of technologies is a key fundamental as well.
I know it's an area you work on a lot in the human side of security, but when it comes especially to the machine side of things, when you're talking about what can be done, how moving forward with these types of technology and the access of information that we is actually giving things like chat, G P T and HMI and bci, and even smart cities and iot. The security becomes a fundamental metric. I know. Again, that's a very broad area. We could do a full episode just on this it's one of those things you can talk about each of these things like Smart Cities and security in sort of a vacuum of the overall technological implementation, but they are in an of themselves key factor.
Yeah. What are your thoughts on this? Especially when you're talking about things like, again, Neuralink for example, that has access to. Potentially your innermost thoughts. Coupled with the simple fact that we continuously hear all these companies have data breaches and ransom, Derek: Absolutely.
Well, , so the next wave, if you want to call it that, of security concerns other than drones and stuff like. Or weapon reel, whatever. A around an iot, ot, I N t, ott, all that stuff I was talking about distributed sensing, because of the way they're structured, because they are made up of, always made up as a metaverse three or four different interactive structures, integrated structure. One for receiving the data, one for analyzing data, one for distributing the data. There's always that, and they're usually not on the same, often not on the same platforms.
And therefore there's, there are always a chance of being hacked in between them. That's a big issue. Quantum Iott, which we now begin to see, has the same issue. Intelligent P Smmi, which is another area where we're seeing cuz each of these layers as security issues. And that's, , that's even just looking at it from. Phy, virtual, physical part of it, and we're looking at things like end-to-end security, federated architecture and all this stuff.
But the other side of that, I think that's, , We have this thing called, we're seeing more like on stuff like penetration testing where we are able to actually in advance, do a lot of simulation scenarios to better understand how we deal on new things, so on new technologies, but on new environments for those technologies. Cause we don't really have, we think we have a lot of experience with iot, but not when we talk about connected buildings and stuff like. We have in household goods, and so one of the things we're looking at is, , what we call cognitive and rapid reconstruction response, so we can quickly see what's going on so we can quickly react to it. If you're, , there are all these things like I dunno, Watson and IBM have lots of good systems in that area that we've seen over the years, but biosecurity another massive area, so you were talking earlier about identity and authentication and everything else, but biosecurity is a massive area of break, , break breaking, so on. So these intelligent and embodied agents, more and more getting put into these systems are enabling us without doubt to improve that security. But We're seeing issues with metadata analysis on the dark web, we're seeing problems with , the new cryptography, post quantum, which will move on from blockchain possibly because that's a lattice based system.
And within that problem, they're shifting of identities and shifting IP addresses becomes very complex cause it can move much quicker through the lattice It's difficult to find, right? so we're having to work on how do we deal with this stuff? So we're seeing much more things like the equivalent of undercover agent, we now see a virtual undercover agents and things like that. So we're seeing a lot of other things happening, which is this transformation from vir, from real life into virtuality that, but done in a very different way. That's.
What we have to do to see how we can deal with these changes in security. Cuz , then we have things like cognitive cybersecurity systems, which are able to deal with textural things. So we can read text, we can, we're much better now at scanning text to find keywords or key issues. All this stuff is happening really, really quickly. , at the same time, criminals are behaving. Badly worse than they were, so there are these, , the cloud machine learning with multi-agent, all this stuff is doing a lot, computer vision, all these things are coming in to help us, and the integration of those has been very good.
But honestly, they're always a bit ahead, right? and it's difficult because what we do have with self-developing int intelligence systems with GPT and so on and so forth, is we hope that they will be able to react quicker, their program correctly by finding their own solutions to incoming issues. I can't go too much into this for obvious reasons, but you can imagine that at least now we're not standing still. My personal belief was there was a period where we were miles behind. I think everyone was taken a bit by surprise. They shouldn't have.
, the trouble is that serious institutions. Do not pay attention to things like gaming or other sub genre of society, which is where much of this comes from. , they don't really pay attention to decentralized activities, If they did, they would soon understand Mahyar: What about the fundamental that ai, obviously, if it can be used for pretty much anything, especially as an assistant, if you will. It could be used to assist hackers.
Derek: Well, it is. Mahyar: How do you compute for that Derek: well, that's where you have to have early detection systems and things, ultimately, you'd like to think always that you are cleverer, , you're not. maybe you're equally clever, but then it is a, it's, it is a game, isn't it? It's a game. It's a game of strategies. Mahyar: Yeah, because at the end of the day, the Smartest Hack is the one that uses people. Uh, You're only ever as strong as your weakest link, and you can just use the most basic social engineering and phishing techniques to get someone's password.
Once you have access to their password, you have access to their network. And then that's game over, isn't it? Derek: But if you think about it who are you fighting today? You're not fighting an individual criminal. You are fighting a whole world of social networks with information on how to do anything that you want at any given point in time. It's not like if you wanna know how to do something, you can look it up and learn how to do it.
You want to? No, I won't say cuz I'd be giving away some ideas. It's not very clever. Not very clever. Right.
But the truth is, that, , you can learn to make anything on YouTube. You can get any code you want from certain hubs, you can, , i do be fair, , you're not actually where the police is not, or the authorities are not just fighting, you know, a guy with a, a brain and a basic tool set is finding a whole structure. Mahyar: Right. Derek: Plus new tools like G P T. That's the point. So yeah, it's tough.
It's tough, but that's part of our job, isn't it? To resolve that. Mahyar: let's end on a more positive note. I have two quick questions for you. We talked about futurism and becoming a futurist. What are some of the steps that an aspiring futurist could take to become a futurist? Is there a course someone should take? Is there any advice you have for them? Derek: I talked said to you at the very beginning that what a futurist does, in my view, is to work with unstructured knowledge in unknown worlds There's two sides to that, so what is unstructured knowledge? How do you gain unstructured knowledge? It's about connecting disconnects. It's about getting rid of any assumption that you've ever had about anything.
It's about the ability to recontextualize and re