Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts

Saturday, December 07, 2019

NEOM: A Fundamental Departure For All Humanity?

That NEOM is an attempt at a fundamental departure for all humanity is not my idea or suggestion. That is the stated goal from the people who have come up with the project. Within that suggestion, I am offering my ideas.

The idea is a new city can itself be as innovative as a new company. And if that city were to become home to many new companies on the cutting edges of innovation, then that city as innovation would be something remarkable. Frankly, unprecedented. That is not New York City, that is not Silicon Valley. When Manhattan was just an uninhabited island, when California was just wilderness, and what we know as Silicon Valley was just apple orchards. But none of those places started with the clarity of ambition that NEOM is projecting.

I find it exciting to even think about the whole project. I see myself getting involved at some point. I am certainly open to it.

NEOM: Governance
NEOM Beats Mars
NEOM: Wide Participation Will Enhance Chance Of Success
NEOM, Jerusalem: Twin Cities?
My Take On NEOM, The City
NEOM: A City

I want to think in terms of all the ways it could go right. But I would also like to think of ways it could go wrong. Better now than when the failures have already materialized.

The number one word of caution is that the spiritual foundation has to be the number one priority. When Noah was around the world was full of engineers performing all sorts of tricks. Without a sound spiritual foundation, engineering is just gloom and doom.

I appreciate Prince Salman's bold attempt to wrest the narrative in the Islamic world. If Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) wife was what today would be considered a CEO, maybe women today should also be running things. During the golden era of Islam, the Islamic world exhibited an immense thirst for knowledge, the kind that nurtures math and science. He is trying to take the region to a modernity that already existed.

All major religions talk of God as the creator. If there is only one creation, how many Gods do you think there are, right? That one God is always going to be more and bigger than whatever you understand God to be. Because God is infinite, and the human being is finite. A human being can not hope to understand God, only God's revelations.

Saudi Arabia stands to benefit from the whole project. It came up with the idea, it is offering all that land, and it is coming up with the seed capital. It only makes sense that it will benefit from it. The ask is not that big. All Saudi Arabia is asking in return is to give itself a diversified economy, a post-oil economy. I think that is fair enough. And very possible.

But it should also stick by its stance to step back a little and allow many others to participate. This has to feel like a clean slate to many parties. There are people in Silicon Valley who fantasize about opening up tech startup office spaces on ships out in the international waters off the California coasts. Let them come to NEOM. The US voter is tired of paying the bills for being the world's policeman. Let them see the promise of NEOM. There are many countries angling to create a multi-polar world. Let them participate in NEOM.

NEOM can not be a place where expensive consultants give their bad advice and run for the hills when things go awry. It can not be a place only for tech wizardry. The innovation has to be on many levels. There has to be a solid spiritual foundation. There has to be political innovation. There has to be social innovation. There has to be law enforcement innovation. There has to be governance innovation. There has to be an urban living innovation. There has to be a tourism innovation.

This new city has to learn from the oldest inhabited cities of the world for they carry wisdom. The truly new borrows heavily from the truly old.

Saudi Arabia Is Betting Its Future on a Desert Megacity Foreign Policy: November 2017 Can Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans jumpstart social and economic reform, or are they an expensive miscalculation? ........ “Welcome to the future of Saudi Arabia,” a Saudi tour guide intoned last week as she led guests into a showroom advertising values not traditionally associated with the kingdom: gender equality, environmental sustainability, and technological innovation....... After an IMAX-style introductory video, the first stop on this “megaprojects tour” was a model of one of three new futuristic cities that Saudi Arabia is set to break ground on next year, dubbed Qiddiya. Located 25 miles from the capital, Riyadh, the city is envisioned as an entertainment megaplex with everything from indoor ski slopes to roller coasters to a zoo. Guests on the preview tour could interact with a holographic lion or try out the mountain bike and race car simulators. Down the hall were previews of the second two cities, a Red Sea tourist resort and Neom, a tech hub that aims to have more robots than humans in its population. ........ The cities are part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s ambitious plan to pivot the economy away from oil. The program was announced over a year ago, but the event, which ran from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, was the “coming out” party — a chance for the global financial elite to see for themselves whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was, in the words of one investor, “for real.” The so-called Future Investment Initiative (FII) pulled in 3,500 attendees, including dozens of blue-chip executives. Crew members from the Saudi national airline helped guide potential investors through the hallways of the Ritz Carlton. Robot “concierges” stood outside panel rooms, playfully soliciting interaction and selfies. ........... The message was clear to all: For three decades, the state has worked assiduously to avoid offending the conservative religious elite, stalling the trappings of modernity that have catapulted development in cities such as neighboring Dubai. This conference was meant to seal that chapter and set out a new, aspirational end point. ....... “Before now, the government always made a balance between the liberal people and the conservatives. They gave this side something, [that] faction another thing,” said Amal al-Hazzani, a columnist at Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat and professor at King Saud University. “They kept trying to make that balance, until Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came.… [H]e ended that era.” ........ Mohammed bin Salman is signaling to Saudis that they are embarking on a momentous reform project from which there is no turning back. Saudi Arabia will need a serious shaking up to bring its economic and social structure into the 21st century. ....... “Seventy percent of the Saudi people are less than 30 years old, and we will not waste 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideas — we will destroy them today,” Mohammed bin Salman told the gathering. “We want to live a normal life.” ........ Many conference attendees likely didn’t realize just how revolutionary certain aspects of last week’s event were. Bankers from London to Lagos enjoyed gender-mixed coffee breaks, where women weren’t required to wear the traditional abaya. There were no intermissions for prayers, which shut down Saudi businesses for 30 minutes multiple times a day. Only a handful of speeches began with the usual Islamic prayer. ......... ...Saudi Arabia’s urban dreams are almost absurdly large, and Mohammed bin Salman has been intimately involved in forming them. He first pitched the idea of building completely new cities in 2015, just after his father was elevated as king, and has since signed off on details — even down to the logo designs........ Neom, the centerpiece of the mega projects, will cover more than 10,000 square miles — 10 times the size of Luxembourg. An initial press release described the city as “the safest, most efficient, most future-oriented, and best place to live and work” in the world....... Every piece of life in Neom will be linked to artificial intelligence: roads and cars will adjust to avoid traffic, and grocery orders will be fed directly to drone delivery units. Hydroponic growers will farm produce without soil, utilizing electricity produced by solar panels........ The city aims to attract top tech talent from across the globe, incentivizing businesses to flock to Neom through preferential regulation. Social life and gender norms will be drawn from “global best practices,” a term that serves as the default answer to any question about how something in the city — whether transport or official language — will work.......... Mohammed bin Salman’s personal support and the emphasis on good regulations was “very reassuring. It’s also something that we didn’t hear in the last three decades.”...... State-led plans such as Neom often miss the organic, bottom-up tech ecosystem that breeds innovation. Meanwhile, the Gulf cities that Neom hopes to rival — Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and even Doha — have a decade-plus head start......... Watching corrupt ministers face charges, incompetent consultants lose their jobs, and longtime undersecretaries demoted is starting to change the work culture. Fatani says the new ethos is, “Just get it done.” ............ Mohammed bin Salman will surely need to remain mindful of simmering conservative frustrations. The very bureaucrats he aims to reform may also push back, quietly delaying projects, sitting on approvals, or just heading home from work early. The stagnating price of oil, skepticism from investors, or regional instability could also set progress back.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

NYC's Radial Solutions

New York City's solutions are radial. Go a 10-minute hyperloop distance in many directions. Look at this map.

I am talking Middletown, NY, on I84, northwest of the city, where I lived until recently for more than six months. You are looking at Allentown, PA. Also Quakertown, and Doylestown nearby. You are looking at Newtown near Danbury, CT. You are looking at the east end of Long Island, the Hamptons. The rich don't need helicopter rides. Philadelphia itself would be a good candidate, except it falls conveniently on the already proposed Boston-NYC-DC hyperloop corridor.

Specific towns have to be identified that are the right distance and that are politically willing to become sister cities. Less than 10 minutes in hyperloop distance does not make either hyperloop sense or environmental sense.

The idea is also good for the environment. If more than 50% of humanity will congregate in 100 megacities, that will be good for the planet. It will also be good for commerce.

An expanded Penn Station can handle the traffic.

Friday, February 08, 2019

New York City Beats San Francisco

This is remarkable.

Many of us have been connecting the dots for years. But this has come sooner than I expected.

The center of gravity for tech innovation shifted from Silicon Valley to the city of San Francisco a while ago. Silicon Valley feels rural. That is where the old companies are. Old like Google and Apple. And most engineers who work for those companies live in San Francisco, because, well, it is the city life they crave. But if it is about city life, San Francisco has nothing on New York City. Shanghai beats NYC on infrastructure, but NYC is not its infrastructure, it is its collection of people. There NYC beats Shanghai.

Already NYC was a strong number two. Then, in terms of VC money, NYC became neck and neck last year. And Amazon voted with its feet. Google has been expanding in the city for a long time.

Years ago Dennis Crowley of FourSquare made news by not moving to San Francisco. His startup did open up an office there, but he stayed put. I was unsurprised. At the time FourSquare was the NYC tech startup with the most buzz.

The next phase in innovation is about reimagining entire industries. I said so in my last article posted on LinkedIn. And NYC is a good place to be for that. It is home to numerous industries.