Cities today are dynamic urban ecosystems with evolving physical, social, cultural, and technological infrastructures. Cities are increasingly embracing data-driven infrastructures and algorithmic decision-making to improve urban planning and operational efficiency as well as mobility, sustainability and safety for its residents. In this paper, I argue for a critical lens into how these inter-related urban technologies, big data and policies, constituted as Urban AI Ecosystems, can offer both challenges and opportunities in terms of their social, political and ecological impact. I examine these issues through three intersecting urban crises: climate change, pandemics, and racial discrimination, with the many contested conditions and responses emerging. I anchor my arguments using a rights-based discourse which I believe offers a crucial framework for critically examining and configuring the roles, values and ethical implications for all stakeholders including human, AI and non-human entities within an urban ecosystem.
Nitin Sawhney. 2020. Te Awa Tupua: Sacred Rivers and Cooperative Urban AI Ecosystems. Workshop on Urban AI: Formulating an Agenda for the Interdisciplinary Research of Artificial Intelligence in Cities, Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2020), July 6-20, 2020, Eindhoven, Netherlands.