Current Lectures

Fall 2023

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Cities


September 28: AI and Cities: From Social to Spatial Inclusion

Shin Koseki, Assistant Professor and UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape, School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Montreal


Cities are where most artificial intelligence systems are deployed and where they are most likely to impact people, especially marginalized groups and individuals. Yet, not much has been done to improve the governance of AI in cities. Many scholars, experts, and stakeholders have shown how AI biases can be detrimental to various urban segments of the population, and unfairly treat women, people of color, cultural and ethnic communities, lgbtq+ people, kids, and elderly people across various domains. AI-powered discrimination is especially problematic in cities, where those groups seek haven. So, what can we, as researchers, designers, and planners do to make both AI and cities more inclusive? “AI & Cities” is a framework developed with Mila and UN Habitat to reduce the risks posed by AI onto city dwellers by making AI development more responsible. It leads to conceiving AI locally with “citizens” through a co-design and interactive process. We then apply this process in the framework of our research project aimed at making Montreal's public space more inclusive of everyone and more adapted to the diversity of the city's population. 


Shin Koseki is an Assistant Professor at the School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture in the Faculty of Environmental Design, the Director and the Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in Urban Landscape. Trained in architecture and urban planning in Canada and Switzerland, he is interested in the integration of new technologies in planning practices, the contribution of interactive democracy to the sustainable development of territories, and the role of public space in the acquisition of knowledge and skills. His research interests include the application of artificial intelligence systems in urban design and new processes of environmental and technological governance. Before joining the University of Montréal, Shin Koseki conducted research at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Zurich (ETH Zurich), the University of Oxford (Oxon.), the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Zurich (UZH), and the Max Planck Institute for Art and Architecture History (Bibliotheca Hertziana). Back in his hometown of Montreal, he works with his students on the revitalization and renaturalization of the St. Lawrence River and on improving the quality of life of the communities that live there.

October 26: The Latent Aesthetics of the AI City

Agnieszka Leszczynski, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environment, Western University


In this talk, I engage in speculative conjecture about what the streetscapes of the AI suffused city in waiting – which I refer to as the latent AI city – might ‘look’ like. I do so by drawing on my work on digital urban platforms in North American cities, which I have identified as driving material transformations in urban aesthetics. Docked bikesharing infrastructure in Vancouver comprises a serialized aesthetics increasingly constitutive of what gentrification ‘looks like’ at the subneighbourhood scale of the city, which I use to conjecture about what kinds of AI and algorithmic-driven presences may likewise show up as markers of urban change. Next, I consider whether glitchy feedback loops between social media platforms and urban architecture – which finds its apogee in the ‘emoji house’ in Manhattan, CA – presage the ‘mindjourinification’ of urban aesthetics, where urban built environment forms resemble the visual signatures of AI image generation. And finally, new presences in urban built environments – including various kinds of ad-hoc signage showing up in Vancouver – represent nascent attempts to govern the otherwise unruly landscapes of urban platformization through aesthetic forms, which raises questions for how the increasing presence of AI materialities on city streets will be responded to by cities themselves.


Agnieszka Leszczynski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography & Environment at Western University in Canada. She is an Editor of Dialogues in Human Geography, Environment and Planning F: Philosophy, Theory, Models, Methods, and Practice, and a former editor of Big Data & Society. Her current work focuses on the intensifying integration of digitality and cities.

November 30: Designing the AI City: Simulation and Human-Centred Urban Design

Brandon Haworth, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Victoria


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has quickly become a common phrase in our daily lives, often associated with the remarkable ability to generate text and images. Yet, AI extends beyond these creative realms, offering opportunities to enhance our simulation, design, and collaboration efforts. It has the potential to collaborate with us, augmenting our capacity to represent ourselves, and optimize physical spaces. This talk delves into the profound potential impact of AI on simulation and human-centric urban design. In recent decades, synthetic crowds, or crowd simulation, has revolutionized various domains. This technology has enabled the cost-effective generation of elaborate scenes in film and animation and recently emerged as a powerful tool for tackling complex and often dangerous scenarios within the urban landscape. The application of crowd simulation has ushered in breakthroughs in predictive urban design and safety-critical analysis, making it invaluable for architects, urban planners, and policymakers alike. Despite its growing prominence, the application of crowd simulation presents several challenges. This talk delves into these challenges, including issues related to result generalizability, representation fidelity, user-friendliness, and analytical capabilities by examining the intersection of artificial intelligence, human representation, and environment design in the context of simulation and human-centric urban planning. This exploration underscores the vital role of AI in improving simulation, design processes, and human representation, which collectively contribute to shaping the cities of the future.


Brandon Haworth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science within the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Victoria. He is the Director of the Graphics, Artificial Intelligence, Design, & Games (GAIDG) Lab and a Research Fellow at the Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health at the University of Victoria. Brandon received the B.Sc. degree in Computer Science from York University in 2013, M.Sc. in 2016, and Ph.D. in 2019, and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Ontario Research Fund/Intelligent Systems for Sustainable Urban Mobility (ORF/ISSUM) project in 2019/2020. His past research concerned the development and gamification of interactive motor speech rehabilitation for people with neurodegenerative diseases. Brandon works within the broad areas of Graphics, Simulation, Artificial Intelligence, and Human-Computer Interaction. His primary research focuses are diversity in crowd simulations, locomotion and biomechanical modelling in human steering, multi-agent reinforcement learning, and human-centric artificial intelligence in simulation and design. The applications of this research cut across several fields, including gaming, rehabilitation, architecture, urban planning, predictive design, safety analysis, inclusive media, assistive technology and more. He is a Member of the ACM and the IEEE and is an Associate Editor of the journal, Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds.