Monday, June 27, 2016

Following Up On Y Combinator's Universal Basic Income Experiment: They'd Like To Try Their Hand At Building New Cities

On May 31 we had: "Seed Stage Accelerator Y Combinator Developing A Basic Income Pilot Project" from Y Combinator's Posthaven blog. Here's the latest:

New Cities
We want to study building new, better cities.

The world is full of people who aren’t realizing their potential in large part because their cities don't provide the opportunities and living conditions necessary for success. A high leverage way to improve our world is to unleash this massive potential by making better cities.

It’s more important than ever to think about how to do this. The need for new supply continues to increase significantly [1]. Many constraints related to where cities should be located (e.g. near rivers for trade) have changed. We now have major technologies such as smart grids, autonomous vehicles, etc. The internet itself allows for participation never before possible. Also, housing prices in many cities have become untenable and we need more housing in places people want to live.

Some existing cities will get bigger and there's important work being done by smart people to improve them. We also think it’s possible to do amazing things given a blank slate. Our goal is to design the best possible city given the constraints of existing laws.

There are many high-level questions we want to think through, for example:
  • What should a city optimize for?
  • How should we measure the effectiveness of a city (what are its KPIs)?
  • What values should (or should not) be embedded in a city's culture?
  • How can cities help more of their residents be happy and reach their potential?
  • How can we encourage a diverse range of people to live and work in the city?
  • How should citizens guide and participate in government?
  • How can we make sure a city is constantly evolving and always open to change?

And there are tactical questions we want to dig into, for example:
  • How can we make and keep housing affordable? This is critical to us; the cost of housing affects everything else in a city.
  • How can we lay out the public and private spaces (and roads) to make a great place to live? Can we figure out better zoning laws?
  • What is the right role for vehicles in a city?  Should we have human-driven cars at all?...