It can simulate, for instance, how people navigate through busy city streets, shoppers through urban shopping centers, and tourists through unfamiliar landscapes.
According to a press release from Arizona State University, “the project will develop simulations to explore avenues of sustainability in downtown settings, such as how cities can promote walking as an alternative to driving, and how pedestrian flow can be better integrated with transit-oriented development.”
But let’s be honest, the above writeup, which was taken directly from this article, and which goes on to call such practical and helpful applications of this technology “quotidian,” and instead considers the entertainment factor in simulating zombie attacks, or Paris Hilton fuck-ups.
Now, I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon, but when more than half of his imagined, more “entertaining” scenarios involve increasing consumerism and tightening crowd control, something clicks in my head. Here’s the list:
“4) design a mall which can compel customers to shop to the point of bankruptcy, to walk obliviously for miles and miles and miles, endlessly to the point of physical exhaustion and even death; 5) identify, if possible, the tell-tale signs of a peaceful crowd about to metamorphosize into a hellish mob; 6) determine how various urban typologies, such as plazas, parks, major arterial streets and banlieues, can be reconfigured in situ into a neutralizing force when crowds do become riotous; and 7) conversely, figure out how one could, through spatial manipulation, inflame a crowd, even a very small one, to set in motion a series of events that culminates into a full scale Revolution or just your average everyday Southeast Asian coup d’état — regime change through landscape architecture.”
It should go without saying that a healthy democracy is threatened when authorities have and use this kind of technology. True, in our country, they already do, but whats more frightening is to see it celebrated and touted as “entertainment.”