Exploring the intersection of cities and augmented reality, bringing together public and private partners to define standards and best practices for safety and equity in a new, more persistent and immersive era of the Internet.
Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the chief communications officer of Climate Alpha, a startup steering investment to more climate-resilient regions. He is also the senior fellow for applied research and foresight at NewCities, a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.  He was previously the urbanist-in-residence at URBAN-X — BMW MINI’s urban tech accelerator — and founding director of strategy at CoMotion, a media-and-events platform devoted to the future of transportation. He has advised Intel, Samsung, IKEA, Starbucks, Audi, Hyundai, Tishman Speyer, British Land, André Balazs Properties, and Expo 2020, along with numerous G20 government entities. His work with Studio Gang Architects on the future of suburbia was displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 2012. His work has also been displayed at the 15th, 16th, and 17th Venice Architecture Biennales, the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, and Habitat III. He sits on the board of CREtech Climate, and was guest curator of the 2018 and 2019 editions of reSITE. Earlier in his career, he was a contributing writer for Fast Company and Fortune, and an editor-at-large for Advertising Age. He is co-author of the 2011 critically acclaimed international bestseller Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. Greg is also a two-time Jeopardy! champion (and the only human to go undefeated against IBM’s Watson).
Project Description

The Metaverse Metropolis

“The Metaverse” has been hailed as the future of the Internet, with some companies racing to build virtual worlds subsuming reality while others aspire to augment and extend it with information and services. A harbinger of the latter is the game Pokémon Go, which in 2016 briefly became the most popular smartphone app in the world. Players chasing digital creatures stormed businesses, stampeded through parks, and erased the line between online and off-. Tragically, some chose to play while driving. By one estimate, vehicular crashes caused by Pokémon Go killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands of bystanders in its first few months alone.

For more than a decade, cities have suffered the unintended consequences of “disruptive” business models designed to wring value from urban space. Only after great effort did public officials learn how to regulate and partner with these startups to share the benefits and burdens of their technologies. Given what’s at stake, it’s imperative we not repeat the same mistakes with a fully mature metaverse at scale.

To this end, The Metaverse Metropolis aims to build a coalition of cities, metaverse companies, technologists, legal experts, and citizens to design and deploy industry standards and best practices for public safety in augmented reality environments. The goal is to define the metaverse equivalent of the traffic light or stop sign — clear, universal signals and infrastructure expressly designed to protect everyone in the public realm, including those in its new virtual dimensions. By starting now and working together to save lives and ground safety at the center of any metaverse, we can begin to lay the foundations for the next era of both urban life and computing.

Over the next year, the Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech will convene partners and stakeholders to explore the urban implications of widespread augmented reality hardware and software, with a particular focus on inequality and potential impacts on already marginalized communities. During the course of The Metaverse Metropolis, we intend to develop prototype code and interfaces that will serve as a basis for voluntary standards guaranteeing interoperable safety across all major platforms. We all have a vested interest in ensuring the metaverse is safe and accessible to all — join us today to act on it.