London 2223: AI’s predictions for our capital’s future

October 9, 2023

Fresh off the back of our time at the Cityscape conference in Saudi Arabia, we’ve been thinking heavily about the shape of the cities of tomorrow. With global geo-political, economic, and advancing technological factors so unpredictable, it can be difficult to project even two years into the future, let alone 200.

With that in mind, we’ve asked AI for a few little predictions for the faraway year of 2223.

How we did it

ChatGPT provides a great go-to AI platform, so that’s exactly where we started:

  1. We asked ChatGPT to reflect on some of the major environmental, political and social challenges that London faces as a society today.
  2. We asked ChatGPT to use these challenges to imagine a London of 2223, listing a series of architectural and infrastructural changes that the city may have embraced in order to resolve its challenges.
  3. We asked ChatGPT one more thing: describe five different scenes around London, that paint the picture of the changes we just listed out. We asked the platform to be as visually descriptive as possible.
  4. We took our scenes to Midjourney, using ChatGPT’s exact language directly to prompt the image-creation AI platform.

The scenes of the future

Here are our five AI-generated London landscapes of 2223.

Prediction 1: Vertical greening

ChatGPT’s prediction: “To combat environmental challenges, London might be adorned with towering vertical gardens and sustainable architecture. Buildings could be covered in lush vegetation, serving as both eco-friendly infrastructure and a visual spectacle.”

Midjourney prompt: “The Shard, Central London. The scene captures a breathtaking aerial view of Central London. The iconic Shard skyscraper has transformed into a towering vertical garden, its glass façade covered in lush greenery that stretches high into the sky. The camera angle is looking down on this green oasis, with the river Thames winding through the city, and futuristic aerial trams gliding between buildings.”

Prediction 2: Underwater districts

ChatGPT’s prediction: With rising sea levels, London might have developed advanced underwater habitats and districts. Subaquatic structures could house residential areas, research centers, and even aquatic farms.”

Midjourney prompt: “Canary Wharf, Thames River Basin. This scene is set in the depths of the Thames River Basin, where an underwater neighbourhood flourishes. Through a panoramic window, you see a bustling underwater street with homes, offices, and vibrant aquatic life. Bioluminescent algae illuminate the surroundings as aquatic vehicles resembling submarines traverse the thoroughfare.”

Prediction 3: Aerial transportation

ChatGPT’s prediction: Elevated pedestrian skywalks and aerial transport networks could crisscross the city, reducing traffic congestion and offering unique vantage points of the futuristic cityscape.”

Midjourney prompt: “Near London Bridge. The camera captures a street-level view of the bustling London Bridge area, where a labyrinth of elevated skywalks criss-crosses the urban landscape. Commuters walk along transparent walkways suspended between skyscrapers. Aerial vehicles, resembling futuristic cable cars, glide effortlessly above the city streets, connecting various districts.”

Prediction 4: Advanced cultural preservation

ChatGPT’s prediction: “While embracing futuristic technologies, London could also emphasize the preservation of its rich cultural heritage. Historic landmarks might be seamlessly integrated into modern developments.”

Midjourney prompt: “Covent Garden. Covent Garden has been transformed into a harmonious blend of AI-designed architecture and historic charm. The camera captures the façade of a building, adorned with intricate geometric patterns that shift subtly over time. People interact with holographic displays, and AI-controlled drones silently navigate the streets, delivering packages and monitoring the environment.”

Prediction 5: Interstellar gateway

ChatGPT’s prediction: “Given advancements in space exploration, London could potentially serve as a hub for interstellar travel, with spaceports and launch facilities for missions to other planets and beyond.”

Midjourney prompt: “Greenwich Peninsula. Against the backdrop of a stunning sunset over the Thames, the scene shows the Greenwich Peninsula transformed into an interstellar spaceport. A colossal launch tower reaches into the sky, with spacecraft preparing for missions to the cosmos. In the foreground, a futuristic observatory offers a glimpse into the future of space exploration.”

Our take

There are obvious flaws and pitfalls in using AI to map the future in this way. AI cannot ‘predict’ or ‘imagine’; instead it uses information already freely available to it. As can be seen in the prediction of interstellar spaceports on the Greenwich Peninsula, this can sometimes lead to clichés or stereotypes – let’s face it, space travel has commanded visions of the future for nearly 100 years.

However, architectural greening, transportation innovation, unlocking the potential of our waterways – these are all ideas that surely have a place in our capital’s future. As a starting point for ideas around futuristic placemaking and place design, AI has us excited. 

Tagged: Article

© Hunter 2023   |   Privacy   |   Cookies