LMTF Podcast Episode 6: Arcologies

This week, we discuss the concept of arcologies: very densely populated, ecologically low-impact human habitats. Recorded 5 June 2017.

Featuring a quote by Marshall T. Savage from The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps.


Arcologies: high-tech living spaces that are mostly self-sufficient. They show how urban conditions could be improved while minimizing the destructive impact on the earth.

Arcologies are perhaps best expressed as a collection of technologies rather than a perfect, spacecraft-like expressions that are totally self-sufficient.

As I child I was heavily influenced by a book by Marshall T. Savage called The Millennial Project, which described several phases of arcologies built in the ocean, in orbit around earth, on Mars, in the asteroid belt, and finally among the stars.

Discussion Links:




So far, so utopian. But despite decades of work on the concept, arcologies seem to be remarkably difficult to build in the real world. So far, mankind doesn’t yet seem to have the technology or the willpower to bring a functioning arcology into existence — but that hasn’t stopped people from trying. Here are five real-world arcologies, and how they’re faring.”




Machine transcript of podcast (uncorrected)

And get your cyber knowledge by Michael Curry an independent software developer an entrepreneur from Canada currently based in Calgary I’m going to allow a mathematician socially taken to see is currently based in reality today’s format but you could say that today’s episode is to compress torch a Days episode is a short and sweet format we’re going to discuss our topic and that’ll be this week’s Future trend discussion topic arcologies I want to call them all to you Michael to make the definitions so today’s topic is arcologies perennial Futurist topic arcology is a port oneto of architecture and ecology it’s a field of creating architectural design principles for very densely populated ecologically low impact human habitats a concept has been primarily popularized the term itself was coined by architect HOWELL So Larry it also appears extensively in science fiction arcologies are often portrayed in science fiction that self-contained or economically self-sufficient and these structures have been largely hypothetical in so far as there is no archaeology even one envisioned by Larry himself who first conceived of the idea many decades ago and so none of these structures have ever been completed but so Larry posited that a completed arcology would provide space for a variety of residential commercial agricultural facilities while minimizing individual human environmental impact it sounds pretty awesome guys right you guys have heard of archaeology is right if you guys encounter them before concept Yeah sure you’ve heard of this particular story the thing is that it’s always this can I tell you where I first heard of a call when I first heard of our cause when I was playing Sim City two thousand and eight late ninety’s this was one of the last things you could build in this game after you’ve built a whole city industrial area as a residential areas and utilities and everything else last and you can do. It is so construct these are colleges which are like the only occupy a tiny amount of land but they are very tall and they can house just thousands upon thousands of people and then the final thing that happens in the game is all the archaeology of launch into space I don’t know about the wanting to space part but my mind was sort of set racing by this idea that you could house people in this self-contained thing that like even the air is self contained in the water and everything else so it doesn’t have any impact on the surrounding environment doesn’t hurt the surrounding environment but it provides this lovely living space for people that it seems to me like that sort of the logical end point of progress in technology around human living spaces. To bring the same city the solution for when you first encountered it but just to understand better what an archaeology means worsen the samples What should people buy like some elements that have this sounds like such a hard task so what are some interesting examples of components of an archaeology Yeah let me see well as I said they don’t appear to be any complete real world examples but you know I quoted a lot of that description for when he already and certain urban projects with the P.D.F. says reflect our quality principles so some examples mentioned here include the plus fifteen system and downtown Calgary where I am right now the Minneapolis Skyway system the windscreen in Fremont comeback or whether so many commuting examples are there.

And also the Las Vegas Strip as many are College of features to protect people from forty five degree heat so many major casinos are connected by tunnels so it bridges and one rails and it’s possible to travel from Mandalay Bay at the south end of the strip the Las Vegas Convention Center five kilometers to the north without using streets so many cases it’s possible to travel between several different casinos about ever growing outdoors now what’s missing here is that these places are not self sustainable. They’re not like making their own the food and recycling the water and air and things like this but they do have the element that they provide a huge living space for people and it’s enclosed from the outside elements and also I think when I went to Vegas trip you just have a more energy efficient way of like just imagine the heat it isn’t because I don’t know if you’ve been there but to basically go out in the middle of the night you just fuel keep coming up from the streets like you could be on the streets even though there’s no sunshine and so that’s just a way to basically like cool the temperature with the people of the ways of whether people commute from one building to the next really right yeah so those are some real world examples of things that kind of approximate the concept of a self sustainable living space for many people although they lack some of the key features like self is an ability but they are enclosed by in the past certain architects have proposed a more complete sort of version of arcologies for example Buckminster Fuller proposed It’s the old man Rivers City project it was a gold city with a capacity of a hundred twenty five thousand as a solution to the housing problem in East St Louis Illinois and there’s I also heard many years ago approach it was basically like this normal you kilometer high pyramid like structure that would be built in the Hong Kong harbor or maybe it was Tokyo Bay Harbor you might have in Tokyo where it would provide housing for thousands and thousands of people in a place where lens prices are very very high so be built like on the ocean there and again provide a lot of housing for people in an ecologically friendly way so we I think of this idea like is it a good one to pursue should we be thinking that it will happen more and more in the future will one actually get don’t so I think what I really like about the idea that it gives us as a planet basically that the possibility to become more sustainable step by step so I think you can ignore city. Or in a program context it’s really hard to amend changes to our sustainability because you always have always change management that goes with it and people that were would resist changes or interest to give up luxury or to live in a more sustainable way and are colleges if they are as good as it sounds and maybe implementable give it really like gravy or what you are approach to it basically had like maybe I’m going to be pilots but also they can just city arcology mayor are all edgy. Or like new places where people that are willing to change are willing to loose a newbie maybe earlier doctors or whatever you want to live in such a complex and hence also enable in general more sustainability but also the research that is needed by figuring out office practices in order to live with lower and corporate So I think that’s an extremely cool idea yet what you’re saying all those when you talk about that then you mention learning best practices and figuring out how to live in archaeology I think about how a lot of these proposed concepts involved people living rather isolated from everyone else and I wonder if that’s maybe thing that prevents a lot of these projects from succeeding because when I see these utopian ideas about our qualities and then I look at the decades of work that have been done on these concepts but still arcologies seem to be remarkably difficult to build in the real world I see that people simply don’t have the willpower to bring a functioning are college so I think the I don’t like the societal Lake How do you say it in isolation how you say might be an aspect but also generally think it’s a really really hard topic not only for us to discuss but more to implement because it’s so interdisciplinary you see a theology economy. But also a large portion of physics chemistry ends because you’re in all these elements coming to the. Same project so you need good people that there is people many people and then also if you want to take what you space isolation problem you need to also basically. Be a safe haven something that would make more people to live there and I think.

That would be well this is why I think arcologies are best expressed as a collection of technologies rather than as you say there’s so many things involved so rather than thinking as a you know perfect self-sustaining spacecraft like expression and it’s totally self-sufficient Instead if we just focus on the archaeology I.D.’s then we see that so many times as they’ve already been done in modern condominiums you know the idea of many people living in a multi-use very tall building and these networks of asked ways that connect people between buildings like these things have already been implemented so if we maybe if we just promotes the adoption of these individual technologies we’re bringing human living spaces into an archaeology future without actually having to build our colleges thinking about the isolation part of thing I want to spend a bit on that I call it she things are interesting when you just from that engineering perspective you think of how you can create a sustainable human construct in human society but then when I think cracked and it’s something that it’s against the trend of the history that when you read and you see the patterns of the history of human beings we have gone all the way from connecting be isolated society to a global society that are interconnected more and more every day every year so I think.

From an isolated point of view it’s doing to failure because first of all to the free market of today that we always have a veil of belief cheaper products and services. In parts of the war so it’s hard to make it efficient and reasonable to been something by yourself as a small group of people and population so transportation and always and Mabel’s people to trade things globally and mates and more decentralized network of market in a global scale that we are already in so I feel a when you want to create a self sustainable who folk up you ation you kind of want to go against that reviewer of the history you have been coming so for and I think the practical solutions to that feature are the ones that think globally so if you want to think of sustainability you want to think of how you can make the whole planet sustainable as a whole group of human beings rather than just small group some population what do you think about I wonder if the technologies that are coming down the pike now like three D. printing and recycling of water and air purification those sorts of thanks do start to make us more self-sufficient even though you’re right that people are right now very integrated into a global economy and we depend on a global production chain to obtain the goods and services that we need or our daily living you know every day out using goods that probably have been passed all around the world that huge production change but if I could just go downstairs in my arcology and ask for all the goods that I need to just from buildings three D. printer maybe Actually it would be OK and it would be kind of like we’re all living in nice stay ships that are self-contained as much as possible the exact my street comments on why you say is the only way you can accomplish that they that you go downstairs and you can get what you want is that day that every other human being on this planet has the same almost because as soon as you want to make it practical Who are you to. About says as another person on the bottom part of the wall that is able to offer you the same product or Cerri scorekeeper and send it though it’s like saying why do we have manufacturing out of the United States to any thirty years ago and it’s all in China now to why did we not keep the jobs and keep manufacturing but the problem is that labor cost was not reasonable anymore so comparing with the products that were being taxed or to globally than China offer in labor so they couldn’t resist because of the global network of the market though even huge countries are not able to keep their same self sustainable economy as a whole country so how can a small group of people do that so I think the only reason is essentially zation but also unification of services and products in future even any Even example to the printers is that creative printers are now I’m able to anybody globally if you wanted to make your own creative printer and make it yourself it would not be able to be afforded by you so now it’s affordable because it’s you know what we made and what really changed and net or around the world that’s why it cost two thousand dollar and you can buy one because it’s global so no one could every create its own treated printer to have it add home and then be self-sustained of all an isolated us from the wall because we would cost a fortune to make that two D. printer so Him point I make NG is that whatever you want to accomplish go ahead and accomplish but think that the only way it can actually crack to quit be accomplished is that it happens globally and now that. I actually see what you mean and I really like a historical perspective on the.

I want him with a very similar position or later think there’s a lot it’s a few because of this particular is because of the market you have. Or the like how would you connect as an archaeology to the pre-market are also the market.

Or I mean must be like a highly regulated market and also like I was making already making this point when I was also thinking about it with the Internet you can kind of stay connected so the interest of this isolation part and also with new technologies like three D. printing there’s still cold competition going on and whatever you want to achieve your own.

Ship over here but you will just buy the blueprints and get it to you what you’re saying I’m a three D. printer making it yourself working on sustainable ribs pretty realistic that’s a whole question of basically like the initial cost the fixed cost in the beginning to there’s an archaeology we’ll never know you always have cost so I guess if you are a hollow G.’s to up until the future being safe sustainable but also in the beginning you just need to have a mega computer and some point and the question is if you will have should you have a net positive impact or something to a couple of fixed cost at the beginning or dots and also generally these There’s no reason why it should be only beginning to use cost and we have a question of how to connect to the largest in terms of having these qualities answer research projects over here I mean the you know you think I put Ruth you get it probably long term or sustainably don’t work on a global context but it will be it if you research about it actually have a problem just implement its And then you need to make decisions of all connection to the market and it’s looking at your supply chains basically and where you import stuff and where knowledge of how exactly you produce well on being connected and not being connected I guess you’re both making the point that today it’s important to be connected to the global market that these are qualities can’t just be out on their own isolated that no one wants to live that way and I certainly agree that geographically some praja. Peter Thiel and others have proposed seasteading where people like build on call into a new civilization out in the Pacific Ocean or something that’s far from a government so that they can avoid taxes and avoid regulations and that’s how a lot of our college and properties to it as well but I would say that we all agree in this room it seems that those sorts of ideas are a no go because everybody especially you know people rich enough to be able to do that want to be able to access the cultural facilities and other people and business and everything else that exist in a large city so the only place it makes sense to build our college like constructions it seems to me is in large dense already densely populated areas so certainly we all agree that geographically isolated arcologies are a no go but when it comes to whether our cause you should be isolated from the market and manufacture their own goods etc I want to take exactly the opposite view from what Hamas is saying when he says the only way we can get an archaeology like that is if everyone has access to that technology if everyone in the world has access to these three D. printers that’s the only way we’re going to be able to do this and I would say it’s the opposite having the experience of living in cities where there is a great amount of inequality where there is extremely wealthy people and certainly queer people it seems to me like that is actually a condition that encourages the development of self-sustaining buildings when there is that much inequality because the people who are wealthy they would like and they currently do live in you know high rise many that are marketed as being sort of like arcologies like you know we have a pool we have food we have your stores near the bottom and you live near the top and if these places could be marketed even to say oh and we also filter your water so you don’t have to worry about the terrible water that. All the other people in the city have to deal with we need to get in that would be the presence of inequality would encourage people to live in buildings that are more isolated because they want to have better things than what the average person has whereas in a city like you know I mean Calgary right now everyone is living a reasonable standard of living there’s very little incentive to close yourself off from whatever one else has because we’re all doing pretty well that’s interesting although you may be having something better in some sense but also because you Hans you were talking earlier about pricing being such an important factor of basically by products and goods so I think there’s always must suppose I mean all receives already what we can or some people call it a place in a more important role but also in terms of sustainability right now you see the trend of tourists buying products for sustainability being an attractive feature in products so basically if you can join me right now I don’t know if I would use in the U.S. probably if you could be a something over coconuts don’t go there sorry because of Europe but here there’s a district that people much more regional and regional products post almost everything so I think there’s if you or you live in our culture you probably will be more willing to pay more for stuck with.

Haas is totally right that as long as the price of things you can just buy out there in the real world are dramatically cheaper then the potatoes were tomatoes that are grown and sold in the arcology and it’s going to be very hard for people to justify living in the arcology even the super rich or perhaps only the super rich will be able to do that but as that price differential shrinks maybe we’ll see more and more people isolating themselves in archaeology and also like I don’t know what he said we probably can all agree I think the short term yes on the ring on not being. Isolated beach where it’s progress and. They are in B.R. doesn’t seem like really possible lettuce basically when you want people who are visiting or where you want to go in which you know whatever way you punch next to another you can just do it all so basically new information technology channels just so that with three D. printing just like changing the channels basically it was Internet and mystical just get better and better a wow that’s so true yeah that’s a great point and that’s what Yeah and again so I just wanted to add that again and other key factor of today’s war is that because of Internet information is flowing freely available to the poorest and richest in their war all over the planet so even the small population that are not accessible to it they will soon be and I would be under first things to do on their agenda so in a war that information is freely on regulated and being exposed to anybody any human being that is capable of learning language and coming catering that are a human being in this kind of Wold you can’t regulate and create barriers for products and services so creating a society that is self sustainable in a corner of this planet means that the channels of energy are blocked so the transportation and communication and connection to the outer part has to be block in order to be so it’s the same of what what is the same ability meaning in this context when we talk for example you talk about a cigarette and then it’s told that yeah but let’s make it is a subset animal because probably their water comes from the dome the water comes from the mountains and four hundred miles away and some products are coming from China and so on so forth but then we shouldn’t forget is it a bad thing or a group think do we want to have sustainable cities that they don’t need to call me and but the thing to reliability of the people around the world is that what. Maintains peace actually if there’s a city today that is I so they do which is like North Korea or some other countries in the Middle East you see that people don’t want that in the war other countries get immediately alert in order to make those isolated countries to get connected with them again why because that isolation can turn into pattern noir and Patton Oh you can go and utilize itself some weapons and then become hazardous in the global community so interconnection is extremely wide tall and nowadays that’s why we don’t see anything excess in isolated surfaces sample societies and I submit and dependent societies so the future that I see which is beautiful horse human population is a global sustainable community that maximizes the wealth and fortune for all the life beings around them including the animals which is a huge project of beings now that they’re what is struggling archaeology in the context of you it is a permanent thing is not something that really attracted my attention since I started writing about that hoss your rhetoric is fascinating because you are basically framing arcologies as the antithesis of law or interconnectedness whereas I thinking of our college as sort of the inevitable conclusion. Of technological progress so we have very contrasting views of our colleges here and our future so let me explain my view in that our college e’s are as I say a collection of technologies that seem to point towards more self sustainability in terms of goods but none a ceremony in terms of services so goods like food and consumer products that you might use around the house clothing that sort of think potentially those things could be three D. printed or grown in self sustainable waste. And water and other things that you use physical goods those things could be potentially made more self sustainable and I look suggesting that people do this for no reason but instead that they start to adopt these technologies because they become cheaper because they become easier because they are perhaps in a place where there’s so much inequality and the quality of the stuff that’s out there is not very good so they feel almost compelled to use things that they’ve made themselves or things that are made within the arcology So I’m saying that this is not something people are doing to isolate themselves but doing sort of because they want the best goods but then when you talk about an integrated world being the reason why we are at peace with one another I’m hoping that because people still want to communicate with one another and exchange services like for example a musician or a lawyer or an accountant or any these type of people they’re still going to interact with each other whether it’s by actually physically going over to the other arcology or other city and communicating or if it’s all done as Daniel says through virtual or augmented reality so there’s still a lot of integration but it’s services instead but I do share your fear that you know if what’s kept a said piece all this time is an economic integration if we’re exchanging the services purely for our own amusement in a post care setting future where no one has jobs that does start to be a little scary if we really don’t depend on other people for our success so we want to go into it all said I think the stuff we were talking about the examples he gave us is that our only Jesus in order to save energy. It’s also a lot of fish and sea and I think particularly white the biggest was interesting also with the water a problem Forest also it’s part of an ecosystem where it will also flow back into so I think it’s more of like not renewable resources but I really like the historical approach and you’re arguing and your arguments and. In particular Also it depends you know like interdependencies on each other so basically we breaking it down into more one direction so as long as a country has something to offer I think it’s still owed like as some part of like stability peace will be maintained and I think you were talking as if it was completely disconnected from the world I think there’s still no college you would have a lot to offer for other countries or other places just in terms of research and technology stock at the back up there and also just because they’re doing good for the planet also their knowledge having a negative impact I mean I think they were carried out so a promise just with the self-sufficiency and saved and it builds but this will be only one way or actually so by definition they would not be dependent on other basis or other services so the question is if that is enough to maintain peace but I think that’s a very interesting component Hasse’s really confused me now because I thought I was going into this like that thinking for sure this is the way things are going to go but now he’s making a great point like you’re saying that historical trends have been greater and greater economic integration and this is a prediction that goes against that so it does feel a little weird to predict that this trend that’s been going on for thousands of years is going to reverse so you have a point that we wrap it up I just.

Talk about this forever but banks are blowing their life. Now from bank you thank your liberty for the century that you label so I was going into the suspension similar feelings as Michael So I think it was a really cool sketch and particularly because Oz arguments were pretty convincing just because they were checking out a history that was thinking interesting things going to ask the traffic Harborough if.

Some of the only thing was to say are we are somehow to promise as soon as you can make yourself places you always cannot be just like in this isolated system where. If you always are sleeping. There are the resources that I want to say yeah that was a prediction made of the Internet in its early days too is that it would isolate people and yet of course the social media it’s actually done the opposite so I wonder if technologies that we first think will be isolating actually end up being things that bring us even closer together in terms of our economic integration can I just say fifteen seconds one thing that I was often mention in the same breath as arcologies is space colonies source base stations and course those really need to be quite self sustainable you know groups you exist you can’t have huge production chains in space or at least the cost becomes so much higher that if you can do it on your own through three D. printing or other mechanisms then you’re going to be much better off and so I wonder if os your argument about how she steals from integration is that says some very bad things about the future political world when there’s a lot of people in outer space I wonder people have much less incentive to get along with one another when they live in space because they already be necessarily quite self sustainable yeah when i guess that space I guess and then we can use the same argument and see the intended dependability if they people in the space say to me that people in the planet Earth if this theory lie on them and I swear so so there will be peace if there is at any point is that a Caminiti that thinks that they’re self sustainable then that would always has arise and problem in the history and it’s always a matter of perspective too because what is it that we need is it sustainability meaning that we just get our food and shelter and water and then we are good then we don’t need anyone else we don’t need other animals or other humans is this the moment that he declare independence so I don’t think it is so even if you are in a space in your remarks you have everything set for yourself we get all your energy from the sun are you going to be enough or you are going to get bored or you still want to listen to some comedy comedy. Then of communism and planet Earth when you get or if you’re still a human being so it all depends how much they even from a human experience and turned into utter species but think about it even as human beings look how much you’re spending on finding agents so state even as human beings we have everything we want on these We’re not satisfied we’re still looking for more we want more species and aliens to connect so it doesn’t stop when on a species level so I guess kind of theory that if something universal and cosmic and independence an isolation is doomed to failure and well something like black holes Yeah it’s also interesting in terms of thinking about it you know to people like what’s the commonality between two people they’re not satisfied one wanting to watch stand up comedy and the other wanting to explore space on what comes next there’s a lot of stripping off yeah that intellectual isolation is not something people want a cultural isolation is not something people want for sure but I wonder if that’s enough to stop people from going to war I mean if you don’t need goods or critical services from anyone else maybe the fact that you can’t access the latest situation comedies from a country will not be sufficient to stop you from antagonizing the.

Us or.

That’s a lot of pressure on our T.V. writer to say OK.

Well thank you yeah OK so we settle things guys. Thank you very much I’ve had a great discussing our quality if this was really fun you know we really should Cerruti the last of it so we surely could I don’t know couple weeks another episode across the distance and try to get our thoughts clear on that to see you next time soon next time the next day and have a good day there it to happen and I think I have ever had. Larry that’s.

What it.

Frequent terms: people (55) living space (5) thing (30) human beings (8) economic integration (3) fixed cost (2) surrounding environment (2) small group (3) super rich (2) huge production (2) densely populated (2) las vegas (2) production chain (2) science fiction (2) bad thing (2) sustainability (26) arcology (18) product (14) archaeology (13) sustainable (26) technology (12) self-sufficient (4) transportation (2) self-sustaining (3) college (11)


One thought on “LMTF Podcast Episode 6: Arcologies

  1. Congratulations on this interesting episode! This is my first encounter with machine transcription <>. I followed the transcription as the audio was playing, and am amazed at how well the machine did, considering that it had no idea of the context of the sounds it was analyzing. The New Mars forum has been debating a number of aspects of challenges for humans who might try to set up a self-sustaining community on Mars. The podcast discussion of arcologies transitioning to space habitats is pertinent. There is an ongoing debate on the New Mars forum about socialism vs capitalism and command economy designs for a Mars venture. I am inclined toward the view that a hybrid amalgamation of these structures is best, because all three exist on Earth today in vigorous competition.


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