REGENERATE: Innovating at the Intersection of the Climate Crisis and Emergent Technologies

An atmospheric river generated a storm that deluged historic amounts of rain across the greater Los Angeles region, the average temperature during December 2023 was 34.6 degrees warmer than historical norms in the Twin Cities, scientists forecast that the sea levels around Boston will rise 6 inches in the next fifteen years (a previous 6 inch rise took thirty six years). The realities of the impacts of climate change are omnipresent in how we think about and plan for health, resilience, and justice in our urban environments. This period of intensifying change to the climates our cities were designed and built to accommodate also coincides with an accelerated adoption of new technologies in our professional and personal lives. Generative artificial intelligence, a plethora of sensors and data, crowdsourced data sets, and an increasing digitization of our daily lives translates to public and private institutions with more access to the benefits of new technologies and the potential  to use them to design resilient urban futures.  


Regenerate, a conference hosted by the Norman B Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU), examined the critical intersection of AI, algorithmic models, urbanism, and the climate crisis. “Envisioning an optimistic climate future for urban environments takes an interdisciplinary imagination. Each panel at the conference drew together voices from the arts, humanities, and scientific community and places them in discussion with urban practitioners, city governments, and industry,” said Sarah Williams, director of the LCAU. “The conversation we had through the conference highlighted that technology can help us transition towards a climate positive future. However these technologies must shift the typical power dynamics embedded in these systems and seek to develop tools that include all voices and ways of knowing.” 


 The LCAU was established at the initiative of the Dean and department Chairs of the School of Architecture and Planning and reflects a drive to excellence in urbanism. Researchers at the LCAU seek to establish a new theoretical and applied research platforms to create knowledge that can be used to transform the quality of life throughout the urbanized world. The center brings together the world's top experts at MIT, to feed and foster innovation.