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Roundtable event – how AI could shape the future of our cities

How AI could shape the future of our cities

Socius, in collaboration with Protospace, recently hosted a Milton Keynes roundtable event, to discuss how AI might shape the future of our cities.

Hot on the heels of the AI Safety Summit, held at nearby Bletchley Park, the Socius team gathered professionals from across Milton Keynes’ public and private sectors, to discuss the rise of AI, how it is being implemented, the challenges and opportunities, and how it can support future developments.

Leading the conversation, Socius’ Head of Engagement, Liam Ronan-Chlond, highlighted why Milton Keynes was selected as the location of Socius’ mixed-use development MK Gateway site: “Milton Keynes is a city of the future, and we wanted to develop a cutting-edge, future-focused space which meets the current and impending needs of the city, and the people within it.”

The discussion covered the basic principles of Artificial Intelligence and how Frontier AI is evolving at a rapid pace. A strong theme of AI and data science already runs through many Milton Keynes organisations and Smart City innovation projects, and attendees went on to share examples of how AI is being deployed across businesses, and how workplaces are adapting to its use.

As one attendee commented: “While many believe it to be futuristic, almost terminator territory, AI is being used to read and process data which is supporting businesses and the public sector.”

The growing value of data was explored, for instance how this could be used to support research, influencing anything from public policy to public health.

While it was clear AI offered many opportunities, there were also some ‘new danger’ scenarios posed, particularly around the ethics of utilising data, representation, and risks to democracy. In addition, the roundtable scrutinised Elon Musk’s remarks at the AI Safety Summit, that, ‘there will come a point when no job is needed.’

There was talk of ‘Hype Cycles’, noting the dot-com boom twenty years ago, and even the Industrial Revolution a century before that. All attendees saw the opportunities for reskilling and the creation of new roles as a result of AI.

Protospace, the not-for-profit initiative which provides a platform for businesses to collaborate, connect, and explore technology, questioned whether Milton Keynes can harness the Bletchley heritage and create an AI hub, attracting talent from across the world. “Is there an opportunity to build an AI hub and create a space for businesses to collaborate? Milton Keynes was quite a bold idea to start with, so why not?”

Thank you to all the attendees from the following organisations:

Milton Keynes City Council

Milton Keynes Development Partnership

Plus X Innovation



Cranfield University

Red Bull Advanced Technologies

The Open University

Thank you also to Hotel La Tour for a fantastic dinner.

No AI tool was used in the creation of this article…..

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