PSFK Conference Speaker Interview: Greg Lindsay

Greg Lindsay speaks on the future of cities, in anticipation of next week’s PSFK Conference.

Greg Lindsay will be one of the speakers at our upcoming PSFK CONFERENCE NY 2011. Greg is a contributing writer for Fast Company and the author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next (with John D. Kasarda). He was previously a contributing writer for Fortune and an editor-at-large for Advertising Age. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, and McKinsey Quarterly. Greg is a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and is also a fellow of the Hybrid Reality Institute, exploring the co-evolution of humans and technology. In anticipation of the conference, we bring you a few thoughts from Greg:

What is the most exciting challenge that you’re addressing right now?

The world needs more cities—a lot more of them. By some estimates, the urban population of Earth is set to nearly double by 2050 to 6.4 billion people. Meanwhile, the urban footprint is set to double twice as fast. Many cities will more than double in size, and hundreds of new ones will be built. So what kind of cities do we need? The challenge—and opportunities—has attracted all sorts of non-traditional urban planners, whether it’s technology firms like IBM and Cisco, or economists like Paul Romer (with his “charter city” concept), or technocrats in China.

Where do you find inspiration outside your industry?

I’m a journalist, so the most inspiring thing for me is to travel and see the facts on the ground in places like China and Dubai first-hand. It’s one thing to write about sweeping demographic changes or about the “New Silk Road,” but it’s something else altogether to see first-hand delirious Chinese families shopping their way through Dubai and realizing how profoundly 100 million Chinese tourists a year will change everything.

What emerging trend or idea are you excited to see develop in digital technology?

I’m most eager to see what will happen when China’s tech entrepreneurs stop copy and start innovating. The country’s hardware pirates— the shanzhai—already create copycat phones so strange and so loaded with features they’re basically new inventions. Will QQ be bigger than Facebook someday? Will a shanzhai go legit and build a better smart phone? Considering the concentration of manufacturing talent and components, I bet they will.

Thanks, Greg!

Greg will be speaking at PSFK CONFERENCE NY 2011. Come listen to like minds as they share their ideas to make things better on stage and off.

Find out more about the full lineup of speakers at the PSFK CONFERENCE NY 2011 here.

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