Exponential technologies for the built environment
Anitha Vadavatha will speak at Shadow Summit this fall. She is an entrepreneur, global strategist, and an exponential technologies advisor and consultant.
Anitha is also a founder of d.Cent Labs with a focus to build a global ecosystem to drive the application of decentralized and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. She’s an alumna of Singularity University (SU) and a founding co-ambassador of the SU San Francisco chapter.
Anitha advises and mentors several startups in AI, blockchain, biotech, and healthcare and has been affiliated with many incubators including SU Smart City Accelerator, SU Ventures, California Life Sciences Institute, and GSVlabs.
We spoke to Anitha recently to get a preview of her macro perspective on how blockchain and AI can impact the built world in the near future.
What elements must be in place for an organization to successfully innovate?
One core thing is to absolutely be open minded. For any organization wanting to push innovation, you have to have some element of open-mindedness, either steeped into the organizational culture or in the individuals who are empowered to drive change. Leadership, or the ones who are hands-on buildings things, have to be open to being challenged. Two things will then become clear: 1) you’ll better recognize obstacles and question fundamentals and 2) you become open to learning, listening, and bringing a new perspective. Instead of disregarding criticism or defending ideas, you need to be more embracing of feedback.
As much as possible, you’re trying to eliminate intermediaries in decision making.
How can the underlying technologies of blockchain impact the built environment?
Blockchain is an umbrella term — The focus is about, could decentralization as a concept actually work? And could it work on a systematic level? Can we programmatically make that happen?
The real estate industry has multiple stakeholders — contractors, developers, equity investors, suppliers, management companies, consumers. In a multi-stakeholder environment, how do you make things more transparent? As much as possible, you’re trying to eliminate intermediaries in decision making. For example, through a smart contract mechanism, you can track a shipment of cement from one place to another. I don’t have to ask anyone where the shipment is; every stakeholder can see the entire chain. This technology eliminates wait time and sender/receiver confirmation.
Where I’m excited is in the second tier cities, where there’s an opportunity to drive the core thinking.
Which smart city projects are you excited about?
No one particular project is more exciting than another because there are hundreds of developments happening, across Scandinavia, India, the US. Where I’m excited is in the second tier cities, where there’s an opportunity to drive the core thinking. Major cities have legacy infrastructure you can’t innovate. Second tier cities have more of a blank canvas to incorporate multilayer technologies.
How would I approach architecture, from smart materials to sustainable materials? How can I track people and population in such a way that it’s noninvasive? How are they spending, how are they moving around, how can businesses better understand where they need to be based? A few exciting technologies for this capacity are drone technology, autonomous vehicles, and applying additional layers of AI for any data that already exists.