by Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis
It is exciting to consider the wave of innovation and change expected in the coming years. Scientists will get steps closer to reaching human-level artificial intelligence, allowing machines to handle an even greater share of our responsibilities. Companies will develop and deliver goods and services faster, creating better tailored products and experiences to meet our needs at lower cost. Connections within the digital and physical world will become more seamless, providing even easier access to information.
The interplay of so many innovations will likely result in transformational changes to job and career dynamics, urban and regional transportation, and expectations and behaviors in shopping and personal services.
Does this mean that the future of our local economy is within our control? Yes, provided we embrace and prepare for it.
We need to understand the potential implications of emerging technologies, and it is critical to determine what we want our future regional economy to look like. We face major issues that we must address regardless of the innovations that arrive in coming years – issues like income inequality, job stability, climate change, housing affordability and traffic. What does our desired future look like in the Los Angeles region, and how will technologies and disruption help or hinder us on our course to reach it?
As we wrestle with the automation of jobs, the stampede of new mobility options, and the ability to order anything at any time, we are already feeling the impacts of accelerating change. Now is the time to strategize how we, as individual communities and as a region, can navigate a rapidly changing future to improve community wellbeing, expand economic opportunity, address historical inequities, and reduce human impact on the environment.
If we hesitate at this moment, we may not have a say in how the future plays out, and we risk losing the opportunity to incorporate advances in technology into a holistic plan that builds a more just and sustainable economy. If we wait to see what befalls us year after year, it will grow increasingly difficult to develop policies, build infrastructure, and provide services that may protect against the whiplash of disruption.
New technology can be a useful tool, or it can be a trap. We believe that we can shape an economy that effectively serves our community for generations to come through careful management of innovations, but we do not yet have a roadmap on how to do so. In Santa Monica, we have begun the daunting task of cataloging anticipated trends with the intention of incorporating our learnings into a long-term economic strategy to guide our community (visit SantaMonica.gov/EconomicFuture for more information).
Santa Monica is only 8.3 square miles, tucked in 4,751 total square miles of Los Angeles County. We’re tackling these issues now, but to be truly successful, we need to work together as a region. We are at a unique moment in time where technology will likely upend many of the ways our region functions.
We need to collaborate among the private, public, non-profit and academic sectors to foster a resilient regional economy that embraces and productively harnesses disruption.