GPT-4 reveals subtle flaws in collective intelligence

On November 10, 2014, PeterEastern, a Wikipedia editor, merged the terms “intelligent city” and “smart city”. He wrote on the Smart City talk page “I have now put merge banners of Intelligent city, Ubiquitous city and MESH city‎ and am awaiting comments on those articles. I have completed to merging of these three articles, which are now all redirects to this one”. He also added, “From what I can see from a cusory reading of each article, the Smart City concept seems much more practical and grounded in reality, while the Intelligent City idea seems more conceptual (and no evidence it’s yet been explicitly applied).”

This significant change and abuse of the concepts were accepted by the Wikipedia author and editor community, and since then, if you search for the term “intelligent city,” you will not find anything. The search will direct you to “smart city.”

I had a discussion with GPT-4 about this issue, the two concepts of “intelligent city” and “smart city”, whether their integration into one was correct, whether the use of the smart city concept only, which dominated the related literature, contributed to or impoverished research in the field. I asked 4 questions about the two concepts, their origin in the literature, and an assessment of their unification. Below you can see screenshots and the text from this discussion.

Q1: Taking into account the evolution of urban development and planning in the digital age, it is appropriate to distinguish between the concepts of “intelligent city” and “smart city”. What is the meaning of each?

GPT-4: Indeed, the terms “intelligent city” and “smart city” are often used interchangeably, but they have different nuances and implications in the context of urban development and planning. Here’s a breakdown of the meanings of each term:
Intelligent City:
An intelligent city refers to an urban area that emphasizes the development and integration of human intelligence, social capital, and collective creativity to improve the city’s efficiency, innovation, and sustainability. This concept focuses on the people living in the city, their interactions, and the social networks they create. It aims to foster learning, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas and knowledge between citizens, businesses, and institutions. An intelligent city leverages the power of advanced technologies, such as the internet, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics, to enhance the social and economic life of the city, but it primarily emphasizes the human element and the importance of a knowledge-based urban environment.
Smart City:
A smart city, on the other hand, is more technology-driven and focuses on the use of digital and information technologies to improve urban services, infrastructure, and overall quality of life for its inhabitants. It aims to optimize the efficiency of city operations, urban planning, and resource management through the use of sensors, IoT devices, data analytics, and other advanced technologies. In a smart city, technology is the main enabler for solving urban challenges, such as traffic congestion, energy consumption, environmental issues, and public safety. The smart city concept integrates various domains, including transport, energy, water, waste management, and public services, to create a connected, data-driven urban ecosystem that is more responsive and adaptive to the needs of its residents.
In summary, while both intelligent and smart cities employ advanced technologies to improve urban living, an intelligent city emphasizes the importance of human intelligence, social capital, and creativity in shaping the city’s development, whereas a smart city focuses on leveraging technology to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of urban infrastructure and services.

Q2. In the course of the literature and research on intelligent cities, when are the first publications identified and what are they?

GPT-4: The concept of intelligent cities has its roots in the broader field of urban planning and development, which has evolved over time to accommodate technological advancements and changing societal needs. The term “intelligent city” emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s as scholars and urban planners began to explore the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) to support knowledge-based urban development.
Some early publications and works that contributed to the development of the intelligent city concept include:
  1. “The Learning City” (1997) by Charles Landry and Phil Wood: This book introduced the idea of a “learning city,” emphasizing the importance of knowledge, creativity, and innovation in urban development. The authors highlighted the role of learning and human capital in shaping the future of cities.
  2. “The Creative City” (2000) by Charles Landry: In this book, Landry further developed the concept of a learning city by focusing on the importance of creativity, culture, and innovation in urban planning and development. Although not explicitly using the term “intelligent city,” the book laid the groundwork for the idea by discussing the role of knowledge and human intelligence in shaping cities.
  3. “The Intelligent City: Technology, Knowledge, and Urban Life” (2001) by Mike Davis: This article explored the concept of intelligent cities, focusing on the integration of ICTs and the role of knowledge-based industries in urban development. Davis discussed how the intelligent city concept aims to create a more sustainable and equitable urban environment by leveraging technology and human capital.
  4. “Intelligent Cities: Innovation, Knowledge Systems, and Digital Spaces” (2002) by Nicos Komninos: This book is one of the earliest and most comprehensive publications on intelligent cities. Komninos defined the concept and discussed the role of ICTs, innovation, and knowledge-based industries in urban development. He also highlighted the importance of collaboration, learning, and social capital in creating intelligent cities.
These early publications, among others, laid the foundation for the intelligent city concept, which has since evolved and matured as new technologies and societal challenges have emerged. The literature on intelligent cities continues to expand, exploring different dimensions of urban development, such as the role of big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things in shaping the cities of the future.


Q3. About smart cities, when are the first publications identified and what are they?

GPT-4: While the concept of “smart cities” is closely related to “intelligent cities,” its emphasis is slightly different, focusing more on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance urban life. Here are some early publications on smart cities:
  1. Batty, M., Axhausen, K.W., Giannotti, F., Pozdnoukhov, A., Bazzani, A., Wachowicz, M., … & Portugali, Y. (2012). Smart cities of the future. The European Physical Journal Special Topics, 214(1), 481-518. This article discusses the potential of smart cities, particularly in terms of urban informatics, and presents an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and designing future cities.
  2. Giffinger, R., Fertner, C., Kramar, H., Kalasek, R., Pichler-Milanovic, N., & Meijers, E. (2007). Smart cities: Ranking of European medium-sized cities. Centre of Regional Science, Vienna UT. This report provides a ranking of European cities based on their “smartness,” considering factors such as economy, people, governance, mobility, environment, and living.
  3. Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., & Nijkamp, P. (2011). Smart cities in Europe. Journal of Urban Technology, 18(2), 65-82. This article explores the concept of smart cities, examining their main characteristics, as well as the factors that contribute to their development.
  4. Hollands, R. G. (2008). Will the real smart city please stand up? Intelligent, progressive or entrepreneurial? City, 12(3), 303-320. This article critically examines the concept of the smart city, contrasting the entrepreneurial, technology-driven approach with a more inclusive, progressive vision of urban development.
While these publications are not the very first to mention smart cities, they are among the early works that contributed to shaping the understanding and discourse around smart cities. The development of this concept has been iterative and dynamic, with many researchers and publications contributing to its evolution.


Q4. Was the unification of the terms “intelligent city” and “smart city” by the authors and editors of Wikipedia beneficial for research in this field?

GPT-4: The unification of the terms “intelligent city” and “smart city” by the authors and editors of Wikipedia can have both positive and negative implications for research in this field. Here are some of the potential effects:
Positive aspects:
  • Coherent understanding: Unifying the terms can help provide a more coherent and encompassing view of the efforts being made to improve cities in the digital age. This can make it easier for researchers to understand the broader context and trends in urban development and planning.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration: By unifying the terms, researchers from various disciplines may find it easier to collaborate and share insights on common challenges and goals related to urban development. This can lead to innovative solutions and a more comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand.
Negative aspects:
  • Loss of nuance: Unifying the terms may not fully capture the differences and nuances between the two concepts. The intelligent city concept focuses on human intelligence, social capital, and creativity, while the smart city concept emphasizes technology-driven solutions. Researchers may lose sight of these distinctions, which could lead to oversimplification or misunderstanding of the concepts.
  • Limited exploration of unique aspects: By merging the terms, researchers may be less inclined to investigate the unique aspects of intelligent cities or smart cities. This could result in a limited exploration of the specific factors and strategies that make each approach effective, which may hinder progress in the field.
Overall, the impact of unifying the terms on research in the field of urban development and planning depends on the extent to which researchers recognize and consider the nuances and differences between the intelligent city and smart city concepts. While unification may provide some benefits in terms of coherence and interdisciplinary collaboration, it is essential for researchers to be aware of the distinctions between the two concepts to ensure a comprehensive understanding and to foster meaningful innovation in the field.

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The replies of the GPT-4 highlight significant differences between the two concepts on one hand, different origins, structure, and operation, and on the other, a potentially negative impact of their unification, expressed politely by “This could result in a limited exploration of the specific factors and strategies that make each approach effective, which may hinder progress in the field.”

Additionally, this discussion highlights a highly relevant issue in today’s world. AI can contribute to better decisions taken by groups and communities that in many cases instead of collective intelligence exhibit collective lock-in, where a group or community becomes entrenched in a particular idea or way of thinking, even when evidence or alternatives indicate that it may not be the most effective or optimal choice.

History is replete with disastrous decisions made by groups and communities, wars instigated by short-sighted leaders, political parties, and influential elites, all driven by a collective lock-in of their milieu. One of the primary benefits of AI is its potential to enhance collective intelligence, not because AI is infallible, but rather because it is impartial to specific group interests. Therefore, instead of focusing solely on the risks AI poses to humanity, we should also explore how to harness AI to improve collective intelligence and prevent the abuse inherent in power. As Yann LeCun suggested in a recent tweet, the decision to favour fossil fuels over nuclear energy has resulted in millions of deaths and accelerated global warming. Today, instilling fear about AI “instead of amplifying human intelligence and solving the world’s biggest problems, we’ll make sure progress slows down to a crawl.”