Chat GPT: the true idiot savant?

Chat GPT – impressive but limited Chat GPT is a very impressive piece of technology. It seems to excel at rapidly compiling the information available on Wikipedia (and other web sites), producing coherent summaries. It also writes full sentences and is able to mimic styles. Of course, as a professor I am happy if myContinue reading “Chat GPT: the true idiot savant?”

Quel rôle jouent les urbanistes?

Un article récent de La Presse a dressé une liste assez triste d’exemples de refus de permis de construire pour des projets apparemment bénéfiques socialement ou environnementalement – logements étudiants, logements au centre-ville… J’ai suggéré dans une petite note sur LinkedIn que “Les urbanistes, ainsi que leurs interprétations des règlements, [pourraient empêcher] la construction deContinue reading “Quel rôle jouent les urbanistes?”

Big data and downtown revival: when is the microphone too close to the speaker?

I have just spent the afternoon at a fascinating event organised by Montreal’s downtown SDC (the Société de Développement Commercial, somewhat similar to a Business Improvement District). It consisted of three panels and a couple of presentations about the role data – particular big-data – could play in downtown’s revival. Can data really revive downtown?Continue reading “Big data and downtown revival: when is the microphone too close to the speaker?”

Québec’s new driving rules, the elderly, and urban planning

Last week Québec’s automobile insurance agency, the SAAQ, introduced a new rule: henceforth, any person diagnosed with neuro-cognitive impairement will have their driving license revoked. This will have a major impact – especially on elderly people, many of whom are, understandably, concerned about this threat. I have just listened to an insightful interview in whichContinue reading “Québec’s new driving rules, the elderly, and urban planning”

Immigration, housing, and the financial politics of housing

Immigration and housing In late October 2022, the federal government announced plans to welcome 500 000 immigrants a year to Canada over the coming years. There are many good reasons for doing so: Canada’s population is aging, there is a labour shortage, and people from across the world are facing climate and political disruption partlyContinue reading “Immigration, housing, and the financial politics of housing”

Nobel prize winners in economics say: “Support our banks!”

As I finished reading David Graeber’s book ‘Debt’ this morning, I heard that the Nobel prize in economics has been awarded to three economists. Their contribution to economics seems to be this: “If you want to stabilize the financial system, and ensure that it continues as it is, you must support banks in times ofContinue reading “Nobel prize winners in economics say: “Support our banks!””

“Keep wage increases below inflation.” The politics of central banks

The Bank of Canada, and other central banks, are ‘aggressively raising interest rates’, ostensibly to stifle inflation. For the same reason, the Bank of Canada’s Governor, Tiff Maklen, recently said that employers should resist labour and supply contracts based on high inflation expectations: i.e. employers shouldn’t raise wages, nor pay their suppliers, in line withContinue reading ““Keep wage increases below inflation.” The politics of central banks”

Back to the office: is proximity bias actually a bias?

As organizations sort out new workplace arrangements – hybrid?; all-office? all-remote? – an interesting sub-genre of article has appeared about ‘proximity bias’. Proximity bias is defined as follows: An unconscious tendency to favor the people we’re physically closer to. In flexible working environments, proximity bias heightens the risk that in-office workers will receive preferential treatmentContinue reading “Back to the office: is proximity bias actually a bias?”

An elderly multi-millionaire dies in her castle

It is never a happy occasion when someone dies, and I therefore wish to extend my condolences to Queen Elizabeth II’s family. Monarchy, inheritance and meritocracy Turning now to the institution of monarchy, the overly saccharine treatment of Queen Elizabeth’s inevitable death, after a very long and cosseted life, is depressing. I agree with manyContinue reading “An elderly multi-millionaire dies in her castle”

Fund the neighbourhood police – and get them to police our cycle lanes!

In a recent blog I argued that more bike lanes – whilst a temporary solution to the immediate danger that car-culture poses for cyclists – are not really a solution that will encourage more cycling. The reason for this is that car-culture has permeated all types of mobility: the bullying and danger that cars inflictContinue reading “Fund the neighbourhood police – and get them to police our cycle lanes!”