Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Best of 2015: Data Mining Reveals the Extent of China’s Ghost Cities

Overdevelopment in China has created urban regions known as ghost cities that are more or less uninhabited. Nobody knew how bad the problem was until Baidu used its Big Data Lab to find out. From November …

In recent years, China has undergone a period of urban growth that is unprecedented in human history. The number of square kilometers devoted to urban living grew from 8,800 in 1984 to 41,000 in 2010. And that was just the start. China used more concrete between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th century

Some of this building has been misplaced. In various parts of China, developers have built so much housing so quickly that it has outstripped demand, even in the world’s most populous country. The result is the well-publicized phenomenon of ghost cities—entire urban areas that are more or less deserted.

But much of the reporting on ghost cities is anecdotal or based on unreliable measurements such as a simple count of the number of lights on at night in residential buildings. That’s a particularly inaccurate method, not least because it ignores seasonal variations caused by tourism. Many places are busy during the tourist season but empty during the off-season, and not just in China. So being unable to distinguish these from ghost cities is something of a problem.

And that raises an interesting question: how bad, really, is the problem of ghost cities in China?

Continued

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Death and Jeff Bezos
Death and Jeff Bezos

Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever

Funders of a deep-pocketed new "rejuvenation" startup are said to include Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

tonga eruption
tonga eruption

Tonga’s volcano blast cut it off from the world. Here’s what it will take to get it reconnected.

The world is anxiously awaiting news from the island—but on top of the physical destruction, the eruption has disconnected it from the internet.

mouse engineered to grow human hair
mouse engineered to grow human hair

Going bald? Lab-grown hair cells could be on the way

These biotech companies are reprogramming cells to treat baldness, but it’s still early days.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.