Can Artificial Intelligence Solve America's Crisis? Zillow Seems To Think So

Originally published at: Can Artificial Intelligence Solve America's Crisis? Zillow Seems To Think So | Boing Boing


Solve? AI can only optimize America’s crisis.


no one actually desires or prefers a housing economy consisting of majority rentals

Except for private equity, hedge funds, and the other greedpigs now buying up single-family homes and driving up purchase prices.

robbing Americans of the easiest way to increase their assets (and as a result, forcing them to make higher monthly payments to increase the value of someone else’s assets) is probably not going to be a great long-term plan for equality and prosperity

As if any of the above care about anything beyond the next fiscal quarter.

Whether we’re talking about stopping Zillow and Black Rock or thwarting NIMBYs, the starting point is for American society to stop treating homes primarily as an asset class and start looking them mainly as places where people can live. Somehow, though, I doubt anyone will come up with an AI to change things in that regard.


We need to start the Butlerian Jihad a few centuries early.


As the Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen points out, homeowners tend to look down on nearby construction, because more ample housing could drive down the cost of their property.

This sound ludicrous, the way many economists think people think: That more housing means my housing resource becomes less scarce, and may go down in value? That’s a robotic, not a human, way of thinking.

People oppose new housing construction when it’s going to develop the nice rolling hills around them into houses. It’s about the view, or the hiking area, or what was formerly a park, going away not “my scarce resource will be less scarce”


Most people, at least around here, their concerns are: traffic, schools getting overcrowded, and “cutting down all those trees” (even though they have done nothing to preserve said land until they see construction equipment rolling in). And if they’re building APARTMENTS instead of houses, HOOOO BOY do the old white folks on nextdoor lose their shit! PROPERTY VALUES ERMEGERD!


It’s certainly ridiculous in large desirable cities. From what I’ve seen, new-construction condos on main arteries have been driving up neighbourhood property values. In a gentrification scenario, values rise to the point where some local residents get priced out.

In practise, the NIMBYs object to multi-unit developments that they think either disrupts the aesthetic character of the neighbourhood (e.g. by being over-sized compared to the existing homes) or contains (gasp) affordable housing units.

These are legitimate concerns, but as you note they tend to be concerns of the municipal planning authorities long before they’re “discovered” by the NIMBYs.




USA needs better city planning. Designing cities for humans rather than cars. Infinite suburban sprawl where everyone has their own house, you need a car to get to anything and half the city consists of roads and parking lots is a nightmare.

Here is a Dutch channel with some suggestions:


There is no “correct” cost of housing other than what allows all people to have a roof over their heads. The implicit point of this is to make housing more like stocks, priced by whatever the market will pay and collected by those with the most wealth. That ain’t fixing the housing crisis, it’s giving up on housing


As a counter point I might offer my local town council meetings where property values are the primary thing under discussion. Aside from overall housing supply, the main concern is who is living where. The presence of brown people, young people and single people being anathema to all important property values. And increasing lot sizes to tweak up property values being an ongoing (20+ years) shit fit.

People are generally more than happy when the rolling hills become buildings so long as those buildings are the sort that make their houses more valuable, and the right sort of people move into them. Chain stores, apartments and gasp public parks are a no go. Five acre lot McMansions “preserve farm land”. Stand alone restaurants and boutique stores “save the character of the area”, and beach side hotels “provide jobs” though.

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interior, large computer room with tape rolling, machines clicking, whirring, and beeping.
scientist 1: we feed the problem into the computer machine like so…
scientist 2: and it should provide the solution momentarily.
scientists, in unison: this thing is broken!

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He’s a Canadian who moved to the Netherlands so his kids could walk to school. It’s a great channel, someone give the algorithm a prod, it needs to be much more well known.

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Screen Shot 2021-06-21 at 8.13.27 AM


The solution - build affordable multi-unit buildings.

Problem - NO ONE wants affordable multi-unit buildings by them.

You know, I am really surprised Kansas City doesn’t get more press from the progressives lately. Their Mayor actually defunded the police for new programs. He is pushing for a reparations plan for community investment, and now has money for a proposed ~100 unit homeless building to replace tent cities. Of course NO ONE wants that near them. But as the homeless guy in the story I saw said, “We already live around you.”


Damn straight, my man. Homes are not goddamn commodities – they are vital resources for living.

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Skynet can solve it.

scientist 3: gives it a kick.
computer ticker: Adequate labor wages, which have to be at least sufficient to provide the “necessaries,” covering lodging, food and clothes, the latter tailored to middle-class comforts.
scientists, all together: it’s hopeless!

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But then, when the property values go up, they bitch and bitch when their property taxes go up. Which are, of course, tied to property values.


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