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News + PoliticsBusiness + TechWhat the new AI says about the Yimby movement and agenda

What the new AI says about the Yimby movement and agenda

You can make it argue almost anything, and it's alarmingly cogent. Here's an example.


Artificial intelligence is getting better, fast, and at times it’s alarming. As someone who teaches undergraduates, I can see the end of the term paper looming: It’s pretty easy to find plagiarism, but really hard to figure out if an AI helped do research and writing. (A student at Princeton has an app for that; it will last until the AI gets better, and then we’ll have an ongoing tech war that the teachers will lose.)

So check this out: My son asked the new public program, OpenAI, to write an argument about the problems with the Yimby movement. Here’s what the robot had to say:

Yimbyism, or “Yes In My Backyard” is an urban planning movement that supports increased housing density as a way to address rising housing costs. It is often presented as a solution to the housing crisis, as well as a way to promote economic development through gentrification.

This is what the AI gave us when we asked for an image to illustrate this story.

However, there are serious issues with Yimbyism and its potential to contribute to gentrification. The biggest issue is that it is based on the assumption that increased density will lead to trickle-down economic benefits for the local community. This idea has been widely debunked, as it does not account for the fact that developers are more likely to target more affluent areas for development, leading to displacement of existing lower-income residents without any meaningful economic gains for them.

In addition, Yimbyism often overlooks the importance of affordable housing. The increased density it promotes is often geared towards luxury housing, which further exacerbates the housing crisis for lower-income individuals and families.

It is also important to recognize that the Yimby movement is inherently racist, as it fails to address the systemic racism that has caused a lack of affordable housing in the first place. The Yimby movement presumes that if we build more housing, it will automatically lead to affordable housing. But this ignores the fact that the housing market has been shaped by centuries of racism and discrimination. The legacy of redlining, for example, has meant that people of color are often excluded from certain neighborhoods and have limited access to affordable housing. Therefore, building more housing without addressing the underlying causes of racism will only perpetuate the existing disparities in access to housing.

Furthermore, the Yimby movement often fails to address the needs of communities of color. Instead, it is often used to justify the gentrification of neighborhoods, which displaces existing communities and further marginalizes people of color. This is especially problematic because it ignores the fact that people of color already face immense housing insecurity and are often more vulnerable to the effects of gentrification.

Finally, Yimbyism does not address the underlying causes of the housing crisis, such as inadequate public investment in housing and land-use regulations that favor development over affordability. Until these issues are addressed, Yimbyism is unlikely to lead to meaningful, long-term solutions to the housing crisis.

Got that right.

But it can make the exact opposite argument, too.

And soon, this is going to be everywhere. I don’t even know where to start.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.


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