‘Cities will be controlled by AI – thinking like a human brain’ – Q&A with Matthew Delany

A quick Q&A with Matthew Delany, previously Head of Cleantech & Sustainable Urban Development at Copenhagen Capacity and now International Programme Director at Bech-Bruun.

What is your most surprising prediction about cities and sustainability?

Matthew Delany

Cities will be controlled by Artificial Intelligence and begin to think like a human brain. CO2 will be sucked directly from the air using direct air capture technology to cut emissions. Automated flying drones will transport humans and the best food will be grown in skyscrapers.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think about cities and technology?

James Ehrlich, Founder of ReGen Villages – a Stanford University spin-off company.

What 2-3 books / podcasts would you recommend?

1. Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Stephen M. R. Covey’s book Speed of Trust.

2. Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth laying out a case for the climate crisis and why it is imperative that we solve it.

3. Offshore Wind Podcast hosted by Ben Blackwell of Global Wind Energy Council and Stewart Mullin of MHI Vestas.

Where’s the best place for new ideas?

For me it’s not about best place as new ideas constantly come, whether I’m on the train, in the gym or in the shower. It’s more about developing a habit of acknowledging and capturing the new (good) ideas before they slip away, e.g. by sending myself an email.

Who inspires you?

Now this is a tricky one! I’m inspired by many people. But if forced to list some names, I would say…

In relation to cleantech and sustainable urban development – Bertrand Piccard, Founder and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, and Ida Auken, former Chairman for The Danish Parliament’s Climate and Energy Committee.

And when it comes to life in general… former England rugby player, Jonny Wilkinson for inspiring me to achieve excellence, former British SAS serviceman Bear Grylls for his positivity and enthusiasm for life and the outdoors, and finally Michael Hansen, owner of By Michael Hansen and associate partner at Franklin Covey, for personal leadership and having the right mindset.

… And my kids 🙂

What is your call to action?

For all government leaders to act now and build back better and greener.

What [career] advice would you give to your younger self?

Follow your passion, even if it does not pay very well. If you fail, keep trying.
Give to others without expecting anything in return. You will be rewarded…

What are the skills we’ll need in 10 years?

I don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us what skills will and won’t be required, however I do believe the following will be needed…
• Digital literacy and computational thinking
• Decision making
• Having empathy, the ability to collaborate, as well as excellent communication skills.


Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn