Google City

System Design for a speculative city owned and operated by Google. This was a group project with 3 other members. I have left out the portions of this project I did not contribute to. All of my contributions were made in conjunction with other members - I cannot take full credit for any singular part.


This city was proposed as a small city-state implanted into the US-Mexico border. The city would have 2 parts: A Shenzhen-like modular construction space for AI construction site, and a tester city with permanent residents. This city-state would exist as a special economic zone with embassies around the world. Electronic Residency for both humans and businesses providing access to Google's resources.

A community for AI centric rapid development, prototyping and testing which exists in both virtual and physical spaces


Inserting itself between the US and Mexico allows it to pull individuals from both sides of the border. It would become part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and touches some of the largest factories involved in NAFTA (Samsung, Sony, etc) as well as being close to both the Tijuana airport and the San Diego harbor.


Inspired by Estonia's' new E-Residency program, we sought to design a system which could

  • Establish and run a company online

  • Conduct banking online

  • Access international payment services

  • Digitally sign and verify authenticity of legal documents

  • Encrypt and transmit documents securely

  • Declare taxes online

All residents of the Google City must sign a non-disclosure agreement. While in the city, ideas can flow freely, but they must remain in the city until commercialized.

Types of Residents

Physical Residents

Benefit from:

  • Access to the University

  • Active Government

  • Transparency

  • Online Voting

  • Access to Public Transit in and around the city

  • Business/Development Benefits:

    • Free software for research

    • Lower taxes

    • Some automated paperwork

    • huge network

    • Access to factories

    • Access to Modular Construction Space (MCS)

    • Access to the Google building network

In exchange for:

  • Applying knowledge and skills to the city

  • Allow other residents to:

    • Access statistics based on your data (cannot be isolated as an individual)

    • Track you in the physical city

  • Allow Google to continue using your data for advertisement

  • Serve as a test subject for AI projects embedded in the tester city


Benefit from:

  • Licenses for code repositories

  • Ability to reserve time on computers and supercomputers

  • Access to creative virtual community

  • Remote access to city resources

  • Booths in Modular Construction Space (MCS) each have web portals which Google maintains, providing online services

In exchange for:

  • Applying knowledge and skills to the city

  • Allow other residents to:

    • Access statistics based on your data (cannot be isolated as an individual)

  • Allow Google to continue using your data for advertisement with extended tracking

  • Serve as a test subject for virtual AI interaction testing

  • Participation allows for increased size and diversity of test populations in studies


Benefit from:

  • Free Software for research purposes

  • Access to Modular Construction Space (MCS)

  • Access to a network of specialized individuals and computers

  • Funding from Google

  • Access to outside sources of investment

  • Business creation is streamlined by Google - allowing developers to start companies which get status as US Companies.

In exchange for:

  • Used software becomes licensed once commercialized

Businesses don't have certain rights which are given to humans like Public Transit and Voting rights

The purpose here is to help companies get off the ground by allowing Google to cheaply invest in companies it finds valuable, and provide resources for others. Companies sign a contract with Google, giving Google free access to their technology for a period of time.

When the contract ends, negotiation begins on whether to expand beyond the city, sell out, or renew. Google no longer has free access to the technology developed.

Special Economic Zone

In order to enable residents rather than restrict them, Patent law has little to no footing in the city. A free exchange of ideas and code can be made while researching and developing technology. Each contribution you take from a vendor is tagged so when a commercial product is finally created, these tags can be parsed and used for determining necessary licensing.

All Software is Free for Development and Research, Payments once Commercialized

This is to balance incentives for rapid development and wages - drawing people in for both aspects.

In addition to being a Special Economic Zone, additional future legal exceptions are expected to be made as the focus of technology changes. For instance, as biomedical research becomes more popular, the city may become a place with extended provisions for conducting testing which restricted in the United States or Mexico.

Modular Construction Space (MCS)

This is a Shenzhen inspired set of buildings in the Google city which allows residents to walk between booths, talk to specialists, and bit by bit build a system. Initially proposed to be an AI-centric space, MCS is intended to be adaptable for the future - learning from Shenzhen's mistakes. As technology changes - new technology developing and new topics gaining and losing favor - booths in MCS with change, staying constantly relevant with technological progress.


Various specializations with in the scope of AI development will grow and shrink over time. Shenzhen is stuck in manufacturing because it was built with the understanding that manufacturing would always be the center of the world. MCS attempts to avoid this by intentionally altering the size of areas on the floor based on their popularity and need in the world. As fields grow in popularity, so will the amount of space allocated to them - encouraging the influx of new specialists.

Central Hub

Everything is located in a single walk-able building/set of buildings so individuals can walk around and become inspired by the density of innovation. The goal here is to allow people to rapidly develop and test out new ideas by joining various fields together simply by stepping between booths. Normally this kind of development requires movement and navigation between several different companies - phone calls, contracts, etc.. MCS avoids this entirely.

Online Access

MCS is located in the physical Google City, but has virtual counterparts. Each booth has a website auto-generated by Google. Booth managers can easily replace these generated sites with their own if they choose. These serve as portals to remotely access a limited number of services provided by each booth. E-Residents from around the world can access these websites and take advantage of the services/products. There is inherent benefit given to Physical Residents and their ability to engage face-to-face with booth managers, but E-Residents still have access prescribed services.


Companies and individuals spend millions each year on experimenting and testing out ideas that eventually fail. Most ideas will fail, but the ones that don't produce fantastic results. Because of the cost of investment, current businesses must evaluate the risk involved in any new idea. By allowing for free access to software and ideas, testing and rapid prototyping because extremely low risk, allowing people to unlock their creative freedom, producing as many ideas as they can in a given day - if 1,000 ideas are made everyday and 99% of them fail, that still leaves 10% brilliant inventions produced every single day. This allows Google City to become a center for technological research.

Once an idea moves on from development and becomes a commercial product, the company/individual must pay for the software/services being used. The exact nature of payment depending on the developer's contract (free, attribution, pay-per-call, pay-per-devices, lump sum, etc)

Student Access

Students from the Google University will be able to use MCS for their projects and research. Software tools are free, and any service changes incurred can be charged to their student bill - if funded by Google, this will extend their time working for Google post-graduation.

Testing in the City

Adjacent to MCS is a tester city. Products developed in MCS can be placed in the city - placing cameras on walls, voice and touch interfaces on street corners, and anything that can be dreamed up. Physical Residents sign additional agreements allowing them to be tested on at any point in their day - allowing projects to quickly gain user data from thousands of physical residents living in the city.

In addition, projects can use E-Residents (nonphysical) as test subjects by using their detailed profile data. Direct access to individual profiles will be blocked, but de-identified data can be taken. The developer will make code that is capable of analyzing particular data, submits it to a review systems which verifies anonymity, and the review system will run the code on closed servers where individual data can be accessed. After running, the developer gets the results or trained model without ever accessing individual data.

Cyber Infrastructure

The Google city will be directly linked via optic fiber cables to google buildings around the world. The buildings will serve identically to embassies, maintaining special laws (SEZ) of the main city - E-Residents can enter into these buildings and no longer are controlled by regional laws - providing them physical access to the specialized networking of the residency. Each building acts as a resource for E-Residents in surrounding areas and other parts of the world. Each contains reserveable supercomputers, collaboration and networking spaces, and high speed internet and hotspots which allow for people to login to the network throughout the containing city. Each building is its own miniature center for research and development for the surrounding area.

Due to their inter-nationality, this network of buildings can be used for cultural advising - allowing an company or individual in one region to seek advice from someone in another. The sites for Google buildings were chosen by looking at cities/countries with close relationships with tech companies that showed a historical willingness to innovate legally to promote technological development.

Each E-Resident is given an phone with additional encryption and identity verification steps allowing individuals to use their citizenship remotely. The phone becomes a portal to all of the services available as an E-Resident. In addition to securing their research, the extra security allows for voting and singing of documents through the device.

Google University

The Google University is a research university that aims to remove predisposed access to financial resources. Tuition is paid for through a contract with Google requiring graduates to work for Google for a certain number of years in exchange for Google paying for their education. The contract is dependent on the amount of debt the student owes Google, which they can pay any amount of, and can accumulate more by charging MCS services to their student bill - slightly increasing their time working for Google post graduation.

This serves as a huge benefit for students, as they are guaranteed work for one of the top tech companies in the world directly after graduation - providing them with a solid foundation for their resumes.