Steven Hawking recently commented that artificial intelligence (AI) would be “either the best thing or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity”. He was referring to the opportunity that AI offers to improve mankind’s situation, set alongside the risks that it also presents. These same competing possibilities apply no less when AI is considered in the context of smart cities and the planet’s growing urbanization. With smart cities, though, this is not just some abstract balance: there is a genuine choice of path to be made as smart cities and AI evolve together. This article explores the choice.