The smart city is a perpetually unrealized utopia

The interesting thing about both the initial and current perspectives of urban sensing networks and the use of the data produced by them is how close they are to the concept of what such technologies will bring and how far they are still. The technological image of the new Babylon was the vision of a smart city Not at all Like IBM, large-scale data extraction is marked by increasing the flow of revenue through everything from parking and shopping to healthcare and utility monitoring. New Babylon was clearly anti-capitalist; It was formed by the belief that comprehensive and awakened techniques would somehow, some day, free us from the hardships of labor.

War and sensors

The apocalyptic news broadcast from Mariupol, Kharkiv, Izium, Kherson and Kiev since February 2022 seems far removed from IBM’s smart urbanism. After all, smart sensors and sophisticated machine-learning algorithms are no match for the brutal force of the unguided “dumb bomb” raining down on Ukrainian urban centers. But the gruesome images of these smoking cities should also remind us that historically, these very sensor networks and systems themselves derive from the context of war.

Unbeknownst to Constant, the very “surrounding” techniques he envisioned to enable the new playful city were actually emerging at a time when his vision was taking shape – from Cold War-fueled research at the US Department of Defense. The operation reached its peak during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. Army released about 20,000 battery-powered wireless acoustic sensors in an attempt to stem the supply chain from north to south along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, furthering General William Westmoreland’s vision. About 24-hour real- or near-real-time surveillance of all kinds. In fact, what the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) later called “network-centric warfare” was the result of multibillion-dollar funding to support research into the development of distributed wireless at MIT and Carnegie Mellon, other select US universities. Sensor networks માટે the very technology that now powers “more lethality” for the military’s smartest technology.

Satellite image of the Ukrainian city
Networks of smart sensors are no match for the brutal force of unguided “mute bombs” raining down on Ukrainian urban centers.

MAXAR Technologies

It is well known that the technologies developed by DARPA, “responsible for maintaining the capabilities and technological excellence of the US military and catalyzing the development of advanced technologies” (as reported by Congress), have been successfully reused. Civil use. ARPANET eventually became the Internet, while technologies such as Siri, dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and micro hard drives are now a feature of everyday life. What is less well known is that the technologies funded by DARPA have also been exhausted in Smart City: GPS, mesh networks for smart lighting systems and energy grids, and chemical, biological and radiological sensors, including genetically engineered plants. Is that which can detect hazards. This link between smart cities and military research is extremely active today. For example, a recent DARPA research program called CASCADE (Complex Adaptive System Composition and Design Environment) clearly compares “human and unmanned aircraft” to “share data and resources in real time” thanks to connections over wireless networks. With “infrastructure. “Systems” of smart cities – “water, power, transportation, communications and cyber.” Both, he notes, apply mathematical techniques to complex dynamic systems. The DARPA tweet puts the link more provocatively: “What do smart cities and aerial war have in common? The need for complex, adaptive networks.”

Both of these perspectives સે sensor-studded battlefields and instrumental, interconnected, intelligent cities દ્વારા enabled by distributed sensing and massive data mining techniques seem to lack a central component: the human body, which is always the first thing to sacrifice, whether in the battlefield In data extraction machinery.

Spaces and environments equipped with sensor networks can now observe environmental changes પ્રકાશ light, temperature, humidity, sound, or motion કે that move through space. In this sense networks are something like a body, as they are aware of the changing environmental conditions around them – measuring, differentiating and reacting to these changes. But what about real people? Is there a role for us in the smart city other than serving as a convenient repository of data? In his 1980 book Practice of everyday lifeJesuit social historian Michel de Carteu suggested that resistance to the “celestial eye” of power from above should be met by the force of “ordinary seekers of the city” living “below”.

When we assume that data is more important than the creators, we reduce the scope and potential of what different human organizations can bring to the present and future “smart city”. But the real “smart” city doesn’t just include commodity flows and revenue streams for people like Cisco or Amazon. Smartness comes from a diverse human body of different races, cultures and classes whose rich, complex and delicate identities ultimately make the city what it is.

Chris Salter is an artist and professor of immersive arts at the University of Zurich. His new book, Sensing machines: How sensors shape our daily livesHas just been published by MIT Press.

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