Imagining a "smart city" that treats you as a sensor, not a thing to be sensed

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I’m not sure if I want to be sensed, but I definitely don’t want to operate as a sensor. It’s way too much responsibility.

How about a smart city that is smart enough to leave me the F alone?


A city populated with mostly tenants is going to offer a completely different set of amenities than a city populated by stakeholders.


Nervous laugh
Why is there Frankfurt in the image…?
Do you guys know something I don´t know?


OK, cool. Let’s take for granted that you own a device that can determine who and how many people you talk to, and for how long you talk to them, where you go, and it recommends other places to go based on traffic (or whatever). The manufacturers of this device proclaim that it jealously guards this information. Why gather it, then? To what end? Do you trust this device, or the company that makes it in the first place, with your life’s entire granular record? If it cannot provide information for the company at all, what incentive is there for them to make it? Why would people and places adopt the technology required to broadcast their information to potential customers/clients with this hypothetical device? Could they be trusted to broadcast real information or just astroturf restaurant traffic records?

Masturbation. Imagine a city where people are human.

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This reminds me a teensy bit of Minority Report.


The thing you do with sensors is let them sense things, then you collect ALL their data - the more you can the better. Then you do things with that data.

I do not want to be a sensor.

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Censor, said the Sensor.
Censor, said the Sensor.
Tension, apprehension,
And dissension have begun.


It was supposed to be NY then Berlin.

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Yes, let’s just turn people into pieces of the machine. Isn’t this how Borg assimilation works? Sense the non-sensors, turn them into sensors. Rinse, repeat?

The problem is these “smart cities” are operating at the wrong layer.

Once someone has acted out, and you observe them and dispatch some SFPD to taze them to death, you’re being reactive. Reactive management will always fail in the long run.

The concept is great and ties into Tim Berners-Lee’s idea of private control of one’s own data - I know everyone panned his idea but we have to do something. The default will be more surveillance. Companies aren’t going to play nice with us, we have to take control of our own information. This anonymous city could be a start, leaving out the personal sensor part that Cory invisaged. If cities create economic pressure for anonymous sensing/distribution systems it would be a start. Perhaps privacy-oriented gear can become a thing.

I sense what you did there.

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