The case for … cities that aren’t dystopian surveillance states

We could decide to treat people as sensors, and not as things to be sensed – to observe Kant’s injunction that humans should be “treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else”.

Cory Doctorow, a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author who serves as co-editor of the blog Boing Boing, has written a short but incisive article for The Guardian on smart cities.

“The problem is that the smart city, as presently conceived, is a largely privatised affair designed as a public-private partnership to extract as much value as possible from its residents while providing the instrumentation and infrastructure to control any civil unrest that such an arrangement might provoke. Far from treating residents as first-class users of smart infrastructure, they are treated as something between gut flora and pathogen, an inchoate mass of troublesome specks to be nudged into deterministic, convenient-to-manage patterns.

It needn’t be this way.”