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Sex, Lies and Smart Cities

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so it is and
hi everyone that's too the this is gonna be a
fairly critical take on the idea of our future city specifically smart city and the basis of the criticism or critique rather is
that I think future city of very much like the future home looks rather similar to the way always did and I think it probably haven't an issue with facts and part of the issue I think it's because the future city is the product primarily of a technological imaginary and are increasingly that technological imaginary is allied to sort of corporate computational neo liberal way of thinking and so yeah this future city has a tendency to be quite abstract predictable maybe certainly generic
and I'm very singular we tend to talk about the future city and and we can approach it so there's a challenge at with reference to uh the more messy singular specific our and stubbornly embodied reality always of these pictures and things where the people um and we can compare it to the realities the more messy realities of of city life as as we know it and that's fine to an extent and the problem is to meet that that's a position of an ideal city on a real warm is a little bit limited and OK it's works to an
extent it doesn't tell us for example about the extent to which corporatism and computationalism already provide domestic life and urban life so having said that having said that I think oppositional thinking is limited I'm going to offer a series of oppositions future past smart dumb transparent or opaque sterile sexist and the point will be to signal of a way of moving beyond so the goal for me it isn't just to expose a set of false claims associated with the feature city specifically things like slot is not actually even to go back to the fore as if we from uh corporatism to us the pristine sense of community I don't think it's necessary even straightforward to try and humanize technology however much we might share the goals of citizen engagement and collective action and self-determination etc cetera um nothing is that the corporations that invasion bossmop features and to a certain extent engineer them use uh human logics if you like to justify the use in our interest to justify their own right so we've got human logics uh used to justify corporate machine logic order efficiency predictability measurability what we cannot really do is basic critique on the opposition of human versus machine what we can do is see those things as being related but antagonistic we can look at them in tension and this tension would give us potentially some by some time to work towards more provisional hybrid citizens and more provisional hybrid values all right so the talk with that in mind all plunge the future city idea for economy emergences and then obtain political uh political subjects obtained in the sense of being welding unecessary polite and this subject and is neither in the future or in the past become contingently presence in I think of an increasingly
wide variety of interventions that are made through art through design and even through philosophy for example so 1 of the
people that's written about the Smart Cities Adam Greenfield and his case against this is basically that we've again seen it before we've actually lived at we've suffered its we've criticized it in the forms of the somewhat rigid and administrative functional architecture and urban planning of the modernist period so I said that to an extent and within this modernist period is a particular moment for me that really stands out as being applicable to what I think of as current forms of futurism and that moment is the post will read domestication of women and read traditional ization of gender roles and we have learnt already up from Betty freedom and for example the
that process of every domestication that process of the read traditional ization of gender coincides with reacts to a massive opening all of possibilities for women in employment and in education so what I'm saying is we can make a very direct comparison between this is Monsanto's future home of the 19 fifties it was a very popular uh Disneyland attraction from these 10 years and we can compare this very directly with if you like more recent offerings on the future home from microsoft et al and I think they look remarkably similar
and of course we can find out more about them through promotional videos on youtube and I'll come back to that in a 2nd uh the key point of comparison for me is a regulatory figure and that's the
happy housewife turns working mother and what I can't quite believe is that even after all this time she's back in the kitchen so the very 1st promotional videos from Microsoft's future home uh put Janet in the small home which route did they put her in your she all the found herself blessed with a talking speech-enabled kitchen worktop that said to her because she you know she walks in can talk says down it says do you want some help with your baking she says yes I'm sorry the
blurriness she puts her by the flour on a hot spot on the work of pops a recipe for for capture bread it transpires that the protagonist of promotional videos or just e-mail then normative meaning they are young they're white they heterosexual and they date for catcher Brad she then finds that there are cameras in the ceiling that can
read the RFID tag on her medicine bottle and remind her when to take up so it says John it don't forget to take your medication I would need some to and so I think that actually out engravers elite offensive about taking seriously promotional videos taking seriously marketing material for me this is a potent form of storytelling by which I mean it's invariably viral of each I mean also that these things these
videos of holders stories as a day in the life of some specific generate protagonist a a janitor Jennifer I don't know why jet but they are done at Jennifer um and as I argue book coming on gender smart media and I argue that the Jameson Jennifer's in environments of ubiquitous computing are themselves becoming increasingly ubiquitous they're kind of if you like everywhere in I think at least 3 senses of the word uh the this 1 just means they're in hyper visible uh luminous and everywhere WA all these bound print technology specifically that is small glass actually small glass communication technology and they're also everywhere in wearables and the regulatory role of wearables is oriented to the reproduction of women as sexual objects and as managed optimized captured perfected subjects so we have for example 2 examples Microsoft's productivity future vision and we have Corning's day made
of glass and what these corporate provisions what these stories do is that they manage and regulate and order Janet's and they do it through to do lists embedded in augmented reality bedroom mirrors
agendas projected onto small glass surfaces through schedules that pop up
on your bathroom mirror before you brush your teeth
through recipes health checkups eccentric cetera Janet's or offered at the nearer the quality of the packed off to a workplace and guess what may never arrive there sent home they
are returned home buyer invariably a trip to the shops and here we have Jennifer buying in a p k ruffled blouse and itself out in the mirror her husband partner I call him Jeremy Jeremy's and never named in these things John it's always all anyway Jeremy he's a brain
surgeon the she goes
time hits the sofa with the kids watch is something cosmological 3 D TV display ghastly immersive thin and light weight fragments designed he lies
in bed uh reading HG Wells The Time Machine on his portable display gloves ultra-thin flexible electronics enabling given the alignments between time and gendered forms of productivity I think it's worth asking if there is a time machine
for women I can answer that question at the end if you like and or alternatively how we get to build on a i've just type parodies in which are not so happy housewives uh tended to get this i um if there is ever a dualism here that needs the constructing
for me it's this 1 small dumb and the hubris of the smart city idea hinges on the claims of ubiquitous computing ambient intelligence and these build on cybernetics artificial intelligence artificial life so what we have now in environments of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence we have a situation in which intelligence is no longer taking the form of a seemingly autonomous entity of Robby the friendly robots a Terminator a hell 9 thousand it doesn't happen like that anymore partly because hell 9 thousands get everybody senseless but what happens now is intelligence becomes embedded does not in ordinary everyday environments and ordinary everyday materials like tables and chairs and walls and toasters and toilets this is not to that on the development of momentum I kid you not and so we have to it we have intelligence being
distributed in it's kind of pervasive all-seeing all-knowing all detecting itself fundamentally undetectable and this never mind the fact that we still don't know probably never will with any degree of consensus war intelligence Nolan life actually all right on the fact that this is argumentative we have singularly failed to build either of them in technological form we can discuss stuff if you and so working on face recognition as an Ambient Intelligent Technology equipped with learning algorithms and
it has been fun if a little bit too easy perhaps to look at the various to look at the flaws in what is otherwise quite total system of surveillance and control of some of the limits of face recognition have to do with computationalism because the computers node of faces which you might think this is a limitation in a face recognition system is in fact quite happy with a couple cutout right and then we have the limitations
of fixed optical devices that can't really see can't detect a face that is fairer or blurry or bespectacled the contact you deal with expressions in the in excess of whatever number already included in the database used to be 6 it might be a few more now and in fact is for me that face recognition is as flawed so as it is powerful as it is regenerative materially as well as symbolically not just of faces but faces as photographic databases so early in the database is again brought forward the codes and conventions of of you
19th-century photography this the song presence as schools and hospitals and the silence of the work of Hubble Alice the work of France the you genesis Francis Galton who did these at the bottom here these composition photos the idea would be that you would remove extraneous detail from around the face focusing on the features and the features would constitute a tem plate of a face in this case is criminal and very off of him was also racial um so this is brought forward almost
exactly in the algorithms of face recognition we have digital compensates eigenfaces that do the same thing telophase
into a template and we have the the groups the classes the types of faces no hidden hubris here the ambition is that the face has to become identifiable before the system can identify the circularity is really key to the bureaucratic
administrative kind of power at stake there and we're confronted with the necessity of it and if you like becoming much short as our faces coevolve with the systems of face identification but the thing is becoming mug shot is not a neutral process it's structured differentiated asymmetrical it doesn't affect all of us equally so in recognition of the limitations of the system research is a developing gender estimation algorithms and these workers kind of a generic discriminates it's not just the gender but full race and age their sorting mechanisms for biological difference so that's the database that's a state in the gender estimation algorithm and those are the faces of there being reproduced so that the algorithm works by deleting connections from statistical connections
between classes between groups between types of faces and so literally regenerating the sort of face that the system subsequently seeks to identify so I made because I mischievous little intervention a minimal intervention here by having a go at rewriting a simple set of instructions that underlie this algorithm and the instructions would normally rate delete all connections until all connections are deleted and I changed it to add or
connections until all connections are completed as a cutoff there's an endpoint they're still decisions to be made we can't avoid recreating faces is imaginary object would never recognize of friends let alone or in faces in the mirror if we did not so the question is how do it better with better is not just about system performance but about ethics about politics that intervening and co writing systems that are regenerated faces that never quite 58 in the categories of either all now male or female black or white old or young faces or as they always have been both male female black white or don't you end up with something ambiguous androgynous mix race and hard to wage this sort of phase causes deep anxiety in face recognition researchers who then go looking for a way to discriminate the androgynous face at the boundary to how sort male from female when the faces androgynous answer according to the research I quote eyebrow information ivory information is the key right if you must work well good luck if adults so you know I was it primarily these systems would fail to cope with
ambiguity in ambiguity or androgyny disrupts disorders and a system that's based on structuring that's based on ordering gender and race and age and
this will happen when we don't pay attention to structure and when with the con current way of thinking about technologies we get too obsessed with scale we get too obsessed with technologies like algorithms that are allegedly beneath the scale of human perception and human intervention I simply don't agree so we have also this arm which suggests to me that the smart city subject is a neoliberal subject uh feminized I'm suggesting with reference to kitchens and browsers in Beijing uh with a flexible labor efficiency productivity responsibility and transparency i mean in these ubiquitous computing environments ubiquitous women all transparent they all luminously lustrously presence and there are scrutinized captured it a sense as they always have been historically in glass so I'm thinking of the mirror reflections that populated 19th century art and literature but I'm interested in the extent to which women a captured not just in glass now but as glass the sort of glossed Corning tells us is itself ultra-thin
flexible and hardworking and this hard-working glass in a sense this places the Janet's goes to work in place of them right as the kind of digital Dobel Ghana if you like and we've always had a situation where technology compensates for
perceived limitations in female productivity but I think there's something going on in terms of a fairy tale a Cinderella story about scullery maids becoming Princess about glass slippers in the
process of becoming class feet so as glass transforms itself into a smart subject like a subject that is itself flexible
thin reliable hardworking pristine what we have left is a lotta shiny glass stuff that has value to products and also a kind of scrutiny 2 women and I think the value of this fairy tale in terms of what you
can do with it is that feminism is always use fairy tales to be in a politically retold so what I'm doing my own work is retelling the tale of generic Janet through academic work 3 manifestos through an awful uh provision entitled uh a day in the life of John it's smart and uses the to do list it uses the schedules that uses cop countdowns the core provisions off for us and it renders the um had a hell of a day a day that regulates how in time structured time clock time lift time labor time but also extends that as time as what the philosophers term potential or the desire to become this desire for life itself cuts across potential or the desire to become better better more productive more streamlined more optimized so these 2 terms attention potential are kind of temporal axis within
feminism and saying we cannot choose between them basically then all oppositional my Janet's that is both about life and labor she simply doesn't get to choose so yes she lives through her day she becomes this agent of a reconstitution is a political subjects in exactly the way I set out the beginning in terms of an emergent citizen a reconstitution of this neoliberal subject is held in the tension between productivity and whatever productivity is so we also have the opposition sterile and sexist so I think future cities to foreground some problems of power of knowledge of gender of race of other forms of difference and whatever the fate of the smart city prototypes like City all 21st century glass worlds that have scaled up yet and probably never will scale up we still have to recognize I think that sort of unholy alliance between corporatism and computationalism as Nason totality as 1 not wipes away a whole lot of other values and creates precisely the sort of sterile political vacuum that enables and jokey forms of misogyny or ironic non-ironic ironic forms of sexism to happen so in an environment that
gives us game the gates right as the kind of abuse of women in the past office banter in an environment that gives us 1 more based and everyday sexism Microsoft of come up with this not raw
and it's for measuring mood there has an integrated sensor that monitors heart rate monitors blood pressure so the justification of a small brass is that it prevents you from doing stress-related overeating to go with our smart wrong we have small towns
and um this the vibrating pants and they are modeled in the videos invariably by women everywhere as and uh controlled by invariably heterosexual partners is a modification of the smart products it's called chastity brought as its name suggests is the
Cinderella's everywhere right it's locked most of the time until Prince Charming comes along and the wearer's heart rate reaches a level if you exceed scientifically associated with true love and then hey presto the whole thing allegedly flies off and the fact that this works and I would swear that it doesn't right by very very very much doubt that any of this stuff works but if it
works through a combination of sensors and actuators and algorithms only for me underlies the singular error the illusion of algorithmic autonomy all determiners and this may be about a lot of things but I really really
don't think it's about algorithms so this this this a thinking at the moment algorithms are all powerful it's aligned with a kind of is called
posthumanism and it's a sort of sense of being posed as in after the human and this kind of thinking will substitute concerned with gender race and other kinds of differences structure in favor scale it warm but will want to stop talking about power and human subjects and talk instead about learning environments of smart things objects materials as things in themselves and I think that's a mistake and I and I think we only get things like smart bras because we're not doing very smart thinking at the moment and I rather suspect that smart city planners love the post humanists I think they probably prayed for the current crop of ecologically minded extinction this and they all out there and this is a band of brothers of male metaphysicians he celebrating the end of the
Anthropocene that would be or imminent environmental demise with 1 it seems to me particularly loud declaration namely in my hand is my beginning right so
I think that this abandonment of political struggle which is going on in thinking in philosophy the exodus as the political theorist Chantalle move put person uh um in this kind of after the human apocalyptic thinking this works too well for the values of corpora computationalism what works less well and therefore might be more useful to those of us who have an interventional turn of mind what works less well is a staying with the trouble that we reading some of the small than others or in so just to finish um I think that
the myths and I think it is a myth of the scene the sustainable smart city is challenge with 1 question seamless and sustainable for who whose lives and made livable or livable sustainable or unsustainable in the not equal tension between productivity efficiency optimization of whatever its nor
and difference diversity are extruded from the future city ideal they therefore pretty much prevent it from becoming a reality because differences and diversity will make the payoffs in orderliness yeah conflict in consensus and I think we need that kind of deconstruction we need to unpack those all positions and I think we can learn something to from the theater of the absurd and particularly from the sort of absurd the absurdism that was
captured by the filmmakers access in relation to the uh antecedents of the future city and the future harm this kind of
absurdism is echoed from a a time and time and time again in reference to talking kitchen worktops vibrating pants exploding bras and things like eyebrow information OK and on which of the
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Metadaten

Formale Metadaten

Titel Sex, Lies and Smart Cities
Serientitel re:publica 2015
Teil 136
Anzahl der Teile 177
Autor Kember, Sarah
Lizenz CC-Namensnennung - Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland:
Sie dürfen das Werk bzw. den Inhalt zu jedem legalen Zweck nutzen, verändern und in unveränderter oder veränderter Form vervielfältigen, verbreiten und öffentlich zugänglich machen, sofern Sie den Namen des Autors/Rechteinhabers in der von ihm festgelegten Weise nennen und das Werk bzw. diesen Inhalt auch in veränderter Form nur unter den Bedingungen dieser Lizenz weitergeben.
DOI 10.5446/31918
Herausgeber re:publica
Erscheinungsjahr 2015
Sprache Englisch
Produktionsort Berlin

Inhaltliche Metadaten

Fachgebiet Informatik
Abstract If the idea of the future city is, and always has been abstract and generic, then what does it look like when we decompose it into its constituent parts?

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