Imagine your smartphone knew everything about the city – but the city didn’t know anything about you. Wouldn’t that be truly ‘smart’?
Guardian Cities is concluding with ‘The case for …”, a series of opinion pieces exploring options for radical urban change. Read our editor’s farewell here
“Smart city” is one of those science fiction phrases seemingly designed to make you uneasy, like “neuromarketing” or “pre-crime”. It’s impossible to be alive in this decade and not find something unsettling in the idea of our cities becoming “smart”.
It’s not hard to see why: “smart” has become code for “terrible”. A “smart speaker” is a speaker that eavesdrops on you and leaks all your conversations to distant subcontractors for giant tech companies. “Smart watches” spy on your movements and sell them to data-brokers for ad-targeting. “Smart TVs” watch you as you watch them and sell your viewing habits to brokers.