The Seductive Smart City and the Benevolent Role of Transparency

Brydon Wang

pp.  100 - 121, download 






Digital Twins and automated decision-making systems operate on real-time sensor data extracted from the built environment to seamlessly produce insights and decisions to predict and influence behaviour in the city. However, these processes are opaque to urban occupants and as such, power holders are not held accountable for decisions. This article applies a Deleuzian lens to consider how desiring-production and modulated forms of control seduce the urban occupant through an uncritical techno-entrepreneurial framing of the smart city. In turn, this techno-optimistic narrative of smart cities seduces us into new modulated representations of ourselves in a society of control. This article argues that transparency practices in digital twins and other smart city technologies are essential as they need to signal benevolence and support trust formation in the city. Transparency practices that communicate the context of data focused decision-making allow power holders, HCI and CSCW practitioners, other technology developers and city administrators to be held accountable for these decisions. At the same time, transparency in the architecture and processes of the digital twin and ADSs creates spaces within seamless dataveillance-to-decision output processes for selfhood development, to allow ‘the right to the city’ to emerge. This article also considers strategies in which practices of power through seduction in digital twins and other smart city technologies can be made to be more benevolent through transparency.  



Keywords: Deleuze, digital twin, desire, benevolence, access control, trustworthiness, HCI, smart city



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