Cities and Numbers

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Smart city initiatives are obsessed with measuring urban spaces, that is: translating objects and activities into numbers, often with the help of sensors. While the contemporary discussion tends to focus on the “smartness” of the systems, their capability of automated decision-making, I would like to raise the awareness of the mundane and more fundamental acts of counting and measuring urban spaces.

If I am not mistaken in understanding “machine learning” as a novel way of counting and measuring, there are, at least, two implications:

(1) In general, we may have to be careful regarding the current focus in the philosophical discussion on automated decision-making.

(2) We may get a better idea, why municipalities (and other political institutions) are attracted to the idea of the smart city: There is not so much of a difference between traditional ways of counting and measuring cities and the new way to translate urban spaces into numbers by digital means.
Period29 Nov 2022
Held atUniversity of Hamburg, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational