Accepted paper:

The paradoxically uncritical Smart City

Authors:

Ulrich Ufer (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
Sadeeb Simon Ottenburger (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Comprehensive smart cities are unlikely to emerge in Europe, but sectoral urban smartification is in the making and concerns millions of citizens. Why is the vision of the smart city not subject to fundamental critical debate? We explain this absence by analysing four socio-technical paradoxes.

Paper long abstract:

Comprehensive smart cities are unlikely to emerge in Europe, but sectoral urban smartification is in the making and concerns millions of citizens. Why is the vision of the smart city not subject to fundamental critical debate? We explain this absence by analysing four socio-technical paradoxes. (I) Invulnerability Paradox: Narratives of smart security lead to neglect of risks and increase vulnerability. (II) Reliability Paradox: Smart measures for increased technological reliability produce new technological risks and neglect that risk is a total social fact. (III) Good Life Paradox: Visions of long-term expected improvement in the quality of life through smartification lead to acceptance of short- and mid-term setbacks for the quality of life through smartification. (IV) Necessity Paradox: The distinction between necessary and auxiliary smart urban innovation is only theoretically tenable and leads to understating smartification's impact on society. We discuss the four paradoxes of the smart city and argue that public attention predominantly focuses on uncritical aspects, while ignoring the paradoxes' self-negating and critical aspects. In conclusion, we underscore that the current focus on technological resilience, technological improvement of the quality of life, or on technological necessities creates a chimera of the future city that diverts from present-day urban problems and re-produces them into the smart city.

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Stream:
Conflict, dissolution, contest
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet