- Series: Strong Ideas
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press (April 9, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262039672
- ISBN-13: 978-0262039673
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future (Strong Ideas) Hardcover – April 9, 2019
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Green's book is a deeply thoughtful, thoroughly ethical, and technically precise account of how big data, AI, and machine learning can promote more efficient and livable cities without sacrificing civil liberties or serendipity. Green rightly argues that the stakes of "smart city" plans are high: we could sleepwalk into data infrastructures as tangled and self-defeating as the car cultures dominating contemporary American urban life. His work is a must-read for those seeking democracy and inclusion in technological advance.―Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law, University of Maryland; co-editor of Transparent Data Mining for Big and Small Data
From engaging with citizens to figure out what they need and why they don't have it yet to designing systems where everyday lives are fully at the center of things, Green's The Smart Enough City provides a new framework for social responsibility in tech not rooted in abstract ethical tenets but grown from practices he put to the test himself. A pithy treatise that offers concrete stepping-stones to course-correct the technophilic tendencies of city planners and power brokers pushing tech-centric solutionism.―Mary L. Gray, Microsoft Research; School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering Faculty at Indiana University; Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Fellow at Harvard University; co-author of Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass
Green's vision of the 'smart enough city' offers an incisive critique of the limits of technology-driven urban design. He vividly illustrates why cities need to engage values and politics when talking about smart cities. Most importantly, Green gives a road map for ethical and democratically engaged innovation.―Beth Coleman, Professor of Experimental Digital Media at University of Waterloo; Director, City as Platform lab
The Smart Enough City draws a path toward 'cities of tomorrow' that we might actually want to live in. It recognizes the potential pitfalls of the tech-mediated cityscape without ignoring its enormous potential to improve our lives.―Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University
Amidst all the hype about what a smart city is, Ben Green recounts a cautionary tale about the limits to how technology can improve our cities by increasing our quality of life. His thesis that smart cities are really all about smart citizens is a message for our times.―Michael Batty, Emeritus Professor of Planning, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London; author of The New Science of Cities and Inventing Future Cities.
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As someone with no experience working with cities to implement tech-driven solutions, I appreciated that the book provides concrete examples and explanations, while maintaining the rigor and depth needed to spark fascinating conversations.
The book has key lessons to be carried over into other fields where technology’s role is rapidly changing.
The term “Smart City” has emerged as shorthand for cities that focus on the latest technologies as the solution to human problems. If you buy into this term, you believe that failing to implement the latest technologies is dumb, and who wants to live in a dumb city? It isn’t that simple, however. Technologies indeed offer benefits, but only good technologies, and only when they’re designed well and applied wisely. Framing all of a city’s problems as solvable through technologies ignores the complexities that successful urban development and governance must understand and address.
Green calls this problematic perspective “technology goggles,” or simply “tech goggles,” which is based on the beliefs that “technology provides neutral and optimal solutions to social problems, and…that technology is the primary mechanism to social change.” Tech goggles “cause whoever wears them to perceive every ailment of urban life as a technology problem and to selectively diagnose only issues that technology can solve…The fundamental problem with tech goggles is that neat solutions to complex social issues are rarely, if ever, possible.”
Green proposes the alternative to the dream of the Smart City as the Smart Enough City: “a city free from the influence of tech goggles, a city where technology is embraced as a powerful tool to address the needs of urban residents, in conjunction with other forms of innovation and social change, but is not valued for its own sake or viewed as a panacea.” Those who embrace the Smart Enough City “place their policy goals at the forefront and, recognizing the complexity of people and institutions, think holistically about how to better meet their needs.”
Throughout this book, Green examines the many ways in which technologies can impact and either assist or harm urban life. He dives deeply into specific issues regarding transportation, police work, civic engagement, and the provision of human services. He examines specific technologies, including autonomous vehicles, sensors, and machine-learning algorithms. He makes his case with example after example, both of smart city failures and smart enough city successes. This story features some bad actors, but quite a few heroes as well. I never imagined that I would find a book about cities so engaging. Even though the book focuses on the ways that technologies are shaping cities—a topic that I haven’t given much thought in the past—the concerns and potential responses that it considers apply much more broadly to technologies and their use. This book is an extraordinarily well-researched and well-written treatise on an important topic. The choices that we make about technologies today will fundamentally shape our future.