As ‘Smart Cities’ turn from blueprint to reality, what about smart ethics to guide developers?

This week a Canadian government agency called Waterfront Toronto launched a plan with Sidewalk Labs, an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet, for a smart neighbourhood in a 12-acre urban plot. Sidewalk Labs has a stated aim of building communities ‘from the Internet up’, and this new project promises to redevelop the Toronto Quayside district as an ‘urban living laboratory.’

Not surprisingly, the move has drawn the attention of the tech ethics community – a city is a living ecosystem with people at its heart. The key point that has been raised is: How can we be sure that the interests of humans will be foregrounded in the development of smart communities? Simply because she finds commuting, shopping or consuming more efficient doesn’t mean that the Smart Citizen is truly being treated like a citizen, rather than a marketing or a data source.

Here’s the view of postdoctoral researcher and tech ethics commentator  Jathan Sadowski writing in The Guardian today.

Here’s a case study on Smart Stadiums that looks at Smart City technologies such as crowd surveillance from an ethics perspective.

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