Perils of smart cities

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6 Responses to “Perils of smart cities”

  1. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    I’m going to have to chime in on the side of pessimism. Better surveillance and analytics make incumbent power easier and more fun to wield. Increased fairness? That doesn’t sound like something that the ‘stakeholders’ would want to share with the little people…

  2. Matt Drew says:

    “Cities can easily lose leverage to private companies their citizens rely on, as the persistent battles of political leaders against telecom companies over price increases show.”

    What planet is the author on? Political leaders *protect* telecom pseudo-monopoly market positions in exchange for campaign cash – one need only look at Time Warner Cable’s stranglehold on the NC Legislature to understand that. The only argument over prices they have is how much they can get away with charging their citizens subjects. The sooner the cities lose leverage over the telecom industry and the more competition the telecoms face, the better.

    • Rindan says:

      Seriously.  This.

      City governments do some epic protection rackets schemes.  

      I live in Boston, and holy shit does the city work hard to take its piece.  The taxi monopoly is disgusting.  The licensing laws are fucking insane.  You can find if people are in your pub dancing and you don’t have a dancing permit.  Seriously.  A fucking dancing permit.  Pubs have been known to simply kill music to try and get their patrons to stop dancing when they seen an inspector coming around.  Liquor and food licenses are chopped up into a dozen different styles all rationed and costing more than the next.  Police are paid overtime to ‘direct traffic’ for ‘safety reasons’ at $40+ an hour.  The list is endless.

      The only people with real extortion power of cities these days are, to some small extent unions.  You really can’t fuck with the police or firefighters unions, so they just coopt the hell out of them.

      What extortion power does someone writing some code have?  Almost none.  Contracts are generally written for years or decades so they can’t ‘crash’ the system by jacking the price up one year.  Even if they do, software is cheap.  Someone else will bid for it.

      Evil software corporations extorting poor defenseless cities is roughly the last thing on my list of concerns.  I am FAR FAR more worried about evil city government giving a software corporation a monopoly in exchange the same kind of bribes, I mean “campaign contributions”, and placing the mayor son into jobs, like what a normal old boring constructions company gets.

  3. peregrinus says:

    In one pessimistic way, I see the privacy war as already lost, so I consider what the impacts of “zero privacy” are, and how to combat those.

    Examples are – when UKIP get into power in the UK, they might expel all “foreigners”.  Myself and family might get caught up in that.  Or, highly targeted marketing is beamed to me.  I can fight that by retaining common sense and my own mind.

    It’s not the only thought, and I think the privacy war should continue to be fought on all fronts, but I do think about illicit information gathering by, for example, private companies who own the telecoms networks all the data is transmitted on.

    In a world of zero privacy, to spoof the information accuracy, we’d need to come up with methods to spoof the data.

  4. euansmith says:

    I think it is safe to assume that those in power will always misapply technology. The only defence is their incompetence. 

  5. The fear isn’t just about extortion by evil software corporations (though this is very real – read a history of Westlaw), it’s also about how the transparency requirements so necessary to our government can be eliminated by copyright.

    The Ohio Supreme Court recently did exactly this.  Somebody requested tax maps for a county, including the database to create those maps.  The Court said that these are public records, which must be available to citizens under the state’s Public Records Act.  But the Court also said that because the private company, who got paid by tax dollars, has a copyright on its database, it is exempted from the Public Records Act.

    State ex rel. Gambill v. Opperman  Supreme Court of Ohio.March 7, 2013— N.E.2d —-2013 -Ohio- 761

    Goodbye, transparency.   Goodbye, democracy.

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