Tech is not the simple solution to complex social situations.

A conversation with Peter Bihr

@pbihr co-founded ThingsCon community which advocates for a responsible, human-centric approach to the Internet of Things. Smart Cities, where the digital and physical meet and where algorithms actively impact our daily lives, is an important focal point of his work.

He proposes reframing the Smart City discourse (currently dominated by vendors of Smart City tech) away from the technology and more towards a focus on societal impact. What better urban metrics can we apply to cities increasingly governed or shaped by algorithms? Such an analytical framework would be the key to unlocking a real, meaningful debate. Smart City policies must be built around citizen/digital, human rights, and with emphasis on participatory processes, transparency and accountability.

At the most recent ThingsCon conference, Manon den Dunnen shared her experience of unintended horrific consequences of tech going wrong when police officers take phone numbers of both victims and suspects, and then Facebook algorithms then suggest one another as friends.

Further, several studies have shown policing and/or justice related algorithms were found to have racist data points (including some deemed illegal by courts yet remained in the data sets). And the policing algorithm in NYC measures effectiveness by such simplistic metrics that created incentive for officers to report selectively (for example, the systemic intimidation of rape victims to change their charge from rape to a more minor offence).

Participate in the conversation with Peter here: How can we put humans/citizens first in our smart city policies?

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