Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Myopic Technology Journalist

Late yesterday and BBC News Web site put up a story by Technology Reporter Jane Wakefield entitled "Tomorrow's cities: Do you want to live in a smart city?" The bold-faced introduction read as follows:
How do you fancy living in a city with which you can interact? A city that acts more like a living organism, a city that can respond to your needs.
This was preceded by a "clickable" map of the world with hyperlinks for ten cities discussed in the article. Each link brought up a pop-up window with a flattering photograph and a few descriptive paragraphs.

However, one problem occurred to me immediately in the midst of all this high-technology pipe-dreaming. In neither the hyperlink summary nor the full text of the article was any mention of how plans for Rio de Janeiro would respond to any of the needs of the largest segment of its population, those hopelessly poor who are still stuck with the squalid conditions of favela life. Once again the Kool-Aid of technological innovation is emerging as an instrument through which the rich and mighty will become richer and mightier, resulting in a new generation of dehumanized cities in which the poor will be even more disenfranchised than they already are, all in the interest of companies like IBM providing greater and greater rewards for their shareholders.

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