Hi folks, I just added the abstract of Alison Powell’s keynote to About the Conference. I repeat it here for your convenience:
The Data City: Philosophy and the Internet of Things
The internet of things promises to rationalize experience by collecting data from everyday objects, optimizing the delivery of services and eliminating the need for humans to interpret information. In theory this is meant to dis-intermediate the world and eliminate the kinds of exploitation based on inequalities in economic power. It also however dis-intermediates a different kind of power – the symbolic power that we often associate with media. In the 20th century, power and social control were often achieved through symbolic mediation. For instance, the Second World War was not only fought on the battle field, but also, importantly, through media (propaganda movies; leaflets distributed by allied air planes; etc.). Dominance in the physical realm was accompanied by dominance of the media discourse. In the contemporary world, this kind of symbolic power co-exists with the data-power generated by many networked machines. Can we understand power in the same way in a situation in which the majority of this data will be produced and disseminated by machines? The short answer: probably not; rather, what we need is a new understanding of the economy of information that also includes the technology by which this data is generated. Reflecting on how cities are represented and networked, this keynote talk raises philosophical challenges for future considerations of power.