Exploring workshop. Essay Collection

Future making as collective composition: towards an inclusive design of smart cities

Maureen Meadows (Coventry University, UK) and Matthijs Kouw (Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, Netherlands)

6This paper highlights the need for a visioning method which involves criteria that safeguard the incorporation of multiple visions of the future into policymaking and decision making. Such criteria enable political means to deal with techno-optimism, a prevalent attitude towards technology that accompanies data-driven forms of urbanism. Techno-optimism views technology as an autonomous process exempt from social influences that society merely has to ‘tap into’, e.g. gathering data about citizen behavior as an objective and neutral ‘good’ in and of itself. As a result, techno-optimism downplays societal impacts of technology. Moreover, disagreement about what a smart city is or should be mystify public debates and obscure the interests at play. Our criteria for future-making enable a pragmatic-methodological perspective to evaluate the inclusivity of various forms of future-making, and provide  a way to enable inclusivity in future-making. Thus, techno-optimism can be side-stepped in favor of an inclusive methodology of future-making that fosters a multiplicity or plurality of perspectives. Download full PDF