shannon mattern

As Hannah Arendt observes, the disclosure of who one is “can almost never be achieved as a willful purpose, as though one possessed and could dispose of this ‘who’ in the same manner he has and can dispose of his qualities.” Who one is, rather than what one is, is revealed to others through speech and action and physical identity. Quantifying humans and habitats turns them into “whats”: into biometric entities and Streetscores. This ontological reduction inevitably leads to impoverished notions of city planning, citizenship, and civic action.

Shapiro argues that because planning algorithms like Streetscore embed “indicators of deviance and normativity, worth and risk,” they promote “normative and essentialist … aesthetics.” 54 The computationally-engineered city produces the urban citizen by measuring her. Then, Caprotti argues, “you’re actually producing a subject for governance.”

agnes cameron