That is, every present state of the smart city is understood as a demo or prototype of a future smart city; every operation is understood in terms or testing and updating. As a consequence, there is never a finished product, but rather infinitely replicable, yet always preliminary versions of these cities around the globe. Engineers openly speak of these cities as an “experiment” and as a “test,” admitting that the system did not work but could be improved in the next instantiation elsewhere in the world. This idea of the infrastructure as “demo” avoids any actual questions of whether this construction impacts the planet, labor, or its inhabitants, and opens the door to assimilate any difficulty or challenge into the next version by way of deferral. This design logic allows the management and negotiation of risks through derivation (from an imagined origin) in a manner that avoids ever having to finally encounter or take responsibility for the impact of respective events—whether weather, economic, or security. This evasion of encounter with the world happens because the credit has been swapped, or the version already rendered obsolete before anyone can take the time to evaluate the implications of the original bet or question the actual process being deployed. If a prototype “fails,” which is to say is found ecologically or economically sub-optimal or un-resilient, then this failure does not provoke a widescale structural change in approach (for the next development has already been planned), but rather a modulation of current strategy; an assimilation of the adverse event, or any other forms of resistance, into the next model while maintaining the basic operations of the ecology or system the same.
Resilience, by contrast, denoted for Holling the capacity of a system itself to change in periods of intense external perturbation as a mode of persistence. The concept of resilience enabled a management approach to ecosystems that “would emphasize the need to keep options open, the need to view events in a regional rather than a local context, and the need to emphasize heterogeneity.” Resilience is, in this sense, defined in relationship to crisis and states of exception; that is, it is a virtue when such states are assumed to be either quasi-constant or the most relevant for managerial actions. Holling also underscored that the transition from valuing stability to valuing resilience depended upon an epistemological shift: “Flowing from this would be not the presumption of sufficient knowledge, but the recognition of our ignorance: not the assumption that future events are expected, but that they will be unexpected.”
...resilience and technology create a form of preemptive infrastructural governance that naturalizes precarity, sacrifice, and violence as a necessary economic value, rather than as a politically derived option.
Resilience has a peculiar logic. It is not about a future that is better, but rather about an ecology that can absorb constant shocks while maintaining its functionality and organization. Following the work of Bruce Braun and Stephanie Wakefield, it is a state of permanent management without ideas of progress, change, or improvement. The irony is that this hopeless situation is actually met with hopeful speculation, usually through new forms of temporal management in finance and technology.